30 November 2019

30 November

Simonetta Stefanelli – actress


Godfather star now designs bags and shoes

Simonetta Stefanelli, the actress and fashion designer, was born on this day in 1954 in Rome.  Stefanelli is perhaps best-known for her performance as Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone in the 1972 film The Godfather directed by Francis Ford Coppola.  She also made several films with her former husband, the actor and director Michele Placido.  The couple had three children together, Michelangelo, Brenno and Violante Placido, who is also an actress.  They divorced in 1994 and Stefanelli and her three children went to live in London for a short time.  Before appearing in The Godfather, Stefanelli had small roles in films guided by some of the top Italian directors, such as Gian Luigi Polidoro, Giulio Petroni, Marco Vicario and Dino Risi.  In 1972 she appeared in a German film for television. Then came her role in The Godfather alongside Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan and Diane Keaton.  Her character is the first wife of Pacino's character, Michael Corleone, a local girl Michael marries while in hiding in Sicily, but is then murdered in a bomb attack of which her husband was the intended victim.  Stefanelli now lives in Rome, where she opened a fashion store, Simo Bloom.  Read more…


___________________________________________________________________

Andrea Doria – Admiral


Military commander with outstanding tactical talent

Andrea Doria, the most important naval leader of his time, was born on this day in 1466 in Oneglia in Liguria.  Because of his successes on both land and sea he was able to free Genoa from domination by foreign powers and reorganise its government to be more stable and effective.  Doria was part of an ancient aristocratic family but he was orphaned while still young and grew up to become a condottiero, or soldier of fortune.  He served Pope Innocent VIII, King Ferdinand I and his son Alfonso II of Naples, and other Italian princes.  Between 1503 and 1506 he helped his uncle, Domenico, crush the Corsican revolt against the rule of Genoa.  Attracted to the sea, Doria fitted out eight galleys and patrolled the Mediterranean, fighting the Ottoman Turks and Barbary pirates, adding to his wealth and reputation along the way.  He then entered the service of Francis I of France who was fighting the Emperor Charles V in Italy and helped him capture Genoa.  But after becoming disillusioned with French policies in Genoa, Doria transferred his support to Charles V and helped him drive the French out of Genoa.  Charles made him grand admiral of the imperial fleet and gave him the title of Prince of Melfi.  Read more…


_______________________________________________________________

Beniamino Gigli - opera singer


Tenor’s beautiful voice can still be appreciated today

One of the greatest tenors of the 20th century, Beniamino Gigli, died on this day in Rome in 1957.  Gigli is remembered for the beauty of his voice, which was powerful as well as mellow and smooth. He made many recordings, which have since been converted to CD and can still be enjoyed by opera lovers today. He also made some film appearances.  Gigli was born in Recanati near Ancona in the Marche in 1890. He sang in the choir at Recanati Cathedral as a boy and then went on to study music in Rome.  He won his first singing competition in Parma in 1914 and made his operatic debut in Rovigo in the same year, playing the role of Enzo in Amilcare Ponchielli’s opera, La Gioconda.  Gigli made his debut on the stage of La Scala in Milan in 1918 singing Faust in Boito’s Mefistofele. The orchestra was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. His first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York came two years later.  He became particularly associated with the roles of Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème and the tile role in Giordano’s Andrea Chenier. His first appearance in London at Covent Garden was in Andrea Chenier in 1930.  Read more…


__________________________________________________________________

Veronica Gambara – writer and stateswoman


Politically astute poet wrote an ode to Emperor Charles V

Veronica Gambara, a lyric poet who ruled the state of Correggio for 32 years, was born on this day in 1485 in Pralboino in the province of Brescia.  Under her rule, the court of Correggio became an important literary salon visited by many writers and artists.  Gambara signed a treaty with the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, which guaranteed Correggio would not be besieged and in her political poems she expressed Italy as an entity centuries before unification.  Gambara came from an accomplished family, one of the seven children of Count Gianfrancesco da Gambara and Alda Pio da Carpi.  The humanist poets Ginevre and Isotta Noarola were her great aunts and Emilia Pia, the principal female interlocutor of Baldassare Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano, was her aunt.  Gambara studied Latin, Greek, philosophy and theology and by the age of 17 had begun corresponding with the poet, Pietro Bembo, who later became her mentor when she sent him her poetry to read.  When Gambara was 24 she married her cousin, Giberto, Count of Correggio, a widower aged 50, and they had two sons, Ippolito and Girolamo.   Read more…


Home

29 November 2019

29 November

Agostino Chigi - banker and arts patron


Nobleman from Siena became one of Europe’s richest men

The banker Agostino Chigi, who was a major sponsor of artists during the Renaissance, was born on this day in 1466 in Siena.  At its height, Chigi’s banking house in Rome was the biggest financial institution in Europe, employing up to 20,000 people, with branches throughout Italy and abroad, as far apart as London and Cairo.  Chigi invested a good deal of his wealth in supporting the arts, notably providing financial backing to almost all the main figures of the early 16th century, including Perugino, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giovanni da Udine, Giulio Romano, Il Sodoma (Giovanni Bazzi) and Raphael.  Perugino painted The Chigi Altarpiece, dated at around 1506-1507, which hangs in the Chigi family chapel in the church of Sant'Agostino in Siena.  Chigi’s significant legacy to Rome was to have built a chapel in the church of Santa Maria della Pace, another - his mortuary chapel, the Chigi Chapel - in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, and the superb suburban villa in Trastevere, on the banks of the Tiber, which since 1579 has been known as the Villa Farnesina.  Agostino Chigi was the son of the prominent Sienese banker Mariano Chigi, from an ancient and illustrious Tuscan family.   Read more…


_________________________________________________________________

Gaetano Donizetti - opera composer


Birthplace of musical genius has been declared a national monument

Gaetano Donizetti, a prolific composer of operas in the 19th century, was born on this day in 1797 in Bergamo in northern Italy.  Donizetti came into the world in the basement of a house in Borgo Canale just outside the walls of the Città Alta, Bergamo’s upper town. He was the fifth of six children born to a textile worker and his wife.  He once wrote about his birthplace: “…I was born underground in Borgo Canale. One descended the stairs to the basement, where no ray of sunlight had ever been seen. And like an owl I flew forth…”  Donizetti developed a love for music and, despite the poverty of his family, benefited from early tuition in Bergamo. He went on to become a brilliant composer of operas in the early part of the 19th century and is considered to have been a major influence on Verdi, Puccini and many other composers who came after him.  Experts consider some of his work, for example Lucia di Lammermoor and L’Elisir d’amore, to be among the greatest lyrical operas of all time.  After a magnificent international career, Donizetti returned to Bergamo, where he died in 1843 in the Palazzo Scotti.  Read more…


