13 August 2020

13 August

Camillo Olivetti - electrical engineer

Founder of Italy’s first typewriter factory

The electrical engineer Camillo Olivetti, who opened Italy’s first typewriter factory and founded a company that would become a major player in electronic business technology, was born on this day in 1868 in Ivrea in Piedmont.  The Olivetti company that later produced Italy’s first electronic computer was developed by Adriano Olivetti, the oldest of Camillo's five children, but it was his father’s vision and enterprise that laid the foundations for the brand’s success and established the Olivetti name.  Camillo came from a Jewish middle-class background. His father, Salvador Benedetto, was a successful merchant. His mother, Elvira, came from a banking family in Modena but her interests were more cultural. She was fluent in four languages.  Elvira had full care of Camillo after Salvador died when the boy was only one and sent him to boarding school in Milan at a young age.  Although his mother’s fluency in four languages was a help - he learned English early in his life - she understood his inclination to work in electronics.  After graduating from the Royal Italian Industrial Museum (later the Polytechnic of Turin) with a diploma in industrial engineering, Camillo broadened his knowledge by travelling.  Read more…


Aurelio Saffi – republican activist

Politician prominent in Risorgimento movement

The politician Aurelio Saffi, who was a close ally of the republican revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini during Italy’s move towards unification in the 19th century, was born on this day in 1819 in Forlì.  He was a member of the short-lived Roman Republic of 1849, which was crushed by French troops supporting the temporarily deposed Pope Pius IX, and was involved in the planning of an uprising in Milan in 1853.  Saffi was sentenced to 20 years in jail for his part in the Milan plot but by then had fled to England.  He returned to Italy in 1860 and when the Risorgimento realised its aim with unification Saffi was appointed a deputy in the first parliament of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.  At the time of Saffi’s birth, Forlì, now part of Emilia-Romagna, was part of the Papal States. He was educated in law in Ferrara, but became politically active in his native city, protesting against the administration of the Papal legates.  He soon became a fervent supporter of Mazzini, whose wish was to see Italy established as an independent republic and saw popular uprisings as part of the route to achieving his goal.  Read more…


Salvador Luria – microbiologist

Award winning scientist who advanced medical research

Nobel prize winner Salvador Luria was born on this day as Salvatore Edoardo Luria in 1912 in Turin.  The microbiologist became famous for showing that bacterial resistance to viruses is genetically inherited and he was awarded a Nobel prize in 1969.  He studied in the medical school of the University of Turin and from 1936 to 1937 Luria served in the Italian army as a medical officer. He took classes in radiology at the University of Rome and began to formulate methods of testing genetic theory.  When Mussolini’s regime banned Jews from academic research fellowships, Luria moved to Paris but was forced to move again when the Nazis invaded France in 1940. Fearing for his life, he fled the capital on a bicycle, eventually reaching Marseille, where he received an immigration visa to the United States.  In America he met other scientists with whom he collaborated on experiments.  In 1943 Luria carried out an experiment with the scientist Max Delbruck that demonstrated that mutant bacteria can still bestow viral resistance without the virus being present.  He became chair of Microbiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Read more…


12 August 2020

12 August

Luigi Galleani - anarchist

Activist who mainly operated in the United States

Luigi Galleani, an anarchist active in the United States in the early part of the 20th century, was born on this day in 1861 in Vercelli in Piedmont.  Galleani was an advocate of the philosophy of "propaganda of the deed" first proposed by the 19th century Italian revolutionary Carlo Pisacane.  The theory was that violence against specific targets identified as representatives of the capitalist system would be a catalyst for the overthrow of government institutions.  Between 1914 and 1932, Galleani's followers in the United States - known as i Galleanisti - carried out a series of bombings and assassination attempts against institutions and perceived “class enemies.”  The Wall Street bombing of 1920, which resulted in the deaths of 38 people, was blamed on followers of Galleani, who had been deported from the United States to Italy the previous year.  The large following he acquired among Italian-speaking workers both in Italy and the United States stemmed from his brilliant oratory.  He also edited a newspaper, Cronaca Sovversiva - Subversive Chronicle - which he published for 15 years until the United States government closed it down in 1918.  At one point Cronaca Sovversiva had 5,000 subscribers.  Read more…


