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.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Monica Bellucci - actress and model

Movie actress who is face of Dolce & Gabbana


Monica Bellucci has appeared in more than 60 films alongside her modelling
Monica Bellucci has appeared in more
than 60 films alongside her modelling
The actress and model Monica Bellucci, who has appeared in more than 60 films in a career than began in 1990, was born on this day in 1964 in Città di Castello in Umbria.

Bellucci, who is associated with Dolce & Gabbana and Dior perfumes, began modelling to help fund her studies at the University of Perugia, where she was enrolled at the Faculty of Law with ambitions of a career in the legal profession.

But she was quickly brought to the attention of the major model agencies in Milan and soon realised she had the potential to follow a much different career.

Bellucci, whose father Pasquale worked for a transport company, soon began to attract big-name clients in Paris and New York as well as Italy, but decided not long into her modelling career that she would take acting lessons.

She claimed to have been inspired by watching the Italian female movie icons Claudia Cardinale and Sophia Loren and gained her first part in a TV miniseries directed by the veteran director Dino Risi in 1990.

The following year she made her big screen debut with a leading role in the film La raffa, directed by Francesco Laudadio.  Her first major international movie came in 1992, when she played one of the brides of Dracula in Francis Ford Coppola’s Gothic horror film Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Bellucci was studying to be a lawyer when she began modelling to help pay for her education
Bellucci was studying to be a lawyer when she began
modelling to help pay for her education
Other movies for which Bellucci is well known include Persephone in the 2003 science-fiction films The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. She also played Malèna Scordia in the Italian-language romantic drama Malèna (2000), directed and written by Giuseppe Tornatore from a story by Luciano Vincenzoni, which won the Grand Prix at the 2001 Cabourg Film Festival.

She starred in the controversial Gaspar Noé arthouse horror film Irréversible (2002), and Mel Gibson's biblical drama The Passion of the Christ (2004), in which she portrayed Mary Magdalene. At 50, she became the oldest Bond girl ever in the James Bond film franchise, playing Lucia Sciarra in Spectre (2015).

In her simultaneous modelling career, Bellucci soon became known as one of the most beautiful women in the world. She appeared in the 1997 Pirelli Calendar as well as calendars for the magazines Max and GQ, for which she posed for leading photographers Richard Avedon, Fabrizio Ferri and Gianpaolo Barbieri.

She has endorsed Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and many major world brands, including Alessandro Dell'Acqua and Blumarine, has been on the cover of Elle and Vogue magazines and in 2012, she became the new face of Dolce & Gabbana.

Bellucci has been married twice, first to a young Italian photographer of Argentine origin, Claudio Carlos Basso, from whom she separated after a few months.

She had a six-year relationship with the Italian actor Nicola Farron until on the set of the film L'appartamento she met the French actor Vincent Cassel, whom she married in 1999 in Monte Carlo. They had two daughters, Deva, and Léonie, but they divorced after 14 years. She lives with her daughters in Paris, and also owns a house in Lisbon.

A view over the town of Città di Castello
Travel tip:

Città di Castello, where Bellucci was born, is a town 55km (34 miles) north of Perugia that is rich in history, with an artistic heritage that dates back to the patronage of the Vitelli family in the 15th century. Works by great artists of the 15th-16th century such as Signorelli, Raffaello, Rosso Fiorentino and Raffaellino del Colle can be found there. The 14th century church of San Domenico and the Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera are worth visiting, in particular the latter, which now houses the Municipal Art Gallery, with some impressive 15th century paintings including paintings by Raphael, Lorenzetti, Ghirlandaio and Signorelli and a sculpture by Ghiberti.

Bufalini Castle is preserved almost as it was in 15th century
Bufalini Castle is preserved almost as it was in 15th century
Travel tip:

Bellucci grew up in San Giustino, just outside Città di Castello, where the imposing Bufalini Castle is an impressive sight. Perfectly preserved, it was built in the 15th century as a military fortress, a border post at the boundary between the Papal States and the Florentine Republic.  The church of San Giustino at the centre of the town was built on the site of a large seventh-century parish church founded by the Christian martyr Giustino.  The church of the Santissimo Crocifisso is rich in frescoes and stuccos by the Della Robbia brothers.

More reading:

How Sophia Loren was brought up by her grandmother on the Bay of Naples

Giuseppe Tornatore - brilliant Oscar-winning director of Cinema Paradiso

Why Dino Risi is seen as a master of Italian comedy

Also on this day:

1863: The birth of ballerina Pierina Legnani

1885: The birth of Angelo Cerica, the man who arrested Mussolini



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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Silvio Piola - footballer

Modest star who remains Italy’s great goalscorer


Piola played for five clubs in a career spanning 24 years
Piola played for five clubs in a
career spanning 24 years. 
Silvio Piola, a forward whose career tally of 364 goals between 1930 and 1954 remains the most scored by any professional player in the history of football in Italy, was born on this day in 1913 in Robbio Lomellina, a small town about 50km (31 miles) southwest of Milan.

Of those goals, 274 were scored in Serie A and 30 for the Italian national team, with whom he was a World Cup winner in 1938, scoring twice in the final against Hungary.

No other player has scored so many goals in the top flight of Italian football and only two others - Gigi Riva and Giuseppe Meazza - have scored more while wearing the azzurri shirt.

Other records still held by Piola include all-time highest Serie A goalscorer for three different clubs - his hometown club Pro Vercelli, Lazio, and Novara - and one of only two players to have scored six goals in a single match.

Until recently, Piola held a unique double record of being both the youngest player to score two goals in a Serie A match and the oldest, having scored twice for Pro Vercelli in a 5-4 win away to Alessandria in 1931 when he was 17 years and 104 days and twice for Novara against Lazio in a match in 1953, at the age of 39 years and 127 days.

The Lazio team for the 1940-41 season. Piola, who spent nine years at the Rome club, is fourth from the left on the back row.
The Lazio team for the 1940-41 season. Piola, who spent nine
years at the Rome club, is fourth from the left on the back row.
The latter was overtaken by Roma’s Francesco Totti, who was 39 years and 210 days when he came off the bench to score twice against Torino in April 2016, while the former record fell in September last year, when Pietro Pellegri of Genoa scored twice in a 3-2 defeat to Lazio at the age of 16 and 184 days.

