Robecchi Bricchetti was an illegitimate son of the noble Hercules Robecchi and the young seamstress Teresa Brichetti.
He joined the faculty of Civil Engineering at the University of Pavia in his native city, but he continued his studies at the University of Zurich and graduated in Karlsruhe, Germany.
He was a person of many cultural and scientific interests (ethno-anthropology, geography, geology, zoology, etc.), with an excellent knowledge of languages, including Arabic, which he spoke fluently. He dedicated himself intensively to document and combat widespread slavery in Africa.
A classic nineteenth-century explorer, he returned to Pavia from his travels with a large number of objects and African documents and a Somali boy whom he freed from slavery, and then adopted. He died in Pavia in 1926.
Robecchi Bricchetti spent much of his time in travel to distant lands, in particular Africa. In fact he was the first European to visit extensively the region in the Horn of Africa referred to as Benadir, to which he gave its current name of Somalia.
In 1885 he went to Egypt, and with a small caravan he reached the Oasis of Siwa in the Libyan desert.
In 1888 he left from Zeila in Somalia, crossed the Danakil Desert, and arrived in Harrar in Ethiopia, where he remained several months, gathering scientific findings of various kinds, and taking photographs.
In 1890 he left for a new trip to Somalia for an exploration of the unknown region of Hobyo. During his journey of more than two thousand kilometers he reached Alula and realized a large number of maps and photographs.
Between 1890 and 1891 he explored the unknown territory of Migiurtinia with significant cartographic and ethnographic observations. In 1896 he made a new crossing of the Libyan desert up to the Oasis of Siwa. His last trip to Africa was in 1903.
At his death Robecchi Bricchetti's collections were assigned to various specialists of the time (Charles Emery for ants, Raphael Gestro for the beetles, Pietro Pavesi for spiders and scorpions, Paul Magretti for wasps and grasshoppers, Arturo Issel for the shells, etc.). In particular, reptiles were sent to the herpetologist George Albert Boulenger of the British Museum. On the basis of the collections obtained, Boulenger described and dedicated to Luigi Robecchi Bricchetti a pygmy chameleon (Rhampholeon robecchii, now considered a subspecies of Rieppeleon kerstenii ) and an agama (Agama robecchii ). Also, he is honored in the name of a catfish (Clarias robecchii, synonym of Clarias gariepinus), dedicated to him by the ichthyologist Decio Vinciguerra.
He donated important documentation to various museums, including the Ethnographic and Anthropological Museum of Florence and Rome. The Museum of Natural History of Pavia preserves the photo-archive, the library and various weapons and items collected in over 30 years of travel and explorations.