caterina campodonico

Caterina Campodonico, the peanut lady

With a stern, authoritative face, the story of the statue of Caterina Campodonico, known to most as the “peanut seller,” is among the most moving and tender in Genoa.

This is the story of a poor woman who, with the simplicity of a necklace and a cookie, managed to build a small fortune. A fortune that “vulture” relatives coveted, but which she spent on making a statue in her honor, which made her immortal.

She is the pride of Genoa, capable of encapsulating all the character of the inhabitants, but also a “spokeswoman” for all the women who built the Superb, and with her the rest of Liguria.

Who was Caterina Campodonico?

Caterina Campodonico was born to a poor family in 1804 in the Portoria neighborhood: in life she was a peddler, and now you might imagine her selling cloth, clothes or perfume while walking among the crowds that filled city and village festivals.

But he didn’t, or at least he didn’t sell clothes or perfume; canestrelli and peanut necklaces, that’s what he sold among Ligurian and Piedmontese festivals. One a typical Genoese dessert, the other a lucky charm.

In all their simplicity, these were the products that enabled her to build a small nest egg.

Peanut necklaces?

Correct. Peanut necklaces.

These necklaces, also known as “reste,” were symbols of luck and love for young couples about to be married. Engaged couples bought them in the markets as a guarantee for a rosy and happy marriage.

But for Caterina Campodonico, it was not all sunshine and roses.

Life was very hard for her: she certainly was not a good-looking woman, and romantic relationships were certainly not among the best. Which is funny, for a woman who used to sell good luck bracelets.

The relationship that caused her the most difficulty was with her husband Giovanni Carpi, an alcoholic and slacker, from whom she separated a few years later.

Since she was the one who left her husband she had to give him three thousand francs, a very large sum for the period

Things were also not going well with his family of origin. The sisters were displeased with Catherine’s role as a businesswoman, considering her work to be something unserious; they considered her too independent, while they were already married with children.

Nevertheless, they knew that Catherine was rich. She was “the aunt with money,” and since she was not beautiful, they were certain that her accumulated wealth depended on her work.

Caterina Campodonico’s revenge on the family.

One day Catherine fell ill and the family, instead of caring for her, was already ready to get their hands on her inheritance.

But fate was kind to the saleswoman: she survived, and to mock her “vulture” relatives, she commissioned sculptor Lorenzo Orengo to create a statue of her, becoming her memorial in one of the most unusual places to visit, but beautiful to see: Staglieno Cemetery In the Lower West Portico, number 23.

The text accompanying the statue had it written by poet Giambattista Vigo, and it reads:

“Selling necklaces and donuts.

At Acquasanta, Garbo and San Cipriano.

With wind and sunshine and with water pouring in.

To secure bread in my old age

Among the little money I used to put away

Those to pass down through time

While I’m alive and I’m true Puerto Rican

Caterina Campodonico (the villager).

From this memory of mine if you like

You who pass by beg me for peace.”

The death of Caterina Campodonico

Catherine visited the statue for a whole year, proud to be admired by visitors, proud of her work, until she died on July 7, 1882.

Since then many people have been visiting the statue, looking for a bit of luck: some people with the numbers of the date of death won a lottery jackpot!

Visiting the statue of Caterina Campodonico in Staglieno Cemetery

Visiting the statue of Catherine in the Staglieno Cemetery you can admire her there: a marble statue depicting her with a serious, stern but at the same time proud face.

You will admire an old lady with a fringed shawl over her shoulders covering her lace blouse.

A brocade skirt, hair bun and in her hands what made her most famous and wealthy: a peanut necklace and canestrelli.

Where to stay

Just under a kilometer from the city center and a hundred meters from Brignole train station, Urban Flora is the perfect place for you to fully enjoy a visit to our city.

With us you will experience a Scandinavian-modern look, where fresh and pleasant plants will make you enjoy as much relaxation as possible and for an unforgettable vacation. All rooms provide a private bathroom, smart TV and free Wi-Fi that will make you feel right at home. Book your room now or contact us to ask for more information.

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Caterina Campodonico, the peanut lady

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