Totti is one of only eight players in Italian football history to have scored more than 300 career goals and one of only a few in recent times to come anywhere near Piola’s tally. The next closest to Piola’s 364 is Alessandro del Piero, who finished on 346, ahead of Meazza (338) and Luca Toni (322). Totti, who retired in 2017, hung up his boots on 316, two behind Roberto Baggio.

Piolo’s father, Giuseppe, was a textile merchant but there was football in the family. His older brother, Serafino, might have played professionally had a vision defect not forced him to abandon his ambitions. His mother, Emilia, was the brother of the Pro Vercelli goalkeeper, Giuseppe Cavana, and he had a cousin, Paolino, who played for Novara and Pro Patria.

Piola pictured in his days playing for Juventus after the war.
Piola pictured in his days playing
for Juventus after the war.
Silvio was born in Robbio Lomellina only because his parents had temporarily moved there for business reasons. They returned to Vercelli in 1914.

He made his debut for Pro Vercelli in 1930 at the age of 17 and scored 13 goals in his first Serie A season, his first coming against Lazio, the club he would join in 1934, having scored 51 in 127 games for his home-town club.

Piola did not particularly want to leave his family in the north of Italy but Lazio, who had the support of two very prominent Fascists in Giovanni Marinelli, the party secretary, and General Giorgio Vaccaro, were very persuasive, offering the club 300,000 lire and Piola himself a salary of 6,000 lire per month, rising after a year to an eye-watering 38,000 lire per month, as well as the chance to meet his national service obligation with an office job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Their end game, apart from bringing success to Lazio, was to groom Piola as Italy’s main striker for the 1938 World Cup in France.

It was all head-spinning stuff for Piola, a modest man who preferred to spend his leisure time hunting and fishing in the company of his dog and had no interest in the temptations offered by living in Rome.  He used to travel to Pro Vercelli games by bus but suddenly had a luxury home in the Flaminio district with the services of a driver to take him to training.

Nonetheless, his professional focus remained intact. In nine seasons at Lazio, he scored 143 Serie A goals in just 227 appearances.

The stadium where Pro Vercelli play their home games in the
Italian football championship is now the Stadio Silvio Piola
After leaving Lazio, he spent 1944 at Torino, where he scored 27 goals in just 23 games in the wartime football league. From 1945 to 1947, Piola played for Juventus, before moving to Novara, where he stayed for seven more seasons.

He and his girlfriend Alda were married in July 1948 and had two children, Dario, who played in goal for Pro Vercelli before becoming a lawyer and politician, and Paola, a psychologist. A great-grandson, Alonso - born in 1979, of Brazilian nationality - played as a striker in Italy, Switzerland and South America.

Piola’s international career began with a goalscoring debut against Austria in March 1935. He went on to play 34 games for Italy and score 30 goals between 1935–1952, a tally that would surely have been greater if not for the interruption caused by the Second World War. He captained the national side from 1940 until 1947. His last international appearance was in 1952, when Italy drew 1–1 with England.

After his retirement as a player in 1954, Piola had a brief career as a coach before taking a job with the Italian Football Federation, where he stayed for 10 years before returning to Vercelli.  He died in a nursing home in 1996 at the age of 83, after being affected by Alzheimer's disease. His body was laid to rest in the family chapel in the monumental cemetery of Billiemme, in Vercelli.

The Romanesque church of San Pietro in Robbio
The Romanesque church of San Pietro in Robbio
Travel tip:

The small town of Robbio Lomellina, where Silvio Piola was born, has been a settlement since Neolithic times. Its features include a castle restored in the 18th century, having originally been constructed in the 14th century on the site of a fortress that was probably built in the 11th century. The structure is in a park open to the public. Look out also for the 13th century Romanesque church of San Pietro, which contains 16th-century frescoes attributed to Tommasino da Mortara.

Piazza Cavour is the main square in Vercelli
Piazza Cavour is the main square in Vercelli
Travel tip:

Vercelli is a city of around 46,500 inhabitants some 85km (53 miles) west of Milan and about 75km (46 miles) northeast of Turin. It is reckoned to be built on the site of one of the oldest settlements in Italy, dating back to 600BC, and was home to the world's first publicly-funded university, which was opened in 1228 but folded in 1372. The Basilica of Sant'Andrea is regarded as one of the most beautiful and best-preserved Romanesque buildings in Italy.  Since the 15th century, Vercelli has been at the centre of Italy’s rice production industry, with many of the surrounding fields in the vast Po plain submerged under water during the summer months.

More reading:

Alessandro del Piero, Juventus's record goalscorer

How Giuseppe Meazza became Italy's first football superstar

Was Roberto Baggio Italy's greatest player?

Also on this day:

1901: The birth of nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi, 'father of the atomic bomb'

1936: The birth of Silvio Berlusconi

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Friday, 28 September 2018

Pietro Badoglio - soldier and politician

Controversial general who turned against Mussolini


Pietro Badoglio was Mussolini's Chief of Staff from 1925 to 1940
Pietro Badoglio was Mussolini's Chief of
Staff from 1925 to 1940
Marshal Pietro Badoglio, who was a general in the Italian Army in both World Wars and became Italy’s wartime prime minister after the fall of Mussolini, was born on this day in 1871 in the village of Grazzano Monferrato in Piedmont.

He was Mussolini’s Chief of Staff between 1925 and 1940, although his relationship with the Fascist dictator was fractious.

Indeed, he ultimately played a key part in Mussolini’s downfall in 1943, encouraging the Fascist Grand Council to remove him as leader and advising King Victor Emmanuel III in the lead-up to Mussolini’s arrest and imprisonment in July of that year, after which he was named as head of an emergency government.

It was Badoglio who then conducted the secret negotiations with the Allies that led to an armistice being signed barely five weeks later.

However, historians are divided over whether he should be seen as an heroic figure, in part because of his role in the disastrous defeat for Italian forces at the Battle of Caporetto in the First World War, at a cost of 10,000 Italian deaths and 30,000 more wounded.

Many Italian soldiers became German prisoners of war after Badoglio had secretly negotiated Italy's surrender
Many Italian soldiers became German prisoners of war
after Badoglio had secretly negotiated Italy's surrender
Badoglio hailed from a middle-class background. His father, Mario, was a small landowner. He trained at the Royal Military Academy in Turin.

