Ariodante Fabretti Foundation
Via E. De Sonnaz 13 - 10121 Torino (Italia)
Tel. 011-547005 Fax 011-547019


About us

Chairman: Tullio Regge

Scientific Director: Marina Sozzi

The Ariodante Fabretti Foundation was born on June the 30th 1999. Its charter members are the University, the Municipality and the Province of Turin and, since October 2001, the Region of Piedmont. The Foundation is based on the experience of the previous Centre of Studies of the same name, which had been founded in 1992 following an initiative of the Turin Cremation Society. The Centre main interest had been to gather documentation from all over the Country with the purpose of writing the history of cremation in Italy, from the end of the IX century to the period after World War II. This research, led by Professor Giovanni De Luna, produced the following important books:

La morte laica, volume I, Storia della Cremazione in Italia (1880-1920), by Fulvio Conti, Anna Maria Isastia, Fiorenza Tarozzi

La morte laica, volume II, Storia della Cremazione in Italia (1880-1920), by Augusto Comba, Serenella Nonnis Vigilante, Emma Mana

La morte contesa. Cremazione e riti funebri nell’Italia fascista, by Marcella Filippa – Paravia Scriptorium, Turin 2001


Besides the hystoriographic studies - that went as far back as to the idea of cremation during the French Revolution (see Marina Sozzi and Charles Porset’s Il sonno e la memoria, Idee della morte e politiche funerarie durante la Rivoluzione Francese) – between 1995 and 1999 another course of research has been taken up with the purpose of examining the common behaviour of the urban society in relation to death. In 1995 a meeting on this specific topic was held at the Ariodante Fabretti Centre and the resulting records were edited by M.Tartari under the title La terra e il fuoco. I riti funebri tra conservazione e distruzione, Meltemi, Rome 1996.

From the very beginning, the Foundation’s objective has been that of becoming a scientific point of reference for all those who, in various fields, are interested in death and related topics (rituals, ceremonies, traditions and behaviour) and in the way the concept of death has developed in industrial societies in modern and contemporary history, under a comparative aspect, too.

The Foundation, through its interdisciplinary Committee – formed by historians, philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and physicians – promotes new studies on death by publishing every two years a competition for three 2-year scholarships for graduates and doctorship holders interested in carrying out research in this field.

Access to the considerable History Archives and Library of the Foundation - specialised in topics related to death and cremation in western countries- is not restricted to researchers and scholarship holders but it’s open to the public. Both the archive and the library are also consultable on the SBN (national library system).

Following the same objective of studying and spreading knowledge about events related to death and dying, a meeting is held each year involving the most eminent scholars in thanatology from Italy as well as from abroad. The first international meeting on funerary rituals, La scena degli addii. Morte e riti funebri nella società occidentale contemporanea, was held in Turin the 24th and 25th of September 1999. The records of this meeting, edited by Marina Sozzi, were published by Paravia-Scriptorium in the autumn of 2001, and are included in the Fabretti series.

With the same purpose of widening our knowledge of funerary rituals Giuliana Fubini translated into Italian a book by Douglas J.Davies, an English anthropologist and theologian: Death, Ritual, Belief, (Cassel 1997), also published by Paravia-Scriptorium in Autumn 2000 and included in the Fabretti series.

At the end of 2000 two days of studies were held. The first meeting, focused on the historical importance of the eminent and versatile figure of Ariodante Fabretti, was organized by the Fabretti Foundation together with the “Museo del Risorgimento” and the Turin Cremation Society (Socrem).

