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.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Giuseppe 'Peppino' Prisco - lawyer and football administrator

Vice-president who became Inter Milan icon


Giuseppe Prisco, a legend at Inter, proudly wears the feathered hat from his Alpini uniform
Giuseppe Prisco, a legend at Inter, proudly
wears the feathered hat from his Alpini uniform
The lawyer and football administrator Giuseppe Prisco, who served as a senior figure in the running of the Internazionale football club in Milan for more than half a century, was born on this day in 1921.

Universally known as Peppino, he managed to combine a career in legal practice with a passion for Inter that he would share so publicly he became a symbol of the club whose name was chanted on the terraces.

Born in Milan into a family with its roots in Torre Annunziata, near Naples, he was said to have fallen in love with the nerazzurri at seven years old in 1929, when he witnessed his first derby against AC Milan at Inter’s old stadium, the Campo Virgilio Fossati, between Via Goldoni and Piazza Novelli to the east of the city centre.

His career as a lawyer did not begin until after he had served with the Alpini - the mountain troops of the Italian Army - on the Russian front in the Second World War. He was only 18 when he joined up but reached the rank of lieutenant in the “L’Aquila” battalion of the 9th Alpine Regiment, and as one of only three officers from 53 to return alive from the Russian front was awarded a Silver Medal for Military Valour by the Italian government.

On returning to civilian life, he graduated in law at the University of Milan and became a registered practising lawyer in 1946, opening his own office in the city, the start of a business that would bring him success and kudos for decades.

Prisco was for many years the president of the Milanese Bar Association
Prisco was for many years the president of the
Milanese Bar Association
He was president of the Milanese Bar Association for many years and participated in numerous high profile trials, including that of the controversial Milan banker Roberto Calvi on embezzlement charges in 1981.  Calvi was released on bail pending an appeal and a year later was found in dead in London.

Prisco joined his beloved Inter in 1949 as club secretary and thereafter served as a legal advisor to the board of directors before being elected vice-president in 1963, a position he held until his death in 2001, two days after his 80th birthday.

During his time as a director of the club, Inter won six Serie A titles, two European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, three UEFA Cups, two Coppa Italia titles and one Italian Super Cup.

Fans took him to their hearts after he used his legal expertise to force UEFA to overturn a defeat against Borussia Moenchengladbach in the UEFA Cup in 1971 after the Inter forward Roberto Boninsegna had to be taken off after being struck by a can thrown from the crowd.  Inter won the rematch.

He also endeared himself to the nerazzurri faithful with the sharp one-liners he would frequently deliver during television interviews when he was given the opportunity to talk about the club’s great rivals.

Prisco was presented with a special Inter shirt to mark his 50 years with the club
Prisco was presented with a special Inter
shirt to mark his 50 years with the club
Famously, he once said: "If I shake hands with a Milanese, I wash my hands, if I shake hands with a Juventus (fan), I count my fingers.”

On another occasion, he declared: “I’m against every form of racism but I’d never allow my daughter to marry a Milan player.”

At the end of the 1990s, he became a regular guest on TV sports shows such as Controcampo, in which he would often have humourous spats with presenters Diego Abatantuono and Giampiero Mughini.

Married to Maria Irene, he had two children: Luigi Maria, who followed him into the legal profession, and Anna Maria.  After his death from a heart attack, he was buried at Arcisate, a town in the province of Varese, about 70km (43 miles) north of Milan.

One of the neoclassical arches that form the entrances to Napoleon's Arena Civica in Milan
One of the neoclassical arches that form the entrances
to Napoleon's Arena Civica in Milan
Travel tip:

Inter have shared the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in San Siro with rivals AC Milan since 1947, but before that played at a number of stadiums around the city, including the Campo di Ripa Ticinese in the Ticinese district souith of the centre, the Campo Virgilio Fossati and the Arena Civica, the grandiose neoclassical stadium commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte after he had proclaimed himself King of Italy in 1905. Inter played their home games at the Arena, a kind of mini-Colosseum in the Parco Sempione, behind the Sforza Castle, from 1930 until 1958.

Search tripadvisor for hotels in Milan

Travel tip:

A view over the rooftops at Torre Annunziata, looking towards the waters of Bay of Naples
A view over the rooftops at Torre Annunziata, looking
towards the waters of Bay of Naples
Torre Annunziata, where Prisco had family roots, is a city in the metropolitan area of Naples. Close to Mount Vesuvius, the original city was destroyed in the eruption of 79 AD and a new one built over the ruins. Its name derives from a watch tower - torre - built to warn people of imminent Saracen raids and a chapel consecrated to the Annunziata (Virgin Mary). It became a centre for pasta production in the early 19th century. The Villa Poppaea, also known as Villa Oplontis, believed to be owned by Nero, was discovered about 10 metres below ground level just outside the town and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Naples hotels from Hotels.com

More reading:

Massimo Moratti, the business tycoon who presided over Inter's golden age

How Giuseppe Meazza became Italian football's first superstar

Why mystery still surrounds the death of 'God's banker' Roberto Calvi

Also on this day:

1813: The birth of forgotten composer Errico Petrella

1907: The birth of postwar movie star Amedeo Nazzari

1936: The death of playwright Luigi Pirandello


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Sunday, 9 December 2018

Teofilo Folengo – poet

Style of writer’s verses took its name from the dumpling


A portrait of Teofilo Folengo by Girolamo Romanino, owned by the Uffizi museum in Florence
A portrait of Teofilo Folengo by Girolamo Romanino,
owned by the Uffizi museum in Florence
Teofilo Folengo, who is remembered as one of the principal Italian ‘macaronic’ poets, died on this day in 1544 in the monastery of Santa Croce in Campese, a district of Bassano del Grappa in the Veneto.

Folengo published, under the pseudonym Merlin Cocaio, a macaronic narrative poem entitled Baldo, which was a humorous send up of ancient epic and Renaissance chivalric romance.

Writing in verse that mixed vernacular language with Latin became known as macaronic verse, the word deriving from the Latin macaronicus and the Italian maccarone, which meant dumpling, fare mixed crudely from different ingredients that at the time was regarded as a coarse, peasant food. It is presumed to be the origin of the modern Italian word maccheroni.

Folengo was a runaway Benedictine monk who satirised the monastic life using an invented, comic language that blended Latin with various Italian dialects.

Born Girolamo Folengo in 1491 in Cipada, a village near Mantua, he entered the Benedictine order as a young man taking the name Teofilo. He lived in monasteries in Brescia, Mantua and Padua, where he produced Latin verse written in the Virgilian style.

The cover of a book of macaronic verse by Folengo under his pseudonym
The cover of a book of macaronic verse
by Folengo under his pseudonym 
But he left the order to travel around the country with a young woman, Girolama Dieda. They often experienced great poverty as Folengo had no money apart from what he earned through writing.

For a few years he lived as a hermit near Sorrento, but he was readmitted to the Benedictine order in 1534 and remained in it, continuing to write, until his death.

Out of all his poetry, Baldo is considered to be his masterpiece and it has been republished five times. Full of satire and humour it describes the adventures of Baldo, who is supposed to be a descendant of the cousin of the medieval epic hero Roland. Baldo suffers imprisonment, battles with authority, pirates, witches and demons, and goes on a journey to the underworld.

The poem blended Latin with various Italian dialects in hexameter verse. The first English version, translated by Ann Mullaney, was published in 2007.

The term macaronic is still used to describe literature where the mixing of languages has a humorous or satirical effect. It is believed to have originated in Padua in the late 15th century, after the comic poem, Macaronea, by Tifi Odasi was published in about 1488, satirising the broken Latin used by doctors and officials to communicate with ordinary people.

Folengo once described his own verses as ‘a gross, rude and rustic mixture of flour, cheese and butter.’

Many modern Italian authors, including Umberto Eco and Dario Fo, have continued to use macaronic text.

The Palazzo Ducale in Mantua was the seat of the Gonzagas
The Palazzo Ducale in Mantua was the seat of the Gonzagas
Travel tip:

Cipada near Mantua, where Teofilo Folengo was born, was a village on the banks of a lake, but it no longer exists, having become part of the industrial area of Mantua. A main street, Strada Cipata, is the only reference to it that remains. On the other side of the lake is the historic area of Mantua, where the Palazzo Ducale, the seat of the Gonzaga family between 1328 and 1707, can be found.

Hotels in Mantua by Hotels.com

The former monastery of Santa Croce in Campese, where Folengo died
The former monastery of Santa Croce
in Campese, where Folengo died
Travel tip:

The monastery of Santa Croce, where Teofilo Folengo died, is in Via IV Novembre in Campese, a district of Bassano del Grappa on the banks of the Brenta Canal. The monastery dates back to 1124 and for centuries was the most important religious centre in the area around the Brenta. There is a monument to Teofilo Folengo in the monastery, which is now used as a church. Close by is a square named after the poet, Piazza Teofilo Folengo.

Hotels in Bassano del Grappa from Expedia.co.uk

More reading:

Giosuè Carducci - the poet who became the first Italian to win a Nobel Prize in literature

Why Torquato Tasso is known as Italy's greatest Renaissance poet

How Dario Fo's work denounced crime, corruption and racism

Also on this day:

1920: The birth of politician Carlo Azeglio Ciampi

1920: The birth of Bruno Ruffo, Italy's first motorcycling world champion

1946: The birth - near Vicenza - of Indian politician Sonia Gandhi


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Saturday, 8 December 2018

Arnaldo Forlani - politician

Oldest surviving former prime minister


Arnaldo Forlani was prime minister of Italy for just eight months
Arnaldo Forlani was prime minister
of Italy for just eight months
Italy’s oldest surviving prime minister, Arnaldo Forlani, was born on this day in 1925 in Pesaro.