After completing his studies, he served with the Italian Army from 1892, at first as a Lieutenant in artillery, taking part in the early Italian colonial wars in Eritrea and in Libya.

Early in Italy’s participation in the First World War, he was elevated to the rank of Major General following the capture of Monte Sabotino in May 1916, which was attributed to his strategic planning.

The Battle of Caporetto in October 1917 went less well, however. He was blamed in various reports for poor decision-making with regard to the forces under his command. However, by the time a commission of inquiry looked into his role Mussolini had taken control and, having identified Badoglio as someone he wanted on his side, is thought to have ordered all references to Badoglio to be excluded from the report.

Pietro Badoglio was a soldier for the  whole of his life
Pietro Badoglio was a soldier for the
whole of his adult life
Badoglio was uneasy, however, with the aggressive Fascist stance on foreign policy issues and, in an effort to distance himself from Mussolini’s ambitions, which he felt were unrealistic, asked to be assigned to an ambassadorial position in Brazil. However, Mussolini summoned him back and offered to make him his Chief of Staff, a position Badoglio felt unable to refuse.

He was made a Field Marshal in May 1926, governed Libya from 1928 to 1934 and assumed command of the Italian forces during the invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, capturing Addis Ababa, the capital.  The conflict was notorious for the use by the Italian side of mustard gas, in contravention of the Geneva Protocol of 1925. Blame for this was laid at the feet of Mussolini, but some claim Badoglio had already ordered its deployment before authority was given.

Badoglio joined the Fascist Party but his relationship with Mussolini began to fracture soon after the Ethiopia war, in part because the dictator wanted to take personal credit for the operation’s success.  Badoglio opposed Italy’s involvement in the Pact of Steel with Germany in the lead-up to the Second World War because he had doubts about Germany’s ambitious military objectives, yet led Mussolini to believe the Italian army was capable of playing a significant role.

Indeed, the invasion of Greece by Italian forces in 1940 went ahead, seemingly with Badoglio’s endorsement.  The campaign was a disaster for the Italians, however, with considerable losses in personnel and equipment. Badoglio resigned as Chief of Staff soon afterwards.

Plaques identify the house in Grazzano where Badoglio was born
Plaques identify the house in Grazzano
where Badoglio was born
As the Second World War as a whole became one in which Italian sacrifices looked increasingly likely to be pointless, Badoglio positioned himself with those who believed the only hope for Italy was to remove Mussolini.  He began to be involved in talks with other prominent Fascists about how this might be brought about and made it known to Victor Emmanuel III that he would be willing to lead an interim government if Mussolini was overthrown.

In the event, he was installed as prime minister on the day Mussolini was arrested. However, he attracted criticism for allowing news of the armistice to come out on the Allied side before his own troops had been informed, appearing to put his own safety ahead of Italian personnel.

Right up to the moment it was announced, Badoglio had been reassuring the Germans that Italy remained a fully committed ally. When the armistice was revealed, many Italians were still fighting alongside German forces, unaware that their status had suddenly changed to enemies.  Badoglio and Victor Emmanuel, on the other hand, had removed themselves to safe locations in the south of the country, avoiding capture.

Badoglio dissolved the Fascist Party, and Italy declared war on Nazi Germany.  He was never a popular figure, however, as the political climate changed and in June 1944 he resigned, giving way to the left-winger, Ivanoe Bonomi.

Badoglio retired to his home in Grazzano Monferrato, which by then had changed its name to Grazzano Badoglio in his honour. He remained a figure of influence amid increasing tensions over the Soviet Union and managed to convince the British government that he could help prevent the establishment of a communist government in Italy, thus avoiding any prosecution for war crimes over what happened in Ethiopia.

He died in 1956 at the age of 85, having returned to his home village. He is buried at the village cemetery.

The Royal Palace in Turin is not far from where the  former military academy was located
The Royal Palace in Turin is not far from where the
former military academy was located
Travel tip:

The Royal Military Academy in Turin, where Badoglio trained, was the oldest military academy in the world, dating back to the 17th century, when Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy had the idea of creating an institute to train members of the ruling class and army officers in military strategy.  It was inaugurated on January 1, 1678, which predates the Royal Academy at Woolwich in Britain by 42 years and the Russian Academy in Petersburg, by 45 years. The court architect Amedeo di Castellamonte designed the building, work on which began in 1675, which was situated a short distance from the Royal Palace in the centre of the city. Unfortunately, the building was almost totally destroyed in 1943, during Allied air attacks.

The hilltop village of Grazzano Badoglio, with the former Abbey of Aleramica visible at the top
The hilltop village of Grazzano Badoglio, with the former
Abbey of Aleramica visible at the top 
Travel tip:

The hilltop village of Grazzano Badoglio, which was Grazzano Monferrato until 1939, is situated about 80km (50 miles) to the east of Turin in the province of Asti . In was renamed by the Fascist mayor in 1939 in honour of Pietro Badoglio.  The house where Badoglio grew up, which became an asylum in 1937, is marked with a commemorative plaque.  The village, which had Roman origins, is notable today for the Abbey of Aleramica - today the village’s parish church - which was founded in 961 by the Marquis Aleramo I of Monferrato on top of the hill where the church stands today. It was home to Benedictines monks for more than four centuries. The cloister, restored and open to the public by request, is among what remains of the original building. The Romanesque bell tower was added in 1910.

More reading:

Mussolini appointed prime minister with Italy on brink of civil war

Palermo falls to the Allies

Germans free captive Mussolini in daring raid

Also on this day:

1924: The birth of actor Marcello Mastroianni

1978: The sudden death of Pope John Paul I


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Thursday, 27 September 2018

Grazia Deledda - Nobel Prize winner

First Italian woman to be honoured


Grazia Deledda was the first Italian woman to win a Nobel Prize
Grazia Deledda was the first Italian
woman to win a Nobel Prize
The novelist Grazia Deledda, who was the first of only two Italian women to be made a Nobel laureate when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926, was born on this day in 1871 in the city of Nuoro in Sardinia.

A prolific writer from the age of 13, she published around 50 novels or story collections over the course of her career, most of them drawing on her own experience of life in the rugged Sardinian countryside.

The Nobel prize was awarded "for her idealistically inspired writings which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general."

