comune: Cortina d’Ampezzo
municipality: Via Alberto Bonacossa/Via del Castello
geographic coordinates: 46.543250, 12.134500
- wheelchair accessibility: accessible
- recommended season: accessible
- directions to reach the starting point: near the ice stadium of Cortina d'Ampezzo
opening hours: always open, free access
Tucked on a square where now stands Cortina's Olympic Ice Stadium, only a few observant visitors notice the silent presence of a prestigious monument, made from dolomite rock, brought from the Tofane mountain group and bearing an explicit reference to its discoverer Déodat de Dolomieu.
Even though the idea of creating a commemorative sculpture was conceived in 1955, the monument itself was inaugurated on July 13th 1958 thanks to the patronage of former colonel Castex and the Italian Alpine Club. It was erected entirely at their expense, with the help of an Italian-French Committee and the expertise of the architect Ernest Gellner. Now we know that in his correspondence with the President of the Autonomous Tourist Office of Cortina from 1958, the town's Mayor specified that, "the monument ought to be produced with dolomite stone."
The bronze work attached to the large boulder is by a now unknown French artist - Georges Guiraud. He was a prize-winning sculptor and painter born in Toulouse in 1901. Guiraud passed away in 1989 Saint Hilaire au Temple, and since he worked almost exclusively in France, his work in Cortina d'Ampezzo remains his only known work in Italy.
No accounts of this unusual collaboration between Italy and France existed until 1988 when the mineralogist Simonne Caillere (1905-1999) published an article dedicated to the inauguration of this memorial. The article appeared in a French scientific periodical in 1958.
The French delegation for the inauguration of the Dolomeu's monument included the French aviation pioneer Colonel Louis Castex (1896-1968) and a close friend of none other than Saint-Exupéry himself. Another participant at the inauguration was Professor Charles Jacob of the University of Paris and member of the French Academy of Sciences. Caillere was asked to speak on behalf of the Natural History Museum, in particular, the Laboratory of Mineralogy of which Dolomieu himself had been the director.
During the inauguration in 1958 Cortina welcomed not only the sculptor Georges Guiraud, but also a descendant of the Dolomieu family. Amedeo Angeli, who was Cortina's Mayor at that time, introduced the French delegation to the public.
On October 31st 2005 Agordo was twinned with Dolomieu, a municipality belonging to the Isère department, in the region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The twinning agreement was signed by the mayors at the time - Renzo Gavaz and Patrick Bourdaret and recognised by the European Union.
AUTHOR: Letizia Lonzi, 30/04/2020