A Christian Democrat for the whole of his active political career, Forlani was President of the Council of Ministers - the official title of the Italian prime minister - for just over eight months, between October 1980 and June 1981.

He later served as deputy prime minister (1983-87) in a coalition led by the Italian Socialist Party leader Bettino Craxi, having previously been defence minister under Aldo Moro (1974-76) and foreign affairs minister under Giulio Andreotti (1976-79).

Forlani represented Ancona in the Chamber of Deputies from his election in 1958 until the party collapsed in 1994 in the wake of the mani pulite corruption investigations.

He was premier during a difficult period for Italy, which was still reeling from the terrorist attack on Bologna railway station and the decade or so of social and political turmoil known as the Years of Lead.

Barely a month into his term, Forlani was confronted with the devastation of the Irpinia earthquake in Campania, which left almost 2,500 people dead, a further 7,700 injured and 250,000 homeless.

Forlani had been in office only a month when he had to deal with the aftermath of the devastating Irpinia earthquake
Forlani had been in office only a month when he had to deal
with the aftermath of the devastating Irpinia earthquake
Forlani committed 59 trillion lire to reconstruction, with many millions contributed by other countries, notably West Germany and the United States, although in the event, as was uncovered more than a decade later, much of the money was siphoned off by corrupt officials, paid out in bribes, or ended up in the hands of the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia.

His short-lived period in office ended when the publication of the names of the alleged members of the secret masonic lodge Propaganda Due prompted members of his coalition government to resign en masse. His minister of justice, Adolfo Sarti, was among those named, which included two other ministers among 44 members of parliament, as well as scores of bankers, industrialists, journalists, police, military officers and the heads of all three of Italy’s secret services.

It was alleged that P2, as it was usually known, was operating as “a state within a state” in trying to clandestinely control the running of the country. Forlani himself was not involved, although he was criticised for allegedly delaying the publication of the names.

Arnaldo Forlani pictured with his political ally, the  four-times prime minister Giulio Andreotti
Arnaldo Forlani pictured with his political ally, the
four-times prime minister Giulio Andreotti
Forlani, who graduated in law from the University of Urbino, became provincial secretary of Christian Democracy for Pesaro in 1948, joining the central committee of the party in 1954.

He twice served as the party’s national secretary, from 1969-73 and 1989-92 and continued to be an important politician after his period as prime minister, helping to forge closer ties between the Christian Democrats and the parties of the left and centre-left in the hope of ensuring that the Communists were never again as close to power as they had been during the turmoil of the 1970s.

Forlani was put forward as a candidate for President of the Republic in 1992, only six months before he was forced to resign as party secretary in the wake of the mani pulite scandal, in which he was charged with having received illegal funds.  He effectively retired from politics at that moment.

The Piazza del Popolo is a popular meeting place where friends gather in Pesaro
The Piazza del Popolo is a popular meeting place where
friends gather in Pesaro
Travel tip:

Pesaro, where Arnaldo Forlani was born, is a coastal city in Le Marche that has become known as ‘the city of music’ because the opera composer Gioachino Rossini was born there in 1792. The Rossini Opera Festival has taken place in Pesaro every summer since 1980 and the town is home to the Conservatorio Statale di Musica Gioachino Rossini, which was founded from a legacy left by the composer. Pesaro also has a 15th century Ducal Palace, commissioned by Alessandro Sforza.  It is popular with Italian holidaymakers for its sandy beaches, as well as its many cycle paths, because of which Pesaro is also known as the ‘city of bicycles.’

Search tripadvisor for hotels in Pesaro


The coastal city of Ancona is home to about 120,000 people and has some interesting historical monuments
The coastal city of Ancona is home to about 120,000
people and has some interesting historical monuments
Travel tip:

The coastal city of Ancona, which Forlani represented in the Chamber of Deputies, is a bustling port of almost 102,000 inhabitants. Although the area around the port has an industrial feel, there are some notable beaches nearby and a good deal of history in the older part of the city, bearing witness to its Greek and Roman past. The 18m-high Arch of Trajan, built in honour of the emperor who built the city’s harbour, is regarded as one of the finest Roman monuments in the Marche region. In Ancona’s harbour, the Lazzaretto, the pentagonal building constructed on an artificial island in the 18th century, used to be a quarantine station designed to protect Ancona from diseases carried by infected travellers.

Hotels in Ancona from Hotels.com

More reading:

The tragedy of Aldo Moro

What made Giulio Andreotti the great political survivor

Propaganda Due suspects revealed

Also on this day:

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

1685: The birth of perfumier Johann Maria Farina

1881: The birth of 'Fascist' architect Marcello Piacentini


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Friday, 7 December 2018

Giovanni Battista Falda - engraver

Printmaker who found market among Grand Tourists


An engraving by Giovanni Battista Falda of Gian Lorenzo Bernini's tour de force, the Piazza San Pietro in Rome
An engraving by Giovanni Battista Falda of Gian Lorenzo
Bernini's tour de force, the Piazza San Pietro in Rome 
The engraver and printmaker Giovanni Battista Falda, who turned his artistic talent into commercial success as 17th century Rome welcomed the first waves of Europe’s Grand Tourists, was born on this day in 1643 in Valduggia in Piedmont.