Deledda’s success came at the 11th time of asking, having been first nominated in 1913. The successful nomination came from Henrik Schuck, a literature historian at the Swedish Academy.

Born into a middle-class family - her father, Giovanni, was in her own words a “well-to-do landowner” - Deledda drew inspiration for her characters from the stream of friends and business acquaintances her father insisted must stay at their home whenever they were in Nuoro.

The cover of an early edition of Elias Portolu, Deledda's first big success
The cover of an early edition of Elias
Portolú, Deledda's first big success
She was not allowed to attend school beyond the age of 11 apart from private tuition in Italian, which was not at the time the first language of many Sardinians, who tended to converse in their own dialect, sardo logudorese. Beyond that, she continued her education by reading as much quality literature as she could get hold of.

Her parents did not encourage her writing but she persevered and, on the advice of her English teacher, submitted a story to a magazine when she was 13 and was delighted when they decided to publish it.

Even at that early stage in her career, her stories tended to be starkly realistic in their reflection of the hard life many Sardinians endured at the time and she often used the sometimes brutally challenging landscape of the island as a metaphor for the difficulties in her characters’ lives.

Yet she would more often blame societal factors and flawed morals for the difficult circumstances in which her characters found themselves, which reflected her own optimistic view of human nature.

However, she was chastised by her father for the way her stories questioned the patriarchal structure of Sardinian society and they were not received well generally in Nuoro, where some people expressed their displeasure by burning copies of the magazine that published her work.

There is a commemorative bust of Grazia Deledda on Pincio hill in Rome
There is a commemorative bust of
Grazia Deledda on Pincio hill in Rome
Deledda completed her first novel, Fior di Sardegna (Flower of Sardinia) in 1892, when she was not quite 21. She sent to a publisher in Rome, who accepted. Again it was shunned in Nuoro, but it was successful enough elsewhere for her to set about writing more and she submitted at least one every year, sometimes using a pseudonym.

In 1900, she visited Cagliari, the Sardinian capital on a rare holiday. She had never been far from Nuoro before but it proved a momentous occasion. She met Palmiro Madesani, a civil servant who would become her husband.  After they were married, they moved to Rome, where Deledda would live for the remainder of her life.

It was there that she tasted her first real success with Elias Portolú (1903), a novel that was published in Italian first but which was translated into French and subsequently all the major European languages, bringing her international recognition for the first time.

The period between 1903 and 1920 was her most productive phase for her, in which she wrote some of her best work. Her 1904 novel Cenere (Ashes) was turned into a film starring the celebrated actress Eleonora Duse.

Deledda preferred a quiet life with her family to any celebrity despite the attention the prize brought her
Deledda preferred a quiet life with her family to any
celebrity despite the attention the prize brought her
Life in Sardinia continued to be her favourite theme. Nostalgie (Nostalgia, 1905), I giuochi della vita (The Gambles of Life, 1905), L’ombra del passato (Shadow of the Past, 1907) and L’edera (The Ivy, 1908) brought her more success.

This brought her a comfortable living and she was happy in Rome, even if she preferred a quiet life at home to celebrity. If she was bitter at the way her family had reacted to her writing, she did not let it stand in the way of her humanity and she supported her brothers, Andrea and Santus, after her father died.

Deledda died in Rome in 1936 at the age of just 64, having suffered with breast cancer. Her last years were painful but she never lost her optimistic view of life, which she believed was beautiful and serene and gave her the strength to overcome physical and spiritual hardships. Her later works reflected her strong religious faith.

Italy's only other female Nobel Prize-winner is Rita Levi-Montalcini, who won the 1986 Nobel Prize for Medicine.

The house in Nuoro where the novelist was born is now a museum
The house in Nuoro where the novelist
was born is now a museum
Travel tip:

Deledda's birthplace and childhood home in Nuoro has been preserved as a museum in her honour. Called the Museo Deleddiano, it consists of 10 rooms where the stages of the writer's life are reconstructed.  The building is located in Santu Pedru, one of the city's oldest quarters. The house was sold in 1913 but remains mostly unaltered. It was acquired by the Municipality of Nuoro in 1968 and, thanks to the generosity of the Madesani-Deledda family,  a large number of manuscripts, photographs, documents and personal belongings of the novelist are on display.  The museum, in Via Grazia Deledda, is open from 10am to 1pm and from 3pm to 7pm (8pm in summer), every day except Mondays.

Nuoro is situated in a ruggedly mountainous area
Nuoro is situated in a ruggedly mountainous area
Travel tip:

Nuoro, situated on the slopes of the Monte Ortobene in central eastern Sardinia, has grown to be the sixth largest city in Sardinia with a population of more than 36,000.  The birthplace of several renowned artists, including the poet Sebastiano Satta, the novelist Salvatore Satta - a cousin - the architect and car designer Flavio Manzoni and the award-winning sculptor Francesco Ciusa, it is considered an important cultural centre.  It is also home of one of reputedly the world’s rarest pasta - su filindeu, which in the Sardinian language means "the threads of God" - which is made exclusively by the women of a single family to a recipe passed down through generations.

More reading:

Giosuè Carducci - the first Italian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature

How Nobel Prize-winner Dario Fo put the spotlight on corruption

The groundbreaking talent of actress Eleonora Duse

Also on this day:

1966: The birth of rapper Jovanotti

1979: The death on Capri of actress and singer Gracie Fields 


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Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Enzo Bearzot - World Cup-winning coach

Led Italy to 1982 triumph in Spain


The pipe-smoking Enzo Bearzot was in
charge of the azzurri for a record 104 games
Enzo Bearzot, the pipe-smoking coach who plotted Italy’s victory at the 1982 World Cup in Spain and at the same time changed the way the national team traditionally played, was born on September 26, 1927 in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northwest Italy.

Italy had a reputation for ultra-defensive and sometimes cynical football but in 44 years had won only one major competition, the 1968 European championships, a much lower-key affair than the current four-yearly Euros, which Italy hosted.

But Bearzot, who was an admirer of the so-called ‘total football’ philosophy advanced by the Dutch coach Rinus Michels, with which the Netherlands national team reached two World Cup finals in the 1970s, albeit without winning.

