Clara Maffei

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Portrait of Countess Clara Maffei
by Francesco Hayez ClaraMaffei.jpg
Portrait of Countess Clara Maffei
by Francesco Hayez

Elena Clara Antonia Carrara Spinelli (b. 13 March 1814, Bergamo – d. 13 July 1886, Milan, of meningitis) was an Italian woman of letters and backer of the Risorgimento, usually known by her married name of countess Clara Maffei or Chiarina Maffei.

Bergamo Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Bergamo is a city in the alpine Lombardy region of northern Italy, approximately 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Milan, and about 30 km (19 mi) from Switzerland, the alpine lakes Como and Iseo and 70 km (43 mi) from Garda and Maggiore. The Bergamo Alps begin immediately north of the city.

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,372,810 while its metropolitan area has a population of 3,244,365. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

Meningitis inflammation of membranes around the brain and spinal cord

Meningitis is an acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The most common symptoms are fever, headache, and neck stiffness. Other symptoms include confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, and an inability to tolerate light or loud noises. Young children often exhibit only nonspecific symptoms, such as irritability, drowsiness, or poor feeding. If a rash is present, it may indicate a particular cause of meningitis; for instance, meningitis caused by meningococcal bacteria may be accompanied by a characteristic rash.



At 17 years old she married Andrea Maffei, but they separated by mutual consent on 15 June 1846. She had a long and lasting relationship with Carlo Tenca.

Andrea Maffei Italian poet, translator and librettist

Andrea Maffei was an Italian poet, translator and librettist. He was born in Molina di Ledro, Trentino. A follower of Vincenzo Monti, he formed part of the 19th-century Italian classicist literary culture. Gaining laurea in jurisprudence, he moved for some years to Verona, then to Venice and finally to Milan, where in 1831 he married contessa Clara Spinelli. They separated by mutual consent on 15 June 1846.

Carlo Tenca Italian writer

Carlo Tenca was an Italian man of letters, journalist, deputy and supporter of the Risorgimento. He was the central figure in the salon of Countess Clara Maffei, to whom he was romantically linked.

She is well known for the salon she hosted in via dei Tre Monasteri in Milan, known as the "Salotto Maffei". Starting in 1834 and organised by Tommaso Grossi and Massimo d'Azeglio, it attracted several well-known literati, artists, scholars, composers and pro-Risorgimento figures to meet to discuss art and literature. These included Alessandro Manzoni, Francesco Hayez (who painted a portrait of Clara which he then gave to her husband), Giuseppe Verdi and Giovanni Prati.

Salon (gathering) Social gathering

A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to please or to educate". Salons, commonly associated with French literary and philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries, were carried on until as recently as the 1940s in urban settings.

Tommaso Grossi Italian poet

Tommaso Grossi was an Italian poet and novelist.

Massimo dAzeglio Italian statesman, novelist and painter

Massimo Taparelli, Marquess of Azeglio, commonly called Massimo d'Azeglio, was a Piedmontese-Italian statesman, novelist and painter. He was Prime Minister of Sardinia for almost three years, until his rival Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour succeeded him. D'Azeglio was a moderate liberal who hoped for a federal union between Italian states. As Prime Minister, he consolidated the parliamentary system, getting the young king to accept his constitutional status, and worked hard for a peace treaty with Austria. Although himself a Roman Catholic, he introduced freedom of worship, supported public education, and sought to reduce the power of the clergy in local political affairs. As senator, following the annexation of the United Provinces of Central Italy, Azeglio attempted to reconcile the Vatican with the new Italian Kingdom. His brother Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio was a Jesuit priest.

Contessa Clara Maffei Ritratto della contessa Maffei.jpg
Contessa Clara Maffei


Inscription on the palazzo which hosted the "Salotto Maffei". 8838 - Milano - Via Bigli - Palazzo Olivazzi - Lapide Clara Maffei - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto - 14-Apr-2007.jpg
Inscription on the palazzo which hosted the "Salotto Maffei".

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