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.

7 August 2019

7 August

Giorgetto Giugiaro - automobile designer


Creative genius behind many of the world’s most popular cars

Giorgetto Giugiaro, who has been described as the most influential automotive designer of the 20th century, was born on this day in 1938 in Garessio, a village in Piedmont about 100km (62 miles) south of Turin.  In a career spanning more than half a century, Giugiaro and his companies have designed around 200 different cars, from the high-end luxury of Aston Martin, Ferrari, Maserati and DeLorean to the mass production models of Fiat, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Daewoo and SEAT.  The Volkswagen Golf and the Fiat Panda, two of the most successful popular cars of all time, were Giugiaro’s concepts.  In 1999, a jury of more than 120 journalists from around the world named Giugiaro “Designer of the Century.”  Giugiaro’s father and grandfather both painted in oils and Giugiaro became passionately interested in art. He enrolled at the University of Turin to study art and technical design.  He took an interest in styling automobiles only after one of his professors suggested that the motor industry would pay big money for someone of his artistic vision who could come up with elegant and practical designs.  Not surprisingly, after he had presented some sketches of cars at a student exhibition in Turin in 1955, it was Fiat - based in Turin - who became aware of his talent. Read more…

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Vincenzo Scamozzi – architect


Follower of Palladio had his own distinctive style

The architect and writer Vincenzo Scamozzi, whose work in the second half of the 16th century had a profound effect on the landscape of Vicenza and Venice, died on this day in 1616 in Venice.  Scamozzi’s influence was later to spread far beyond Italy as a result of his two-volume work, L’idea dell’Architettura Universale - The idea of a universal architecture - which was one of the last Renaissance works about the theory of architecture.  Trained by his father, Scamozzi went on to study in Venice and Rome and also travelled in Europe.  The classical influence of Andrea Palladio is evident in many of the palaces, villas and churches that Scamozzi designed in Vicenza, Venice and Padua.  His work influenced English neoclassical architects such as Inigo Jones and many others who came after him.  Scamozzi was also an important theatre architect and stage set designer. He completed Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza in 1585, adding his own design for a stage set constructed of timber and plaster, using trompe-l'œil techniques to create the appearance of long streets receding to a distant horizon.  Scamozzi was invited to Venice to design housing for the procuratorate of San Marco. He continued the end façade of the Sansovino Library, with its arcaded ground floor, adding an upper floor to provide the required accommodation in the Piazzetta.  Read more…

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Alfredo Catalani - composer


Music from Loreley and La Wally lives on 

Opera composer Alfredo Catalani died on this day in 1893 in Milan at the age of just 39.  He is best remembered for his operas, Loreley, written in 1890, and La Wally, written in 1892, which are still to this day passionately admired by music experts.  Catalani was born in Lucca in Tuscany in 1854 and went to train at the Milan Conservatoire.  His work is said to show traces of Wagner and his style sometimes resembled that of Massenet and Puccini but his early operas were not successful.  Loreley premiered at the Teatro Regio in Turin in 1890. Later it was performed at Covent Garden in London in 1907 and in Chicago in 1919.  La Wally was first performed at Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1892 to great acclaim.  The opera is best known for its aria, ‘Well then, I’ll go far away’ (Ebben? Ne andro lontana), sung when Wally decides to leave her home forever.  American soprano Wilhelmenia Fernandez sang this aria in the 1981 film, Diva, in which a young Parisian is obsessed with an American soprano.  Hariclea Darclée, the Romanian soprano  who starred in the premiere of La Wally.  In the opera, the heroine throws herself into an avalanche at the end, a scene which is difficult to stage in the theatre and therefore the opera is not performed regularly, but Wally’s principal aria is still sung frequently.  Read more…

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Gerry Scotti - television show host


One-time politician who presented Chi vuol essere milionario?

Gerry Scotti, the host of Italy’s equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and one of the most familiar faces on Italian television, was born on this day in 1956 in Camporinaldo, an agricultural village in Lombardy.  The presenter, whose career in television began in the 1980s, was also a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies between 1987 and 1992, having won the Lombardy 1 district in the Milan college for Bettino Craxi’s Italian Socialist Party.  But he is best known as the face of Chi vuol essere milionario?, which he fronted when it launched in Italy in 2000 and continued in the role after Italy’s entry into the single currency in 2002 required the show to make a subtle change of name.  Originally Chi vuol essere miliardario – billionaire – the title was changed to milionario – millionaire – with a new top prize of 1,000,000 euro replacing the 1,000,000,000 lire of the original.  Scotti continued to host the show until it aired for the last time in Italy in 2011, at which time he held a Guinness World Record for the number of editions presented of the show, which was created for the British network ITV in 1998 and was subsequently exported to 160 countries worldwide.  The son of a printworker at Corriere della Sera in Milan, Scotti – whose real first name is Virginio - studied law at university but dropped out to pursue a career as a radio DJ, working for a number of stations in Milan before being hired as a launch presenter for Radio Deejay, a national network based in Milan.  Read more…

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