Italy did not impress at the start of their Spain adventure, recording three fairly lacklustre draws in their group matches, and were expected to be eliminated in the second group phase when they were obliged to play Argentina, the holders, and a Brazil side brimming with brilliant players.

Bearzot and the team attracted scathing criticism in the Italian press, to the extent that the players and management refused to speak any more to journalists during the tournament, imposing their so-called silenzio stampo - press silence.

Bearzot, right, playing cards on the plane home from Spain with Dino Zoff, Franco Causio and the Italian president Sandro Pertini
Bearzot, right, playing cards on the plane home from Spain with
Dino Zoff, Franco Causio and the Italian president Sandro Pertini
Instead, they made their critics eat their words by beating both Argentina (2-1) and Brazil (3-2), the latter hailed as one of the greatest World Cup matches of all time after Italy led twice and Brazil equalised twice before Italy took the lead again 16 minutes from the end and goalkeeper Dino Zoff pulled off a miraculous late save to deny Brazil another equaliser, which would have taken them through to the semi-finals on goal difference.

All three goals against Brazil were scored by Italy’s wiry centre-forward, Paolo Rossi, whose selection had brought Bearzot more criticism. Rossi had just returned from a two-year suspension for alleged match-fixing, which was controversial enough. He was also a long way behind the rest of the squad in fitness, yet he had scored three goals in the World Cup finals in Argentina in 1978, from which Italy were eliminated by the Netherlands in their final second-phase match, and Bearzot wanted him on board.

Not content with destroying Brazil’s hopes, Rossi scored both goals in Italy’s 2-0 semi-final victory against Poland, and another in the 3-1 win over West Germany in the final, to take the tournament Golden Boot award as top goalscorer, with six.

Bearzot in his playing days at Torino
Bearzot in his playing days at Torino
Although Italy delighted their fans with the gusto of their attacking, they did not entirely abandon tried and trusted methods. Deployed as an old-fashioned man-marker, Claudio Gentile fulfilled his duties to the letter, kicking a young Diego Maradona out of the match with Argentina and doing a similar job on the Brazilian magician Zico, albeit at the cost of a booking that ruled him out of the semi-final.

The final confirmed Bearzot’s transformation from villain to hero in the eyes of the press and earned him four more years in the job, although the 1986 World Cup in Mexico earned him renewed criticism, this time for showing too much faith in his 1982 players, who had lost some of their edge and went out to France in the round of 16.

Bearzot resigned after that defeat but his 104 matches as national coach - seven more even than the legendary Vittorio Pozzo, who was in the dug-out for 97 games - is unlikely ever to be surpassed.

Born in the village of Aiello del Friuli, about 45km (28 miles) northwest of Trieste and about 25km (16 miles) southeast of Udine, Bearzot was the son of a bank manager who had little interest in football and whose wrath he risked by missing two crucial university exams to play in the first team for his club, Pro Gorizia, ruining his chances of completing his degree.

Marcello Lippi, who won the World Cup in 2006, was mentored by Bearzot
Marcello Lippi, who won the World Cup in
2006, was mentored by Bearzot
Tall and strongly built, Bearzot usually played as what would now be described as a defensive midfielder. In his club career, he helped the Sicilian team Catania win promotion to Serie A and had long spells with both Inter Milan and Torino. He made one appearance for the azzurri - the  national team.

He took up coaching with Torino but his only head coach role before he joined the technical staff of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) was with the Serie C club Prato. This lack of club experience meant that, when he worked his way through the ranks to be under-23 coach and then senior coach in 1975 meant there was scepticism from the start over his credentials for the job, even among his fellow coaches.

Bearzot’s success, however, silenced them all.  After Mexico ‘86, he disappeared from football for the most part, never taking another coaching job. He rejoined the FIGC as president of the technical sector in 2002 and was a mentor to Marcello Lippi, who was to match Bearzot’s achievement  by winning the World Cup himself as coach in 2006.

Bearzot retired for good in 2005. He died in 2010 after a long illness and was buried at the church of Santa Maria al Paradiso in Milan, where goalkeeper Zoff and midfielder Bruno Conti were among the pallbearers, with Rossi part of a congregation that included Antonio Cabrini, Giuseppe Bergomi Alessandro Altobelli and Marco Tardelli among other members of the 1982 World Cup winning team.

The beautiful Piazza della Libertà is one of the features of the Friulian city of Udine
The beautiful Piazza della Libertà is one of the features
of the Friulian city of Udine
Travel tip:

Udine, the nearest city to Bearzot’s home village of Aiello, is an attractive and wealthy provincial city which is the gastronomic capital of Friuli. Udine's most attractive area lies within the medieval centre, which has Venetian, Greek and Roman influences. The main square, Piazza della Libertà, features the town hall, the Loggia del Lionello, built in 1448–1457 in the Venetian-Gothic style, and a clock tower, the Torre dell’Orologio, which is similar to the clock tower in Piazza San Marco - St Mark's Square - in Venice.


The church of Santa Maria at Paradiso in Milan, where Bearzot is buried
The church of Santa Maria at Paradiso
in Milan, where Bearzot is buried
Travel tip:

The church of Santa Maria al Paradiso is in the Ticinese district of Milan, about 1.5km (1 mile) south of the city centre, near the Crocetta metro station. It was begun in 1590 for the Third Order of Saint Francis, after designs by Martino Bassi. The facade, however, was only added in 1897 in a Neo-Baroque style by the architect Ernesto Pirovano. Ticinese is one of the oldest parts of central Milan. It takes its name from Porta Ticinese, a 16th century gate to the city rebuilt in the early 19th century with large ionic order columns. The area also includes the remains of a Roman amphitheatre and the basilicas of San Lorenzo and Sant'Eustorgio, and has a thriving nightlife with a large choice of bars and restaurants.

More reading:

How Paolo Rossi made the difference in a World Cup classic

Marco Tardelli and THAT celebration

How Marcello Lippi led Italy to glory in 2006

Also on this day:

1973: The death of the actress Anna Magnani

1977: The Assisi earthquake


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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Nino Cerruti - fashion designer

Turn of fate led to a life in haute couture 


Nino Cerruti ran the family business for more than 50 years
Nino Cerruti ran the family business
for more than 50 years
The fashion designer Nino Cerruti, who used the family textile business as the platform on which to build one of the most famous names in haute couture, was born on this day in 1930 in Biella in northern Piedmont.