________________________________________________________________

Agostino Richelmy – Cardinal


Former soldier sent priests to say mass for troops

Cardinal Agostino Richelmy, who fought for Garibaldi as a teenager, was born on this day in 1850 in Turin.  He joined the Garibaldi Volunteers during the war of 1866 and is said to have worn his red shirt under his cassock for years afterwards.  When Italy entered the First World War in 1915, Richelmy organised priests to serve as army chaplains in the mountains of Trentino, where they had to carve altars out of snow and say mass in temperatures below zero.  Richelmy was born into an ancient, noble family and his father, Prospero was a hydraulic engineer.  He was educated at the Liceo Classico Cavour and the Archiepiscopal Seminary in Turin and gained a doctorate in theology in 1876. He became a professor of moral and dogmatic theology and then a professor in the faculty of canon law.  Richelmy was elected Bishop of Ivrea in 1886 and named as the Archbishop of Turin in 1897.  He was created cardinal priest of Sant’Eusebio in Rome in 1899 and was then transferred to Santa Maria in Via in Rome in 1911.  Richelmy supported all the social directives of Pope Leo XIII, who worked to encourage understanding between the Church and the modern world during his papacy.  Read more…


_______________________________________________________________

Cardinal Andrea della Valle – antiquities collector


Restoration and conservation techniques set example to others

Andrea della Valle, remembered for amassing one of the earliest known collections of Roman antiquities, was born into a noble family on this day in 1463 in Rome.  He was the son of Filippo della Valle and Girolama Margani, and was the second of their four children.  After entering the Church, he was elected Bishop of Crotone in 1496. He was chosen to direct the Apostolic Chancery between 1503 and 1505 and served as Apostolic secretary during the reign of Pope Julius II.  Della Valle was transferred to the titular diocese of Miletus in 1508, but resigned from it to give way to his nephew, Quinzio Rustici, in 1523.  He was created cardinal priest in 1517 and participated in the papal conclaves of 1521 and 1523.  As archpriest of the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, Della Valle ceremonially opened and closed the holy door in the Jubilee year of 1525. The door is sealed by mortar and cement from the inside so it cannot normally be opened, but is ceremoniously opened during holy year to allow pilgrims to enter and gain plenary indulgences.  Della Valle had inherited some antiquities collected by his ancestors but was always eager to acquire more.  Read more…


Home

28 November 2019

28 November

NEW
- Laura Antonelli - actress


Pin-up star of 1970s sex-comedies

The actress Laura Antonelli, whose career was at its peak while Italian cinema audiences were indulging a taste for sex-comedies during the 1970s, was born on this day in 1941 in Pula, a port city now part of Croatia but then known as Pola, capital of the Italian territory of Istria.  A curvaceous brunette who posed for both the Italian and French editions of Playboy magazine in the early 1980s, although Antonelli was mostly remembered for appearing scantily clad opposite male stars such as Marcello Mastroianni and Michele Placido, she was a talented actress, winning a Nastro d’Argento - awarded by Italian film journalists - as best actress in Salvatore Samperi’s 1974 comedy-drama Malizia (Malice).  She also worked on several occasions for Luchino Visconti, one of Italy’s greatest directors. Indeed, she starred in 1976 as the wife of a 19th century Roman aristocrat in Visconti’s last film, L’Innocente (The Innocent), based on the novel The Intruder by Gabriele d'Annunzio.  However, the success of her career was largely built on roles in films such as Devil in the Flesh (1969), The Divine Nymph (1975) and Tigers in Lipstick (1979), the content of which outraged Italy’s fledgling feminist movement and shocked the Catholic Church.  Read more…

__________________________________________________________________

Mario Nascimbene - film music composer


First Italian to score for Hollywood

The composer Mario Nascimbene, most famous for creating the music for more than 150 films, was born on this day in 1913 in Milan.  Nascimbene’s legacy in the history of Italian cinema is inevitably overshadowed by the work of Ennio Morricone and the late Nino Rota, two composers universally acknowledged as giants of Italian film music.  Yet the trailblazer for the great Italian composers of movie soundtracks was arguably Nascimbene, whose engagement to score Joseph L Mankiewicz’s 1954 drama The Barefoot Contessa won him the distinction of becoming the first Italian to write the music for a Hollywood production.  It was such an unexpected commission that Nascimbene confessed in an interview in 1986 that when he was first contacted about the film by Mankiewicz’s secretary he shouted down the phone and hung up, suspecting a hoax perpetrated by a friend who only a few months earlier had caught him out in a similar wind-up over the score for the William Wyler movie Roman Holiday.  Only after a third call from the secretary did he reluctantly agree to meet the director and when his doorbell rang he was convinced his friend would be on the other side.  Read more…

___________________________________________________________________

Fabio Grosso - World Cup hero


Unspectacular career illuminated by unforgettable goal

Fabio Grosso, the unlikely hero of Italy's victory in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, was born on this day in 1977 in Rome.  Selected for Marcello Lippi's squad for the Finals as cover for first-choice left-back Gianluca Zambrotta, Grosso eventually secured a place in Lippi's team and went on to score one of the most important goals in Italy's World Cup history as they beat the hosts, Germany, to reach the final.  He then secured his place in Azzurri folklore by scoring the winning penalty in the final against France as Italy lifted the trophy for the fourth time, equalling Brazil's record.  Yet Grosso arrived at the finals as a player who, if not an unknown, seldom attracted attention and had enjoyed a career that was respectable but certainly not eye-catching.  Five years before 2006,  he was playing in Serie C for Chieti, in the town in Abruzzo where he grew up, and only two and a half years before the tournament he left Serie A side Perugia to play for Palermo in Serie B.  Nonetheless, Palermo did win promotion to Serie A soon after Grosso arrived and at the same time he quietly established himself as Lippi's first choice at left back in the 2006 World Cup qualifying competition.  Read more…

