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

Gian Giorgio Trissino – dramatist and poet

Innovative playwright spotted the potential of Palladio


Vincenzo Cateno's portrait of the  dramatist Gian Giorgio Trissino
Vincenzo Catena's portrait of the
dramatist Gian Giorgio Trissino
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 Machiavellis 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.

Trissino’s most important dramatic work was the blank verse tragedy Sofonisba, published in 1524 and first performed in 1562.

Andrea Palladio was Gian
Giorgio Tressino's protégé
The play was based on a story about the Carthaginian wars by the Roman historian Livy. It employed the dramatic techniques of Sophocles and Euripides. It was the first time blank verse had been used extensively in Italian drama and many later European tragedies were modelled on it. The play was translated into French and performed in 1556 at the Château de Blois.

Trissino later wrote a verse comedy based on a work by the Roman playwright Plautus. He wrote the first Italian odes modelled on the verse of the Greek poet, Pindar, and the first Italian versions of the Horatian ode.

Trissino died in Rome in 1550. An edition of his collected works was published in Verona in 1729.

Vicenza's Piazza dei Signori
Vicenza's Piazza dei Signori
Travel tip:

Vicenza, where Gian Giorgio Trissoni was born, has become known as the city of his protégé, Andrea Palladio, and the buildings the great architect designed are all around the city. There is a statue of Palladio close to Piazza dei Signori, the main square. Palazzo del Valmarana and Loggia del Capitaniato are examples of his work that can be seen close to the centre.

Andrea Palladio worked as a stonemason on the Villa Trissoni, which can be found at Cricoli, near Vicenza
Andrea Palladio worked as a stonemason on the Villa
Trissoni, which can be found at Cricoli, near Vicenza
Travel tip:

The Villa Trissoni is located at Cricoli, just outside the centre of Vicenza. Most of it was built in the 16th century and it is associated with Andrea Palladio, who worked on it as a mason. Since 1994 the villa has been part of a World Heritage Site designated to protect the Palladian buildings of Vicenza. Gian Giorgio Trissoni was personally responsible for organising the remodelling of the villa at Cricoli, which he had inherited from his father.

Read more:

Andrea Palladio - the world's famous architect

The poet who was Lucrezia Borgia's lover

Leo X - visionary Renaissance pope

More reading:

1593: The birth of painter Artemisia Gentileschi

1822: The death of the English poet Shelley

1918: American author Ernest Hemingway injured by Austrian mortar fire in the Veneto

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