At its peak, the Cerruti became synonymous with Hollywood glitz and the movie industry, both as the favourite label of many top stars and the supplier of clothing ranges for a string of box office hits

Yet Cerruti might have lived a very different life had fate not intervened. Although Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti - the textile mills set up by his grandfather, Antonio, and his great uncles, Stefano and Quintino - had been the family firm since 1881, Nino wanted to be a journalist.

But when his father, Silvio, who had taken over the running of the business from Antonio, died prematurely, Nino was almost obligated to take over, even though he was only 20 years old.

However, despite the sacrifice of his ambitions and his studies, Cerruti threw himself into developing the business. He saw the potential in repositioning Cerruti as a fashion label and invested in a modernisation plan for the family weaving workshops in Biella as wells as acquiring two further factories in Milan.

Giorgio Armani learned his trade working for Cerruti
Giorgio Armani learned his trade
working for Cerruti
He launched his first men’s collection, which he called Hitman,  in 1957, the range putting him at the cutting edge of modern design.  Giorgio Armani, still to launch his own fashion range, worked for Cerruti on the Hitman collection between 1964 and 1970.

Cerruti as a high-end name was born in 1967, when Nino opened a boutique in Paris and launched the Cerruti 1881 fashion house.  His arrival in Paris was greeted as a sea change in men’s couture, one newspaper article speaking of “the year in which Italian style dethroned English fashion.”

Again, men’s clothing was his speciality, although by 1976 he had designed his first ready-to-wear women’s wear line.

The house launched Nino Cerruti pour Homme in 1978, marking the first of a long line of fragrances and Cerruti 1881 Sport launched in 1980, making clothes for tennis, skiing and running with an haute couture style.

It was in the 1980s that Cerruti became inextricably linked with Hollywood and the movie business.

After being heavily involved with dressing Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas in Miami Vice, the company provided clothing for films including Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Wall Street (1987), Pretty Woman (1990) and Basic Instinct (1992).

Cerruti still works even in his 80s
Cerruti still works even in his 80s
The decade also saw the company start to dress cinema stars including Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone, Julia Roberts, Robert Redford, Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford.

In October 2000, Nino Cerruti sold 51 per cent of the company to investors, who less than a year later bought the remainder of the company.  Cerruti, by then 71 years old, stepped down in rather unfortunate circumstances, citing a “perpetual conflict of interest", although he is on good enough terms with the latest owners of the brand to attend every Cerruti fashion show, with a seat on the front row.

The Spring Summer 2002 collection, however, was the last he designed himself.

Since his departure, he has concentrated on the original family textile mill business in Biella, which still operates as Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti and now owns the Italian furniture design company Baleri. He remains involved even at the age of 88.

A view of Biella, the town where Cerruti was born, which lies in the foothills of the Piedmontese Alps
A view of Biella, the town where Cerruti was born, which
lies in the foothills of the Piedmontese Alps
Travel tip:

Biella is a well-established town of almost 45,000 inhabitants in the foothill of the Alps, about 85km (53 miles) northeast of Turin and slightly more than 100m (62 miles) west of Milan. Its attractions include a Roman baptistery from early 1000s and the church and convent of San Sebastian. Wool and textiles have been associated with the town since the 13th century and although the best years of the industry have now passed, with many mills and factories closed, in addition to Cerruti, brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Vitale Barberis Canonico and Fila still have a presence.

The Via Monte Napoleone is Milan's most famous street for big-name fashion houses
The Via Monte Napoleone is Milan's most famous
street for big-name fashion houses
Travel tip:

Milan’s fashion district is known as the Quadrilatero della Moda, sometimes the Quad d’Oro. It can be found a 10-minute walk away from the Duomo in the centre of the city. The area centres on Via Monte Napoleone, a long street is lined with designer fashion boutiques, antiques shops and neoclassical mansions. Most of the major fashion houses - such as Armani, Gucci, Hermès, La Perla, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Versace - Nearby, the Palazzo Morando museum displays period costumes.

More reading:

The hotel lift boy who became a giant of the fashion world

Salvatore Ferragamo - shoemaker to the stars

Ottavio Missoni - war prisoner, Olympic athlete, fashion king

Also on this day:

1773: The birth of Agostino Bassi, the scientist who rescued Italy's silk industry

1955: The birth of singer-songwriter Zucchero

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Monday, 24 September 2018

Riccardo Illy - businessman

Grandson of Illy coffee company founder who is now firm’s chairman


Riccardo Illy is chairman of
Gruppo illy Spa
Riccardo Illy, whose paternal grandfather, Hungarian-born Francesco Illy, founded the world-famous illy coffee company, was born on this day in 1955 in Trieste.

Illy is chairman of Gruppo illy and vice-chairman of illycaffè. Under his leadership, the company has expanded to include Domori chocolate, Dammann Frères teas, Agrimontana - which makes fruit preserves, jams and confectionary -  and Mastrojanni, a winery located in the Montalcino region of southern Tuscany.  It also holds a stake in Grom, a chain of premium ice cream parlours.

The company now has a presence in 140 countries and as well as coffee shops the company also operates ice cream stores in Italy, as well as in New York, Malibu, Los Angeles, Paris, Dubai, Osaka, and Jakarta.

Although the company’s roots are in Trieste, where Francesco opened for business in 1933, Gruppo illy Spa is based in Rome.

Riccardo’s first job was as a skiing instructor at the Piancavallo resort in the Dolomites and a sailing instructor at Monfalcone, near Trieste. He married the food and wine journalist Rossana Bettini, with whom he had a daughter, Daria.

He joined the family firm illycaffè in 1977, as the company's business director and for the first time gave the firm a marketing department. Now the company’s annual revenue is in the region of €400 million and reckons to serve more than seven million cups of coffee per day in around 100,000 outlets worldwide.

Francesco Illy founded the famous coffee company in Trieste in 1933
Francesco Illy founded the famous coffee
company in Trieste in 1933
Parallel with his business career, Riccardo also spent 15 years as active politician. He was elected Mayor of Trieste twice, in 1993 and 1997, became a member of the Italian parliament in 2001 as an independent and in 2003 was elected President of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, with the backing of the Democratic Coalition Party, remaining in office until he failed in his bid to be elected for a second term in 2008.