Giovanni Gabrieli – composer

Venetian musician inspired spread of the Baroque style

Giovanni Gabrieli, composer and organist, died on this day in 1612 in Venice.  He had been a major influence behind the transition from Renaissance music to the Baroque style in Europe.  Born in Venice between 1554 and 1557, Giovanni grew up studying with his uncle, the composer Andrea Gabrieli, for whom he always had great respect.  He also went to Munich to study with the musicians at the court of Duke Albert V, which had a lasting influence on his composing style.  After his return to Venice he became principal organist at St Mark’s Basilica in 1585.  Following the death of his uncle, he took the post of principal composer at St Mark’s as well and spent a lot of time editing his uncle’s music for publication, which would otherwise have been lost.  He took the additional post of organist at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, which was second only to St Mark’s in prestige at the time.  The English writer Thomas Coryat wrote about musical performances there in his travel memoirs.  Composers from all over Europe came to Venice to study after the publication of Giovanni’s Sacred Symphonies (Sacrae Symphoniae) in 1597.  Read more…


Mario Balotelli - footballer

Volatile star of Milan clubs and Manchester City

Controversial footballer Mario Balotelli, who has played for both major Milan clubs in Serie A and for Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League in England, was born on this day in 1990 in Palermo.  Balotelli scored 20 goals in 54 Premier League matches for Manchester City and made the pass from which Sergio Aguero scored City’s dramatic late winning goal against Queen’s Park Rangers on the last day of the 2011-12 season, which gave City the title for the first time since 1968.  He had a difficult relationship with City manager Roberto Mancini, with whom he first worked at Internazionale in Milan, and with Mancini’s successor in charge of the nerazzurri, Jose Mourinho.  His volatile temperament has also brought him more red and yellow cards than he and his managers would have liked.  Yet he still won three Serie A winner’s medals with Inter in addition to his English title and won the Coppa Italia with Inter and the FA Cup with Manchester City.  Balotelli is also a Champions League winner, having been part of the Inter squad in 2009-10, when Diego Milito’s two goals beat Bayern Munich in the final in Madrid.  Read more…


Vittorio Sella - mountain photographer

Images still considered among the most beautiful ever made

The photographer Vittorio Sella, who combined mountaineering with taking pictures of some of the world’s most famous and challenging peaks, died on this day in 1943 in his home town of Biella in Piedmont.  Even though Sella took the bulk of his photographs between the late 1870s and the First World War, his images are still regarded as among the most beautiful and dramatic ever taken.  His achievements are all the more remarkable given that his first camera and tripod alone weighed more than 18kg (40lbs) and he exposed his pictures on glass plates weighing almost a kilo (2lbs).  He had to set up makeshift darkrooms on the mountain at first because each shot had to be developed within 10 to 15 minutes.  Sella had exploring and photography in his blood. He was born in 1859 in Biella, in the foothills of the Italian Alps. It was an important area for wool and textiles and his family ran a successful wool factory.   Sella’s father, Giuseppe, was fascinated with the new science of photography A few years before Vittorio’s birth, he published the first major treatise on photography in Italian.  Meanwhile, Sella’s uncle, Quintino Sella, led the first expedition to the top of Monte Viso (or Monviso), the highest mountain in the French-Italian Alps.  Read more… 


11 August 2020

11 August

Massimiliano Allegri - football coach

Former AC Milan boss topped Conte's record

Massimiliano Allegri, the man who looked to have taken on one of the toughest acts to follow in football when he succeeded Antonio Conte as head coach of Juventus, was born on this day in 1967 in Livorno.  Conte won the Serie A title three times and the domestic double of Serie A and Coppa Italia twice in his three years as boss of the Turin club.  Yet after Allegri took over in 2014 he exceeded Conte’s record, leading the so-called Old Lady of Italian football to the double in each of his first four seasons in charge before winning a fifth consecutive Serie A title in 2019.  The 2016-17 scudetto - the club’s sixth in a row - set a Serie A record for the most consecutive titles.  Allegri was well regarded as a creative midfielder but although there were high spots, such as scoring 12 Serie A goals from midfield in a relegated Pescara side in 1992-923, he enjoyed a fairly modest playing career which was marred by his suspension for a year as one of six players alleged to have conspired in fixing the result of a Coppa Italia tie while with the Serie B club Pistoiese.  Read more…


