François de Larderel of Larderello and his family

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The Larderel Family Story

Marie-Blanche Viviani Della Robbia and Corso Aloisi de Larderel share as a common ancestor, the very interesting François de Larderel. He was young Frenchman living at the time of the French Revolution, who decided to seek his fortune in Italy and left for Livorno in the wake of Napoleon Bonaparte's conquest of Italy. He roamed Tuscany and discovered the fuming, sulphurous region called Montecerboli  (Monte Cerberis) or the Mount of the Devil. He was an early entrepreneur, a chemist by training and an inquisitive young man, so he sought to analyse the soil and found that the vapours contained a high degree of boric acid. Borate was extremely useful in those days for pharmaceutical and general disinfectant purposes, but the main source of the raw material was distant Tibet. François quickly and brilliantly designed a process to extract this valuable chemical, set his project in motion, extracted boric acid, sold it and became very rich. One of his sons, Enrico, was the grandfather of Marie-Blanche Viviani Della Robbia who was the mother of Franca Visconti. His eldest brother, Federico, fathered a son named Florestano who was Corso de Larderel's great grandfather. The Larderel enterprises spanned three generations, evolving from chemistry to geothermal energy, until they were nationalised in the 1930's. Larderello, created by the Larderels and named after François de Larderel, is now a small renewable energy producing town in Tuscany and 25% of Tuscan electricity comes from there.

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