Away from business and politics, Illy’s passion is for fast motorcycles, an interest which began when he would ride along the Italian and Yugoslavian coastlines as a teenager and continued when he and his wife traveled to Greece on his Kawasaki 900 soon after they were married. As regional president, he rode to his office each day on a 1200cc BMW.

As a music lover, Illy is president of Trieste's Theatre Giuseppe Verdi.

Piazza Unità d'Italia is Trieste's main square
Piazza Unità d'Italia is Trieste's main square
Travel tip:

The seaport of Trieste, capital of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region,  officially became part of the Italian Republic in 1954. Trieste had been disputed territory for thousands of years and after it was granted to Italy in 1920, thousands of the resident Slovenians left. The final border with Yugoslavia was settled in 1975 with the Treaty of Osimo. The area today is one of the most prosperous in Italy and Trieste is a lively, cosmopolitan city and a major centre for trade and ship building.

The Caffé Pirona was a favourite of James Joyce
The Caffé Pirona was a favourite of James Joyce
Travel tip:

Trieste’s coffee house culture dates back to the Hapsburg era. Caffè Tommaseo, in Piazza Nicolò Tommaseo, near the grand open space of the Piazza Unità d’Italia, is the oldest in the city, dating back to 1830. Within a short space of time, more than 100 had opened, including Caffè degli Specchi, on Piazza Unità itself, which was popular with the authors James Joyce, Italo Svevo and Franz Kafka, who at different times were part of Trieste’s thriving literary scene. Another favourite of the Irish writer Joyce was the Caffè Pirona on Largo della Barriera Vecchia.

More reading:

How Turin shopkeeper Luigi Lavazza built a coffee empire

Angelo Moriondo - inventor of the world's first espresso machine

Trieste becomes part of Italy

Also on this day:

1934: The birth of exiled royal princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Parma

1954: The birth of footballer Marco Tardelli


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Sunday, 23 September 2018

Francesco Barberini – Cardinal

Patron of the arts sympathised with Galileo



Francesco Barberini knew Galileo from his days as a student at the University of Pisa
Francesco Barberini knew Galileo from his
days as a student at the University of Pisa
Francesco Barberini, a cardinal who as Grand Inquisitor of the Roman Inquisition refused to condemn the scientist Galileo Galilei as a heretic, was born on this day in 1597 in Florence.

As a cardinal working within the Vatican administration, Barberini also became an important patron of literature and the arts.

The son of Carlo Barberini and Costanza Magalotti, Francesco was assisted by Galileo during his studies at the University of Pisa. The scientist was also a family friend. Francesco graduated in canon and civil law at the age of 25 in 1623.

Later that year, his uncle, Maffeo Barberini, who had been recently elected as Pope Urban VIII, made him a cardinal and sent him to be papal legate to Avignon.

He was sent to Paris as a special legate to negotiate with Cardinal Richelieu and then to Spain as a papal legate, but both his missions were unsuccessful.

From 1628 onwards Barberini led the foreign diplomacy of the Papal States, always favouring France.

Galileo subscribed to the view that the Earth was not the centre of the universe
Galileo subscribed to the view that the Earth
was not the centre of the universe
From 1633 until his death more than 40 years later, Barberini was the Grand Inquisitor of the Roman Inquisition. He was part of the Inquisition tribunal investigating Galileo after the publication of writings supporting the arguments put forward by the German scientist Nicolaus Copernicus that the sun and not the earth was the centre of the universe.

He was one of three members of the tribunal who refused to condemn the scientist, although the majority verdict was that Galileo was "vehemently suspect of heresy" and he was sentenced him to indefinite imprisonment, later commuted to house arrest, where he remained until his death in 1642.

The Barberini family fortunes declined after hostilities between the papacy and the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza led to the First War of Castro in which the papacy did badly. Peace was concluded only a few months before the death of Urban VIII.

Once it became clear that the Barberini candidate for the papacy was not going to be elected. Francesco and his brother, Antonio, switched their support to Giovanni Battista Pamphili.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini's bust of  Barberini,  in the National Gallery of Art in Washington
Gian Lorenzo Bernini's bust of  Barberini,
 in the National Gallery of Art in Washington
But after Pamphili became Pope Innocent X, he launched an investigation into their handling of the finances during the War of Castro, forcing the Barberini brothers to flee to Paris.

Two years later, Francesco Barberini was pardoned, his properties were restored to him and he was able to continue as a patron of the arts.

He was a member of various literary associations and secured altarpiece commissions for St Peter’s from prominent artists, such as Pietro da Cortona and the French Baroque painter, Poussin.

Barberini bought several paintings by Poussin for himself during the artist’s early years living in Rome.

In 1625 he had acquired the former Sforza palace and, after buying further land, he engaged the architect, Carlo Maderno, to transform it into a much larger and grander building, which eventually became Palazzo Barberini.

Francesco Barberini died in Rome in 1679 at the age of 82.

The Palazzo alla Giornata on the Arno embankment is one of the main buildings of the University of Pisa
The Palazzo alla Giornata on the Arno embankment is
one of the main buildings of the University of Pisa
Travel tip:

The University of Pisa, where Galileo taught and Francesco Barberini studied, was founded in 1343 making it the 10th oldest in Italy and it houses Europe’s oldest academic botanical garden. The main University buildings are in and around Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, overlooking the River Arno, a short walk from the city’s famous Leaning Tower.

The Palazzo Barberini was Barberini's home in the centre of Rome, just off Piazza Barberini
The Palazzo Barberini was Barberini's home in the
centre of Rome, just off Piazza Barberini
Travel tip:

Palazzo Barberini is just off Piazza Barberini in the centre of Rome. It was completed in 1633 as a home for Francesco Barberini and was the work of three great architects, Carlo Maderno, Francesco Borromini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The palace now houses part of the collection of Italy’s National Gallery of Ancient Art.

More reading:

Galileo Galilei convicted of heresy

How Carlo Maderno created the facade of St Peter's  

Pope Innocent X and revenge for Castro

Also on this day:

1943: Mussolini proclaims the puppet republic of Salò

1956: The birth of World Cup hero Paolo Rossi


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Saturday, 22 September 2018

Roberto Saviano - writer and journalist

Author of ‘Gomorrah’ who lives under police protection


Roberto Saviano has lived under police guard since writing his groundbreaking Mafia exposé, Gomorrah
Roberto Saviano has lived under police guard since
writing his groundbreaking Mafia exposé, Gomorrah
The author and journalist Roberto Saviano, whose 2006 book Gomorrah exposed the inner workings of the Camorra organised crime syndicate in his home city of Naples, was born on this day in 1979.

