His early years
The Five Days and the Roman Republic
Without losing his inspiration, Raimondi volunteered in the struggle for the defense of the Roman Republic formed in early 1849, after a rebellion against Pope Pius IX. This time French troops were responsible for ending the ardently defended Republican attempt led by Garibaldi. This filled Raimondi with deep regret, and, losing any hope in Italian independence and persecuted for his ideals in his own homeland, decided to undertake the long-postponed trip to Peru. In early 1850 he departed from Genoa aboard the Industria, accompanied, among others, by his inseparable friend Alessandro Arrigoni, never to return.
His years in Peru
He gathered a wealth of information on the coal deposits of the Peruvian coast, analyzed and quantified the guano of the Chincha Islands, checked the saltpetre of Tarapaca, walked the remote goldfields in Carabaya and Sandia, sailed the most important eastern rivers, the Marañón, the Ucayali and the Amazon, he drew the maps of the cities of Cajamarca, Chachapoyas, Huancavelica and of significant archaeological monuments, such as Huanuco Pampa or the Paramonga Fortress. He discovered Stela Chavín and the majestic Puya, both of which bear his name as a tribute to his work.
He concluded his travels in 1869 and married a "huarasina" woman, Adela Loli, who bore him three children: Enrique, Maria and Elvira, and devoted himself to his family and to complete his work. In Peru he was honored in life with the title of Doctor of Natural Sciences and Honorary Professor of the Faculty of Medicine by the University "Nacional Mayor de San Marcos".
For his prestige and seriousness he was a scientific consultant of the state during his whole life in Peru, for such diverse projects as the best route for the construction of a railway, the location of several mineral deposits, the certification of mineral samples, criteria for defining territorial borders or advice on conflicts with neighboring countries.
On 26 October 1890, exhausted by a long illness, he died, assisted by his daughter Elvira, in the house of his friend and compatriot Alejandro Arrigoni, in the town of San Pedro de Lloc, La Libertad. His remains rest in the cemetery Presbítero Maestro de Lima, in the mausoleum built in his honor. His love and dedication for Peru are a source of inspiration for future generations thanks also to a fine Museum dedicated in his name.
Antonio Raimondi's legacy
Away from Europe, of a shy character, Raimondi was undoubtedly the best known scientist in Peru in the second half of the 19th century. His intellectual merits were recognized by the most important scientific societies of the world. He was named an honorary member of the Royal Geographical Society of London, the Italian Society of Anthropology, Ethnology and Comparative Psychology and the Geographical Society of Paris.
During his travels, Raimondi gathered all he could record about the natural and social landscapes that lay in his path. Plants, animals, insects, minerals, were systematically collected while doing barometric measurements, meteorological observations and precise maps which complemented the information on the different regions explored. To this we must add his special interest in whatever he could learn and discover about current and ancient populations, observed both in contemporary houses or imagined from ancient historical monuments.
The respect and admiration of men of science of other nationalities for Antonio Raimondi is impressive. He was greatly considered by explorers as North American George E. Squier, German William Reiss and Adolph Stubel, by geologists as George Kunz, paleontologists as Louis Agassiz and Gabb, travelers as French W. Weiner, naturalists as Italian Pigorini, Polish J. Stlzmann, K. Keiski and L. Taczanowski and German Teodor Wolf. Even prestigious historians, as Sir Clements Markham, had the greatest consideration for him. Below, a map drawn by Raimondi of Lake Titicaca