Venetian Aviator Memorial

Fame transitions. To many Italians, ‘Pierluigi Penzo’ is a Venetian sports stadium, in the same way for tennis fans, ‘Roland Garros’ is a tennis tournament, not a 1900s aviator.


But aeronaut Pier Luigi Penzo (born, Venice 5 May 1896, died 29 September 1928) is also remembered by this beautiful memorial in one of Venice’s treasured green spaces, the Giardini napoleonici, or Napolionic Gardens.

Again, while the bust is relatively straightforwardly representative of the subject, the stone support, design and interesting use of differing point size for the clean font fills it with interest.

A quick online translation of this biographical page gives the following details:

“…in Venice he first attended the naval institute, then the military academy. At the age of twenty, he was already enrolled in the Royal Italian Navy. But it was not the sea that attracted him, but rather the dawning era of aviation. He took his seaplane pilot’s license in Sant’Andrea. Shot down towards the end of the First World War in the Upper Adriatic, he was taken prisoner, tried in Split for irredentism, sent to concentration camp in Mathausen. At the end of the war he was dismissed, and he became a close friend of Gabriele D’Annunzio, with whom he shared his passion for flying. And from the Navy he went on to the aviation, taking part in flights with Italo Balbo. Then he joined the expedition to the North Pole, for the rescue mission of the crew of the airship ‘Italia’ of Umberto Nobile, but was killed in an accident during the return.”

inaugurazione penzo1

A photo of the dedication of the bust taken from this website.

Main photo taken by the author in 2008.

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. gregoryalegi says:

    Kudos for venturing to a corner most tourists miss when in Venice. Some years ago I met Luigi Penzo, his son, born in 1927, who had joined the Air Force postwar as a General Duties officer.

    1. jkightly says:

      Thanks Gregory! It’s a neat park, and I’m delighted to have learned a new (to me) aviator’s story.

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