Alfredo Binda - cyclist

Five times Giro winner who was paid not to take part

The five-times Giro d’Italia cycle race winner Alfredo Binda, who once famously accepted a substantial cash payment from the race organisers not to take part, was born on this day in 1902 in the village of Cittiglio, just outside Varese in Lombardy.  The payment was offered because Binda was such a good rider - some say the greatest of all time - that the Gazzetta dello Sport, the daily sports newspaper that invented the race, feared for the future of the event - and their own sales - because of Binda’s dominance.  He had been the overall winner of the coveted pink jersey in 1925, 1927, 1928 and 1929, on one occasion winning 12 of the 15 stages, on another racking up nine stage victories in a row.  Binda, who was perceived as a rather cold and detached competitor, was never particularly popular outside his own circle of fans and his habit of ruthlessly seeing off one hyped-up new challenger after another did nothing to win him new fans.  By 1929 it became clear to the Gazzetta’s bosses that interest in the race was waning, sales of the famous pink paper were falling and advertisers were less willing to part with their cash.  Read more…


Pope Alexander VI

Scheming pontiff married off his children to secure power

Rodrigo Borgia became one of the most controversial popes in history when he took the title of Alexander VI on this day in 1492 in Rome.  He is known to have fathered several illegitimate children with his mistresses and his reign became notorious for corruption and nepotism.  Born in Valencia in Spain, Borgia came to Italy to study law at the University of Bologna. He was ordained a Deacon and then made Cardinal-Deacon after the election of his uncle as Pope Callixtus III. He was then ordained to the priesthood and made Cardinal-Bishop of Albano.  By the time he had served five popes he had acquired considerable influence and wealth and it was rumoured that he was able to buy the largest number of votes to secure the papacy for himself.  He had made himself the first archbishop of Valencia and when he was elected as Pope Alexander VI, following the death of Innocent VIII, his son, Cesare Borgia, inherited the post.  Borgia had many mistresses, but during his long relationship with Vanozza dei Cattanei he had four children that he acknowledged as his own, Cesare, Giovanni, Lucrezia and Goffredo.   Read more…


10 August 2020

10 August

NEWFrancesco Zabarella – Cardinal

Reformer helped to end the Western Schism

Cardinal Francesco Zabarella, an expert on canon law whose writings on the subject were to remain the standard authority for centuries, was born on this day in 1360 in Padua.  Zabarella studied jurisprudence in Bologna and in Florence, graduating in 1385. He taught canon law in Florence until 1390 and in Padua until 1410.  He took minor orders and in 1398 was made an archpriest of the Cathedral of Padua.  Zabarella carried out diplomatic missions on behalf of Padua. In 1404 he was one of two ambassadors sent to visit King Charles VI of France to ask for his assistance against Venice, which was preparing to annex Padua.  But when Padua became part of the Venetian Republic in 1406, Zabarella became a loyal supporter of Venice.  In 1409 he took part in the Council of Pisa as councillor of the Venetian legate.  The antipope John XXIII appointed him Bishop of Florence and cardinal deacon of Santi Cosma and Damiano in Rome in 1411.  There were two antipopes at the time as a result of the Western Schism, which had begun in 1378 when the French cardinals, claiming that the election of Pope Urban VI was invalid, had elected antipope Clement VII as a rival to the Roman pope.  Read more…


Carlo Rambaldi - master of special effects

Former commercial artist who created E.T.

Carlo Rambaldi, the brilliant special effects artist who created Steven Spielberg's ugly-but-adorable Extra-Terrestrial known as E.T. and Ridley Scott's malevolent Alien, died on this day in 2012 in Lamezia Terme, the city in Calabria where he settled in later life.  He was a month away from his 87th birthday.  Unlike modern special effects, which consist of computer generated images, Rambaldi's creatures were typically made of steel, polyurethane and rubber and were animated by mechanically or electronically powered rods and cables.  Yet his creations were so lifelike that the Italian director of one of his early films was facing two years in prison for animal cruelty until Rambaldi brought his props to the court room to prove that the 'animals' on screen were actually models.  It was during this time that Rambaldi, a former commercial artist who had graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, not far from his home town of Vigarano Mainarda in Emilia-Romagna, pioneered the use animatronics (puppets operated mechanically by rods or cables) and mechatronics, which combined mechanical and electronic engineering.  Read more…


