Rendiconti Online della Società Geologica Italiana - Vol. 62/2024

Giovanni Capellini’s journey to Wallachia (1864): travel notes and early insights into Petroleum Geology

Paolo Macini1
1Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna.
Corresponding author e-mail:

Volume: 62/2024
Pages: 72-81


During his intense academic and public life, Giovanni Capellini, recognised as one of the leading Italian geoscientists of the 19th Century, was also involved in petroleum geology studies, a discipline still in its infancy at the time. Capellini was engaged in this novel discipline early in his career, as an academic consultant on behalf of domestic and foreign oil companies, and he also published several studies on Romanian and Italian oil fields. A recent survey of archival sources at the University of Bologna revealed a travelogue of his journeys to Wallachia that he organised in 1864-1865 as a consultant to an English oil company. The manuscript, still fully unpublished, is kept in the archives of the Geological Collection “Giovanni Capellini Museum”. Although it contains geomorphological notes, stratigraphic sketches and various geological cross sections, the typical contents of the surveyor geologist field notebook, the travelogue is also an agenda of daily life events, structured in a sort of diary, albeit minimal in its narrative structure. This manuscript offers a first-hand account of the varied activity of a young geologist already fully integrated into the European cultural milieu.


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