At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

20 June 2019

Valerio Evangelisti - novelist


Writer's stories of the Inquisition are bestsellers

Valerio Evangelisti is best known for his science fiction,
fantasy and historical novels, popular across Europe
The bestselling novelist Valerio Evangelisti, best known for his science fiction, fantasy, historical novels and horror stories, was born in Bologna on this day in 1952.

He is famous in Italy for his series of novels featuring the inquisitor Nicolas Eymerich and for the Magus trilogy, all of which have been translated into many languages.

Eymerich is a real historical character, a member of the order of the Dominicans and of the Spanish Inquisition who was born in 1320 in Girona, Catalonia.  Evangelisti portrays him as a cruel and ruthless man who acts without mercy to protect the Catholic Church against threats of both natural and supernatural origin.

Evangelisti uses the Eymerich novels to investigate the mysterious phenomena in medieval Europe that strategically influenced the great historical events of the time, creating a dark and nightmarish picture of the epoch.

The Magus trilogy is a romanticized biography of the famous Middle Ages writer of prophecies, Nostradamus. The three novels, Il presagio (The Omen), L’inganno (The Deceit) and L'abisso (The Abyss) were also bestsellers in Italy.

Evangelisti had a job at the
Treasury Department 
Evangelisti graduated with a degree in Political Science from the University of Bologna in 1976 with a historical-political thesis. He began a career in the Ministero delle Finanze (Treasury Department), but wrote in his spare time, mainly historical essays, books and articles.

In 1993, his first novel, entitled Nicolas Eymerich, inquisitore won the Urania Award, established by a magazine with the aim of discovering new talent in the field. He wrote more novels in the series, at a rate of approximately one a year until 2002, after which they became less frequent. He returned to the character from time to time, however. The most recent, Il fantasma di Eymerich - Eymerich’s phantom - was published only last year.

Evangelisti's novels are popular in France (where he won several literary awards), Spain, Germany and Portugal as well as in his home country. Some recent works reflect his enthusiasm for heavy metal music, namely the short stories collection Metallo urlante (referring to the French magazine Metal Hurlant).

He has written other novels set during the American Civil War, while one of his latest novels, Noi saremo tutto - We Shall Be All - spans several decades of the last century, exploring the life of Eddie Florio, an Italian-American gangster, against the background of the history of the trade unions and the workers' battles for civil rights, including many real-life characters from the New York underworld.

Evangelisti, who has a home in Mexico as well as in his native Bologna, sets two novels - Il collare di fuoco (The Fire Collar) and Il collare spezzato (The Broken Collar) - in the Central American country, as well as another - Tortuga, a story about pirates - in the Caribbean.

A lifelong Communist, Evangelisti stood as an independent candidate in the 2009 European elections in the Anticapitalist List (formed by the union between the Communist Refoundation and the Italian Communist Party in the so-called Federation of the Left) and in 2011 in the administrative elections for the municipality of Bologna for the Federation of the Left.

He is now a vocal backer of the extreme left-wing list of Power to the People.

Travel tip:

The history of Bologna, one of Italy's oldest cities, can be traced back to 1,000BC or possibly earlier, with a settlement that was developed into an urban area by the Etruscans, the Celts and the Romans.  The University of Bologna, the oldest in the world, was founded in 1088.  Bologna's city centre, which has undergone substantial restoration since the 1970s, is one of the largest and best preserved historical centres in Italy, characterised by 38km (24 miles) of walkways protected by porticoes.  At the heart of the city is the beautiful Piazza Maggiore, dominated by the Gothic Basilica of San Petronio, which at 132m long, 66m wide and with a facade that touches 51m at its tallest, is the 10th largest church in the world and the largest built in brick.

Travel tip:

Bologna University, where Evangelisti studied, was founded in 1088 and is the oldest university in the world. The oldest surviving building, the Archiginnasio, is now a library and is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 7 pm, and on Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm. It is a short walk away from Piazza Maggiore and the Basilica di San Petronio in the centre of the city.

