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.

9 May 2019

9 May

Carlo Maria Giulini - conductor


Boy violinist who became a maestro of the baton

Carlo Maria Giulini, who conducted many of the world’s great orchestras in a career spanning 54 years, was born on this day in 1914 in Barletta, a town on the Adriatic coast 66km (41 miles) north of the port city of Bari.  Appointed musical director of Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1953, he went on to become one of the most celebrated conductors of orchestral performances, developing long associations with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia of London in particular, as well as the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  He became renowned for projecting serene authority from the podium, as well as his selfless devotion to the score. A handsome man who was always impeccably tailored, he had a magisterial presence. Initially most recognised for the breadth and detail he brought to the operas of Verdi and Mozart, he eventually became as well known for his orchestral repertoire. Read more…

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Ottavio Missoni - fashion designer


Former prisoner of war was also an Olympic hurdler

The fashion designer Ottavio Missoni died on this day in 2013 at the age of 92 following an extraordinary life.  Missoni was the co-founder of the Italian fashion brand Missoni, which he set up in 1953 with his wife, Rosita. The company became known around the world for its brightly coloured geometric knits and zigzag patterns and were among the pioneers of Italian ready-to-wear clothing lines.  Earlier, he had been an infantryman during the Second World War, fighting at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942. He was captured by the 7th Armoured Division of the British Army, popularly known as the Desert Rats, and spent the remainder of the war in an English prisoner-of-war camp in Egypt.  After the war, he pursued his passion for competitive athletics, becoming good enough to be selected in the Italian team for the 1948 Olympics in London, where he reached the final of the 400m hurdles event.  Read more…

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Giovanni Paisiello - composer


Audience favourite with a jealous streak

The composer Giovanni Paisiello, who wrote more than 90 operas and much other music and was enormously popular in the 18th century, was born on this day in 1740 in Taranto.  Paisiello was talented, versatile and had a big influence on other composers of his day and later, yet he was jealous of the success of rivals and is remembered today primarily as the composer whose passionate fans wrecked the premiere of Gioachino Rossini’s opera Almaviva, which was based on the same French play as Paisiello’s Il barbiere di siviglia, which was regarded as his masterpiece.  Rossini’s opera would eventually be more commonly known as Il barbiere di siviglia, but not until after Paisiello had died.  Nonetheless, Paisiello’s supporters still felt Rossini was attempting to steal their favourite’s thunder and many of them infiltrated the audience at Almaviva’s opening night in Rome and disrupted the performance with constant jeers and catcalls. Read more…

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Victor Emmanuel III abdicates


Last ditch bid to save the monarchy fails

Italy’s longest-reigning King, Victor Emmanuel III (Vittorio Emanuele III di Savoia), abdicated from the throne on this day in 1946.  To try to save the monarchy, Victor Emmanuel III had earlier transferred his powers to his son, Umberto. But then he formally abdicated, hoping the new King, Umberto II, would be able to strengthen support for the monarchy.  Victor Emmanuel III went to live in Alexandria in Egypt , where he died, after just 18 months in exile, in December 1947.  In contrast with his father, who had been King of Italy for nearly 46 years, Umberto reigned for only just over a month, from 9 May to 12 June. The country had voted in a referendum to abolish the monarchy and Italy was declared a republic. Umberto went into exile and was later nicknamed Re di maggio, the May King.  Victor Emmanuel III had at one time been a popular King of Italy, ascending to the throne in 1900 after his father was assassinated in Monza.  Read more…

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