Falda created engravings depicting the great buildings, gardens and fountains of Rome, as well as maps and representations of ceremonial events, which soon became popular with visitors keen to take back pictorial souvenirs of their stay, to remind them of what they had seen and to show their friends.

He took commissions to make illustrations of favourite views and of specific buildings and squares, and because the early Grand Tourists were mainly young men from wealthy families in Britain and other parts of Europe he was able to charge premium prices.

Giovanni Battista Falda's depiction of the church of Santa Maria della Rotonda, popularly known as the Pantheon
Giovanni Battista Falda's depiction of the church of Santa
Maria della Rotonda, popularly known as the Pantheon
Falda showed artistic talent at an early age and was apprenticed to the painter Francesco Ferrari as a child, before moving to Rome when he was 14 to be mentored by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the sculptor and architect who had such a huge influence on the look of Rome.

His early draughtsmanship caught the eye of the printmaker and publisher Giovan Giacomo De Rossi, who took Falda on as an apprentice at his print shop.

The De Rossi family were the principal publishers of prints in Rome during the 17th century, and almost all of Falda’s work was published by them.

Falda was taught all the technical skills of engraving and etching, while also perfecting his own style of drawing, which was focused on realistic representation of his subjects.

A section of Falda's incredibly detailed map of Rome
A section of Falda's incredibly detailed map of Rome
He made the acquaintance of emerging figures of the Roman art world, such as Francesco Borromini and Pietro da Cortona, and when he finished his training at the age of 20 began a career as a printmaker.

His specialisation was the urban landscape of Rome, and he is best known for his vedute - views - of architecture throughout the city, especially the renovation projects backed by Pope Alexander VII. In 1665, the De Rossi printshop published a book of prints by Falda depicting views of the construction and restoration projects sponsored by the Pope.

Gardens and fountains interested Falda in particular. Two of his most famous series collected in book form are Giardini di Roma (1670) and Fontane di Roma (1675).

An illustration from the collection of garden views created by Giovanni Battista Falda, entitled Giardini di Roma
An illustration from the collection of garden views created
by Giovanni Battista Falda, entitled Giardini di Roma
Falda was a significant influence on the work of later Roman printmakers, such as Giovanni Francesco Ventunni, Alessandro Specchi, and Giuseppe Vasi.

With more than 300 architectural views attributed to him, Falda also had much to do with Rome’s renown in the 17th century for the veduta as a genre and helped change the perception of the city, shifting the focus away from its ancient history and underlining its new status as a modern, progressive and expanding metropolis.

In 1676, he produced a 12-sheet map of Rome depicting the city in minute detail at the height of its Baroque splendor.

The first of the Grand Tourists, who arrived in Rome in the mid-17th century, bought so much of Falda’s work that he soon grew prosperous, although he did not live long to enjoy his wealth. He passed away at the age of just 34 in 1678.

Today, his works are still collectible. When they come up at auction, they usually sell for between £2,500 and £3,500 (€2,800 - €3,900), although some have realised up to £20,000 (€22,500).

Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Rome's historic Piazza Navona
Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in
Rome's historic Piazza Navona
Travel tip:

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who was born in 1598 and lived for more than 81 years, is the architect and sculptor behind many of Rome’s most famous landmarks, particular the fountains that Giovanni Battista Falda depicted with such success in his engravings. The Fontana della Barcaccia in Piazza di Spagna, the Fontana del Tritone in Piazza Barberini, and the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and Fontana del Moro in Piazza Navona are all by Bernini, although he is more famous even for his work at St Peter’s Basilica, which included numerous beautiful sculptures within the church and the architectural masterpiece that is Piazza San Pietro - St Peter’s Square - with its majestic sweep of statue-topped colonnades.

Look for Rome hotels with Hotels.com

The Isola San Giulio in the middle of the beautiful Lago di Orta in Piedmont, not far from where Falda was born
The Isola San Giulio in the middle of the beautiful Lago
di Orta in Piedmont, not far from where Falda was born
Travel tip:

Valduggia, the small town in northern Piedmont where Falda was born, is just 15km (9 miles) from Lago di Orta, a smaller and less well known lake than Maggiore, Como, Garda and Iseo, yet one that is no less beautiful and has the benefit of being less crowded than its more high-profile neighbours. The small town of Orta San Giulio, at the south-eastern edge of the lake, is the most important town on the shores of Lake Orta, boasting an attractive historical centre with narrow cobbled streets and many bars and ice cream shops.  Boats leave the harbour to cross to Isola San Giulio, the charming island in the centre of the lake where visitors can find the ruins of a 12th century basilica and follow a path that follows the circumference of the island.

