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.

5 June 2019

5 June

Ferragamo shoes

Salvatore Ferragamo - shoe designer


From humble beginnings to giant of the fashion industry

Salvatore Ferragamo, the craftsman once dubbed 'Shoemaker to the Stars' after his success in creating made-to-measure footwear for movie stars and celebrities, was born on this day in 1898 in Bonito, a small hill town in Campania, in the province of Avellino.  Although in time he would become a prominent figure in the fashion world of Florence, Ferragamo learned how to make shoes in Naples, around 100 kilometres from his home village.  He was apprenticed to a Neapolitan shoemaker at the age of just 11 years and opened his first shop, trading from his parents' house, at 13.  When he was 16 he made the bold decision to move to the United States, joining one of his brothers in Boston.  Salvatore was impressed at modern production methods but was concerned about compromises to quality.  This led him to move to California and to set up shop selling his own hand-made shoes in Santa Barbara, where he made his first contacts in the burgeoning American film industry.  He moved to Hollywood and it was after opening the Hollywood Boot Shop that he acquired the label 'shoemaker to the stars'.  Read more…

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Carmine Crocco

Carmine Crocco - soldier and brigand


Bandit seen by peasants as Italy’s ‘Robin Hood’

Carmine Crocco, whose life of brigandry was driven by a hatred of what he saw as the bourgeois oppressors of the poor, was born on this day in 1830 in the town of Rionero in Vulture, in Basilicata.  Crocco fought in the service of Giuseppe Garibaldi in the Expedition of the Thousand but was no supporter of Italian Unification and spent much of his life thereafter fighting on the side of the ousted Bourbons and of the peasant people of the south, many of whom were as poor after unification as they had been before, if not poorer.  He assembled his own private ‘army’, including many other fearsome brigands, which at one point numbered more than 2,000 men.  For this reason, he is regarded as something of a folk hero in southern Italy, where there is a popular belief that he robbed the rich to give to the poor in the manner of the legendary English outlaw, Robin Hood.  Nonetheless, when he was arrested for the final time he was tried and convicted of 67 murders and seven attempted murders among many crimes, having led a life of violence.  He wrote his memoirs while serving a life sentence on the island of Elba. Read more…

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Ludovico II Gonzaga

Ludovico III Gonzaga – Marquis of Mantua


Condottiero fought to improve the town of his birth

Ludovico Gonzaga, who ruled his native city for 34 years, was born on this day in 1412 in Mantua.  He grew up to fight as a condottiero - a military leader for hire - and in 1433 he married Barbara of Brandenburg, the niece of the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund.  After Ludovico entered the service of the Visconti family in Milan, he and his wife were exiled from Mantua by his father, Gianfrancesco I.  But father and son were later reconciled and Ludovico became Marquis of Mantua in 1444, while continuing to serve as a condottiero, switching his allegiance between Milan, Florence, Venice and Naples, to gain territory and secure peace for Mantua.  The high point of his reign came when Pope Pius II held a Council in Mantua between 1459 and 1460 to plan a crusade against the Ottoman Turks. Although the Pope was unimpressed with Mantua, the event earned prestige for Ludovico, whose son, Francesco, was made a Cardinal.  During Ludovico’s reign, he paved the streets of Mantua, built a clock tower and reorganised the city centre. Read more…

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