Assicurazioni Geniali S.A.: Two Scientists at Generali

08 April 2022

Generali Historical Archive Stories

“Fair weather and foul will come together in the most logical and straightforward pastiche of your dreams and desires with Marussi, creator of the combined insurance that will enable you to maximise happiness and protect yourselves from the adversity of the elements”.

Bruno de Finetti, Assicurazioni Geniali S.A., pen drawing, 1935

The protagonists of this exceptional and humorous illustration that was recently donated to the Generali Historical Archive by Fulvia de Finetti are “Assicurazioni Geniali S.A.” (a play on words using the Italian word “geniali”, which means “brilliant”) and two sharp and witty scientists: Antonio Marussi, who appears as the founder and president of the company in question, and Bruno de Finetti, the author of this and another illustration, that together show off “combined rainy-day insurance with an option of fair-weather annuity; special insurance for all: come snow, wind, fog, cloud or storm” (the cover of the illustrations is entitled “Antonio Depicted by Bruno”).

An elegant male figure, presumably that of Antonio Marussi, stirs clouds, water and sun together in a large cauldron, while another drawing that’s twice the size illustrates the magical protection from the rain that Assicurazioni Geniali guarantees its clients as traditional solutions fail horribly: “with an overcoat, umbrella and raincoat I am constantly soaked to the bone; now I am invulnerable to the rain; I took out insurance from Marussi”.

Bruno de Finetti, Assicurazioni Geniali S.A., pen drawing, 1935

One of the two images is dated “A. XIII”. In the chronology of the Fascist era, this corresponds to 1935, the year both de Finetti and Marussi worked for Generali’s actuarial life insurance office. De Finetti had started his long-lasting professional relationship with the Company four years previously, a relationship that continued even after he received university tenure. Marussi, meanwhile, joined in 1934, after graduating with a degree in mathematics and obtaining experience as a seismologist at the Geophysical Institute of Trieste and later as a geographic engineer for the Military Geographic Institute of Florence. In 1937, he returned to work for the Florence institute, although he maintained a close relationship with his colleagues and with Generali.

If Marussi’s aspirations carried him far away from the Company, he nonetheless always retained his affection for his “large family” (as he himself referred to Generali in his resignation letter to then-president Edgardo Morpurgo), as can be seen in the letters he wrote from Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands between 5 and 21 June, 1937.

There are three letters, most likely all sent out together based on the postmark on the envelopes, delivered to “former colleagues of the mathematics department of Assicurazioni Generali”, from the “geodetic military mission at Villa S. Giovanni (Reggio Calabria)”.

Topographical descriptions of enchanting views, often “almost lunar”, permeated by an “austere calm” disturbed only by the roar of the volcano, come with cartoonish and humorous depictions of his adventures: the map of the Aeolian Islands with “Marussi travelling on a boat with four oars from Stromboli to Lipari, a seven hour voyage, and fighting the urge to vomit” and “dolphins provided to Marussi to accompany him on his travels” or the climb up Stromboli to the crater, starting out from Ginostra below.

Antonio Marussi, Map of the Aeolian Islands, pen drawing, 1937
Antonio Marussi, Stromboli, pen drawing, 1937

Antonio and Bruno: two scientists, two colleagues, two friends with shared interests, work and personal ties (Marussi married de Finetti’s sister, Dolores) who offered their genius to Assicurazioni Geniali… sorry, Generali.