It is a widely diffused opinion that the knowledge of the geologic features of the Calabrian territory may be referred to the early XX century; nevertheless, a thorough investigation carried out in the
cartographic collection of the ISPRA Library, that preserves the historical heritage of the Geological Survey of Italy, allowed to access and analyze original XIX century maps of undoubted scientific
interest. The precursor of all 'modern' geological studies in Calabria was Leopoldo Pilla, who analyzed the relationships between the intrusive units and sedimentary successions in the '30s, soon after followed by the German naturalist Rodolfo A. Philippi. Appended to a handwritten Italian translation of a paper of Philippi we have found some geological sketches of the Calabrian region; despite their uncertain attribution, they most likely represent preparatory drafts for a final publication, and are, to date, the first known geological maps of the region. After the mentioned pioneers, up to the '70s, only few authors dealt with the geology of Calabria, and a surprising finding of our research was the discovery of a map and a document drawn up by S. Giancossi, which was however almost ignored by the scientific community. The interest for the geology of Calabria was
renewed in the '70s of the XIX century, first by Gerhard vom Rath and then by Vincenzo Rambotti. Subsequently and until the end of the XIX century, just prior to the publication of the Calabrian sheets of the official cartographic map at 1:100,000 scale of the Geological Survey of Italy, many projects of geological mapping were carried out by several geologists, including Carlo De Stefani, Renato Fucini, Giuseppe Seguenza and, above all, Domenico Lovisato. Between 1878 and 1881 Lovisato, appointed by the Royal Geological Committee, realized a geological map in 32 sheets of Northern Calabria on the 1:50,000 scale, that represents the first geological map of the region conceived in a modern way. Undoubtedly, this work was the milestone for the production of the official cartography, realized since 1895 under the direction of Emilio Cortese.
"La Calabria [ . . . ] merita una visita degli scienziati italiani e stranieri per la sua costituzione geologica vedendo noi laggiù, in quell'estremo lembo di terra continentale riprodotte le nostre Alpi settentrionali di Piemonte e Lombardia, con tali analogie nelle forme litologiche di quelle contrade che sono più varie che nella settentrionale Italia, da confonderne le une colle altre.
(Estratto da "Relazione geologica sulla missione in Calabria, da Domenico Lovisato a Felice Giordano", 25 novembre 1880. Archivio Servizio Geologico d'Italia - ISPRA, Faldone 1880-1886).
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