English translation by Deborah Stott

Letters from Cornelia Collonello in Casteldurante to Michelangelo in Rome

All originals are in the Archivio Buonarroti in the Casa Buonarroti in Florence and have been published in Il carteggio di Michelangelo, edizione postuma di Giovanni Poggi, a cura di Paola Barocchi e Renzo Ristori, S.P.E.S. Editore, Florence, 1983, vol. 5

      The following translations of the first few are offered as samples of Cornelia's correspondence.


1 January 1557, Friday









27 February 1557, Saturday










25 April 1557, Sunday







10 May 1557, Monday















[End of May or early June 1557]












13 December 1557, Monday


























19 April 1558, Tuesday











19 April 1558, Tuesday

















24 June1558, Friday












7 August 1558, Sunday










4 January 2002


Like a most loving father, I have written to you twice, as I think you have seen, about the receipt that you sent me, and, as I have done the other times, I send you my thanks. As for what I can do for you, I ask only that you command me, and I beg you to come in the future, if not earlier, to Casteldurante, where you will see me and Michelangiolo and Giovan Simone, who are as dear to you as though they were your own sons, who, with me, commend themselves to you from the heart.

Since today is the new year, and since it is our custom here to recognize our patrons [patroni], I am sending to you a bundle of eight pounds of our local cheese [cascio de guaimo]. I regret that I must send it tomorrow, since I wanted to send you some handkerchiefs that I have had made, together with some other things that aren't yet finished. But, because the carrier wants to leave, I will send them another time. In the meantime, I beg you for the love of God that, if you need anything, you will not hesitate to ask me; you could not do anything that would be dearer to me. With this, I commend myself to you: enjoy the cascio with our love. Ugulino too commends himself to you and offers himself for any service.  The first day of January 1557.

Like a most loving daughter,


Address: To the magnificent mister Michelangiolo [Bu]onaroti, like a father and most beloved patron. At Rome.

Magnificent mister Michelangiolo, like a most loving father, I am responding to three of your letters, in which you write that you recently received the little cheese that I sent you and you ask that I not send anything else. I am unhappy about this, since you show that the children and I, with these few faculties that are here, are not your concern. I have written you before that whatever we have is yours, and I hope that you - rather, I beg that you - come in March or April at the latest, to visit the children and me, who revere and love you as a father. We are well and Michelangiolo sends you greetings and asks that you come to Casteldurante. Or would you rather that he came to Rome? As for what you write me, that I should ask you for something for me or the children, just now I do not need anything. If I do need something, I will write you. Be well and may God keep you from harm. I, my father, and my mother commend ourselves to you and mister Ugolino, my nephew, does the same. There is nothing more.  The 27th of February 1557.

Lisabetta commends herself to you.

Like your daughter


Address: To the magnificent mister Michelangiolo Buonaroti, like my most loving father and patron. At Rome

Magnificent  and like a most loving father, Our health is well, thanks be to God, and I pray yours is as well. Nevertheless, I am worried and anxious, since it has been about two months since I have heard from you, even though I have written five or six times and have had no reply. I believe that my letters are not being given to you, but rather to servants who are not giving them to you. Therefore, you cannot know whether I have written to you or not. Because of this, I beg you, for the love of God, to write to me very often [spesso spesso] and to tell me how you are, because I have no peace until I have your letters. Michelanglio[lo] and Giovan Simone are well and commend themselves to you, as do I. And I beg you again to write to me very often [spesso spesso]. May God keep you in good health.  The day of 25 April 1557.

Like a loving daughter Cornelia

Address: To the very magnificent mister Michelangiolo Buonaroti, like my most loving father. At Rome.

Like a loving father, I have received your letter, which is more dear to me than I can say because it tells me you are well. As for your comment that I should not be anxious because you want to leave Rome and move to Florence, I can tell you that I am not anxious about this on your account, since I want nothing other than your well-being and in Florence you may be able to live with fewer worries and more tranquilly than you can in Rome. So I am not anxious about this; on the contrary, I am happy about it. And as for your saying that you will come here to Casteldurante in September and that, if I would like to entrust Michelangiolo to you, you will take him with you to Florence, I can tell you that in this, as in everything, I will always do as you wish. Of course I beg you to come here to Casteldurante before you go to Florence. Do not trouble yourself if the monies in the Monte are not able to be collected since, thanks be to God, we have enough that we are able to do without them, and they will be collected some other time.