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19 June 2019

19 June

Francesco Moser - Giro d’Italia winner


Only two riders have won more races

The cycling champion Francesco Moser, winner of the 1984 Giro d’Italia and the 1977 World road racing championship among 273 road victories in his career, was born on this day in 1951 in Palù di Giovo, a village about 10km (6 miles) north of Trento in northern Italy.  Only the great Belgians Eddy Merckx (525) and Rik Van Looy (379) won more road races than Moser, who was at his peak during the late 1970s and early 1980s.  One of his proudest achievements was to break Merckx’s record for the greatest distance covered in one hour.  He became renowned as a specialist in the so-called Monuments, the five road races among what are generally termed the Classics considered to be the oldest, hardest and most prestigious one-day events in cycling.  Of those events, Moser won the Paris-Roubaix three times, the Giro di Lombardia twice and the Milan-San Remo once.  Read more…


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Pier Angeli - Hollywood star


Actress hailed for talent and beauty died tragically young

The actress Pier Angeli, a Hollywood star in the 1950s and 60s, was born on this day in 1932 in Cagliari, Sardinia.  She won awards in Italy and in America at the start of her career, when she was likened by some critics to the Swedish-born star Greta Garbo.  Described by the actor Paul Newman as "the most beautiful Italian actress of the century", Angeli was also a fixture in the gossip columns.  Linked romantically with a number of Hollywood's leading male actors, she dated Kirk Douglas and became close to the celebrated 'rebel' James Dean before marrying another star, the Italian-American actor and singer, Vic Damone.  It would be the first of two marriages.  Born Anna Maria Pierangeli, the daughter of an architect, she had a twin sister, Maria Luisa, who would also become an actress.  Her mother, Enrica, used to dress the girls to resemble the American child star, Shirley Temple. The family moved to Rome when she was three.  Read more…


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Francesco Baracca – flying ace


Italy’s most successful First World War fighter pilot

Italy’s top fighter pilot of the First World War, Francesco Baracca, died in action on this day in 1918.  He had been flying a strafing mission against Austro-Hungarian ground troops in support of an Italian attack on the Montello Hill, about 17km (11 miles) north of Treviso in the Veneto, on which he was accompanied by a rookie pilot, Tenente Franco Osnago.  They split from one another after being hit by ground fire but a few minutes later, Osnago saw a burning plane falling from the sky.  Witnesses on the ground saw it too. Osnago flew back to his base but Baracca never returned.  Only when the Austro-Hungarian troops were driven back was the wreckage of Baracca’s Spad VII aircraft found in a valley.  His body was discovered a few metres away. A monument in his memory was later built on the site. Read more…


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Marisa Pavan - actress


Twin sister of tragic star Pier Angeli

The actress Marisa Pavan, whose twin sister Pier Angeli was a Hollywood star in the 1950s and 1960s, was born on this day in 1932 as Maria Luisa Pierangeli in Cagliari, Sardinia.  Pavan’s career ran parallel with that of her sister, who was born 20 minutes before her, but she rejected the re-invention as an ultra-glamorous starlet that Pier Angeli underwent within the Hollywood studio system.  She turned roles down when she felt they did not have enough substance and did not hesitate to sack agents if she felt they were putting her forward for unsuitable parts.  She refused to sign up to any one studio.  Her biggest success was The Rose Tattoo, the 1955 film adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play in which she played the daughter of the central character, played by Anna Magnani, one of postwar Italian cinema’s most respected actresses.  Magnani won an Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of a Sicilian widow, with Pavan receiving a nomination for best supporting actress. Although that award went to someone else, she did have the substantial compensation of winning a Golden Globe for the role.  Read more…

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Francesco Moser - Giro d’Italia winner

Only two riders have won more road races


Francesco Moser was one of the greatest  road racers of his or any era
Francesco Moser was one of the greatest
road racers of his or any era
The cycling champion Francesco Moser, winner of the 1984 Giro d’Italia and the 1977 World road racing championship among 273 road victories in his career, was born on this day in 1951 in Palù di Giovo, a village about 10km (6 miles) north of Trento in northern Italy.

Only the great Belgians Eddy Merckx (525) and Rik Van Looy (379) won more road races than Moser, who was at his peak during the late 1970s and early 1980s.  One of his proudest achievements was to break Merckx’s record for the greatest distance covered in one hour.