Gomorrah was an international bestseller that was turned into a film and inspired a TV series, bringing Saviano fame and wealth.

However, within six months of the book’s publication, Saviano had received so many threats to his life from within the Camorra that the decision was taken on the advice of former prime minister Giuliano Amato to place him under police protection.

Some 12 years later, he remains under 24-hour police guard.  He travels only in one of two bullet-proof cars, lives either in police barracks or obscure hotels and is encouraged never to remain in the same place for more than a few days. His protection team includes seven bodyguards.

Saviano has written three more books including a collection of his essays and Zero, Zero, Zero - an exposé of the cocaine trade. His latest, published this week, is called The Piranhas. Whereas Gomorrah and Zero, Zero, Zero were non-fiction, The Piranhas is a novel, though one set in Naples with the Camorra at the centre of the story.


Yet Saviano has complained that, although he has so far avoided being killed, he has no real life. In an interview with an English newspaper, he said that since he was placed under guard he has not boarded a train, ridden a Vespa, taken a stroll or gone out for a beer.  He has admitted that if he had known the consequences, he probably would not have written Gomorrah.

Born the son of a Naples doctor and a mother originally from Liguria, Saviano attended the University of Naples Federico II, where he obtained a degree in psychology.  He began his career in journalism in 2002, writing for numerous magazines and daily papers, including the Camorra monitoring unit of the Corriere del Mezzogiorno.

His inspiration for writing Gomorrah came from his own experiences in the province of Caserta, where he grew up, which witnessed a gang war as rival Camorra groups battled for control of territory.  Violence on the streets became an almost daily occurrence in full view of ordinary citizens, some of whom became victims themselves when, occasionally, an innocent person was mistaken for a target.

Saviano’s journalism meant that he became acquainted with workers in businesses run by the Camorra, and in time with messengers and look-outs who worked for the clan. He pored over court records, news reports and trial transcripts, eventually pulling together all his knowledge to write Gomorrah.

Roberto Saviano signing a copy of  one of his books
Roberto Saviano signing a copy of
one of his books
Its focus is city of Naples and the towns of Casal di Principe, San Cipriano d'Aversa, and the territory around Aversa known as the agro aversano.  It describes how criminal bosses lived in sumptuous villas while burying toxic waste in the surrounding countryside with no regard for the health of the local population, many of whom were protective of Camorra activities not only out of fear but of distrust of legitimate authorities.

Saviano revealed details of the System - as the Camorra refer to themselves - never before brought to the public domain. It is written in the style of dramatic fiction but describes events that, Saviano says, actually happened.

This is supported by the reaction of the Camorra, who felt the book revealed details that compromised their activities. The last straw was probably an anti-Mafia demonstration in Casal di Principe in September 2006, when Saviano publicly denounced the bosses of the Casalese clan, Francesco Bidognetti and Francesco Schiavone, both of whom were in prison, as well as the the two ruling bosses at the time, Antonio Iovine and Michele Zagaria, insulting them and calling on them to leave Italy.

After threats to Saviano and members of his family were investigated by the Naples police, Amato, then Minister for Interior Affairs, assigned Saviano a personal bodyguard and moved him from Naples to a secret location.

Saviano makes speaking engagements around the world,  campaigning against organised crime
Saviano makes speaking engagements around the world,
campaigning against organised crime
Two years later, after the informant Carmine Schiavone, cousin of Francesco Schiavone, revealed to the authorities that the clan had planned to eliminate Saviano and his police escort with a bomb under the motorway between Rome and Naples, Saviano announced his intention to leave Italy.

For obvious reasons, no one outside his immediate circle knows where he now lives. However, he makes public appearances at speaking engagements and is still writing regularly for many newspapers and magazines at home and abroad, including l'Espresso, la Repubblica in Italy, The Washington Post and The New York Times in the United States, Die Zeit and Der Spiegel in Germany, and The Times and The Guardian in the United Kingdom.

In 2008, six Nobel Prize winners  - Dario Fo, Mikhail Gorbachev, Günter Grass, Rita Levi-Montalcini, Orhan Pamuk and Desmond Tutu - launched a joint appeal to the Italian government to do more to defeat the Camorra and to support citizens such as Saviano in speaking out against them.

The incredible sloping watercourse is one of the features of the Royal Palace in Caserta
The incredible sloping watercourse is one of the features
of the Royal Palace in Caserta
Travel tip:

The biggest attraction for visitors to Caserta is the former Royal Palace - Reggia di Caserta - which is one of the largest palaces in Europe, built to rival the palace of Versailles outside Paris, which was the principal residence of the French royal family until the French Revolution of 1789. Constructed for the Bourbon kings of Naples, it was the largest palace and one of the largest buildings erected in Europe during the 18th century and has been described as "the swan song of the spectacular art of the Baroque”.

A typical street scene in the Quartieri Spagnoli in the heart of Naples
A typical street scene in the Quartieri
Spagnoli in the heart of Naples
Travel tip:

The area that used to be seen as a notorious Camorra stronghold, the Quartieri Spagnoli - Spanish Quarters - to the north of Via Toledo, is now much less threatening. The area consists of a grid of around narrow 18 streets running south to north by 12 going east to west towards the harbour. It represents a flavour of old Naples, with lines of washing strung across the narrow streets and lively neighbourhood shops catering for the residents, who number about 14,000. Although it is a poor area blighted by high unemployment, the Camorra are less visible here now than in some of the city’s run-down suburbs. The area takes its name from its original purpose in the 16th century, which was to house Spanish garrisons, whose role was to quell revolts from the Neapolitan population.

More reading:

How the capture of Camorra boss Paolo di Lauro struck at the heart of crime in Naples

The Camorra bride who became a mob chieftain after avenging the death of her husband

Dario Fo - the playright who sought out corruption in high places

Also on this day:

1929: The birth of motorcycle world champion Carlo Ubbiati

1958: The birth of singer Andrea Bocelli


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