Find a hotel on Lago di Orta with tripadvisor

More reading:

Gian Lorenzo Bernini - the greatest sculptor of the 17th century

How Pietro da Cortona became the leading Baroque painter of his time

Visentini engravings took Venice to the wider world

Also on this day:

The Feast of St Ambrose in Milan

1302: The birth of Milanese ruler Azzione Visconti

1598: The birth of Gian Lorenzo Bernini


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Thursday, 6 December 2018

Andrea Agnelli - Juventus chairman

Fourth member of famous dynasty to run Turin club


Andrea Agnelli has been chairman of Juventus since succeeding John Elkann in 2010
Andrea Agnelli has been chairman of Juventus
since succeeding John Elkann in 2010
The businessman Andrea Agnelli, who since 2010 has been chairman of Italy’s leading football club, Juventus, was born on this day in 1975 in Turin.

He is the fourth Agnelli to take the helm of the famous club since 1923, when his grandfather, Edoardo, took over as president and presided over the club’s run of five consecutive Serie A titles in the 1930s.

Andrea’s father, Umberto, and his uncle, the flamboyant entrepreneur Gianni Agnelli, also had spells running the club, which has been controlled by the Agnelli family for 88 years, with the exception of a four-year period between 1943 and 1947. The family still owns 64% of the club.

As well as being chief operating officer of Fiat, which was founded by Andrea’s great-grandfather, Giovanni, Umberto was a Senator of the Italian Republic.  On his mother’s side, Andrea has noble blood.

Donna Allegra Caracciolo di Castagneto is the first cousin of Marella Agnelli - Gianni’s widow - who was born Donna Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto and is the daughter of Filippo Caracciolo, 8th Prince di Castagneto, 3rd Duke di Melito, and a hereditary Patrician of Naples.

A young Andrea Agnelli pictured at the 1996 Champions League final - the last Juventus won - with his uncle, Gianni
A young Andrea Agnelli pictured at the 1996 Champions
League final - the last Juventus won - with his uncle, Gianni
Andrea had a private education St Clare's, an independent college in Oxford, England, and at Bocconi University in Milan.  After university, Agnelli entered the business world, working for companies in England and France that included Iveco and Auchan Hypermarché. He also spent several years in Switzerland.

He was appointed chairman of the board of directors of Juventus by his first cousin, John Elkann, in 2010, after Elkann had come under criticism from Juventus fans for the club's poor results during the 2009–10 season.

Many Juventus fans welcomed Andrea’s arrival because of the family's historic association with the club. He is credited with turning round the club’s fortunes at a time when the financial recession and the aftermath of the infamous Calciopoli scandal were making progress difficult.

Emma Winter, the English artist Agnelli married in 2005
Emma Winter, the English artist
Agnelli married in 2005
He stabilised the club’s finances and, after initially appointing Sampdoria duo Giuseppe Marotta as director of sport and Luigi Delneri as coach, pulled off a masterstroke in May 20100 by hiring former captain and fan favourite Antonio Conte as new manager.

Conte, who had coached Bari to the Serie B title in 2008-09, steered Juve in his first season to their first scudetto since they were stripped of two titles in the mid-2000s as a result of the Calciopoli rulings.

Since then, with Agnelli appointing the former AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri to replace Chelsea-bound Conte in 2014 in a seamless change at the top, Juventus have won a record seven Serie A titles in a row, as well as four Coppa Italia titles in a row since 2014–15.

Juventus are well on course for an eighth consecutive title, having already built a lead of eight points over Napoli in the Serie A table, but Agnelli and the club more than anything crave success in the Champions League, which they have not won since 1996, when they defeated Ajax on penalties in the final in Rome.

In the 22 seasons subsequent to that one, they have been runners-up five times, twice since Andrea became chairman, in 2015 and 2017, when they were beaten respectively by the Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Andrea Agnelli would like to see the Champions League established as the main competition for Europe's biggest clubs
Andrea Agnelli would like to see the Champions League
established as the main competition for Europe's biggest clubs
Despite falling revenues - the club recorded an operating loss of €19 million (£17 million) in 2017-18 - Andrea authorised the signing of Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo in July this year for a fee of €100 million (£88.5 million), beating the previous record fee paid by an Italian club that was set by Juventus in 2016 when they signed Gonzalo Higuaín from Napoli for €90 million (£75.3 million).

The Ronaldo signing will eventually cost Juventus €340 million (£301 million) with the player’s salary taken into account, yet Agnelli insisted that the outlay “made sense on and off the pitch”, in a reference to the commercial revenue the Portugal star was likely to generate for the club through merchandising, and to his potential for helping Juventus achieve Agnelli’s target of winning the Champions League.

As chairman of the powerful European Club Association, a position he has held since 2017, Andrea is keen to see the Champions League overtake domestic competition as the principal focus for Europe’s top clubs, proposing an increase in the size of the Champions League and a corresponding reduction in the number of domestic fixtures.

