Hidden treasures

The mystery of the Pietrificatore from Sospirolo

Mysteries & Legends

The mystery of the Pietrificatore from Sospirolo

Nestled inside the Dolomiti National Park, in the province of Belluno lies the small village of Sospirolo. A peculiar man was born here, whose personality is still wrapped in mystery: Girolamo Segato, known as the Pietrificatore (petrifier).

Girolamo Segato (1792-1836) was a cartographer, naturalist, lover of travelling: he returned from his travels in Egypt with a passion for mummification and with the ambition to challenge time by elaborating a technique that would make it possible to preserve bodies after death.

He developed a process he called "petrifaction" which is still shrouded in mystery, given that he didn’t want to reveal its secret, despite the criticism of his contemporaries and the numerous attempts to imitate it. Legend has it that just before he died he was about to reveal his secret to his friend Pellegrini, but death took him ahead of time.

Buried together with his secrets in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, his tombstone reads: 'Here lies Girolamo Segato, his body hard as stone, if only his art hadn’t perished with him. May his wisdom be glorified, and his unhappiness forgotten’.

The scientific section of the Civic Museums of Belluno contains several petrified anatomical pieces, including the mummified head of a young woman, donated on the occasion of the centenary of the death by Andrea and Giacomo Segato.

Mysteries and legends in Veneto are scattered all around the region: browse our section to read other interesting posts and find out how to visit the places described!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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