_________________________________________________________________

Alberto Moravia - journalist and writer


Italian novelist recognised as major 20th century literary figure

The novelist Alberto Moravia was born Alberto Pincherle on this day in 1907 in Rome.  He adopted Moravia, the maiden name of his paternal grandmother, as a pen name and became a prolific writer of short stories and novels. Much of his work has been made into films.  Before the Second World War, he had difficulties with the Fascist regime, which banned the publication of one of his novels. But his anti-Fascist novel Il conformista later became the basis for the film The Conformist directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.  In 1941 he married the novelist Elsa Morante and they went to live first on Capri, and then in the Ciociaria area of Lazio before returning to Rome after it was liberated in 1944.  Moravia was once quoted as comparing a childhood illness, which confined him to bed for a long period, with Fascism. He said they had both made him suffer and do things he otherwise would not have done.  He died in Rome in 1990 and is remembered today as an important literary figure of the 20th century.  Read more…

_________________________________________________________________

Caterina Scarpellini – astronomer and meteorologist


Female ‘assistant’ remembered for her important discoveries

The astronomer Caterina Scarpellini, who discovered a comet in 1854 and was later awarded a medal by the Italian government for her contribution to the understanding of astronomy and other areas of science, died on this day in 1873 in Rome.  Caterina had moved from her native Foligno in Umbria to Rome at the age of 18 to work as an assistant to her uncle, Abbe Feliciano Scarpellini, who was the director of the Roman Campidoglio Observatory. He had been appointed in 1816 by Pope Pius VI to a new chair of sacred physics in the Roman College of the Campidoglio, marking a turning point in the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church to science.  From 1847 onwards, Caterina edited Corrispondenza Scientifica in Rome, a bulletin publishing scientific discoveries. She carried out her observations six times a day and reported on her findings.  She married Erasmo Fabri, who was also an assistant at the observatory, and together they established a meteorological station in Rome in 1856.  Caterina published reports of her astronomical observations and meteorological measurements in Italian, French and Belgian journals and also wrote about electrical, magnetic and geological phenomena.  Read more…


Home

Laura Antonelli - actress

Pin-up star of 1970s sex-comedies


Laura Antonelli first moved to Rome to be a gymnastics teacher
Laura Antonelli first moved to Rome
to be a gymnastics teacher
The actress Laura Antonelli, whose career was at its peak while Italian cinema audiences were indulging a taste for sex-comedies during the 1970s, was born on this day in 1941 in Pula, a port city now part of Croatia but then known as Pola, capital of the Italian territory of Istria.

A curvaceous brunette who posed for both the Italian and French editions of Playboy magazine in the early 1980s, although Antonelli was mostly remembered for appearing scantily clad opposite male stars such as Marcello Mastroianni and Michele Placido, she was a talented actress, winning a Nastro d’Argento - awarded by Italian film journalists - as best actress in Salvatore Samperi’s 1974 comedy-drama Malizia (Malice).

She also worked on several occasions for Luchino Visconti, one of Italy’s greatest directors. Indeed, she starred in 1976 as the wife of a 19th century Roman aristocrat in Visconti’s last film, L’Innocente (The Innocent), based on the novel The Intruder by Gabriele d'Annunzio.

However, the success of her career was largely built on roles in films such as Devil in the Flesh (1969), The Divine Nymph (1975) and Tigers in Lipstick (1979), the content of which outraged Italy’s fledgling feminist movement and shocked the Catholic Church.

Devil in the Flesh, also known as Venus in Furs and based on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s erotic novel of the latter name, was released in Germany in 1969 but immediately banned upon its first showing in Italy in 1973, with all copies of the film confiscated by the authorities on the grounds of indecency.  It was re-released two years later, but in a heavily-censored version.

Antonelli was most frequently cast as a sultry  temptress in 1970s sex-comedies and dramas
Antonelli was most frequently cast as a sultry
temptress in 1970s sex-comedies and dramas
Malizia was her breakthrough film, but even that had a plot that was sexually highly-charged as Antonelli portrayed a widower’s young housekeeper who battles the advances of both her employer and his teenage sons. The film was a box-office hit and Antonelli became Italy’s newest sex symbol.

She was seldom out of the gossip magazines and in 1972 began a long and sometimes tempestuous relationship with the French playboy actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, her co-star in The Scoundrel (1971) and Docteur Popaul (1972), whose previous girlfriends included Ursula Andress and Brigitte Bardot.  They had met in Paris.

Antonelli was born Laura Antonaz in Pola. Her family was displaced during the Second World War and lived in refugee camps before moving to Naples, where her father found work as a hospital administrator.

As a teenager, her parents regarded her as ugly and clumsy and pressed her to take up gymnastics, in her words, “in the hope I would at least develop some grace.” She became proficient, excelling in rhythmic gymnastics and eventually qualified as a gymnastics instructor.

She moved to Rome and began a career as a high-school gym teacher. Her social life in Rome enabled her to meet people in the entertainment industry, who helped her first find modelling work and then some small parts in films.  She made her big-screen debut in 1966.

Antonelli had a long relationship with the French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo
Antonelli had a long relationship with
the French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo
Antonelli, who had been married to a publisher, Enrico Piacentini, broke up with Belmondo in 1980.

She had another major success in 1981 opposite the French actor Bernard Giraudeau in Ettore Scola’s drama Passione d’amore (Passion of Love), in which she played the beautiful married mistress of an army captain. The film was later the inspiration for a Stephen Sondheim musical Passion.

Thereafter, Antonelli career began to slip into decline and after a 1991 sequel to Malizia bombed, she began a retirement that saw her eventually become a recluse, her well-being not helped by a 10-year battle to overturn a conviction for dealing cocaine after the drug was discovered by police in a raid on her home. She protested her innocence and finally won €108,000 (£76,000) in compensation.

Unwilling to be seen in public in her later years after botched cosmetic surgery, she become the beneficiary of a law passed in Italy that provides financial assistance for artists who have fallen on hard times.  She died in June 2015 from a heart attack, aged 73, at her villa in Ladispoli, a modest seaside resort about 35km (22 miles) from Rome.

The Croatian port city of Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula,  which was part of Italy between 1920 and 1945
The Croatian port city of Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula,
 which was part of Italy between 1920 and 1945
Travel tip:

The Istrian peninsula, which includes a number of beautiful towns and cities such as Pula, Rovinj, Perec and Vrsar, was partitioned to Italy in the Treaty of Rapallo in 1920 after the dissolution of the Austria-Hungary empire following the First World War. In the Second World War it became a battleground for rival ethnic groups and political groups. It was occupied by Germany but with their withdrawal in 1945  Yugoslav partisans gained the upper hand and Istria was eventually ceded to Yugoslavia. It was divided between Croatia and Slovenia following the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991. Nowadays, only the small town of Muggia, near Trieste, remains part of Italy.