The second one-day meeting dealt with the subject of mourning -Il filo interrotto. Elaborazione e gestione del lutto nella società contemporanea – and was organized in collaboration with the “Istituto di Tanatologia e Medicina Psicologica” directed by Professor Francesco Campione. Afternoon work was organized in the form of a round table with the aim of discussing the results of a questionnaire. About a thousand copies of this questionnaire had been distributed all over the country and sent to the cemetery service managers of a list of towns - chosen as representative sample - and to some private funerary operators as well. The purpose of this operation was that of pointing out the more frequent problems that funerary operators, both in the public and in the private sector,  have to face in their daily contact with death and mourning

The Fabretti Foundation, in collaboration with Esaco, with the “Istituto di Tanatologia e Medicina Psicologica” of Bologna, and with (the Italian Funerary Sector Federation) has participated in the important research project named Caronte – which was successfully submitted to the European Social Fund - with the purpose of elaborating, through a thorough study, an effective training model covering the whole cemeterial and funerary sector- so as to convey new reasons of involvement to operators already working in this sector as well as to create new professional figures, especially that of a ceremony official for lay and personalized ceremonies. Research is in progress and the training trial-program should end by September 2003.

Perfezione e Finitudine. La concezione della morte nell'utopia in età moderna e contemporanea is the title of an international conference concerned with the historical philosophical and literary aspects of the different concepts of death in modern utopias. This two-day meeting was held in September the 28th and 29th 2001 and was organized in collaboration with the Turin University Department of History and the Bologna University Interdepartmental Research Centre on Utopia, directed by Professor Vita Fortunati. The records of the conference, edited by V.Fortunati, M.Sozzi and P.Spinozzi, are at present under publication by Lindau and will probably be available to the public by spring 2003.

The conference being held at present, La letteratura guarda la morte: lo scrittore, la vecchiaia, la fine della vita, is also part of the same line of literary studies.

Among its objectives, the Fabretti Foundation is concerned with education as well as with scientific research, in order to eventually overcome the taboo that has always been related to the thought of  death in our society. Furthermore, the Foundation is deeply concerned with the outlining of specific training patterns with reference to such aspects as the care of dying people, the funerary ceremonies, and the assistance to people in mourning.   

The first training initiative in a health sector has been organized in collaboration with the Oncologic Department of the San Giovanni A.S. Hospital of Turin (under the sponsorship of the Lega Italiana per la lotta contro i Tumori, the A.S.L.1, the Medical Association of the Province of Turin, the Rete Oncologica of the Region of Piedmont, and the Polo Oncologico Torino Est). The program consisted in a cycle of ‘discussions’ on the “perception of death in contemporary medicine” that were held in autumn-winter 2001 and addressed to medical and paramedical operators. 

A second and larger initiative in this field - with 17 meetings in four different hospitals of Turin and a final one at the Turin University – titled  Uno sguardo sul ciclo della vita. Conversazioni, riflessioni, emozioni, sul tema del corpo e della morte” is in progress (autumn 2002 – spring 2003) and is being carried out in collaboration with the Rete Oncologica Piemontese. For this initiative ECM credits have been requested. 

 Various local bodies are interested in the training aspects of the Foundation’s activities. In fact, the achievement of a higher cultural qualification and a greater operative efficiency in the public service is felt as an important and pressing need. The process of transformation that has being characterizing our society during the last thirty years has resulted in a sense of rootlessness with respect to the original cultures and traditions. The experience of death is often faced without the necessary points of reference or effective means. Today, in a society which is becoming more and more pluralistic under a cultural, religious and ethnic point of view, it is important to succeed in understanding all the different needs of the community and to meet its demands related to what is a crucial passage in human life. Therefore the Foundation has started collaboration with the Culture Department of the Turin Municipality, and in particular with its Intercultural Centre, and with the Civic Libraries, to organize a interreligious round table on funerary rituals, with the participation of the various ethnic and religious communities present in the urban area.

The objective is that of pointing out the fundamental needs of each community, in order to ask the Municipality a multifunctional room suitable for funerary ceremonies of other religions as well as of lay ones.

Another cycle of meetings on the same subject has also been very successful: “Gli altri addii. Riti funebri nelle culture del mondo”, organized with the Municipality and the University of Turin (October – November 2002).

Thanks to the great experience accumulated in the past years on the topic of funerary rituals, the Ariodante Fabretti Foundation was asked by the Municipality of Milan technical advice in organizing lay funerary ceremonies in the Cemetery of Bruzzano.