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.

9 September 2019

Francesco Carrozzini - director and photographer

Famous for portraits of wealthy and famous


Francesco Carrozzini has photographed many celebrities from the world of movies, music and the arts
Francesco Carrozzini has photographed many celebrities
from the world of movies, music and the arts
The American-based director and photographer Francesco Carrozzini was born on this day in 1982 in Monza, Italy.

The son of the late former editor-in-chief of the Italian edition of Vogue magazine, Franca Sozzani, Carrozzini has directed many music videos and documentary films and a small number of feature-length movies, including one about the life of his mother.

In photography, he has become best known for his portraits of the rich and famous, including actors such as Robert De Niro and Cate Blanchett, models including Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista, musicians such as Lana Del Ray and Kanye West, and artists including Jeff Koons and Andres Serrano.

Carrozzini has also photographed a number of political leaders, including the former British prime minister Tony Blair, ex-Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

He is a founder of the Franca Sozzani Fund for Preventive Genomics, which he helped create following the death of his mother at the age of 66 from a rare form of cancer.

Carrozzini's mother was the fashion magazine editor Franca Sozzani
Carrozzini's mother was the fashion
magazine editor Franca Sozzani
Franca Sozzani’s prominence in the fashion and magazine industry meant that Carrozzini grew up in a house he described as being filled with creative energy. Sozzani gave her photographers a level of creative freedom that at the time was almost unique to Vogue Italia and, influenced by their work, Carrozzini began taking pictures and making short films in his early teens.

In 1999, he moved to the United States to study film at the University of California in Los Angeles before returning to Italy to study philosophy at the University of Milan. 

He embarked on his first commercial assignment, directing a 30-second video promoting Italian MTV, at the age of 19.

Indeed, film became his preoccupation from his early 20s, when his work ranged from a promotional film for the Venice Biennale and a documentary about a Polish theatre group to a short thriller set in New York’s reputedly haunted Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street.

Soon, he became sought after by commercial clients such as Apple Music, Fiat, Tommy Hilfiger and Ray Ban, and musicians such as BeyoncĂ©, Jay-Z, and Lenny Kravitz, for whom he directed music videos.  He has been based in New York since 2004.

Carrozzini began working on his film about his mother in 2010. The project was a documentary focusing on her life and legacy, highlighting the accomplishments of Sozzani's career while also exploring his relationship with her.

Carrozzini's portrait of the actor Robert De Niro
Carrozzini's portrait of the actor Robert De Niro
The film, entitled Franca: Chaos and Creation, took him around six years to finish. It premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in September 2016, just three months before she died, following a long period undergoing treatment for her cancer.

In March 2017, the film was honored with a Nastro d'Argento presented by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.

After his mother’s death, from a form of cancer that might have been prevented with earlier medical surveillance, Corrazzini joined Harvard geneticist Robert C Green and private investors in launching the Franca Sozzani Fund for Preventive Genomics in the hope of improving the reach of preventive genomics, which uses genetic sequencing to predict disease.

Carrozzini is married to Bee Shaffer, the daughter of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and child psychiatrist David Shaffer.

The grand Villa Reale in Monza, built in the late 18th  century for Archduke Ferdinand of Austria
The grand Villa Reale in Monza, built in the late 18th
century for Archduke Ferdinand of Austria
Travel tip:

Monza, a city of just under 125,000 inhabitants about 20km (12 miles) northeast of Milan, is best known for its international motor racing circuit, the home of the Formula One Italian Grand Prix. Yet the city itself is well worth visiting in its own right, one of the highlights being the 13th century Basilica of San Giovanni Battista, often known as Monza Cathedral, which contains the famous Corona Ferrea or Iron Crown, bearing precious stones.  According to tradition, the crown was found on Jesus's Cross.  Note also the Villa Reale, built in the neoclassical style by Giuseppe Piermarini at the end of the 18th Century, which has a sumptuous interior and a court theatre.

Part of the ceiling of the Camera degli Sposa in Mantua's Palazzo Ducale, decorated by Andrea Mantegna
Part of the ceiling of the Camera degli Sposa in Mantua's
Palazzo Ducale, decorated by Andrea Mantegna
Travel tip:

Carrozzini’s mother, Franca Sozzani, came from Mantua, an atmospheric old city in Lombardy, about 180km (112 miles) to the southeast of Milan, surrounded on three sides by a broad stretch of the Mincio river, which has always limited its growth, making it an easy place for tourists to look round. At the Renaissance heart of the city is Piazza Mantegna, where the 15th century Basilica of Sant’Andrea houses the tomb of the artist, Andrea Mantegna.  Mantua’s Palazzo Ducale, the seat of the Gonzaga family between 1328 and 1707, contains some of the finest examples of Mantegna’s frescoes in the Camera degli Sposi.

More reading:

How Franca Sozzani changed the world of fashion publishing

Mimmo Jodice: Photography meets metaphysical art

The girl who inherited the Versace fashion empire

Also on this day:

1908: The birth of writer and translator Cesare Pavese

1918: The birth of Italy's ninth president, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro

1943: Allied troops land at Salerno on the Italian mainland


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