Obituary - Lodovico Riva Di Sanseverino (1939 - 2010)

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Lodovico Riva Di Sanseverino (1939 - 2010)

ACA RefleXions, Fall 2010



Editor's note: the following is from J. Appl. Cryst. (2010). 43, 946

Carlo Mealli:

Lodovico Riva Di Sanseverino passed away on 18 June 2010 at the age of 70. Lodovico was Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy at the University of Bologna and since 1974 had been the organizer of the International School of Crystallography in Erice. He was born in Palermo in 1939 and, after starting his chemistry career at the University of Palermo, he graduated from the University of Florence in 1962. After some periods spent in The Netherlands and in England, he pursued his scientific career as full Professor at the University of Bologna, starting in 1975. He died unexpectedly in hospital in Sicily a few days after closing the latest course of the Crystallographic Schools in Erice, which, also thanks to the invaluable collaboration with Paola Spadon, was the usual outstanding success. To underline the height reached by this 42nd course entitled ‘Structure and Function from Macromolecular Crystallography: Organization in Space and Time’ (directed by T. L. Blundell and M. A. Carrondo), three Nobel Laureates had gladly accepted to be teachers. Lodovico had decided not to return immediately to Bologna after the school, but to stay in Erice, because his support could be helpful to the next course, once again related to crystallography, namely ‘Structural and Molecular Archaeology’, directed by G. Tsoucaris. We wish to remember Lodovico with the contented expression of the present photo, which was taken during the banquet of the XX IUCr Congress in Florence in 2005, when the Union presented him with an Award for Exceptional Service to Crystallography for his organization of the Erice Schools. Lodovico leaves behind his wife Fiorbellina, his son Clemente, his daughter Claudia and two grandchildren.

Paola Spadon: 

I met Lodovico for the first time in 1973 at a crystallographic conference in Rome, and we soon became very good friends. My adventures with him in Erice and with the International School of Crystallography started in 1976 when I was a young student and I did help him then as the first “orange scarf”. I remember very well how young I was and, I must confess, how inexperienced. He trusted me anyway and in 1994, I became officially the Executive Secretary of the School. In so many years of collaboration we really did enjoy working together; I can recollect many beautiful memories of him, -particularly his humor. I remember how important for him it was not only to try to guarantee Courses with a high standard of scientific content but also to create a friendly atmosphere among participants. He put great care into planning what he called “social events” aiming always to help the younger students to interact easily with the senior scientists. His main pride was to be able to cite a long list of scientists who started their career as “students” in Erice and later became “big bosses” of well renowned crystallographic labs, thanks to the links established in Erice. And he was also particularly proud of the fact that 15 Nobel Laureates were invited to contribute to the Courses before receiving their prestigious awards.

I miss him very much, and I know that the Courses in Erice will never be the same without him. The cumbersome task of continuing his work remains with us, the Erice staff. We know very well that it is as impossible to replace his charismatic personality as it will be impossible to replace his talent for making everybody sing strange songs from everywhere in the world!

Nevertheless we will try our best to continue in his spirit, with the same care and the same love for Crystallography.

Unforgettable Lodovico!


Lodovico at the Palermo airport with students (l to r) Fabio Nicoli, Elena Papinutto, and Federica Morandi.
Photo courtesy of Frederic Vellieux.


Lodovico singing in Erice. Photo courtsey Paola Spadon.



In the Marsala room with students Francesca Fabbiani and Burger Dittrich.
Photo courtesy of Madga Korczynska, UCSF.