Ippolito de' Medici – Lord of Florence

Brief life of a Cardinal, soldier and patron of the arts

Ippolito de' Medici, who ruled Florence on behalf of his cousin, Giulio, after he became Pope Clement VII, died on this day in 1535 in Itri in Lazio.  At the age of 24, Ippolito was said to have contracted a fever that turned into malaria, but at the time there were also rumours that he had been poisoned.  There were two possible suspects. The fatal dose could have been administered on behalf of Alessandro de' Medici, whose abuses he was just about to denounce, or on behalf of the new pope, Paul III, who was believed to want Ippolito’s lucrative benefices for his nephews.  Ippolito was born in 1509 in Urbino, the illegitimate son of Giuliano de' Medici. His father died when Ippolito was seven and he came under the protection of his uncle, Pope Leo X. When he died five years later, Ippolito’s cousin, Giulio, who had become Pope Clement VII, sent him to Florence to become a member of the government, destined to rule the city when he was old enough.  Ippolito ruled Florence on his behalf between 1524 and 1527 but then Clement VII chose his illegitimate nephew, Alessandro, to take charge of Florence instead.  Read more…


Marina Berlusconi - businesswoman

Tycoon’s daughter who heads two of his companies

Marina Berlusconi, the oldest of business tycoon and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s five children, was born on this day in 1966 in Milan.  Since 2003 she has been chair of Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy’s largest publishing company, and since 2005 president of Fininvest, the Berlusconi holding company that is also Mondadori’s parent company.  She is or at times has been a director of several other Berlusconi companies, including Mediaset, Medusa Film, Mediolanum and Mediobanca.  Forbes magazine once described her as the most powerful woman in Italy and one of the 50 most powerful women in the world.  Born Maria Elvira Berlusconi, her mother is Carla Elvira Lucia Dall’Oglio, a woman the businessman met for the first time at a tram stop outside Milan Centrale railway station in 1964 and married the following year, at a time when he was an enterprising but relatively obscure real estate broker.  They were divorced in 1985, much to the disappointment of Marina and her brother, Piersilvio, after their father had begun a relationship with the actress Veronica Lario, who would become his second wife and the mother of his third, fourth and fifth children.  Read more…


Francesco Zabarella – Cardinal

Reformer helped to end the Western Schism

Francesco Zabarella, whose diplomatic skills helped end the Western Schism
Francesco Zabarella, whose diplomatic
skills helped end the Western Schism 
Cardinal Francesco Zabarella, an expert on canon law whose writings on the subject were to remain the standard authority for centuries, was born on this day in 1360 in Padua.

Zabarella studied jurisprudence in Bologna and in Florence, graduating in 1385. He taught canon law in Florence until 1390 and in Padua until 1410.  He took minor orders and in 1398 was made an archpriest of the Cathedral of Padua.

Zabarella carried out diplomatic missions on behalf of Padua. In 1404 he was one of two ambassadors sent to visit King Charles VI of France to ask for his assistance against Venice, which was preparing to annex Padua. 

But when Padua became part of the Venetian Republic in 1406, Zabarella became a loyal supporter of Venice.

In 1409 he took part in the Council of Pisa as councillor of the Venetian legate.

The antipope John XXIII appointed him Bishop of Florence and cardinal deacon of Santi Cosma and Damiano in Rome in 1411.

There were two antipopes at the time as a result of the Western Schism, which had begun in 1378 when the French cardinals, claiming that the election of Pope Urban VI was invalid, had elected antipope Clement VII as a rival to the Roman pope. This had eventually led to two competing lines of antipopes, the Avignon line and the Pisan line, which had elected antipope Alexander V, John XXIII’s predecessor.

Pope Urban VI's election was
the spark for the Western Schism
Although Zabarella never received major orders he was an active promoter of ecclesiastical reform. When the Council of Rome failed to end the schism, Zabarella was sent as one of John XXIII’s legates to Emperor Sigismund at Como to come to an understanding over the time and place for holding a new council.

He helped to bring about the opening of the Council of Constance in 1414 in Germany.

In the interest of church unity he persuaded John XXIII to resign in 1415 but also opposed the Avignon antipope, Benedict XIII.

Eventually the Roman pope Gregory XII resigned and the Council of Constance formally deposed the Avignon line and the Pisan line.

Suffering poor health, Zabarella went to take what were believed to be therapeutic waters near Constance to try to recover. His last days were spent in pressing for the Council of Constance to elect a new pope as soon as possible. He died in Constance in September 1417 and was later buried in Padua Cathedral.