He became renowned as a specialist in the so-called Monuments, the five road races among what are generally termed the Classics considered to be the oldest, hardest and most prestigious one-day events in cycling.

Of those events, Moser won the Paris-Roubaix three times, the Giro di Lombardia twice and the Milan-San Remo once.

Moser attributed his cycling prowess to growing up on the family farm in Val di Cembra, working in steep-sided vineyards in an era when most of the work was carried out by hand, rather than machinery.  Family members used bicycles to move around the estate, where he worked for four years between leaving school at 14 and beginning to focus on his cycling career at 18.

Moser competed for Italy at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich
Moser competed for Italy at the 1972
Olympic Games in Munich
He continued to help out on the farm for a couple of years after that, and attributes his physical strength to hours of manual labour.  In an age when nutritional supplements were not the norm, he felt his Mediterranean diet also gave him an advantage.

Before turning professional, Moser competed in the individual road race and team time trial events at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.  He had won the Girobio - the amateur Giro d'Italia - in 1971.

He was the most gifted and driven of four cycling Moser brothers, the others being Aldo, Enzo and Diego. His achievements clearly encouraged others in the family: a nephew, Moreno Moser, is a professional racer, and Francesco's son Ignazio Moser enjoyed success at the junior and amateur levels before retiring at the age of 22

Despite his success in the Giro d’Italia, in which he and his great rival Giuseppe Saronni broke the hold of the Belgians and French on the event, Moser always put the Classics ahead of the Grand Tours, considering his qualities were better suited to one-day races rather than the endurance events.

Of those the Paris-Roubaix was his favourite.  After finishing second in 1974 behind Roger De Vlaeminck and in 1976 behind Marc Demeyer of Belgium, Moser finally won the event three consecutive times. Only De Vlaeminck, with nine, had more podium finishes than Moser’s seven podium finishes in Paris–Roubaix; only De Vlaeminck, with nine, has more.

Moser pictured at the Giro d'Italia in 2011, after his retirement
Moser pictured at the Giro d'Italia in
2011, after his retirement
The 1974 season had been his first as a professional.  After he won Paris-Tours, the Tours of Emilia, Tuscany and Piedmont, as well as being second in Paris-Roubaix and seventh in the Giro d'Italia and the World Championships, it was clearly he was going to be a force.

After his two second places, in 1978 he beat De Vlaeminck and Jan Raas of the Netherlands; in 1979, De Vlaeminck and Hennie Kuiper of the Netherlands; and in 1980, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle of France and the German, Dietrich Thurau.

Moser came in third in 1981 behind Bernard Hinault and Roger De Vlaeminck, and was also third in 1983 behind Hennie Kuiper and Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle. He rode Paris–Roubaix in his final season as a cyclist in 1987.

His other Monument victories came in 1975 and 1978 in the Giro di Lombardia, and in the 1984 Milan–San Remo.

Moser won the 1977 world road racing championship in San Cristobal, Venezuela. He was also the silver medallist in 1976, behind Freddy Maertens of Belgium, and second in 1978 to Gerrie Knetemann of the Netherlands.

Despite his preference, Moser had some success in the three-week grand tours.

He rode the Tour de France in 1975, and although he won two stages, led the race for seven days and won the young rider competition, he never rode the Tour again, claiming the mountains did not suit him. He was never seen as a good climber.

One of the aerodynamic bikes produced by Moser at his factory in Trento. He broke the hour record on one similar
One of the aerodynamic bikes produced by Moser at his
factory in Trento. He broke the hour record on one similar 
It was against the odds, therefore, that he won the 1984 Giro d'Italia, coming home ahead of Laurent Fignon of France and Moreno Argentin of Italy. On an unusually flat course, Moser used time-trialing ability to overcome the setbacks he suffered in the mountain stages. He also won the points classification in the Giro in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1982.

He said in an interview in 2015 he said that his team were always focused on the Giro ahead of the Tour de France and it was difficult to ride both in the same year.

Among Moser’s other Classic wins were the 1974 Paris–Tours, the 1977 Züri-Metzgete, the 1979 Gent–Wevelgem, and the 1977 Flèche Wallonne.

It was on January 19, 1984, in Mexico City, that Moser broke the 1972 hour record of Eddy Merckx, at the age of 32.

