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.

16 April 2019

16 April

Felice Pedroni - prospector


Italian’s discovery sparked Fairbanks Gold Rush

The gold prospector known as Felix Pedro was born Felice Pedroni on this day in 1858 in the village of Trignano, near the small Apennine town of Fanano in Emilia-Romagna.  In July 1902, on or around the 22nd, Pedroni discovered gold in the Tanana Hills northeast of the fledgling town of Fairbanks, Alaska in a small, then unnamed stream (later to be called Pedro Creek).  Some claim that Pedroni was the prospector who, on his return to Fairbanks from his prospecting mission, uttered the famous words "There's gold in them there hills", although there are other accounts of where the phrase originated.  What does not seem to be disputed is that Pedroni’s discovery triggered what became known as the Fairbanks Gold Rush as more than 1,000 other gold diggers flooded the area. Read more…

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Antonio Starabba Marchese di Rudini – Prime Minister


Bloodshed in Milan marred liberal premiere’s time in office

Political leader Antonio Starabba, Marchese di Rudini, who twice served as prime minister of Italy, was born on this day in 1839 in Palermo in Sicily.  During his second term in office, Di Rudini’s Government passed social legislation to create an obligatory workmen’s compensation scheme and a fund for disability and old age pensions but they were also blamed for the army’s brutal treatment of rioters in Milan.  Di Rudini was born into an aristocratic but liberal Sicilian family and grew up to join the revolutionaries in Sicily.  He became Mayor of Palermo and successfully resisted the opponents of national unity. He was then promoted to Prefect and given the task of suppressing the brigands in Sicily.  After entering parliament, Di Rudini became leader of the right wing but when he became premiere in 1891 he formed a coalition with the left and began economic reforms. Read more…

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Adelaide del Vasto – Countess of Sicily


Prudent ruler who looked after Sicily for her young sons

Adelaide del Vasto, who served as regent of Sicily during the 12th century, died on this day in 1118 in Sicily.  One historian described her as ‘a prudent woman’ and a Greek and Arab document listed Adelaide – known in Italian as Adelasia - as ‘a great female ruler and protector of the Christian faith’. Born in Piedmont, Adelaide was from an important family with branches that ruled Liguria and Turin. She became the third wife of Roger I of Sicily in 1089. When he died in 1101 she became regent of Sicily for her young sons, Simon and Roger II, when she was about 26.  After rebellions broke out in parts of Calabria and Sicily, Adelaide dealt with them severely, but this did not tarnish her reputation as a good ruler.  Adelaide’s eldest son, Simon, was enthroned at about the age of nine but he died in 1105 leaving her as regent again until Roger II became old enough to take control. During her regency Palermo officially became capital of the Kingdom of Sicily. Read more…

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Fortunino Matania - artist and illustrator


War artist famous also for images of British history

Chevalier Fortunino Matania, a prodigiously talented artist who became known as one of the greatest magazine illustrators in publishing history, was born on this day in 1881 in Naples.  Matania made his name largely in England, where in 1904 he joined the staff of The Sphere, the illustrated news magazine that was founded in London in 1900 in competition with The Graphic and the Illustrated London News.  The use of photography on a commercial scale was in its infancy and artists who could work under deadline pressure to produce high-quality, realistic images to accompany news stories were in big demand.  Matania’s best known work was from the battlegrounds of the First World War but he also covered every major event - marriages, christenings, funerals and state occasions - from the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 to that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.  He produced illustrations of the Sinking of the Titanic for The Sphere. Read more…


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