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.

17 May 2019

17 May

Sandro Botticelli – painter


Renaissance master was forgotten until the 19th century

Early Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli died on this day in 1510 in Florence.  Years before his death he had asked to be buried in the Church of Ognissanti in Florence at the feet of a woman for whom it is believed he suffered unrequited love.  She was Simonetta Vespucci, a married noblewoman, who had died in 1476. She is thought to have been the model for Botticelli’s major work, The Birth of Venus, which was painted years later in 1485, and that she also appeared in many of his other paintings.  After his death, Botticelli was quickly forgotten and his paintings remained in the churches and villas for which they had been created until the late 19th century, when people started to appreciate his work again.  Botticelli was born Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi in 1445. He was active during the golden age of painting in Florence under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici and Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici. Read more…

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Luca Cadalora - motorcycle world champion


Modena rider won titles in 125cc and 250cc categories

Luca Cadalora, the motorcycle racer who was three times a world champion, was born on this day in 1963 in Modena, Emilia-Romagna.  Currently working as coach to Italy’s seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi, Cadalora began his professional motorcycle racing career in 1984, riding an MBA in the 125cc world championship.  After switching to the Garelli team, he won a season-long battle with team-mate Fausto Gresini to claim the 125cc world title, before being promoted to the 250cc class. He rode first for Giacomo Agostini's Marlboro Yamaha factory racing team, then switched in 1991 to the Rothmans Honda factory racing team, for whom he won the world championship twice, in consecutive seasons. He prevailed over the German Helmut Bradl in 1991, before beating the Italian Loris Reggiani, riding for Aprilia, the following year.  Read more…

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Federico II Gonzaga – Duke of Mantua


Ruler spent childhood as a political hostage

Federico Gonzaga, who became the ruler of Mantua and Montferrat, was born on this day in 1500 in Mantua.  He spent his childhood living as a political hostage, first at the court of Pope Julius II in Rome and then at the court of Francis I of France.  It wasn’t perhaps an ideal start in life, but historians believe the political, social and cultural education he received in the company of popes, cardinals, and kings helped shape him as a future ruler.  Federico was the son of Francesco II Gonzaga and Isabella d’Este. His godfather was Cesare Borgia, Machiavelli’s model for the ideal Renaissance Prince.  His father, Francesco, was captured by the Venetians during battle and held hostage for several months. While he was absent, his wife, Isabella, ruled Mantua.  Francesco managed to secure his own release only by agreeing to send his son, Federico, to be a hostage at the papal court.  Read more…

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