By November, Pope Martin V, who had been born in the Papal States near Rome, had been elected by the Council of Constance, effectively ending the Western Schism.

Zabarella’s most important works were: De schismate sui temporis, which dealt with ways and means of ending the schism, written between 1403 and 1408; Lectura super Clementinis, written in 1402; and Commentaria in quinque libros Decretalium, written between 1396 and 1404.

Padua's Scrovegni Chapel, where the walls
are covered with Giotto's frescoes
Travel tip:

Padua, where Francesco Zabarella was born, is one of the most important centres for art in Italy and is home to the country’s second oldest university. The city is acknowledged as the birthplace of modern painting because of the Scrovegni Chapel, the inside of which is covered with frescoes by Giotto, who was the first to paint people with realistic facial expressions showing emotion. At Palazzo Bo, where Padua’s university was founded in 1222, you can still see the original lectern where Galileo held his lessons and the world’s first anatomy theatre where dissections were secretly carried out from 1594. The city’s enormous Basilica del Santo was built in the 13th century to preserve the mortal remains of Sant’Antonio, a Franciscan monk who became famous for his miracles. The magnificent church attracts pilgrims from all over the world and is rich with works of art by masters such as Titian and Tiepolo.

The Basilica Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Padua's duomo
The Basilica Cattedrale di Santa Maria
Assunta, Padua's duomo
Travel tip:

Francesco Zabarella was laid to rest in the Basilica Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, referred to in Padua as the Duomo. The present Duomo is the third structure to have been built on the site. The first was erected in 313 and destroyed by an earthquake in the 12th century. The church was then rebuilt in Romanesque style and visitors to the Baptistery next door can see how the Duomo would have looked in the 14th century, Zabarella’s era, as it appears in the frescoes executed at that time by Giusto dè Menaboui. The present building dates back to the 16th century and was finally consecrated in 1754, with its façade left unfinished.

Also on this day:

1535: The death of Florentine leader Ippolito de’ Medici

1966: The birth of businesswoman Marina Berlusconi

2012: The death of special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi, creator of E.T.


9 August 2020

9 August

Romano Prodi – politician

Il professore became prime minister and European Commission president

Romano Prodi, who has twice served as prime minister of Italy, was born on this day in 1939 in Scandiano in Emilia-Romagna.  A former academic, who was nicknamed Il professore by the Italians, Prodi was also president of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004.  Prodi graduated from the Catholic University in Milan in 1961 and studied as a postgraduate at the London School of Economics.  After moving up to become professor of economics at Bologna University, Prodi served the Italian government as minister for industry in 1978.  In 1996 after two productive stints as chairman of the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction, Prodi set his sights on becoming Italy’s prime minister and built a centre-left base of support known as the Olive Tree coalition.  While Silvio Berlusconi used television to campaign, Prodi went on a five-month bus tour around Italy, calling for more accountability in government. His approach appealed to the voters and his coalition won by a narrow margin.  Prodi was appointed prime minister of Italy for the first time on May 17, 1996.  He remained prime minister for two years and four months.  Read more…


Filippo Inzaghi - football manager

World Cup winning player turned successful coach

The former Azzurri striker Filippo Inzaghi, who was a member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad, was born on this day in 1973 in Piacenza.  A traditional goal poacher, known more for his knack of being in the right place at the right moment than for a high level of technical skill, Inzaghi scored 313 goals in his senior career before retiring as a player in 2012 and turning to coaching. He spent the 2019-20 season in charge of  Serie B side of Benevento, near Naples.  Inzaghi came off the substitutes’ bench to score the second goal as Italy beat the Czech Republic 2-0 to clinch their qualification for the knock-out stage of the 2006 World Cup in Germany but found it impossible to win a starting place in competition with Luca Toni, Alberto Gilardino, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero in Marcello Lippi’s squad.  He also picked up a runners-up medal in Euro 2000, hosted jointly by Belgium and the Netherlands, where he scored against Turkey in the opening group game and against Romania in the quarter-final but was overlooked by coach Dino Zoff in his team for the final.  Read more…


