After almost three centuries of oblivion, the name of Fra Mauro (active ca. 1430-ca. 1459/1464) as the author of the San Michele world map re-emerged toward the middle of the 18th century in the context of studies in the history of the Camaldolite Order. Don Abondio Collina (1691-1753), a Camaldolite professor of Navigation and Geography at the Academy of Bologna and lecturer in Geometry at the city’s university, was the first to ask whether the real author of the map—which at the time was thought to be a copy of a lost map by Marco Polo (1254-ca. 1324)—might be Fra Mauro. As part of his research into the origins of the compass and its use in European and Asian navigation, Collina was led to closely examine the cartouches in the San Michele world map. With the assistance of Marco Foscarini (ca. 1695-1763), official historiographer of the Republic of Venice, and two other San Michele Camaldolites—Giovanni Benedetto Mittarelli (1707-1777) and Anselmo Costadoni (1714-1785), editors of a documentary history of their Order, the Annales Camaldulenses—Collina wrote a historical-biographical note about Fra Mauro which recognized him as the “true author” of the world map. The results of Collina’s research were published in 1748 in his History of the Compass, in Chapter Four, entitled Special Notes on the Camaldolese Planisphere and Its True Author.
Collina’s work blazed the trail for later monographic studies by Camaldolite scholars Alberto Cappellari (1765-1846), the future pope Gregory XVI, and Placido Zurla (1769-1834).