I have had a cloak made from the cloth you sent me and, since it is now summer and getting hot and it is too heavy to wear, so that it almost makes my head spin, I have thought that I could make one from fine Florentine wool [rascia], the kind that that poor wretch my Francesco gave to my mother to make a dress. So, if you could have up to eight yards [bracci] of that fine wool sent to me from Florence, making sure that it is the lightest and most beautiful possible, it would please me very much. For the boys [putti], you could send me a little black silk [remenzino], from which I will make a little cloak [zamaretta] for one, for which two yards should be enough. I will pay you back for all this and, if you are not writing to Florence for other things anyhow, do not go to any trouble over this.

We are all well, and Michelangiolo and Giovan Siomone are getting big and they commend themselves to you, as do I and my mother and Lisabetta, and we pray God to keep you in good health. Ugulino my nephew also commends himself to you.  The 10th of May 1557.

Like a loving daughter


Address: To the magnificent mister Michelangiolo Buonaroti, like my most affectionate father. At Rome.

My honorable and magnificent mister Michilangilo, I have received one of yours, which was brought by Pasquino: it's one that has taken since March to arrive here. You complain that I do not write to you: the cause is that those whom I am paying are not doing their job, and I think this begins with those at home. It is not that I have forgotten you, because as long as I live I will never forget you or the great obligation that I owe you. All of my hopes and those of my sons repose in you. Therefore, do not ever think that I would, for any reason, forget you, and when you make comparisons with me, you will find that I will be that loving Cornelia, like a daughter to you, that I have always been. So, if my letters do not get to you personally, it is not my fault; I think, rather, as I have said, that it is the fault of someone in your house. Be warned, therefore, and you will discover that it is as I say. Because you write me that you want me to ask something of you, in a letter carried to you by Pasquino I imposed on you by asking that you send me the Florentine wool cloth [rascia] for a cloak. So, if you are writing to Florence for your own affairs, you might also ask for this: but do not trouble yourself about this if you are not writing about another matter. You should let me know how much this will cost, and I will send you the money by the porter. Nothing else occurs to me now, except that I commend myself to you together with Michilagnilo and Giovan Simone, my father and mother, and all my family.

In another trip that Pasquino will make soon, I will send you a pair of hams [prosciutti]. You will give me the greatest pleasure if you ask me for something and count on me as I count on you. Your saying that you will come here in September, as you have written, gives me the greatest pleasure.

Like your daughter, Cornelia Colonella [s(ub)s(cripsit)]

Address:: To the very magnificent mister Michilagnilo Buonaroti, always my most loving father.  At Rome.

