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

20 March 2019

20 March

Azeglio Vicini - 1990 World Cup coach


Semi-final heartbreak ended dream of victory on home soil

Azeglio Vicini, the coach who led Italy to the semi-finals when the nation hosted the 1990 World Cup finals, was born in Cesena in Emilia-Romagna, on this day in 1934. Vicini succeeded World Cup winner Enzo Bearzot as coach in 1986 with the onerous brief of winning the tournament on home soil, which Italy’s football hierarchy almost expected to happen. On the bedrock of a formidable defence comprising Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Giuseppe Bergomi and Riccardo Ferri, Vicini built an exciting team around such talented individuals such as Roberto Mancini, Giuseppe Giannini, Roberto Donadoni, Gianluca Vialli and the brilliant Roberto Baggio, and made an inspired choice by picking the largely unproven Salvatore 'Toto' Schillaci, to lead his attack. Yet Italy ultimately failed, going out at the semi-final stage to Argentina after a penalty shoot-out at the Sao Paolo Stadium in Naples. Read more…

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Fulco di Verdura - jeweller


Exclusive brand favoured by stars and royalty

The man behind the exclusive jewellery brand Verdura was born Fulco Santostefano della Cerda, Duke of Verdura, on this day in 1898 in Palermo. Usually known as Fulco di Verdura, he founded the Verdura company in 1939, when he opened a shop on Fifth Avenue in New York and became one of the premier jewellery designers of the 20th century.  Among his clients were the Duchess of Windsor - the former socialite Wallis Simpson - and stars such as Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, Paulette Goddard, Millicent Rogers and Marlene Dietrich.  The most expensive gemstone ever sold at auction, the so-called Oppenheimer Blue diamond, which changed hands at Christie's in Geneva for $50.6 million (£34.7 million) in 2016, was set in a ring designed by Verdura. Read more…

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Giampiero Moretti - entrepreneur racing driver


Gentleman racer behind ubiquitous Momo accessories brand

Giampiero Moretti, a motor racing enthusiast who made his fortune almost literally by reinventing the wheel, was born on this day in 1940 in Milan. Known as 'the last of the gentleman racers' because of his unfailing courtesy, refined manners and an unquenchable determination to succeed on the track, Moretti made a profound mark on the sport through his ergonomic rethink of the racecar steering wheel. Steering wheels were traditionally large and made of steel or polished wood but Moretti saw that reducing the diameter of the wheel would cut the effort needed by the driver to steer the car, while by covering the wheel with leather it would improve the driver's grip.  His big break came when Ferrari invited him to design a leather wheel for their Formula One car, on the back of which Moretti acquired a small factory premises near Verona and set up the company, Momo. Read more…

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