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June 10, 2024

Luigi Lineri, the River Stone Collector Who Has Built His Vast Collection Over the Last 50 Years

For over 50 years, Luigi Lineri has walked along the Adige River in Northern Italy in search of stones. The stones he collects are brought home and categorized by shape: human profiles, animal heads, tools, etc.

Born in 1937 in the small community of Albaro, Italy, Lineri currently lives in the nearby community of Zevio, in the neighborhood of Verona. He had a job in a shoe store and until 1985 he worked as an assistant in the hospital in Verona. 

The commune of Zevio is located on the Adige river, that runs parallel with the Po river through northern Italy. On the banks of this Adige river Lineri liked to wander and look for stones.

Around 1970 he began arranging these stones according to common characteristics as present in the stones. But it’s just a way of looking, for example one could discern a face in a stone and combine all facial stones.

Lineri’s passion for the stones has to do with the association he has through these stones with cultures from long ago, how these people lived, what there ideas were and their ways of looking at life, how they used stones...

Arranging the stones is done in associative and intuitive way, it is a creative and artistic, not a scientific enterprise. Some groups of stones have been arranged in ziggurat-like piles.

“I haven’t counted them and don’t intend to do so but the quantity is significant,” Lineri said. “At first I thought that a few stones for each different shape would be enough and then I understood that in their thousands, they give a sense of community ... For me the quantity is sacred: it takes a lot to build a cathedral.”

The collection is displayed on the walls and floors of two rooms of the house and an adjacent barn. It has no specific name. Calling it a sanctuary probably is a good approach, but cathedral would be a striking name too.

In terms of collecting stones Lineri is a non-professional, the only people who do this kind of collecting by profession probably will be those archaeologists who are unearthing flints from the neolithic era.

“When I found one and picked it up, I was overcome with emotion – who was this, how did he live, what was he thinking when he made this beautiful thing. It all began then and I started reading and learning about prehistoric mankind.”

“I don’t make any changes [to the stones], they are all authentic,” he said. “Someone told me I was obsessed but if I am it is to better understand the mind of the primitive man.”

Luigi Lineri is an artist, who is related to the art singulier group that is active in southern France. He has been writing poetry and has made paintings and ceramics. Most art singulier artists are self-taught.

Among the forms on display are fish, dog and sheep heads and female body forms. Visitors have come to see the collection and he has also exhibited some of it.

“When people see the stones, their reactions differ. Some laugh, others cry,” Lineri said. “There is a strong energy in this ‘cosmos’ made of stones and whoever touches them has to do so with the respect and right frame of mind. Each day I try to put the stones in order, to give a sense to each chapter of this poem.”

Lineri hopes someone will one day look after his collection. But he is also mulling returning them to the riverbed. “I did this to safeguard these stones and hold on to their message,” he said. “[Taking them back] would be a small finishing touch. But it’s just an idea for now.”


  1. A strange hobby..

    1. All rock stars have their peculiarities. He's a poet of the planet. See his writing.




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