Very magnificent, like a most honorable father

This past summer, it came to the attention of the most illustrious and reverend Turnone that the boys had two paintings painted from your drawings, and he made a great fuss about seeing them, with Roso and many of our relatives acting as intermediaries. Since I was begged by all of them, I allowed his most illustrious lordship to see them. Once he had seen them, they pleased him mightily, and he immediately began to want to buy them. I did not consent to this, even though I was pressured by many people over and over to do so; on the contrary, I became ever more firm. The more he offered, the more I resisted, giving as the reason that I treasured them in your memory, you to whom my sons and I owe so much, and that the paintings would never leave the house. And so his most illustrious and reverend lordship, seeing my hard and firm stance, withdrew and did not trouble me more. This October, however, the most excellent Lord Duke our patron also heard that I had these paintings, and he ordered a priest from his house [un prete suo di casa] to have them brought to Urbino for him to see. And so the priest sent someone on behalf of His Excellency, begging me to send them so that he could see them. With the best means I could, I made excuses and avoided at that point sending them. A few days ago, His Excellency again, still wanting to see them, sent the commissioner of our province of Massa, together with another representative from court, with a very loving letter begging me to send the pictures to him, accompanied by someone whom I trusted, because he wished to see them. Not knowing which way to turn in this proceeding, I asked several of our relatives for advice, and they told me: `Cornelia, you must not be obstinate with the Lord Duke, as you were with Cardinal Turnone, because His Excellency is patron of the paintings and of everything else of yours. And if he wishes, he may demand them. Therefore we advise you to send them to him, together with an agent who will say that His Excellency is patron of paintings, of things, of children, and of everything else, and that he may dispose of them as if they were his own.í And so I did as I was counseled. I sent one of our relatives, who diligently made the offer to His Excellency, who, upon seeing the paintings, told our relative that the paintings were very beautiful and that he was not to leave without his permission. After four days, he had him brought before him and told him that he was accepting the paintings, together with my good will [buon animo], saying that he was obliged to me for what I had freely offered, and that the paintings were so beautiful that they were beyond price, and that if he were to wish to pay, they would require millions of scudi. But he wished the boys to have one hundred scudi with his love. Our relative refused these many times, saying that the boys wished nothing other than His Excellencyís grace and that he receive their best wishes. And he told him the thing of Rosoís [about Roso? la cosa de Roso]. After His Excellency had forced him to accept the one hundred scudi, he gave very great warrants [commissions?] in our favor and ordered that our affairs be well examined without expense and without argument. Then he sent the aforementioned commissioner with a letter to thank me and make most generous proffers to the boys. I have written all that happened to Your Lordship so that you will approve of what His Excellency wanted and thus, I pray most strenuously that you approve of the liberality I showed to our most excellent patron. And I also beg you, as hard as I can, to write me so that I can calm my mind, which, ever since I sent the paintings, has been troubled continuously. And it will remain so until I have had a letter from you by which I can clearly recognize that you approve. And since Francesco, may God give him peace, mentioned these paintings in his will, I would like with your help to have master Marcello make two from the same designs - let them cost what they will. You can pay him from the yield of the monies in the Monte della Fede. Your Lordship writes that, if there is a way to use here the yield that is drawn out from the Monte, I should tell you so that you will send it, since it doesnít seem to you that it may make itself a greater amount [? unclear]. I am happy with whatever pleases you. As for finding a way to use it, I tell you that I have found [it], and whenever it occurs to you to send it, send it, and it will be used for the good of the boys. If Marcello is willing to make the paintings, your Lordship should tell me. Stay well, and if you think of any thing at all that I [could do for you], let me know, and I will try everything in my power to serve you. I pray you to remember me and my sons, as usual. My father, my mother and the boys send you a thousand greetings, and I as well. From Casteldurante, the 13th of December of 57.

Of Your Lordship

The most loving daughter Cornelia Colonelli de amatorii.

Address:    To the very magnificent and excellent mister Michelagnolo Buonaroti, always my most honorable father.  At Macel de Corbi.  Three baiocchi  Rome

Like an honorable father mister Michelagnolo

By Pasquino the muleteer from Casteldurante, I am sending you two hams and two pairs of cheese [casci di guaime], which you should enjoy with our love. I should have sent them at Carnival, since the bundle had been made, but since I have no one to carry them, I could not send them. Next I tell you how [with] the money that you write me that I have in the Monte and from the painting[s], we have bought a very comfortable farm in a place called "i Camporesci" for three hundred eighty-four florins, at an exchange of forty old bolognini per florin. And by the present carrier we are sending you the contract for the purchase, so that you may see that we are eager to use the money. I would appreciate it if you would send to me by this carrier the inventory, so that we can see the whole accounting of the estate, because we have just met with Giolla to examine the accounts, and she has promised on her own account to redo everything that must be redone, and we cannot see the whole without the inventory. That is all for now, except to commend myself to you. Michelagnolo is getting big and commends himself to you; my father, my mother commend themselves to you a thousand times. From Casteldurante, the 19th of April 1558.

Like your daughter, Cornelia, formerly wife

of Francesco Amatori

Address:  To the very magnificent mister Michelagnolo Buonarota like her honorable father

In Rome.

