7 March 2019

7 March

Baldassare Peruzzi - architect and painter


Pupil of Bramante who left mark on Rome

The architect and painter Baldassare Peruzzi, who trained under Donato Bramante and was a contemporary of Raphael, was born on this day in 1481 in a small town near Siena. Peruzzi worked in his home city and in Rome, where he spent many years as one of the architects of the St Peter’s Basilica project but where he was also responsible for two outstanding buildings in his own right - the Villa Farnesina and the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne. The Villa Farnesina, a summer house commissioned by the Sienese banker Agostino Chigi in the Trastevere district, is unusual for its U-shaped floor plan, with a five-bay loggia between the arms. The Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne on the present-day Corso Vittorio Emanuele II is still more unusual, featuring a curved facade. Read more...

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Saint Thomas Aquinas - philosopher


Theologian who synthesised Aristotle’s ideas with principles of Christianity

Saint Thomas Aquinas, known in Italian as Tommaso d’Aquino, died on this day in 1274 at Fossanova near Terracina in Lazio. A Dominican friar who became a respected theologian and philosopher, D’Aquino was canonised in 1323, less than 50 years after his death. He was responsible for two masterpieces of theology, Summa theologiae and Summa contra gentiles. The first sought to explain the Christian faith to students setting out to study theology, the second to explain the Christian faith and defend it in the face of hostile attacks. As a poet, D'Aquino wrote some of the most beautiful hymns in the church’s liturgy, which are still sung today. Read more…

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Filippo Juvarra – architect


Baroque designer influenced the look of ‘royal Turin’

The architect Filippo Juvarra was born on this day in 1678 in Messina in Sicily. Some of his best work can be seen in Turin today as he worked for Victor Amadeus II of Savoy from 1714 onwards. The buildings Juvarra designed for Turin made him famous and he was subsequently invited to work in Portugal, Spain, London and Paris. One of his masterpieces was the Basilica of Superga, built in 1731 on a mountain overlooking the city of Turin, which later became a mausoleum for the Savoy family. As chief court architect, Juvarra also designed the Palace of Stupinigi, built as the royal hunting lodge outside Turin, and the fa├žade of the Palazzo Madama in the royal centre of the city. Read more…

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Alessandro Manzoni – novelist


Writer who produced the greatest novel in Italian literature

Italy’s most famous novelist, Alessandro Manzoni, was born on this day in 1785 in Milan. Manzoni was the author of I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), the first novel to be written in modern Italian, a language that could be understood by everyone. The novel caused a sensation when it was first published in 1825. It looked at Italian history through the eyes of the ordinary citizen and sparked pro-unification feelings in many Italians who read it, becoming a symbol of the Risorgimento movement. I Promessi Sposi is now considered to be the most important novel in Italian literature and is still required reading for many Italian schoolchildren. Read more...

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