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.

1 July 2019

1 July

Clara Gonzaga - noblewoman


Countess from Mantua founded European dynasties

Clara (Chiara) Gonzaga, the eldest daughter of Federico I Gonzaga and Margaret of Bavaria, was born on this day in 1464 in Mantua.  One of her six children became Charles III, Duke of Bourbon and led the imperial army sent by Emperor Charles V against Pope Clement VII in what was to become the Sack of Rome in 1527.  Clara was also to feature as one of the characters in The Heptameron, a collection of 72 short stories written in French by the sister of King Francis I of France, Marguerite of Angouleme, who had been inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron.  Clara had five siblings, including Francesco II Gonzaga, who married Isabella d’Este.  She was married at the age of 17 to Gilbert of Bourbon Montpensier. Four years later he succeeded his father as Count of Montpensier and Dauphin of Auvergne.  Clara and Gilbert had six children, but when she was just 32, Gilbert, who had also become Viceroy of Naples and the Duke of Sessa, died of a fever while in Pozzuoli near Naples, leaving her a widow.  Read more...


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Alberto Magnelli - abstract painter


Self-taught artist whose work became known as Concrete Art

The abstract painter Alberto Magnelli, who became a leading figure in the Concrete Art movement, was born on this day in 1888 in Florence. Concrete Art is described as abstract art that is entirely free of any basis in observed reality and that has no symbolic meaning. It had strong geometric elements and clear lines and its exponents insisted the form should eschew impressionism and that a painting should have no other meaning than itself.  The movement took its name from the definition of concrete as an adjective rather than a noun, meaning ‘existing in a material or physical form’.  It became Magnelli’s focus after he moved to Paris in 1931. Until then, he had experimented in various genres.  He was born into a comfortable background in Florence, his father coming from a wealthy family of textile merchants.  He never studied art formally but would spend hours in museums and churches looking at paintings and frescoes. Read more…

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Gino Meneghetti - career burglar


Pisa-born criminal became legend in Brazil

Gino Amleto Meneghetti, a small-time thief in Italy who became a romanticised figure for his criminal exploits after emigrating to Brazil, was born on this day in 1878 in Pisa.  His early days were spent in a fishing village outside Pisa, but his father could find only low-paid work and moved the family to a different neighbourhood so he could take a job in a ceramics factory.  It was there that Gino fell in with a gang of boys who regularly engaged in petty crime, stealing fruit or chickens or other objects of minimal worth.  The young Meneghetti was arrested for the first time at 11 years of age.  After teenage years spent largely thieving, he made an attempt to change his life, going back to the classroom to learn to be a mechanic and a locksmith.  He found work and saved money, but then decided to move to Marseilles in France to live with an uncle, who owned a restaurant.  Read more…

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Claudio Saracini – musician


Baroque songs have survived till modern times

Composer Claudio Saracini was born on this day in 1586 in or close to Siena in Tuscany.  He is one of the most highly regarded composers of his time and is known also to have played the lute and been a singer.  He became famous for composing monody, which is secular music for a single voice, and 133 of the songs he wrote in this style have survived till today.  Some of Saracini’s compositions are still recorded, often in collections along with works by other composers of the same era, such as Monteverdi, who is said to have admired him.  Saracini travelled widely and seems to have established useful connections abroad as he dedicated a lot of his music to foreign aristocrats. He also appeared to have absorbed some of the musical styles of the lands he visited in his own compositions.  Read more…

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