Umberto Eco to be commemorated in Milan

Milan was Eco's chosen home since the 1950s.

Umberto Eco, the philosopher, essayist, literary critic, semiotics teacher and novelist, “the last man to know everything there is to know” who died at home aged 84 on Friday 19 February, will be commemorated with a lay funeral in Milan’s Sforza Castle on Tuesday afternoon 23 February .

A ceremony in the castle, which he could see from his apartment at no. 13 of the piazza, is a fitting salute to one of the best-loved contemporary Italian intellectuals, who chose the city as his home in the 1950s.

Eco is arguably best known around the world for his 1980 novel The Name of the Rose, translated into over 40 languages, especially after it was made into a film starring Sean Connery in 1986. Ironically, however, Eco described himself as a philosopher who wrote novels “only on weekends.”

Born in Alessandria, Eco later lived in Turin before finally moving to Milan, the city he loved best and which provided the backdrop for another of his works, Foucault's Pendulum (1989). When Giuliano Pisapia was elected mayor in 2011 and celebrated the victory in Piazza del Duomo, Eco said from the platform: “Finally, at almost 80 years of age, I have rediscovered the Milan of old times.”

Pisapia saluted his old friend on Saturday, saying: “Goodbye, maestro and friend, genius of knowledge and in love with Milan, man of boundless culture and a great political passion. Milan without you is sad and poorer. But Milan is proud to be your beloved city.”

Despite his eclectic genius and preference for more esoteric disciplines, Eco is known to his vast public chiefly through his “weekend” novels. The most recent, Numero Zero, was published last year.

His final work, on which he worked up to the last moment despite suffering from pancreatic cancer, will be published in May with the title Pape Satàn Aleppe, said his editor, It will be a collection of his weekly columns La Busta di Minerva in news magazine l’Espresso over the past 15 years.