Leaning Tower of Pisa

Poor foundations created tourist attraction by accident

Work began on the construction of a freestanding bell tower for the Cathedral in Pisa on this day in 1173.  The tower’s famous tilt began during the building process. It is believed to have been caused by the laying of inadequate foundations on ground that was too soft on one side to support the weight of the structure.  The tilt became worse over the years and restoration work had to be carried out at the end of the 20th century amid fears the tower would collapse.  At its most extreme the tower leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees but since the restoration work undergone between 1990 and 2001 the tower leans at about 3.99 degrees.  The identity of the architect responsible for the design of the tower is not clear but the problem with the structure began after work had progressed to the second floor in 1178.  It is thought the tower would have toppled had construction not been halted for almost a century while Pisa, a Tuscan seaport, fought battles with Genoa, Lucca and Florence. This allowed time for the soil beneath the tower to settle.  When construction resumed in 1272, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other to compensate for the tilt.  Read more…


8 August 2020

8 August

Leo Chiosso – songwriter

Writer of lyrics and scripts was inspired by crime fiction

Prolific songwriter Leo Chiosso was born on this day in 1920 in Chieri, a town to the south of Turin in Piedmont.  He became well known for the songs he wrote in partnership with Fred Buscaglione, a singer and musician, but Chiosso also wrote many scripts for television and cinema.  Chiosso met Buscaglione in 1938 in the nightclubs of Turin, where Buscaglione was working as a jazz singer. The formed a songwriting duo that went on to produce more than 40 songs.  However, their friendship was interrupted by the Second World War.  Chiosso was taken prisoner and deported to Poland, where he became friends with the writer Giovanni Guareschi, while Buscaglione was sent to a US internment camp in Sardinia.  It was only when Chiosso heard Buscaglione playing in a musical broadcast by the Allied radio station in Cagliari that he knew his friend was still alive.  They were reunited in Turin after the war and continued to write songs together. Chiosso was an avid reader of American crime fiction, which inspired his lyrics and also suited Buscaglione’s amiable gangster image.  Their first hit was Che bambola in 1956, which turned humorous tough guy Buscaglione into a celebrity.  A subsequent hit was Love in Portofino, recently recorded by Andrea Bocelli and also the inspiration for one of his albums.  Read more…


Dino De Laurentiis – film producer

Campanian pasta seller helped make Italian cinema famous 

The producer of hundreds of hit films, Agostino ‘Dino’ De Laurentiis was born on this day in 1919 at Torre Annunziata, near Naples in Campania.  He made Italian cinema famous internationally, producing Federico Fellini’s Oscar- winning La Strada in 1954 in Rome.  After moving to the US he enjoyed further success with the film Serpico in 1973.  De Laurentiis was the son of a pasta manufacturer for whom he worked as a salesman during his teens.  While selling pasta in Rome in the 1930s he decided on impulse to enrol at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in the city as an actor.  He quickly realised he had more talent for producing and after gaining experience in the different sectors of the industry made his first film, L’Amore Canta - 'Love Song' - in 1941 when he was just 22.  After serving in the army during the Second World War, De Laurentiis became an executive producer at one of Rome’s emerging film companies, Lux.  Among the films he produced for Lux was Riso Amaro - 'Bitter Rice' - starring Silvana Mangano, whom he later married and had four children with. The film was a box-office success both at home and abroad.  Read more…


Danilo Gallinari - basketball player

Giant from Lodi province who plays in America’s NBA

Danilo Gallinari, one of two Italian-born players currently active in America’s National Basketball Association, was born on this day in 1988 in Sant’Angelo Lodigiani in Lombardy.  Only seven Italian-born players have participated in the NBA – America’s premier basketball league – since its formation in 1946.  The other Italian player presently with an NBA team is Marco Belinelli, from San Giovanni in Persiceto, near Bologna, who is attached to the Atlanta Hawks.  Gallinari, who stands 6ft 10ins tall, has played for four NBA teams, the latest of which is Oklahoma City Thunder.  Previously he had played for New York Knicks, whose coach, Mike D’Antoni, is an American-born former player who is now an Italian citizen, the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.  Gallinari, whose father, Vittorio, played professional basketball for teams in Milan, Pavia, Bologna and Verona, began his career in 2004 with Casalpusterlengo, a third-level Italian team from a town about 25km (15 miles) from his home in Sant’Angelo Lodigiani.  He moved up a tier in 2005 by joining Armani Jeans Milano and then Edimes Pavia, where in 2006 he was named best Italian player in the Italian League Second Division, despite missing half the season through injury.  Read more…