The famous Lombard agronomist Gaetano Cantoni has given his name to the Agricultural Institute since 1931. Cantoni was born in Milan on September 5th 1815. According to the family tradition he graduated in medicine even though his interests lay mainly in politics and later agriculture and teaching. He was involved in the 1848 uprising in Milan and was forced to flee to France after the defeat of the Milan patriot to escape the Austrian police. He returned to Milan in 1850 when he started to experiment with new silkworm breeding techniques on his own farm in Concorezzo (Milan Province) along with his brother Giovanni. He subsequently wrote the vast ‘A Comprehensive Discourse of Technical and Practical Agriculture’ and became the dean of the Agricultural School in Lodi (still in existence today). He mainly devoted himself to the breeding of silkworms, crop rotation and soil chemistry. He also taught in Bergamo, Lugano (Switzerland), and Milan and at the Portici University in Naples. As well as his scientific activities Cantoni was also a great educator and a passionate supporter of the new ‘practical’ school that aimed to provide both scientific knowledge and practical skills to a large number of farmers. Cantoni died in Milan on September 18th 1887.
Translated by Marco Lambruschi & Jackie Robi