He rode 50.808km (31.57 miles) on an aerodynamic bike with full disc wheels more advanced than the conventional bike Merckx used in 1972. Later, in 1997, the Union Cycliste Internationale banned hour records set on bikes featuring technological advantages. Under these new rules, Merckx's record stood until 2000.

In retirement, Moser started a bike company, Moser Cicli, in a workshop in Trento, and was appointed the first chairman of the CPA (Cyclistes Professionels Associés), a union for professional riders. He held the position from 1999 until 2007.

Moser also continued his father's winery with his children Francesca, Carlo and Ignazio on the family estate, Maso Villa Warth, experimenting with new grape varieties. A passionate hunter, he hosted a television series A Caccia con Moser - Hunting with Moser.

The Piazza del Duomo in Trento, the city considered one of the most attractive places to live in Italy
The Piazza del Duomo in Trento, the city considered one
of the most attractive places to live in Italy
Travel tip:

The cosmopolitan city of Trento is considered to be one of the most desirable places to live in Italy on the basis of job opportunities and quality of life. With a population of 117,000, it is situated in an Alpine valley on the Adige river between the northern tip of Lake Garda and the border city of Bolzano, about 115km (71 miles) north of Verona. Settled by the Romans in the first century, it changed hands many times before becoming a major city in the Holy Roman Empire. The Austrians took charge in the 14th century and it remained under their control, with the exception of a spell of French domination in the Napoleonic era until the First World War.  It is notable in the 16th century for hosting the Council of Trent, the ecumenical council of the Catholic Church that gave rise to the resurgence of the church following Protestant Reformation.

The Church of Santa Maria Assunta di Giovo, with its 50m (262yds) tall bell tower
The Church of Santa Maria Assunta di Giovo, with its
50m (262yds) tall bell tower
Travel tip:

The Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Verla di Giovo, site of the parish church of Giovo, was built in the years 1766 to 1774, designed by the Como architect Caminada, Built in late Baroque style, it has a solemn facade, punctuated by pilasters and stucco cornices . On the southern side rises the bell tower, also eighteenth century, 50m (262 yards) tall and dominated by a characteristic pear-shaped dome.  The high altar is the work of Domenico Sartori, as are the statues of San't Antonio Abate and San Sebastiano placed on the same altar.

Also on this day:

1918: The death of flying ace Francesco Baracca

1932: The birth of Hollywood actress Pier Angeli

1932: The birth of Pier Angeli's twin, Marisa Pavan


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18 June 2019

18 June

Bartolomeo Ammannati – sculptor and architect


Florentine artist created masterpieces for his home city

Bartolomeo Ammannati, whose buildings in Italy marked the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque style, was born on this day in 1511 at Settignano near Florence.  Ammannati began his career as a sculptor, carving statues in a number of Italian cities during the 1530s.  He trained first under Baccio Bandinelli and then under Jacopo Sansovino in Venice, working with him on the Library of St Mark, the Biblioteca Marciana, in the Piazzetta.  Pope Julius III called Ammannati to Rome in 1550 on the advice of architect and art historian Giorgio Vasari. Ammannati then worked with Vasari and Giacomo da Vignola on the Villa Giulia, which belonged to the Pope.  Ammannati’s masterpiece in Florence is considered to be the Pitti Palace, where he enlarged Filippo Brunelleschi’s basic structure and designed a courtyard and facade opening on to the Boboli Gardens. His other major works in Florence are the Bridge of Santa Trinità over the Arno and the Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza della Signoria. It is believed the sculptor modelled Neptune’s face on that of Cosimo I de' Medici. Read more…

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Fabio Capello - leading football manager


Veteran Champions League winner with five Serie A titles 

Fabio Capello, one of European club football's most successful managers, was born on this day in 1946 in San Canzian d'Isonzo, close to the border of Italy and Slovenia.  The winner of five Serie A titles as a coach and four as a player, plus two La Liga titles as manager of Real Madrid, and the Champions League with AC Milan, Capello was born in an area occupied by Allied forces after the end of the Second World War.  He began his playing career at the Ferrara-based SPAL club and went on to represent Roma, Juventus and AC Milan.  A midfielder with an eye for goal, he was a Serie A champion as a player three times with Juventus and once with Milan, also winning the Coppa Italia with Roma and Milan.  He represented Italy 32 times, playing at the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany.  As a coach, he took England to the World Cup finals in South Africa in 2010.  Read more…

