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.

28 September 2019

28 September

Marcello Mastroianni – actor


Film star who immortalised the Trevi Fountain


Marcello Vincenzo Domenico Mastroianni, who grew up to star in some of the most iconic Italian films of the 20th century, was born on this day in 1924 in Fontana Liri, in the province of Frosinone in Lazio.  At the age of 14, Marcello Mastroianni made his screen debut as an extra in a 1939 film called Marionette.  His career was interrupted by the Second World War, during which he was interned in a German prison camp until he managed to escape and go into hiding in Venice.  He made several minor film appearances after the war until he landed his first big role in Atto d’accusa, directed by Giacomo Gentilomo, in 1951.  Ten years later, Mastroianni had become an international celebrity, having starred in Federico Fellini’s La dolce vita opposite Anita Ekberg. He played a disillusioned tabloid journalist who spends his days and nights exploring Rome’s high society. The film is most famous for the scene in which Ekberg's character, Sylvia, wades into the Trevi Fountain.  Mastroianni followed this with a starring role in Fellini’s 8½  - Otto e mezzo - in which he played a film director who suffers from creative block while making a movie.  Read more…

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Filippo Illuminato - partisan


Teenager who gave his life for his city

The partisan fighter Filippo Illuminato died on this day in 1943 in Naples.  He was among more than 300 Italians killed in an uprising known as the Quattro giornate di Napoli - the Four Days of Naples - which successfully liberated the city from occupying Nazi forces ahead of the arrival of the first Allied forces in the city on 1 October.  Illuminato’s memory has been celebrated in a number of ways in the southern Italian city, honoured because he was only 13 years old when he was killed by German gunfire in a street battle in the famous Piazza Trieste e Trento, just a few steps from the Royal Palace. His last act had been to blow up a German armoured car.  Born into a poor family, Illuminato was working as an apprentice mechanic when he decided to join the uprising, which was sparked by a brutal crackdown imposed by the Nazis in response to the Italian government’s decision to surrender to the Allies, confirmed in the signing of the Armistice of Cassabile on 3 September on the island of Sicily.  The German forces, which had numbered 20,000, had responded to the news by banning all assemblies and introducing a curfew. Read more…

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Pietro Badoglio - soldier and politician


Controversial general who turned against Mussolini

Marshal Pietro Badoglio, who was a general in the Italian Army in both World Wars and became Italy’s wartime prime minister after the fall of Mussolini, was born on this day in 1871 in the village of Grazzano Monferrato in Piedmont.  He was Mussolini’s Chief of Staff between 1925 and 1940, although his relationship with the Fascist dictator was fractious.  Indeed, he ultimately played a key part in Mussolini’s downfall in 1943, encouraging the Fascist Grand Council to remove him as leader and advising King Victor Emmanuel III in the lead-up to Mussolini’s arrest and imprisonment in July of that year, after which he was named as head of an emergency government.  It was Badoglio who then conducted the secret negotiations with the Allies that led to an armistice being signed barely five weeks later.  However, historians are divided over whether he should be seen as an heroic figure, in part because of his role in the disastrous defeat for Italian forces at the Battle of Caporetto in the First World War, at a cost of 10,000 Italian deaths and 30,000 more wounded.  Badoglio hailed from a middle-class background. His father, Mario, was a small landowner. Read more…

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Pope John Paul I


Sudden end to the reign of ‘The Smiling Pope’

John Paul I died on this day in 1978 in Rome, having served for just 33 days as Pope.  His reign is one of the shortest in Papal history and resulted in the most recent ‘Year of Three Popes’, which hadn’t happened since 1605.  John Paul I was also the most recent Pope to be born in Italy, his death ending the succession of Italian pontiffs that started with Clement VII in 1523.  Pope John Paul I was born Albino Luciani in 1912 in a small town then known as Forno di Canale, in the province of Belluno in the Veneto. The son of a bricklayer, he decided to become a priest when he was just ten years old and was educated first at the seminary in Feltre and then in Belluno.  After Luciani was ordained, he taught for a while at the seminary in Belluno before going to Rome to work on a Doctorate in Sacred Theology.  He was appointed Bishop of Vittorio Veneto by Pope John XXIII in 1958. The next Pope, Paul VI, made him Patriarch of Venice in 1969 and then Cardinal Priest of San Marco in 1973.  After the death of Pope Paul VI in August 1978, Luciani was elected Pope in the fourth ballot of the papal conclave. He accepted his election but prophesied that his reign would be a short one.  Read more…


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