The remains of the Roman villa of Pompeo at Ladispoli, the seaside resort near Rome, where Antonelli died
The remains of the Roman villa of Pompeo at Ladispoli,
the seaside resort near Rome, where Antonelli died
Travel tip:

Modern Ladispoli is a somewhat characterless seaside resort made up of hotels and apartment buildings built on a grid of criss-crossing parallel streets. Ladispoli occupies the area of the ancient Alsium, the port of the Etruscan city of Cerveteri and later a Roman colony.  Remains of both ancient civilisations are visible in the Etruscan necropolis of Monteroni and Vaccina and the Roman Villa of Pompeo.  There is also a castle, the Castle of Palo, built in the 12th century and rebuilt 400 years later.

Also on this day:

1873: The death of astronomer Caterina Scarpellini

1907: The birth of novelist Alberto Moravia

1913: The birth of film music composer Mario Nascimbene

1977: The birth of World Cup hero Fabio Grosso


Home

27 November 2019

27 November

Jacopo Sansovino – architect


Death of the designer praised by Palladio

Jacopo d’Antonio Sansovino, the sculptor and architect renowned for his works around Piazza San Marco, died on this day in 1570 in Venice.  He designed the Libreria Sansoviniana in the Piazzetta, which was later praised by the architect Andrea Palladio as ‘the finest building erected since antiquity’.  Sansovino had been born Jacopo Tatti in 1486 in Florence and was apprenticed to the sculptor Andrea Sansovino, whose surname he subsequently adopted.  He was commissioned to make a marble sculpture of St James for the Duomo and a Bacchus, which is now in the Bargello in Florence.  However, his designs for sculptures to adorn the façade of the Church of San Lorenzo were rejected by Michelangelo, who was in charge of the scheme.  In 1529 Sansovino became chief architect to the Procurators of San Marco, making him one of the most influential artists in Venice.  His first Venetian building was the Palazzo Corner della Ca’ Grande, a huge classical palace for one of the richest families in Venice.  Sansovino designed the Loggetta and its sculptures adjoining the Campanile and statues for the Basilica of San Marco. He also helped rebuild many of the churches and palaces in Venice.  Read more...


_________________________________________________________________

Senesino - operatic castrato


Sienese singer who worked with composer Handel

The acclaimed contralto castrato singer Senesino, who enjoyed a long professional relationship with the composer George Frederick Handel, died on this day in 1758 in Siena.  During the 18th century, when opera’s popularity was at its height, the castrati singers - male singers castrated as boys to preserve their prepubescent vocal range - were the highest paid members of the cast and the likes of Carlo Broschi, who sang under the stage name Farinelli, Giovanni Carestini (“Cusanino”), Gaetano Majorano ("Caffarelli") and Gaspare Pacchierotti were the genre’s first superstars.  Senesino could be added to that list.  When he made his first appearance for Handel in his three-act opera Radamisto in 1720 his salary was reported as between 2000 and 3000 guineas, which today would be worth around £250,000 to £365,000 (€280,000-€400,000).  Born Francesco Bernardi in 1686, Senesino took his name from his home town, Siena. His father was a barber in the Tuscan city.  He joined the choir of Siena’s Duomo - the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta - in 1695 and was castrated at the comparatively late age of 13.  Read more...

__________________________________________________________________

Roberto Mancini - footballer and manager


Skilful player now highly successful coach

Roberto Mancini, a former Italy player and the current manager of the Italian national team, was born on this day in Iesi in Marche in 1964.  Roberto Mancini enjoyed huge success with Internazionale in Italy and Manchester City in England.  Mancini, an elegant and creative forward, was capped 36 times by Italy between 1984 and 1994.  After a highly successful playing career, in which he was part of title-winning teams at Sampdoria and Lazio, he enjoyed immediate success as a manager, winning the Coppa Italia in his first season as Fiorentina boss in 2000. He repeated the feat in his second season at his next club, Lazio.  Mancini then made his mark emphatically at Internazionale, guiding the Milan club to a club record three consecutive Serie A titles, as well as winning the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa (a pre-season match between the Serie A champions and the Coppa Italia winners) twice. This made him the club's most successful manager for 30 years.  While at Inter, he also set a Serie A record by winning 17 consecutive matches.  He was out of football for a year after being dismissed by Inter in 2008, despite his domestic success.  Read more…


___________________________________________________________________

Horace - Roman poet


Writer who ‘seized the day’ and left his vivid account of it

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, better known as Horace, died on this day in 8 BC in Rome.  He had become a leading poet during the reign of the Emperor Augustus and acquired a farm near Rome which he made famous through his poetry.  His Odes and his more informal Satires and verse Epistles vividly portrayed contemporary Roman society, with the background themes of love, friendship and philosophy.  Horace’s career coincided with Rome’s momentous change from a republic to an empire and he became a spokesman for the new regime.  He is said to have revealed far more about himself and his way of life in his writings than any other poet in antiquity. His most famous two words are ‘carpe diem’ – taken from his first book of Odes – which are usually translated as ‘seize the day’.  Horace was born in 65 BC in Venusia in southern Italy, a town that lay on a trade route between Apulia and Basilicata. Horace’s father had been a slave but had managed to gain his freedom and improve his social position.  He spent money on his son’s education and eventually took him to Rome to find him the best school.  At the age of 19 Horace went to Athens to enrol in the Academy founded by Plato.  Read more…


Home

26 November 2019

26 November

Charles Forte - businessman and hotelier


Multi-billion pound empire started with a single café

Businessman Charles Forte - later Sir Charles and then Baron Forte of Ripley - was born Carmine Forte in the hamlet of Mortale in the Frosinone province of southern Lazio on this day in 1908.  Forte was most famous for his hotels empire, which once numbered more than 800 properties ranging from Travelodge motels to the high-end luxury of the Grosvenor House in London and the George V in Paris.  Starting with a single milk bar in London, opened in 1935, he grew a business that became so vast that, when it changed hands 61 years later, it was valued at £3.9 billion.  Charles Forte was brought up largely in Scotland, where his family emigrated in 1911 after his father, Rocco, decided to follow the lead of his brother by abandoning farming in his impoverished homeland to try his luck in the catering business abroad.   Rocco ran a café and ice cream parlour in Alloa, a town in central Scotland about an hour's drive north-east of Glasgow and a similar distance to the north-west of Edinburgh.  Charles went to school in Alloa and nearby Dumfries before completing his education at the Mamiani High School in Rome.  Read more…