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Raffaella Carrà - entertainer and TV presenter


Much-loved star with long and varied career

Raffaella Carrà, the singer, dancer, television presenter and actress often simply known as la Carrà or Raffaella, was born in Bologna on this day in 1943.  Carrà has become a familiar face on Italian TV screens as the host of many variety shows and, more recently, as a judge on the talent show The Voice of Italy.  She has also enjoyed a recording career spanning 45 years and was a film actress for the best part of 25 years, having made her debut at the age of nine.  Her best-known screen role outside Italy was alongside Frank Sinatra in the hit American wartime drama, Von Ryan’s Express.  Carrà was born Raffaella Maria Roberta Pelloni. Shew grew up in the Adriatic resort of Bellaria-Igea Marina, just north of Rimini, where her father ran a bar and her maternal grandfather an ice cream parlour.  At the age of eight, she won a place at the National Dance Academy in Rome.  Read more…


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17 June 2019

17 June

Saint Joseph of Copertino 


Flying friar now protects aviators

Saint Joseph, a Franciscan friar who became famous for his miraculous levitation, was born Giuseppe Maria Desa on this day in 1603 in Copertino, a village in Puglia that was then part of the Kingdom of Naples.  Joseph was canonised in 1767, more than 100 years after his death, by Pope Clement XIII and he is now the patron saint for astronauts and aviation.  Joseph’s father, Felice Desa, had died before his birth leaving large debts. After the family home was seized to settle what was owed, his mother, Francesca Panara, was forced to give birth to him in a stable.  Joseph experienced ecstatic visions as a child at school. When he was scorned by other children he had outbursts of anger.  He was apprenticed to a shoemaker but when he applied to join the Franciscan friars he was rejected because of his lack of education.  He was accepted in 1620 as a lay brother by the Capuchin friars only to be dismissed because his constant ecstasies made him unfit to carry out his required duties.  Read more...


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Rinaldo ‘Dindo’ Capello - endurance racing driver


Three times winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours 

Rinaldo ‘Dindo’ Capello, one of Italy’s most successful endurance racing drivers, was born on this day in 1964 in Asti, in Piedmont.  During a period between 1997 and 2008 in which there was an Italian winning driver in all bar two years, Capello won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the most prestigious endurance race on the calendar, three times.  Only Emanuele Pirro, his sometimes Audi teammate and rival during that period, has more victories in the race among Italian drivers, with five. Pirro won in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2007, Capello in 2003, 2004 and 2008.  Capello’s career record also includes two championship wins in the American Le Mans Series and five victories in the 12 Hours of Sebring. He is also record holder for most wins at Petit Le Mans, the race run annually at Atlanta, Georgia to Le Mans rules, with five.  Alongside teammates Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish, he was regarded as the quiet man of the all-conquering Audi sports car team, although his contribution was every bit as impressive.  Read more…

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Giovanni Paolo Panini – artist


Painter who preserved scenes of Rome

Giovanni Paolo Panini, an artist mainly known for his views of Rome, was born on this day in 1691 in Piacenza. He is particularly remembered for his view of the interior of the Pantheon, commissioned by the Venetian collector, Francesco Algarotti, in around 1734. The Pantheon was as much a tourist attraction in Panini’s day as it is today and Panini manipulated the proportions and perspective to include more of the interior that is actually visible from any one vantage point. Indeed, many of his works, especially those of ruins, have slightly unreal embellishment. He sought to meet the needs of visitors for painted postcards depicting scenes of Italy and his clients were often happy with minor distortions of reality if it meant they could show off a unique picture. As a young man, Panini trained in his native town of Piacenza. He moved to Rome where he studied drawing. His work was to influence other painters, such as Canaletto, who resolved to do for Venice what Panini had done for Rome. Read more...