Edoardo Agnelli, grandfather of Andrea, ran Juventus in the 1930s
Edoardo Agnelli, grandfather of
Andrea, ran Juventus in the 1930s
This has been driven in part by the inequality that now exists between the domestic leagues in European countries, mainly because of the huge variations in television revenue, particular compared with the Premier League in England. Juventus, despite their dominant position in Italian football, are only the 10th wealthiest club in Europe in terms of revenue.

Andrea Agnelli is married to Emma Winter, a English-born artist, designer and art director, whose clients have included United Visual Artists, Universal, Sony, Polydor, Ted Baker, Adidas, Dove, Peugeot and Panasonic.

They were married in 2005 at the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Villar Perosa in Piedmont, with the reception taking place at the nearby Villa Agnelli, the family estate which is now the home of Marella Agnelli. The couple have two children, 13-year-old Baya Agnelli and six-year-old Giacomo Dai Agnelli.


The Villa Agnelli, country home of the Agnelli family at Villar Perosa in Piedmont in 1811
The Villa Agnelli, country home of the Agnelli family
at Villar Perosa in Piedmont in 1811
Travel tip:

Villar Perosa, where Giovanni Agnelli was born, is a small town about 40 km (25 miles) southwest of Turin.  The Villa Agnelli, the family's country house and estate there, consisting of a 45-room stuccoed rococo villa with grounds and a commanding views of the Alps, has been in the the Agnelli family since 1811. As well as Russell Page, the English landscape gardener, the Agnellis hired renowned architect Gae Aulenti to create the timbered pool house. The estate also contains a family chapel, where members of the Agnelli clan are buried.

Search Expedia.co.uk for Villar Perosa hotels

Juventus play their home matches at the Juventus Stadium, which holds 41,000 people, in the Vallette district of Turin
Juventus play their home matches at the Juventus Stadium,
which holds 41,000 people, in the Vallette district of Turin
Travel tip:

Juventus is one of the two major football clubs in Turin, the other being Torino.  Although Juventus now play at a stadium on the northern perimeter of the city in the Vallette district, the club's roots are in the city centre.  Their original ground was in what is now known as the Parco Cavalieri di Vittorio Veneto, a large green space between Corso IV Novembre and Corso Galileo Ferraris just south of the city centre, which in the late 19th century was Piazza d'Armi, an army parade ground.  Nearby is the Stadio Olimpico, now the home of Torino, which was formerly called Stadio Comunale, where the two clubs cohabited until 1990. Juventus now play at the Juventus Stadium, an ultra-modern ground with a 41,000 capacity that has been their home since 2011, and which also houses the Juventus museum.

Turin hotels from Hotels.com

More reading:

How Gianni Agnelli became more powerful than politicians

Marella Agnelli, the noblewoman who married into a business dynasty

Massimiliano Allegri, the coach who keeps the trophies coming at Juventus

Also on this day:

1478: The birth of Baldassare Castiglione, the author of the Italian classic, The Book of the Courtier

1586: The birth of astronomer Niccolò Zucchi

1794: The birth of 19th century opera star Luigi Lablache


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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Maria De Filippi - television presenter

One of the most popular faces on Italian TV


Maria De Filippi has become one of the  most popular presenters on Italian TV
Maria De Filippi has become one of the
most popular presenters on Italian TV
The television presenter Maria De Filippi, who has hosted numerous talk and talent shows in a career spanning 25 years, was born on this day in 1961 in Milan.

De Filippi is best known as the presenter of the long-running talent show Amici de Maria De Filippi, which completed its 17th season this year, having been launched in 2001.

The show’s predecessor, called simply Amici, was hosted by De Filippi from 1993 onwards.

One of the most popular faces on Italian television, De Filippi has been married since 1995 to the veteran talk show host and journalist Maurizio Costanzo, who celebrated his 80th birthday this year.

The daughter of a drugs company representative and a Greek teacher, De Filippi was born in Milan before moving at age 10 to Mornico Losana, a village in the province of Pavia, where her parents owned a vineyard.

A graduate in law, she had ambitions of a career as a magistrate but in 1989, while she was working in the legal department of a video cassette company, she had a chance meeting with Costanzo at a conference in Venice to discuss ways of combating musical piracy.

Maria De Filippi presented the 2017 Sanremo Music Festival along another popular TV host, Carlo Conti
Maria De Filippi presented the 2017 Sanremo Music
Festival along another popular TV host, Carlo Conti
She clearly made an impression on the broadcaster, already well known as the face of the Maurizio Costanzo Show. He soon invited her to move to Rome to work for his communication and image company.

What began as a professional relationship then turned into a romance. Costanzo, who was separated from his third wife, the television presenter  Marta Flavi, moved in with De Filippi and after five years they were married, in 1995.

The chance for De Filippi to break into television came in 1992 when the original choice as presenter of the Amici show, Lella Costa, withdrew after becoming pregnant.  With little time to find a replacement, the producers decided to take a chance with De Filippi, despite her lack of experience, and it paid off handsomely.