_________________________________________________________________

Enrico Bombieri – Mathematician


Brilliant professor who won top award in his field at just 34

The mathematician Enrico Bombieri, one of the world’s leading authorities on number theory and analysis, which has practical application in the world of encryption and data transmission, was born on this day in 1940 in Milan.  Bombieri, who is also an accomplished painter, won the Fields Medal, an international award for outstanding discoveries in mathematics regarded in the field of mathematical sciences as equivalent to a Nobel Prize, when he was a 34-year-old professor at the University of Pisa in 1974.  As well as analytic number theory, he has become renowned for his expertise in other areas of highly advanced mathematics including algebraic geometry, univalent functions, theory of several complex variables, partial differential equations of minimal surfaces, and the theory of finite groups.  Mathematics textbooks now refer to several discoveries named after him in his own right or with fellow researchers, including the Bombieri-Lang conjecture, the Bombieri norm and the Bombieri–Vinogradov theorem.  He has been described as a "problem-oriented" scholar - one who tries to solve deep problems rather than to build theories.  Read more…

_________________________________________________________________

Letizia Moratti – politician and businesswoman


First woman to be Mayor of Milan and head of RAI

Letizia Moratti, one of Europe’s best-known businesswomen and a successful politician, was born on this day in 1949 in Milan.  Married to the oil magnate Gianmarco Moratti, she was chair of the state television network RAI between 1994 and 1996, a minister in former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s second and third administrations, and Mayor of Milan between 2006 and 2011.  Born Letizia Maria Brichetto Arnaboldi, her antecedents are the Brichetto family from Genoa, who founded the first insurance brokerage company in Italy, and the noble Arnaboldi family from Milan.  Her grandmother, Mimona Brichetto Arnaboldi, was a society hostess in the 1930s and an outspoken opponent of Fascism.  Letizia attended a private school in Milan and had classical dance classes at the Carla Strauss Academy in the Brera district.  She attended the University of Milan and graduated in political science.  At around the same time, she met Gianmarco Moratti, an oil contractor whose brother, Massimo, a petrochemicals tycoon, is the former chairman of Internazionale.  With funding from the Moratti family, Letizia launched her first business at the age of 25.  Read more…

_________________________________________________________________

Amelita Galli-Curci - soprano


Singer’s beautiful voice lives on thanks to early recordings

Amelita Galli-Curci, one of the most popular Italian opera singers and recording artists of the early 20th century, died on this day in 1963.  Galli-Curci was a ‘coloratura’ soprano and her voice has been described as ‘florid, vibrant, agile and able to perform trills.’  Although she was largely self-taught her voice was much admired and it has been claimed she was encouraged to become an opera singer by composer Pietro Mascagni, who was a family friend.  She was born Amelita Galli in Milan in 1881 and studied the piano at the Milan Conservatory, which is in the centre of the city close to the Duomo. She made her stage debut as a soprano at Trani in 1906, singing Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto. She was widely acclaimed and her career took off from there.  In 1908 she married an Italian nobleman, the Marquese Luigi Curci and she subsequently attached his surname to hers. She remained known as Amelita Galli-Curci even after they divorced.  She sang in just two performances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lamermoor with Enrico Caruso in Buenos Aires in 1915 but they went on to make wonderful recordings together.  Read more…


Home

25 November 2019

25 November

NEW - Rosanna Schiaffino – actress


Dramatic life of Italian sex goddess

Film star Rosanna Schiaffino, who for more than 20 years, between the 1950s and the 1970s, starred opposite the most famous actors of the period, was born on this day in 1939 in Genoa in Liguria.  Schiaffino worked for some of Italian cinema’s greatest directors, but in the 1980s turned her back on the cinema world to marry the playboy and steel industry heir, Giorgio Falck, entering a relationship that descended into acrimony after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Born into a wealthy family, Schiaffino was encouraged in her acting ambitions by her mother, who paid for her to go to a drama school.  She entered beauty contests and won the title of Miss Liguria when she was just 14.  She also took some modelling jobs and her photograph appeared in many magazines. She was spotted by the film producer Franco Cristaldi, who paired her with Marcello Mastroianni in Un ettaro di cielo (Piece of the Sky) in 1959.  Schiaffino made her name in her second film for Cristaldi, La Sfida (The Challenge), directed by Francesco Rosi, in which she gave a powerful, but sensitive performance as a Neapolitan girl, inspired by the real life character of Pupetta Maresca, a former beauty queen who became a famous Camorra figure.  Read more…

__________________________________________________________________

Bruno Tonioli - dance show judge


Dancer and choreographer is star of Strictly Come Dancing

Dancer, choreographer and television dance show judge Bruno Tonioli was born on this day in 1955 in Ferrara in north-east Italy.  Tonioli is one of the judging panel of Strictly Come Dancing on British TV and on its US equivalent Dancing With the Stars, which requires him to divide his time between London and New York when seasons overlap.  He began his showbusiness career in the 1980s as a member of the Paris-based dance company La Grande Eugène before moving into the music industry as a choreographer.  Among the artists he has worked with are Tina Turner, Sting, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Freddie Mercury, Sinitta, Boy George, Dead or Alive, and Duran Duran.  Tonioli has also worked on numerous films and television shows including Little Voice, The Gathering Storm, Dancin' thru the Dark and Enigma.  He also has a number of acting credits, including the role of Peppino, manservant to Michael Gambon's Oscar Wilde in the BBC production Oscar.  Tonioli appeared as himself in the movie version of the BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous.  Renowned for his flamboyantly wild gestures and amusingly extravagant comments, Tonioli has been a member of the Strictly Come Dancing team since the show's launch in 2004.  Read more…

__________________________________________________________________

Amalfi destroyed by tsunami


Quake beneath Tyrrhenian Sea sparked killer wave

The former maritime republic of Amalfi, which once had a population of 70,000 people, was effectively wiped out when a massive earthquake that occurred under the Tyrrhenian Sea on this day in 1343 sparked a devastating tsunami along the coast of southern Italy.  The tremor itself caused deaths but not on the scale of the tsunami that followed, as a stretch of coastline from north of Naples to south of the Cilento National Park bore the brunt of a huge killer wave.  The towns of Bussanto and Blanda, near the present-day resorts of Sapri and Maratea, were among communities that disappeared completely, while Amalfi and Minori on what we know now as the Amalfi Coast were decimated.  Amalfi’s harbour and all the boats in it were destroyed, while the lower town fell into the sea. Where there had once been a thriving city, only a village remained, the population of which has never grown much beyond about 6,000 people. Its days as a significant maritime power were over.  Salerno and Naples suffered considerable damage, although the death toll was never recorded, it can be assumed it ran into tens of thousands.  Read more…

