Martino Zanetti


An enthusiastic scholar of theatre, painting, architecture, music and various related artistic experiences, Martino Zanetti was captivated by the works of D’Annunzio at a young age and became the largest collector of documents relating to the author, such as original published works, historical critical texts on D’Annunzio and signed texts. The more than 3,000 documents in the collection include the most important letters regarding his artistic growth and maturity and a signed first draft of “La Vita di Cola di Rienzo”.

itratto di Gabriele d'Annunzio in abito scuro con gardenia eseguito dal fotografo Mario Nunes Vais durante il soggiorno del poeta alla Capponcina (Settignano - Firenze). Fonte: Archivio Iconografico del Vittoriale

Portrait of Gabriele d’Annunzio in a dark suit with gardenia, based on a photograph taken by Mario Nunes Vais during the poet’s stay at Capponcina (Settignano – Florence). Source: Image Archives of the Vittoriale.

Although Zanetti’s official role is a businessman, his life-long love for culture remains a primary feature of his personality. These two different sides of his character have never caused a conflict in his long personal experience. In fact, it enhanced his expressive potential and enabled the entrepreneur Martino Zanetti to communicate “creatively” in all areas of his business, leading to an uncommon and unique atmosphere, particularly among employees. This approach, combined with the devotion generated in the people touched by it, gave rise to Martino Zanetti’s unusual and winning combination of business activities.

The owner of internationally important works by authors such as D’Annunzio, Shakespeare, Ben Johnson and Inigo Jones, Martino Zanetti is now donating his entire collection of documents signed by Gabriele d’Annunzio – more than 3,000 original documents, including letters from the author to his lovers, manuscripts and public speeches from the periods 1882-1883 and 1936-1938 – to the Vittoriale, believing they deserve to “live again” in the most appropriate of places, the poet’s final home.

This cultural heritage that was “hidden” until now will be donated to the Vittoriale to provide new stimulation and ideas for fans of the author who would like to learn more about the finest Italian exponent of currents of thought and European literary trends, including exaggerated sensualism, refined and paganistic aestheticism and a tendency to analyze social reality and predict its outcomes almost a century in advance.

“My passion for Gabriele d’Annunzio arose as I matured as a person, when as an adolescent I began to read his works and immediately perceived the incredible discrepancy between what I read (and found fascinating) and teachings and historical/literary criticism that were systematically and irrationally negative”, states Martino Zanetti.

This also contrasted with opinions expressed by non-Italian writers, who highly valued D’Annunzio’s work (most notably Hemingway). Even today (and I noticed it back during my first visit to the Vittoriale), this has generated in the Italian general public a feeling of indifference for one of its “five great authors” (Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Leopardi and D’Annunzio). Although the Vittoriale is currently a success in terms of number of visitors and activities, these old prejudices against the author’s work and life persist.