Very magnificent Mister Mechelanglo and most honorable father

With this you will know that we are well, after the proper greetings to Your Lordship, and that your boys Michelamglo and Francesco are well, lively, good-looking, and they talk about you all day. And such we pray the Lord God to keep them and to you to give the grace to see them thus, that they may be under your instruction [disciplina] and enjoy your sweet conversation and the great love that you had for their father and now for them. Because of this we want always to have good news about you. You should also know that, as we had the chance to buy land for the boys in a very good location, next to and close to their own, we have bought it for about two hundred twenty gold scudi, using for it those monies from His Excellency of Urbino and the rest Your Lordship should send. Henceforth, with the sale of gnati [?] and other yields from the boysí [lands], we can repay them, as we donít have other means. Your Lordship can give them to Pasquino, our muleteer from here, a good and trustworthy man, uncle of your Antonio who lives with you. So as not to pay to send others, we thought [to send] this good man. We have made the contract and are sending it to you, and if it doesnít please Your Lordship, you can send an annotation as it pleases you. In this business and always, Your Lordship, if you wish something, we remind you that you should command us freely, as we always wish to please you. That God may keep you in health and in his grace. Be well; and your boys commend themselves to you countless times, together with us. From Castel Durante, the 19th of April 1558.

Of Your Lordship

the humble servants Cornelia and Guido Collonelli and Giovan Francesco Fatorino delli Amatorii s(ubscrip)s(erunt)

It is attested for me Pasquino di Giovanni, called Bistocho da Chastelldurante, that I received from the magnificent sir Mic[h]elangnolo Bonaroti ninety-seven gold scudi, that is in gold and coin, which he paid me in the name of the heirs of Francesco, called Urbino. Attesting to the truth of this, I Leone di Batista Pippi of Florence at the Dogana vecchia of Rome have made this note with my own hand, at the request of the aforesaid Pasquino, who said that he did not know how to write.

On this day 27 April 1558, in Rome.

I the aforesaid Leone with my own hand.

Address: To the very magnificent and honorable father and mister Michelag(no)lo Buonarota Florentine

Magnificent mister and like a most loving father. You should not marvel that I have not replied to your letter before now: this is because I have been sick - and by the grace of God I am better now - and further, I donít have anyone I can have write even two lines. Nonetheless, I tell you that I have received the ninety-seven gold scudi that you sent me by Pasquino, and I have made out the receipt and I have put them into the land, and I have finished paying for the field that I bought, even if I have had some problems having to do with the said field. As for the inventory, donít trouble yourself, although if I could have it, I would be very grateful. And about the dress that Bastiano wants me to pay him for, I tell you that the dress was not given to me but to Roso, and I didnít cause any damage to it. And if those boys, in order to take off some wax that had fallen on it, burned it a little, I would not have made it any worse [?]. However, in this case I want to do what you yourself want and, if you wish, I will pay what it is worth. Iíll say nothing more: we all are well, and I pray God that you are the same. I, Micchelangiolo and Francesco commend themselves to you from the heart, and so also my father and mother and everyone else; and we do the same to Laura, to Antonio and his sister, and I pray that they stay faithful and loving to you. If you want anything that we can [supply?] from here, tell us. Be well, and may God keep you happy. From Casteldurante, the 24th of June 1558.

Like your loving daughter


Address:  To the very magnificent sir Michelangilo Buonarota like a most loving father

In Rome. Import of three baiocchi [di porto b(aiocchi) tre]

Very magnificent like a most honorable father

Since our Pasquino was coming to Rome, I didnít want to let this opportunity pass without letting Your Lordship know that all of us are well. By the grace of God we are very healthy, and we wish to hear the same of Your Lordship, whom God should preserve for a long time, as we wish. During these past days my father received one of yours, at the foot of which there were two lines to me in particular. I thank you very much for your good counsel. I know that, because of the affection you have for me, you were counseling me lovingly; nonetheless, the thing has not happened, perhaps because it was not Godís will. These are things that always, as Your Lordship wrote, must be done with prayer and one must pray God that one may do the best thing: which must be done with as much devotion as possible. Since it did not happen, we must believe firmly that his Divine Majesty did not intend it; still, with all of this, I thank you and I will always be obligated to you. I donít have anything else to write you. This [letter] will show that I respect and revere you to the utmost as a most loving father, praying that you similarly think of me as a most loving daughter; and if anything should occur to you that I could do from here, that you would deign to ask it of me. My father, my mother, Michelagnolo and Francesco commend themselves to you. Your Lordship should please also give commend me to Laura and Benedetta. May God make you happy. From Casteldurante, the 7th of August of 58.

Of Your Lordship

The most loving daughter Cornelia Collonelli de amatori

Address:  To the very magnificent and excellent mister Michelagnolo Bonaroti my lord and most honorable father.  Rome.