__________________________________________________________________

Giorgio Faletti – writer and entertainer


Comedian who became best-selling novelist

Giorgio Faletti, who became a best-selling thriller writer, was born on this day in 1950 in Asti in Piedmont.  He was a successful actor, comedian, and singer-songwriter before he turned his hand to writing fiction. His first thriller, I Kill (Io uccido), sold more than four million copies.  Faletti’s books have now been published in 25 languages throughout Europe, South America, China, Japan, Russia and the US.  Faletti graduated from law school but then began a career as a comedian at the Milanese Club ‘Derby’.  In 1983 he made his debut on local television before appearing alongside the popular hostess and former actress, Raffaella Carrà, on RAI’s daytime game show, Pronto, Raffaella? He was cast as a comedian in the popular variety show, Drive In, which was followed by other television successes.  He wrote the soundtrack for a TV series in which he was one of the main actors and then released an album of his songs.  In 1992 he took part in the San Remo Music Festival with Orietta Berti with the song Rumba di tango.  In 1994, performing his own song, Signor tenente, he came second at San Remo.  Read more…

_________________________________________________________________

Pope John XXIII


Farmer’s son went on to become ‘the Good Pope’

Pope John XXIII was born on this day in 1881 at Sotto il Monte near Bergamo.  He was originally named Angelo Roncalli and was part of a large farming family but he went on to become a much loved Pope and respected world leader.  Angelo was tutored by a local priest before entering the Seminary in Bergamo at the age of 12. He went on to study theology in Rome and rose to become Cardinal Patriarch of Venice before being elected Pope in 1958.  His religious studies had been interrupted by a spell in the Italian army, but he was ordained in 1904. He served as secretary to the Bishop of Bergamo for nine years before becoming an army chaplain in World War One.  After the war he worked in Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece on behalf of the church helping to locate and repatriate prisoners of war.  In 1944 he was appointed nuncio to Paris to help with the post war effort in France. He became a Cardinal in 1953 and expected to spend his last years serving the church in Venice.  But when he was elected Pope by his fellow cardinals in the conclave of 20 October 1958, it was a turning point in the church’s history.  Read more…


Home

Rosanna Schiaffino – actress

Dramatic life of Italian sex goddess


Rosanna Schiaffino became a movie goddess in the mould of Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida
Rosanna Schiaffino became a movie goddess in
the mould of Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida
Film star Rosanna Schiaffino, who for more than 20 years, between the 1950s and the 1970s, starred opposite the most famous actors of the period, was born on this day in 1939 in Genoa in Liguria.

Schiaffino worked for some of Italian cinema’s greatest directors, but in the 1980s turned her back on the cinema world to marry the playboy and steel industry heir, Giorgio Falck, entering a relationship that descended into acrimony after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Born into a wealthy family, Schiaffino was encouraged in her acting ambitions by her mother, who paid for her to go to a drama school.  She entered beauty contests and won the title of Miss Liguria when she was just 14.

She also took some modelling jobs and her photograph appeared in many magazines. She was spotted by the film producer Franco Cristaldi, who paired her with Marcello Mastroianni in Un ettaro di cielo (Piece of the Sky) in 1959.

Schiaffino made her name in her second film for Cristaldi, La Sfida (The Challenge), directed by Francesco Rosi, in which she gave a powerful, but sensitive performance as a Neapolitan girl, inspired by the real life character of Pupetta Maresca, a former beauty queen who became a famous Camorra figure after killing the murderer of her husband in revenge.  The film won acclaim at the 1958 Venice film festival.

She  won an award for her performance as Lucrezia in the film La Mandragola (The Mandrake), an adaptation of a play by Niccolò Machiavelli.

Schiaffino and Marcello Mastroianni in a  scene from A Piece of the Sky
Schiaffino and Marcello Mastroianni in a
scene from A Piece of the Sky
Schiaffino was often referred to as ‘the Italian Hedy Lamarr’ but she was more of a sex goddess in the style of Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida.

In 1966 she married the film producer Alfredo Bini, with whom she had a daughter, Antonella. They would divorce in 1976.

After making more than 40 films, working with directors including Pier Paolo Pasolini, Roberto Rossellini and Jean-Luc Godard, Rosanna gave up acting to enjoy a new life mixing with the jet set, her activities often featuring in gossip magazines all over the world.

During the summer of 1980 in Portofino, she met Giorgio Falck, who was newly divorced, and they had a well publicised affair. They had a son, Guido, in 1981 and were married in 1982.

In 1991 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and the marriage then went into decline. They divorced after unpleasant disputes over the custody of their son and the allocation of money.

She died of the illness in 2009, aged 69, in Milan.

The maritime city of Genoa is the capital of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy
The maritime city of Genoa is the capital of Liguria and
the sixth largest city in Italy
Travel tip:

Genoa, where Rosanna Schiaffino was born, is the capital city of the region of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy. It has earned the nickname of La Superba because of its proud history as a major port. Part of the old town was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2006 because of the wealth of beautiful 16th century palaces there.

The picturesque fishing village of Portofino has become a draw for artists and celebrities
The picturesque fishing village of Portofino has become
a draw for artists and celebrities
Travel tip:

The region of Liguria in northwest Italy is also known as the Italian Riviera. It runs along a section of the Mediterranean coastline between France and Tuscany and is dotted with pretty seaside villages, with houses painted in different pastel colours.  The fishing village of Portofino, about an hour’s drive southeast along the coast from Genoa, has become famous for its picturesque harbour and for its associations with artists and celebrities. A novel published in 1922 is credited with making Portofino famous. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim was inspired by the author’s stay in Portofino and was made into a film in 1991 with a cast including Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson and Alfred Molina. The film was nominated for three Oscars.

