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.

3 May 2019

3 May

Francesco Algarotti - writer and art collector


Philosopher and polymath with a playboy lifestyle

The multi-talented writer, philosopher and art connoisseur Francesco Algarotti, one of the most prominent and colourful individuals in 18th century intellectual society, died in this day in 1764 in Pisa.  Algarotti, who wrote many essays and a number of books, was something of a polymath in his breadth of knowledge on a wide number of subjects, including architecture and music as well as art. He was also a charismatic figure who became friends with most of the leading authors of his day. His urbane manner and suave good looks led him to acquire admirers of both sexes. Indeed, at one time he is said to have found himself at the centre of a colourful bisexual love triangle involving John Hervey, the English peer and politician, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the aristocratic travel writer.  Algarotti was often engaged by the courts of various European monarchs to acquire or commission paintings and other decorative artworks, or to advise on architectural projects, but also amassed a considerable collection of his own.  Read more…

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Niccolò Machiavelli – writer and diplomat


Political scientist came up with the idea ‘the ends justify the means’ 

Statesman and diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli, whose name has become synonymous with the idea of political cunning, was born on this day in 1469 in Florence.  The ideas he put forward in his writing were to make the word ‘machiavellian’ a regularly used pejorative adjective and the phrase ‘Old Nick’ a term to denote the devil in English.  Machiavelli went to work for the new Republic of Florence following the expulsion of the Medici family. On diplomatic missions to Rome, he witnessed the brutality of Cesare Borgia and his father, Pope Alexander VI, as they tried to acquire large parts of central Italy.  He later became responsible for the Florentine militia and his soldiers defeated Pisa in battle in 1509.  After the Medici, using Spanish troops, defeated the Florentines at Prato, Machiavelli withdrew from public life and wrote his most famous work, ‘The Prince’, which was to give the world the political idea of ‘the ends justify the means’.  The book, inspired by the methods he had seen used by Cesare Borgia, put forward the idea that the aims of princes, such as glory and survival, could justify the use of immoral means.  Read more…

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Battle of Tolentino


Murat is defeated but ignites desire for Risorgimento

Neapolitan troops were defeated by Austrian forces on this day in 1815 near Tolentino in what is now the Marche region of Italy.  It was the decisive battle in the Neapolitan War fought by the Napoleonic King of Naples, Joachim Murat, in a bid to keep the throne after the Congress of Vienna had ruled that the Bourbon Ferdinand IV, King of Sicily, should be restored.  Murat had declared war on Austria in March 1815 after learning about Napoleon’s return to France and he advanced north with about 50,000 troops.  By the end of March, Murat’s army had arrived in Rimini, where he incited all Italian nationalists to go to war with him against the Austrians.  But his attempts to cross the River Po into Austrian-dominated northern Italy were unsuccessful and the Neapolitan army suffered heavy casualties.  But it is considered that Murat had given impetus to the movement for Italian unification and the Battle of Tolentino later became regarded as the first conflict of the Risorgimento.  Read more…

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Raffaele Riario – cardinal


Patron of arts linked with murder conspiracies

Renaissance Cardinal Raffaele Riario was born Raffaele Sansoni Galeoti Riario on this day in 1461 in Savona.  A patron of the arts, he is remembered for inviting Michelangelo to Rome and commissioning Palazzo della Cancelleria to be built. He was also embroiled in murder conspiracies which nearly cost him his life.  Although Riario was born in poverty, his mother was a niece of Francesco della Rovere, who became Pope Sixtus IV in 1471.  As a relative of the Pope he was created a Cardinal in 1477 and was named administrator of several dioceses, which gave him a good income at the age of 16.  On his way to Rome in 1478, Riario stopped off in Florence, where he became a witness to the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici. The Pazzi family wanted to replace the Medici as rulers of Florence. They attempted to assassinate Lorenzo, who was wounded but survived, and his brother Giuliano, who was killed, while they were attending mass in the Duomo. Riario was also arrested because he was related to Girolamo Riario, his uncle, who was one of the masterminds behind the plot.  Read more…


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