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.

8 July 2019

8 July

Gian Giorgio Trissino – dramatist and poet


Innovative playwright spotted the potential of Palladio

Literary theorist, philologist, dramatist and poet Gian Giorgio Trissino was born on this day in 1478 in Vicenza.  As well as his contribution to Italian culture, Trissino is remembered for educating and helping Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, a young mason he discovered working on his villa in Cricoli, just outside Vicenza.  He took the young man on two visits to Rome that profoundly influenced his development into a great architect and he gave him the name Palladio, after the Greek goddess of wisdom, Pallas Athene. Trissino had been born into a wealthy family and was able to travel widely, studying Greek in Milan and philosophy in Ferrara. He was part of Niccolò Machiavelli’s literary circle in Florence before he settled in Rome, where he associated with the humanist and poet, Pietro Bembo. He became a close friend of the dramatist, Giovanni Rucella, and served Popes Leo X and Clement VII. Read more…

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Ernest Hemingway – American novelist


War wounds sustained in Italy inspire the great American novel

An 18-year-old American Red Cross driver named Ernest Hemingway was severely wounded by shrapnel from an Austrian mortar shell on this day in 1918 at Fossalta di Piave in the Veneto. Hemingway was taken to a field hospital in Treviso, from where he was transferred by train to a hospital in Milan. While in the hospital and recovering after two operations, he fell in love with his nurse, 26-year-old Agnes von Kurowsky.  His experiences of being wounded in Italy and falling in love later inspired him to write the novel, A Farewell to Arms.  On leaving school Hemingway had worked briefly as a reporter for The Kansas City Star before leaving for the Italian front in World War One to enlist as an ambulance driver.  While stationed at Fossalta di Piave he was bringing chocolates and cigarettes to the men on the front line when he was seriously injured by mortar fire. Despite his own wounds, Hemingway assisted some Italian soldiers to safety, for which he later received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery.  After his release from hospital, he returned to the United States in January 1919. Read more…

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Death of the poet Shelley


Dramatic storm took the life of young literary talent

English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley died on this day in 1822 while travelling from Livorno in Tuscany to Lerici in Liguria in his sailing boat, the Don Juan.  Just a month before his 30th birthday, the brilliant poet of the Romantic era drowned during a sudden, dramatic storm in the Gulf of La Spezia that caused his boat to sink.  His body was later washed ashore and, in keeping with the quarantine regulations at the time, was cremated on the beach bear Viareggio on the Tuscan coast.   Shelley had been living with his wife, the writer Mary Shelley, at a rented villa in Lerici and was returning to his home from Livorno, where he had been arranging the start up of a new literary magazine to be called The Liberal.  He had set sail with two other people on board the Don Juan at about noon on Monday 8 July.  His companions were a retired naval officer, Edward Ellerker Williams, and a boatboy, Charles Vivien.  A friend had watched Shelley’s departure until he was about ten miles out of the harbour and then there had been a storm and he had lost sight of the boat.  Read more…

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Artemisia Gentileschi – painter


Brilliant artist who survived torture by thumbscrews 

Artemisia Gentileschi, who followed in the footsteps of the Baroque painter Caravaggio by painting biblical scenes with dramatic realism, was born on this day in 1593 in Rome.  As a young woman she was raped by an artist friend of her father who had been entrusted with teaching her, and when he was brought to trial by her father she was forced to give evidence under torture.  This event shaped her life and she poured out her horrific experiences into brutal paintings, such as her two versions of Judith Slaying Holofernes.  Gentileschi was notable for pictures of strong and suffering women from myths, allegories, and the Bible. Some of her best known themes are Susanna and the Elders, Judith Slaying Holofernes, the most famous of which, painted between 1614 and 1620, is in the Uffizi in Florence, and Judith and Her Maidservant.  She had an ability to produce convincing depictions of the female figure, anywhere between nude and fully clothed, that few male painters could match.  Read more…

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