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Sergio Marchionne - business leader


Man who saved Fiat divides opinions in Italy

Controversial business leader Sergio Marchionne was born on this day in 1952 in the city of Chieti in the Abruzzo region of Italy.  The former chief executive of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is credited with saving the iconic Italian motor manufacturer from potential extinction in 2004, when Fiat was on the verge of being taken into the ownership of the banks that were keeping it afloat.  It had suffered cumulative losses of more than $8 billion over the previous two years and a strategic alliance with General Motors had failed. Its share of the European car market had shrunk to an historic low of just 5.8 per cent.  Yet after the little-known Marchionne was appointed chief executive at the company's Turin headquarters it took him only just over a year to bring Fiat back into profit.  When Fiat opened a new assembly line at the Mirafiori plant outside Turin in 2006, Marchionne was hailed as a hero.  Soon, the new Fiat 500 was launched, tapping into Italian nostalgia by reprising the name that was synonymous with the optimistic years of the 1950s and 60s.  But Marchionne in time antagonised the more hard-line unions with the changes he introduced to working conditions.  Read more…

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Saint Joseph of Copertino

Flying friar now protects aviators


Painter Ludovico Mazzanti's 18th century  depiction of Saint Joseph levitating
Painter Ludovico Mazzanti's 18th century
depiction of Saint Joseph levitating
Saint Joseph, a Franciscan friar who became famous for his miraculous levitation, was born Giuseppe Maria Desa on this day in 1603 in Copertino, a village in Puglia that was then part of the Kingdom of Naples.

Joseph was canonised in 1767, more than 100 years after his death, by Pope Clement XIII and he is now the patron saint for astronauts and aviation.

Joseph’s father, Felice Desa, had died before his birth leaving large debts. After the family home was seized to settle what was owed, his mother, Francesca Panara, was forced to give birth to him in a stable.

Joseph experienced ecstatic visions as a child at school. When he was scorned by other children he had outbursts of anger.

He was apprenticed to a shoemaker but when he applied to join the Franciscan friars he was rejected because of his lack of education.

He was accepted in 1620 as a lay brother by the Capuchin friars only to be dismissed because his constant ecstasies made him unfit to carry out his required duties.

Forced to return home he pleaded with the Franciscan friars near Copertino to be allowed to work in their stables.  After several years he was admitted to the Order and he was ordained a priest in 1628.

The Basilica of San Giuseppe da Copertino in Piazza Gallo was dedicated to St Joseph
The Basilica of San Giuseppe da Copertino
in Piazza Gallo was dedicated to St Joseph
He began to experience more ecstasies and it was claimed he began to levitate while participating in Mass, remaining suspended in the air for some time. He gained a reputation for holiness among ordinary people but was considered disruptive by the Church authorities, who found that even piercing his flesh or burning him with candles would have no effect on him while he was levitating. He was eventually confined to a small cell and forbidden to join in any public gatherings.

Joseph was denounced to the Inquisition because flying and levitation were then considered to be a type of witchcraft.

On the Inquisition’s orders, he was transferred from one friary to another to be kept under observation. He lived under a strict regime, eating solid food only twice a week.

In 1657 he was at last allowed to return to live in a religious community and was sent to a friary in Osimo in Le Marche, then part of the Papal States, where he died six years later at the age of 60.

Joseph was beatified in 1753 and made a Saint in 1767.

People sceptical about the reports of Saint Joseph’s levitating or seeming to become airborne have suggested he was either a very agile man who leapt into the air or was perhaps suffering convulsions as a result of consuming bread made from infected grain, which was common centuries ago.

Nevertheless, many pilgrims now visit Joseph’s tomb to pay their respects at the Basilica of Saint Joseph of Copertino in Piazza Gallo in Osimo.

Copertino Castle, built in 1540, has tapered ramparts in each of its four corners
Copertino Castle, built in 1540, has tapered ramparts in
each of its four corners 
Travel tip: 

Copertino, where Saint Joseph was born, is a town in the province of Lecce in the Puglia region of south east Italy. Red and rosé DOC wines are made in the area around the town. Copertino Castle, built in 1540 on the site of an older fortress, is one of the biggest fortifications in the entire region. It has a distinctive design, built on a quadrangle plan with a tapered rampart at each of the four corners. There is also a sanctuary dedicated to Saint Joseph in the town.

