Leopoldo Pilla (1805–1848): A young combatant who lived for geology and died for his country
Leopoldo Pilla was born in Venafro, Italy, in 1805. As a young student, he moved to Naples, the capital city of the Bourbon's reign, where he pursued medical and other scientific studies. He began to express volcanological and other geological interests early on and tried ardently for scientific success as a geologist and professor. Though assailed by serious personal problems, mostly of a psychosomatic nature, he always managed to overcome the difficulties that led to his deep depression.
Pilla published many original papers in the most important journals of Europe. In 1842, he was called to Pisa as a professor of geology at the local university. He was on the verge of producing his most mature and widely recognized scientific work when, enthusiastically involved in the political turmoil of his times, he was killed by a grenade while marching along with his students in the battle of Curtatone in the spring of 1848. Italy not only lost a promising young professor, but also a great scientist in the most creative period of his career.