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Cestoni, Giacinto [Diacinto]

1. Dates
Born: Montegiorno, Ancona, 13 May 1637. There is disagreement on an inconsequential detail: some place the date of birth as 10 May. However, Baglioni publishes the baptismal record which states that 13 May was the date of birth.
Died: Livorno, 29 Jan. 1718
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 81
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
Of his occupation I find nothing, only his name: Vittorio Cestoni.
It is said explicitly that the parents were poor.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: No University
His education terminated where he was eleven; he was then apprenticed to a pharmacist (i.e., apothecary).
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
Cestoni was tepid in his religious practice, to the extent of becoming suspect of libertinism. However, he died in the Catholic faith.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Natural History, Entomology, Microscopy
Subordinate: Pharmacology, Zoology
Above all, Cestoni was a natural historian devoted to detailed observation--e.g., of the metamorphic cycle of the flea. He was interested in the generation of insects. In connection with his observations in entomology, he discovered (or discovered in connection with the Livornese physician Bonono) the acarid etiology of mange. Cestoni used the microscope systematically. He did experimental work on pharmacology, and his observations in natural history included things like shell fish and chameleons.
The estimation of Cestoni seems to be constantly rising, and some historians are even touting him as the most important Italian scientist (perhaps they mean in the field of the life sciences) in Italy during his age.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Art, Apothecary
Secondary: Medicine
1650-6, Cestoni was in Rome in the service of a pharmacist.
1656-60, working for a pharmacist in Livorno.
1660-6, he was travelling, partly outside of Italy, much of this time, although he was back in Livorno with the pharmacist part of this time. For about four months he worked for a pharmacist in Geneva.
1666, he settled as a pharmacist in Livorno where he spent the rest of his life. Cestoni was employed by one Salamoni, who owned the pharmacy but lacked the professional qualifications to run it. Cestoni married a relation of Salamoni, and it appears that he became more than a mere employee. It seems clear that he ended up as a prominent figure in Livorno.
Cestoni is called a skillful surgeon as well as a pharmacist, and the epigraph on his tomb called him a physician.
8. Patronage
Type: Court Official
Prince Ferdinando de' Medici, son of Cosimo III, had Cestoni named protospeziale [official or principal apothecary?] of Livorno. Ferdinando loved to converse with him, and apparently Cosimo did also on occasion. It is stated, however, that Cestoni did not try to profit from his relation with the ruling family.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Pharmacology, Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
When the court was in Livorno in 1680, Cestoni met Redi, with whom he corresponded regularly after that time. (The letters from Redi to Cestoni are published in Redi's Opere; Cestoni's have not been found.) Upon the death of Redi in 1695, Cestoni found the publications of Vallisnieri and sought out a correspondence with him that lasted until Cestoni's death twenty years later. Cestoni wrote regularly once a week during most of this time; more than 580 of the letters survive. (With the rising interest in Cestoni, they have been published.) Vallisnieri published some of Cestoni's observations on natural history, giving credit to Cestoni.
Cestoni corresponded also with Malpighi, Bellini, Ricciardi, Zambeccari, and Magliabechi, as he tried to rise above his provincial setting.
In Livorno there was a circle of scientifically interested men which included especially the physician Bonono.
  1. G. Stefanini, "Giacinto Cestoni," in Aldo Mieli, Gli scienziati italiani, (Roma, 1923), pp. 122-7.
  2. P.A. Saccardo, "La botanica in Italia," Memorie del Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 26 (1895), 50 and 27 (1901), 31.
  3. Dizionario biografico degli italiani.
  4. S. Baglioni, intoduction to G. Cestoni, Epistolario ad Antonio Vallisnieri, ed. S. Baglioni, 2 vols. (Rome, 1940-1).
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. J.P. Niceron, Mémoires pour servir a l'histoire des hommes illustres (1700s), 15, 13.
  2. A. Vallisnieri, "Necrologio," Giornale de' letteratura d'Italia, 30 (1718), 327-37.
  3. A. Emiliani, Giacinto Cestoni. Studio biografico, (Fermo, 1876).
  4. A Corsini, "Giacinto Cestoni," Revista di storia critica delle scienze mediche e naturale, 8 (1918), 413-26.
  5. R. Friedman, "G.C. Bonono: the 250th Anniversary of his Discovery," Medical Life, 44 (1937), 3-62.
  6. A. Razzauti, Diacinto Cestoni ed it suo epistolario ad A.
  7. Vallisnieri, (Livorno, 1941).
  8. S. Baglioni, "Giacinto Cestoni (1637-1718), parassitologo," Revista di parassitologia, 6 (1942), 1-13.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

©1995 Al Van Helden
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