Also on this day:

1343: Amalfi is destroyed by a tsunami

1881: The birth of Pope John XXIII

1950: The birth of writer and entertainer Giorgio Faletti

1955: The birth of choreographer and dancer Bruno Tonioli



Home


24 November 2019

24 November

Pietro Torrigiano – sculptor


Achievements overshadowed by assault on Michelangelo

Pietro Torrigiano, the sculptor credited with introducing Renaissance art to England in the early years of the 16th century but who is best remembered for breaking the nose of Michelangelo in a fight, was born on this day in 1472 in Florence.  The incident with the man who would become the greatest artist of their generation came when both were teenagers, studying in Florence under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici.  Torrigiano was older than Michelangelo by two and a half years and confessed some years later that he found his young rival to be somewhat irritating, especially since it was his habit to peer over the shoulders of his fellow students and make disparaging comments about the quality of their work. On the occasion they clashed, when Michelangelo was said to be about 15, he was with Torrigiano and some others in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, studying frescoes by Masaccio.  Looking at a sketch Torrigiano was making, the younger boy made some slighting remark and Torrigiano lashed out.  He caught him such a blow that Michelangelo, who was knocked out cold at the time, suffered a broken nose and a disfigurement he would carry for life.  Read more…


__________________________________________________________________

Lucky Luciano - Mafia boss


Sicilian who brought order among warring clans

Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, the mobster best known for shaping the structure of Italian-dominated organized crime in the United States, was born Salvatore Lucania on this day in 1897 in Lercara Friddi, a town about 70km (44 miles) south-east of the Sicilian capital, Palermo.  Raised in New York's Lower East Side after his family emigrated in 1906, it was Luciano who famously put the New York underworld into the control of the so-called Five Families and also set up The Commission, which served as a governing body for organized crime nationwide.  After he was jailed in 1936 on extortion and prostitution charges, Luciano is said to have struck a deal with the American authorities to use his criminal connections to help the Allies in their invasion of Sicily, a vital first step in driving the German forces and their supporters out of the Italian peninsula.  In return he was given parole and allowed to return to Sicily at the end of the Second World War.  Luciano, whose father, Antonio, had worked in a sulphur mine in Lercara Friddi, began his life in crime as a teenager, when he set up his own gang and became friends with Jewish gang members Meyer Lansky and his associate Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel.  Read more…


__________________________________________________________________

Carlo Collodi - journalist and writer


Satirical journalist created Pinocchio to express his own views 

Carlo Collodi, in real life Carlo Lorenzini, was born on this day in 1826 in Florence.  Although he was a satirical journalist who supported the cause of the Risorgimento, Collodi is best remembered for his stories for children about the character, Pinocchio.  The writer was brought up in the small town of Collodi where his mother had been born and he adopted the name of her birthplace as a pen name.  After becoming interested in politics he started the satirical newpaper, Il Lampione, in 1848. This was censored by order of the Grand Duke of Tuscany so in 1854 he started Lo Scaramuccia, which was also controversial.  In 1856 he wrote his first play for the theatre and, after Italian unification in 1861, he turned his attention to writing for children.  Collodi’s stories about his first main character, Giannettino, were a way of expressing his own political ideas through allegory.  He began writing Storia di un Burattino, The Story of a Marionette, in 1880. He went on to contribute regular stories about his character, who he later called Pinocchio, to a newspaper for children.  Pinocchio was created out of wood by a woodcarver, Geppetto, but he became a mischievous boy whose nose grew when he told a lie.   Read more…


_________________________________________________________________

Vittorio Miele - artist


Painter scarred by Battle of Monte Cassino

The 20th century artist Vittorio Miele, who found a way to express himself in art after losing his family in the Battle of Monte Cassino, was born in Cassino on this day in 1926.  Miele was a teenager when his home town and the mountain top Benedictine monastery witnessed one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War as Allied armies attempted to break the Gustav Line of the Axis forces.  Over a three-month period, the Allies made four assaults, each backed up by heavy bombing, and though the objective was eventually achieved it was at a very high price. There were at least 80,000 soldiers killed or  wounded, as well as countless civilians caught in the crossfire.  Miele lost his father, mother and sister. He survived but left the area as soon as he was able, settling 400km (249 miles) north in Urbino in the Marche. It was there, from the age of 19, that he took courses in painting and became part of the city’s artistic life, developing a talent that in his mature years saw him once described as “the poet of silence”.  In the following decades his work began to reach further afield.  Read more…


Home

23 November 2019

23 November

Franco Nero – actor


The film Camelot sparked long love affair with English actress

Francesco Clemente Giuseppe Sparanero, better known by his stage name Franco Nero, was born on this day in 1941 in San Prospero Parmense.  Nero became well-known for playing the title role in Sergio Corbucci’s Spaghetti Western film Django in 1966 and then reprising the role in Nello Rossati’s film Django Strikes Again in 1987.  The actor has had a long-standing relationship with British actress Vanessa Redgrave, which began in the 1960s during the filming of the musical comedy-drama Camelot. They had a son, Carlo Gabriel Redgrave Sparanero in 1969. Now known as Carlo Gabriel Nero, their son is a screenwriter and director. Franco Nero was the son of a Carabinieri Officer, who was originally from San Severo, a city in the province of Foggia in Apulia.  He grew up in Bedonia in Emilia-Romagna and then in Milan, where he studied briefly at the Economy and Trade Faculty of the University. He left there to study at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan.  Nero’s first film role was a small part in Giuseppe Fina's Pelle Viva in 1962. After his success in Django, he played the part of Lancelot in Camelot, opposite Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere, in 1967.  Read more…


__________________________________________________________________

Ludovico Einaudi – composer


Musician world famous for his unique blend of sounds

Pianist and film music composer Ludovico Maria Enrico Einaudi was born on this day in 1955 in Turin.  Einaudi has composed the music for films such as The Intouchables and I’m Still Here and has released many solo albums for piano and orchestra.  His distinctive music, which mixes classical with contemporary rhythms of rock and electronic, is now played all over the world and has been used as background music and in television commercials.  Einaudi’s mother, Renata Aldrovandi, played the piano to him as a child and her father, Waldo Aldrovandi, was a pianist, opera conductor and composer, who went to live in Australia after the Second World War.  His father, Giulio Einaudi, was a publisher, who worked with authors Italo Calvino and Primo Levi, and his grandfather, Luigi Einaudi, was President of Italy between 1948 and 1955.  Einaudi started composing his own music and playing it on a folk guitar when he was a teenager.  He began his musical training at the Conservatorio Verdi in Milan, obtaining a diploma in composition in 1982. He took an orchestration class with the composer Luciano Berio, in which, according to Einaudi himself, he learnt to have a very open way of thinking about music.  Read more…


