The Porte Sante cemetery is a monumental cemetery in Florence located within the fortified bastion of the basilica of San Miniato al Monte. This interesting cemetery, from which it is possible to enjoy an extraordinary view of Florence, houses some illustrious tombs including the Borsi memorial to numerous family members.
The memorial to Averardo Borsi and his daughter Laura is adorned with the statue of a naked prone man holding a flaming torch in his right hand with his left fist clenched.
The torch is symbolic of the darkness of death and the light in the world to come. A winged cherub looks down on the grave located in the section reserved for non-Catholics in the cemetery. The family were not religious, and as Averardi and Laura died without the sacrament they were denied a Christian burial.
Averardo was married to Verdiana Fabbri known as Diana. They had three children; Laura born on 31 December 1886, Giosue born on 10 June 1888 and Gino born on 10 December 1891.
Averardo died on 10 December 1910 due chiefly to grief over a family tragedy which involved the honour of his daughter. In 1908, Laura had given birth to a son named Dino following a relationship with Gabriele Maria D’Annunzio (known as Gabriellino), an Italian actor, director and screenwriter. Laura, who was a brilliant and promising actress, died on 18 July 1912 due to complications from what was most likely food poisoning after eating raw oysters. Her infant son, who was never recognized by his father, died in March 1913.
Giosue Borsi was born on 10 June 1888. He was a journalist for his father’s newspaper and a famed poet. As an Italian Lieutenant in WW1 known for his valor, he was killed in action on 10 Nov 1915. On the centenary of his birth to recognize his life and his sacrifice, a plaque was placed in the memorial chapel of Piazza di Montenero, Livorno, Italy.
Gino served as a Corporal with the 2nd Artillery Regiment. In 1916 he married Chiti Lilia (1893 – 1973) with whom he had three daughters: Giulia born in 1920; Lauretta who was born in 1921 died in Florence on October 26, 1927 after an excruciating illness; and Laura born in 1928 – it was the tradition at the time that if the first child died, a second child was given the same name in order to perpetuate the name within the family. Gino died in Florence in 1976.
Epitaphs on the memorial record the lives of
Averardo Borsi 1858-1910 and his wife Diana 1865-1942
Laura Borsi –1886-1912 and her son Dino Borsi 1908-1913
Gino 1891-1976 and his wife Lilia 1893-1973, and his daughter Lauretta Borsi 1921-1927