The main square in Osimo, the town in Le Marche where Saint Joseph died in 1663
The main square in Osimo, the town in Le Marche where
Saint Joseph died in 1663
Travel tip:

One of the main sights in Osimo, where Saint Joseph died, is the Basilica of San Giuseppe da Copertino, which was founded as a church dedicated to Saint Francis but was later rededicated and refurbished to house Saint Joseph’s relics.  There is also a restored Romanesque-Gothic church has a portal with sculptures of the 13th century. A town of more than 35,000 inhabitants, Osimo is located approximately 15km (9 miles) south of the port city of Ancona and the Adriatic Sea.

Also on this day:

1691: The birth of painter Giovanni Paolo Panini

1952: The birth of Sergio Marchionne, businessman 

1964: The birth of racing driver Rinaldo 'Dindo' Capello


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16 June 2019

16 June

Pietro Bracci - sculptor


Artist best known for Oceanus statue at Trevi Fountain

The sculptor Pietro Bracci, who left his mark on the architectural landscape of Rome with the colossal six-metre high statue Oceanus that towers over the Trevi Fountain, was born on this day in 1700 in Rome.  The monumental figure is shown standing on a chariot, in the form of a shell, pulled by two winged horses flanked by two tritons. Bracci worked from sketches by Giovanni Battista Maini, who died before he could execute the project.  He also completed work on the fountain itself, built in front of Luigi Vanvitelli’s Palazzo Poli. This was started by Bracci’s close friend Nicola Salvi, who had been commissioned by Pope Clement XII to realize plans drawn up by Gian Lorenzo Bernini that had been shelved in the previous century. Salvi died in 1751, before he could complete the work. Giuseppe Pannini was also involved for a while before Bracci took over in 1761.  The work confirmed Bracci as a major talent of his time in the field of sculpture, one of the greatest of the late Baroque period, continuing in the tradition established by Bernini in the previous century that gave the city of Rome so many wonderful monuments.  Read more...

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Giacomo Agostini - world motorcycle champion


Lovere legend clocked up 122 Grand Prix wins

Giacomo Agostini, 15 times Grand Prix world motorcycling champion, was born on this day in 1942 in Brescia. Agostini moved with his family to the lakeside town of Lovere when he was 13. In 2016, his career was commemorated with a month-long exhibition at the Accademia Tadini, which overlooks the picturesque Lago d'Iseo.  The exhibition marked the 50th anniversary of Agostini's first world championship in 1966.  Riding for the Italian MV Agusta team, Agostini won the 500cc class seven times in a row from 1966 to 1972 and the 350cc class seven times in succession from 1968 to 1974, adding a further 500cc title on a Yamaha in 1975.  His total of 122 Grand Prix wins from 1965 to 1976 is the highest by any rider in the history of the sport, although his fellow Italian, Valentino Rossi, is now not far behind on 115.  Agostini, considered perhaps the greatest motorcycle racer of all time, was at the peak of his powers between 1967 and 1970. Between 1968 and 1970, he won every race in which he competed in 350cc and 500cc classes, equalling Mike Hailwood's record for most wins in a single year in 1970 when he was first in 19 races.  Read more…

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Mario Rigoni Stern – author


Brave soldier became a bestselling novelist

The novelist Mario Rigoni Stern, who was a veteran of World War II, died on this day in 2008 in Asiago in the Veneto region.  His first novel, Il sergente della neve - The Sergeant in the snow - was published in 1953. It drew upon his experiences as a sergeant major in the Alpine corps during the disastrous retreat from Russia in the Second World War. It became a best seller and was translated into English and Spanish.  Rigoni Stern had been a sergeant commanding a platoon in Mussolini’s army in the Soviet Union during the retreat of the Italians in the winter of 1942.  His book was inspired by how he succeeded in leading 70 survivors on foot from the Ukraine into what was then White Russia - now part of Belarus - and back to Italy.  In 1953 he sent the manuscript of his book to the Einaudi publishing house. They agreed to publish it but said they didn’t think he had a future as a writer.  They were proved wrong. One of more than a dozen novels and collections of short stories he would go on to publish, it won the Viareggio Prize for best debut novel and went on to sell more than a million copies.  Read more…

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