__________________________________________________________________

Fred Buscaglione - singer and actor


Fifties sensation who died tragically young

The singer and actor Fred Buscaglione, a nightclub singer who became huge star of the pop world in 1950s Italy, was born on this day in 1921 in Turin.  Buscaglione’s style - he portrayed himself tongue-in-cheek as a sharp-suited gangster with a taste for whiskey and women - caught the imagination of an Italian public desperate to be entertained after the austerity of Fascism, when all ‘foreign’ music was banned.  He formed a partnership with the writer Leo Chiosso after their first collaboration, on a song called Che bambola (What a Babe!), resulted in more than one million record sales, catapulting Buscaglione to fame.  They had several more hits, including Love in Portofino, which was covered by Andrea Bocelli in 2013 as the title track from an album.  Born Ferdinando Buscaglione, he was from a creative family. His father was a painter and his mother a piano teacher. They enrolled their son at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Turin at the age of 11 but by his teens Buscaglione had adopted jazz as his passion.  His career as a singer and musician was going well and Chiosso was one of the friends he had made through his appearances in night clubs around Turin.  Read more…


__________________________________________________________________


Prospero Alpini - botanist


How coffee was first introduced to Europe

Physician and botanist, Prospero Alpini, was born on this day in 1553 in Marostica near Vicenza.  He is credited with being the first person in Europe to observe and write about the coffee plant.  Alpini went to study medicine in Padua in 1574 and after taking his degree settled down to work as a doctor in nearby Campo San Pietro.  He was very interested in botany and so to extend his knowledge of exotic plants he travelled to Egypt in 1580 as physician to George Emo, the Venetian consul in Cairo.  While in Egypt he studied date trees which helped him to work out that there were gender differences between plants. He wrote that: “the female date trees or palms do not bear fruit unless the branches of the male and female plants are mixed together, or, as is generally done, unless the dust found in the male sheath or male flowers is sprinkled over the female flowers.”  In 1593 he was appointed professor of botany at Padua University and, after he died in 1617, he was succeeded in the role by his son, Alpino Alpini.  His botanical work De Medicina Egyptiorum is believed to contain the first report on the coffee plant ever published in the western world.  Read more…


Home

22 November 2019

22 November

Alfonso II d’Este – Duke of Ferrara


Tasso’s patron raised Ferrara to the height of its glory

Alfonso II d’Este, who was to be the last Duke of Ferrara, was born on this day in 1533 in Ferrara in Emilia-Romagna.  Famous as the protector of the poet Torquato Tasso, Alfonso II also took a keen interest in music.  He was also the sponsor of the philosopher Cesare Cremonini, who was a friend of both Tasso and the scientist and astronomer Galileo Galilei.  Although he was married three times, he failed to provide an heir for the Duchy.  Alfonso was the eldest son of Ercole II d’Este and Renée de France, the daughter of Louis XII of France.  As a young man, Alfonso fought in the service of Henry II of France against the Habsburgs but soon after he became Duke in 1559 he was forced by Pope Pius IV to send his mother back to France because she was a Calvinist.  In 1583 he joined forces with the Emperor Rudolf II in his war against the Turks in Hungary.  Alfonso II was proficient in Latin and French as well as Italian and like his ancestors before him encouraged writers and artists. He welcomed the poet Tasso to his court in Ferrara and he wrote some of his most important poetry while living there, including his epic poem, Gerusalemme Liberata.  Read more…


__________________________________________________________________

Nevio Scala - footballer and coach


Led Parma to success in golden era of 1990s

Nevio Scala, a European Cup winner with AC Milan as a player and the most successful coach of Parma's golden era in the 1990s, was born on this day in 1947 in Lozzo Atestino, a small town in the Euganean Hills, just south of Padua.  A midfielder who also played for Roma, Vicenza and Internazionale at the top level of Italian football, Scala was never picked for his country but won a Serie A title and a European Cup-Winners' Cup in addition to the European Cup with AC Milan.  But his achievements with Parma as coach arguably exceeded even that, given that they were a small provincial club that had never played in Serie A when Scala was appointed.  He had given notice of his ability by almost taking the tiny Calabrian club Reggina to Serie A in 1989 only a year after winning promotion from Serie C, and needed only one season to take Parma to the top flight for the first time.  With the massive financial backing of Calisto Tanzi, the founder and chairman of the local dairy giants Parmalat, Scala then led Parma into a period of sustained success no one could have predicted.  Between 1991 and 1995, Parma won the Coppa Italia, the European Cup-Winners' Cup, the European Super Cup and the UEFA Cup.  Read more…


___________________________________________________________________

Bernardo Pasquini - composer


Talented musician wrote music for a queen

Baroque composer Bernardo Pasquini died on this day in Rome in 1710.  He is remembered as an important composer for the harpsichord and for his musical scores for operas. Along with his fellow composers Alessandro Scarlatti and Arcangelo Corelli, Pasquini was a member of the Arcadian Academy (Accademia degli Arcadi) which was set up in Rome by one of his patrons, Queen Christina of Sweden.  Pasquini enjoyed Queen Christina’s protection while he was living in Rome and produced several operas in her honour. These were staged in Rome initially and then replayed in theatres all over Italy.  Queen Christina had abdicated from the throne of Sweden in 1654, converted to Roman Catholicism and moved to live in Rome.  While living in the Palazzo Farnese, she opened up her home for members of the Arcadian Academy to enjoy music, theatre, literature and languages with her.  She became a cultural leader and protector of many Baroque artists, composers and musicians.  The Baroque period, which influenced sculpture, painting and architecture, as well as literature, dance, theatre and music, began in Rome around 1600.  Read more…


___________________________________________________________________

Paolo Gentiloni – politician 


Italy’s 57th premier both noble and a Democrat

Italy’s Prime Minister from 2016 to 2018, Paolo Gentiloni, was born on this day in 1954 in Rome.  A member of the Democratic Party, Gentiloni was asked to form a Government in December 2016 by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.  A professional journalist before he entered politics, Gentiloni is a descendant of Count Gentiloni Silveri and holds the titles of Nobile of Filottranno, Nobile of Cingoli and Nobile of Macerata.  The word nobile, derived from the Latin nobilis, meaning honourable, indicates a level of Italian nobility ranking somewhere between the English title of knight and baron.  Gentiloni is related to the politician Vincenzo Ottorino Gentiloni, who was a leader of the Conservative Catholic Electoral Union and a key ally of Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti, who held the office five times between 1892 and 1921.  Gentiloni attended the Classical Lyceum Torquato Tasso in Rome and went on to study at La Sapienza University in the city where he became a member of the Student Movement, a left wing youth organisation. He moved on to become a member of the Workers’ Movement for Socialism and graduated in Political Sciences.  Read more…