The show, modelled on the United States hit Fame, featuring a school in which two groups of aspiring young singers and dancers compete against each other before a panel of judges, proved hugely popular, twice winning coveted Telegatto awards, and De Filippi was soon being offered more television work.

Maria De Filippi survived a car bomb attack on her husband in 1993
Maria De Filippi survived a car bomb
attack on her husband in 1993
She had another hit with Uomini e donne (Men and Women), which began as a talk show focusing on conflicts between husband and wife but evolved into a dating show.

De Filippi became a judge on Canale 5’s Italia’s Got Talent in 2009, alongside Gerry Scotti and Rudy Zerbi, a position she kept until Mediaset lost the rights to the show in 2014, after which she was asked to front a new show, Tù si que vales.

Alongside Carlo Conti, she presented the Sanremo Music Festival in 2017 and currently presents Uomini e donne, Tù si que vales and C’è posta per te (You’ve Got Mail) as well as Amici, and produces a number of other shows.

Before they were married, she and Costanzo had a lucky escape in 1993 from a Mafia-organised car bomb attack, a response to a number of programmes Costanzo produced focusing on the fight against the Cosa Nostra in Sicily.

The bomb detonated in the Via Ruggero Fauro, close to the Parioli Theatre in Rome where the Maurizio Costanzo Show was filmed, but Costanzo and De Filippi were not in the car they usually used. Their driver and bodyguard suffered injuries but they were unhurt.

The landscapes of the Oltrepò Pavese, which includes Mornico Losana, give it the look of rural Tuscany
The landscapes of the Oltrepò Pavese, which includes Mornico
Losana, give it the look of rural Tuscany
Travel tip:

Mornico Losana, where De Filippi moved when she was 10 years old, is in the Oltrepò Pavese, an area of scenic beauty south of the Po river in Lombardy that is often called the Tuscany of the North, on account of its rolling hills, medieval villages and castles and panoramic views. It is the largest wine producing area of Lombardy and one of the largest in Italy, specialising in Pinot Nero grapes. The landscape is scattered with vineyards and is popular with hikers and mountain bikers.

Check out hotels near Mornico Losana with Hotels.com

The Teatro Parioli, part of the wealthy Parioli neighbourhood, north of Rome's city centre
The Teatro Parioli, part of the wealthy Parioli
neighbourhood, north of Rome's city centre
Travel tip:

The Parioli district, in which the Parioli Theatre is located on Via Giosuè Borsi, is one of Rome's wealthiest residential neighbourhoods. Located north of the city centre, it is notable for its tree-lined streets and elegant houses, and for some of Rome's finest restaurants. The Auditorium Parco della Musica and the Villa Ada, once the Rome residence of the Italian royal family and surrounded by the second largest park in the city, can also be found within the Parioli district.

Rome hotels from Expedia.co.uk

More reading:

Gerry Scotti - host of Italy's Millionaire

Why Sanremo winner Adriano Celentano is Italy's biggest selling recording artist of all time

The remarkable life of veteran talk show host Maurizio Costanzo

Also on this day:

1443: The birth of Pope Julius II

1687: The birth of composer and violinist Francesco Gemianini

1861: The birth of World War One general Armando Diaz


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Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Costantino Rocca - golfer

Italian whose success inspired Open champion


Costantino Rocca finished runner-up in the Open championship at St Andrews in 1995
Costantino Rocca finished runner-up in the Open
championship at St Andrews in 1995
Costantino Rocca, who until this year was the most successful Italian in the history of international golf, was born on this day in 1956 in Almenno San Bartolomeo, near Bergamo in northern Italy.

Rocca, who turned professional at the age of 24 in 1981, enjoyed his best years in the mid-1990s, peaking with second place in the Open Championship at St Andrews in 1995.

He was beaten by the American John Daly in a four-hole play-off but was perhaps as popular a runner-up as there has been in the history of the tournament after the incredible putt he sank on the final green to deny Daly victory inside the regulation 72 holes.

Needing a birdie to be level with Daly at the top of the leaderboard after the American finished six under par, Rocca appeared to have blown his chance when his poorly executed second shot - a chipped approach that was meant to leave him in easy putting distance of the hole - did not even make it safely on to the green, coming to rest in an area known colloquially as ‘the Valley of Sin’.

It left him 65ft - almost 20m - short of the hole, needing somehow to hole a putt that had first to go uphill and then break sharply to the right.

Watch Rocca's 'miracle putt' at St Andrews




Extraordinarily, he pulled it off, to the delight of the gallery and the astonishment of Daly, who was watching on a TV monitor. Rocca flung his arms back in sheer joy before dropping to the ground and lay flat on his stomach with his face buried in the grass, drumming the turf with his fists, his whole body shaking with emotion.

It was described as a ‘miracle’ putt and when Rocca returned to the east Scotland course in April of this year, he had more than 20 attempts to reprise the shot but could not make it even once.

