Francesco Bisighini was the son of a tailor, Giacomo Bisighini, and a housewife, Maria Rosa Bocchi. He was born in Carbonara di Po July 4th 1867. He was one of the many peers of that generation to try his luck abroad, at first in France, then in a new big world: in Buenos Aires in 1888.
It was in the heat of the Argentinian capital, at the end of the XIX century, where he started on his entrepreneurial success. He returned to Italy at the beginning of the XX century with a great fortune.
Nowadays, his mansion in Carbonara di Po has became the town hall; it is surrounded by a park and it stands beside a majestic mausoleum, in which rest the remains of Francesco and his wife Ernesta Crivellari.
The compound faces due north where once there was the old riverbank of the Po River, which then became Carbonara’s main provincial road.
The land in Carbonara where the villa was to be built was purchased around 1906 and 1908. In the preceding years, the Bisighini family was involved in social life and travels, like the one to England starting from Ostiglia, the hometown of Francesco Bisighini’s mother.
In September 1912, the housewarming party brought the local élite and all the families of the town to Carbonara.
From 1922 to 1932, in the park, next to the villa, the mausoleum was built to house the remains of the couple. The temple, classically majestic and with the profusion of valuable marbles, gold and bronze statues, it represents the self-celebration of the former emigrant. He was nominated Cavalier of the Order of the Crown of Italy, decreed by Vittorio Emanuele III and signed by Benito Mussolini October 25th, 1931.
Availing of the work of the artist-decorator Anselmo Baldissara – who was called the Salmin – and of the sculptor Giuseppe Menozzi, Francesco carries out a program to artistically enrich his home and the town. Even to this day this work can be observed.
Cavalier Francesco Bisighini died February 23rd, 1953 a few days after the loss of his wife Ernesta. Two wars divide these lonely last days, from that Argentinian period till his return to Europe, through the last gleams of the belle époque, and before of the apocalypses of the XX Century.
Pictures taken at that time bear witness to his rule as a contractor in Buenos Aires, in which we can see private mansions for wealthy clients, palaces for merchants and social activities. All of this is recorded on a catalogue that was written with an elegant handwriting, which lets us know the locations of the buildings, the names and contact details of the customers and their respective businesses. In the same photographic archive, we can find a great collection of pictures, which illustrate the architecture, the lifestyle, the luxury and the misery of the capital of Argentina in those years.
It can be reasonably said that all the pictures stored in Carbonara’s municipal archive were captured in a single period, immediately prior to the return of Bisighini to Europe, since these represented all the buildings and structures that he built, and much more. Examining a particular picture allows us to determine a specific period. This image portrays the arrival of the President of Brazil Manuel Ferraz De Campos Sales during a state visit to Buenos Aires; Campos Sales was president from November 15th, 1898 to November 15th, 1902. So, his private and professional fortune in Argentina lasted a short period from 1888 to 1902-1903, since in 1904 he had already returned to Italy.
The South American adventure starts with a job employed by his uncle; continues with the building company founded with his brother, but soon we find him leading the business singlehandedly; most of the pictures of his work in Buenos Aires were identified with the caption Bisighini Francesco constructor. For at least two of his works, he resorted to the project of the architects Alejandro Christophersen, and Juan Antonio Buschiazzo, founders of the architecture school in Argentina.
Francesco Bisighini is one of the many Italians who contributed to the massive urban modernization of the city at the end of the XIX century. Something of his work has perhaps survived during the following phase of renovation; around the 1930’s. This urban regeneration went through a phase of demolition of entire neighborhoods, to make room for the grand boulevards in the heart of the city.