News of Daniela Ferrari’s passing on 4 June 2022 echoed through Italian daily newspapers: “The cultural world weeps. Farewell to Daniela Ferrari,” announced the Gazzetta di Mantova. The national La Repubblica mourned the loss of a highly esteemed scholar of the Italian Renaissance who had served for thirty years as Director of the State Archive of Mantua, followed by five years as Director of the State Archive of Milan. The mayor of Mantua observed that Daniela had devoted a lifetime to the protection and the cultivation of Italy’s cultural heritage, presiding most recently over the Mantuan Institute for Contemporary History and serving on the advisory board of the Palazzo Te. Author of over 250 scholarly publications, Daniela was also an active contributor and co-founder of digital tools for the study of Mantua and the Gonzagas; she supported and cultivated projects on the history of women, on Jewish history in Mantua, on Giulio Romano, and so much more. She was a passionate world traveler, an accomplished cook and certified sommelier, and a gracious, convivial host.
She was a devoted mother and grandmother, a loyal friend, and an exacting but generous teacher. Daniela lived life to the full, declaring to friends who saw her through her last days, “When death arrives, I want it to find me alive.” And so it did.
Anyone associated with IDEA: Isabella d’Este Archive felt Daniela’s loss as keenly as we had known her presence, for without her, IDEA simply would not exist. As early as 2007, she was teaming up with Deanna Shemek to research software options for visualizing Isabella’s correspondence. It was Daniela, in her role as Director of the Mantuan archive, who obtained Italian funding for the imaging of Isabella’s letters, the cornerstone project of IDEA, which went online in 2014. As a co-director of IDEA, Daniela contributed well into 2022 to the newly designed Letters Project that users enjoy today. Her support for the Virtual Studiolo, The Illustrated Credenza, and all IDEA initiatives was crucial. The IDEA team dedicates the Letters Project to Daniela Ferrari, in gratitude for her brilliant collaboration, steadfast commitment, and vibrant friendship.