Costantino Rocca's first job in professional golf was caddying at his local club in Bergamo
Costantino Rocca's first job in professional golf was
caddying at his local club in Bergamo
The 1995 was jointly his best season with 1996, in each of which he finished fourth in the Order of Merit for the European tour.

He won five tour titles in total, the first of which was the 1993 Open de Lyon and the most prestigious of which was the 1996 Volvo PGA Championship.

Rocca's second-best finish in a major was a tie for fifth place in the 1997 US Masters tournament, in which he began the final round in second place, nine shots behind the 21-year-old rising star, Tiger Woods.

He might have expected nerves to affect his young opponent, who stood on the brink of a first major in only his second season on the PGA tour as he and Rocca took to the course as the final pair out of the clubhouse.

Yet Woods remained calm and it was Rocca who struggled under pressure, eventually finishing 15 shots behind the precocious new champion.

Francesco Molinari became the first  Italian to win a major in 2018
Francesco Molinari became the first
Italian to win a major in 2018
Rocca’s position as the greatest Italian golfer remained until this year, when Francesco Molinari not only drew level with and then passed his tally of five European tour wins, but also became the first Italian actually to win a major when he triumphed in the Open at Carnoustie.

For 17 years, Rocca had the proud distinction of being the only Italian to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup, having been selected in 1993, 1995 and 1997.

Rocca had a 6-5-0 win-loss-half record in the Ryder cup, at 53% one of the best winning records in the history of the European team. During the 1995 Ryder Cup, Rocca made a hole-in-one at Oak Hill's sixth hole, only the third ace in Ryder Cup history.

He had a record of 1 win and 2 losses in singles matches.  The singles win came in a crucial match against Tiger Woods in the 1997 event at Valderrama, in Spain, which Rocca avenged his Masters defeat by winning 4 & 2 to help Europe claim the trophy.

Again, it was when Francesco Molinari came on the scene that he lost his unique status among Italian golfers. Molinari qualified for the 2010 Ryder Cup held at Celtic Manor in Wales, with his brother Edoardo Molinari selected as a captain's pick.

Rocca, who worked in a factory in Almenna that produced polystyrene before he took up golf professionally, initially worked as a caddy and then as a caddy master at the Bergamo L'Albenza Golf Club.

He has been married since 1981 to Antonella and they have two children, 33-year-old Chiara, and Francesco, who is 27.  Both work for his Bergamo-based company, Rocca Golf Ambition, which encompasses a golf academy for aspiring players, a clinic for established players looking to improve their game, and support for young professionals.

Rocca played his last tour event in 2015, when he contested the Italian Open, an event which, extraordinarily, he never won in 33 attempts. He still plays on the European Seniors tour, so far winning two titles.

The Rotonda di San Tomè at Almenno San Bartlomeo is a fine example of Romanesque architecture
The Rotonda di San Tomè at Almenno San Bartlomeo
is a fine example of Romanesque architecture
Travel tip:

The town of Almenno San Bartolomeo, which is situated about 9km (6 miles) northwest of Bergamo along the valley of the Brembo river, is well known as the home of the Rotonda di San Tomè, an unusual circular church which is one of the most notable examples of Romanesque architecture in northern Italy. It has been speculated that the church could have been built in the Lombard era, as long ago as the 7th-8th centuries. What is known is that it was rebuilt in around the late 11th or early 12th centuries on the instruction of the Bishop of Bergamo. The building has a central plan with a pyramidal composition, with three cylindrical sections placed one above the other.  Almenna is also the home of L’Albenza Golf Club, where Rocca began his career.

Hotels in Almenno San Bartolomeo from Expedia.co.uk

The enchanting Città Alta in Bergamo is a big draw for tourists, although the Città Bassa is also worth visiting
The enchanting Città Alta in Bergamo is a big draw for
tourists, although the Città Bassa is also worth visiting
Travel tip:

Bergamo in Lombardy is a beautiful city with an upper and lower town that are separated by impressive fortifications. The magical upper town - the Città Alta - has gems of medieval and Renaissance architecture surrounded by the impressive 16th century walls, which were built by the Venetians who ruled at the time. Outside the walls, the elegant Città Bassa, which grew up on the plain below, has some buildings that date back to the 15th century as well as imposing architecture added in the 19th and 20th centuries. While the Città Alta is the draw for many tourists, the lower town also has art galleries, churches and theatres and a wealth of good restaurants and smart shops to enjoy.

Use tripadvisor to find a hotel in Bergamo

More reading:

How Francesco Molinari made golf history in Monza

The former coach of Bergamo football club Atalanta who won Serie A glory with Napoli

Bergamo's world motorcycling champion Carlo Ubbiali

Also on this day:

1154: Nicholas Breakspear becomes the first and only English pope

1798: The death of physicist and biologist Luigi Galvani

1927: The birth of renowned architect Gae Aulenti


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