During the twentieth century, the name of Antonio Snider Pellegrini (1802-1885) was occasionally mentioned in writings about the history of the Continental Drift theory, since in 1858, he had published a graphic representation of it predating Alfred Wegener’s diagrams by several decades. However, little else was known about this enigmatic figure raised in the Austrian port of Trieste, who spent his life travelling between four continents and whose professional ventures were very wide-ranging. He was a businessman who took part in setting up the Generali insurance company; a geographer, a leader of colonization projects, and an art dealer and collector, but according to recently discovered documents he was also was a pro-Italian activist who played a dynamic role in the Revolutions of 1848-49, in the making of Italy and in the struggle against Austria. In those years, dividing his time between London and Civitavecchia, he figured prominently as a potential moneylender to the governments of Venice, Palermo, Turin and as supporter of the activists of the Roman Republic. When the turmoil came to an end, he was involved in saving the life of Giuseppe Mazzini, who was fleeing from Rome – an episode so far missing from biographies of the central figure in the Italian revolution – and he was a flanker of Italian exiles in London. This article sets out to reconstruct the complex history of a man constantly fluctuating between a passion for business and commerce, political activism, pioneering journeys, and fabulous art deals.