15 February 2019

15 February

Charlie Cairoli - circus clown

Milan-born performer who became a Blackpool legend

The circus clown Charlie Cairoli, who set a world record by appearing at the Blackpool Tower Circus in England for 40 consecutive seasons, was born in Affori, now a suburb of Milan but then a town in its own right, on this day in 1910.  Cairoli performed at the Tower every year from 1939 until 1979, quitting only when his health failed him. The run was not broken even by the outbreak of the Second World War or his own arrest as a suspected ‘enemy alien’.  Read more...


Destruction of Monte Cassino Abbey

Historic monastery flattened in Allied bombing raid

The Abbey of Monte Cassino, established in 529 and the oldest Benedictine monastery in the world, was destroyed by Allied bombers on this day in 1944. The Abbey was attacked despite an agreement signed by both sides with the Vatican that the historic building would be respected as occupying neutral territory, after Allied commanders became convinced that the Germans were using the Abbey as a point from which to direct operations. Read more…


Totò – comic actor

50 years on, remembered still as Italy’s funniest performer

The comic actor Antonio De Curtis, universally known as Totò and still winning polls as the most popular Italian comedian of all time a half-century after his death, was born on this day in 1898 in Naples.  Totò had a distinguished career in theatre, wrote poetry and sang, but is best remembered for the 97 films in which he appeared between 1937 and his death in 1967, playing characters were typically eccentric, his acting style sometimes almost extravagantly expressive both physically and vocally.  Read more…


Galileo Galilei – astronomer and physicist

Scholar has been judged to be the founder of modern science 

Renaissance scientist Galileo Galilei was born on this day in 1564 in Pisa. His astronomical observations confirmed the phases of Venus, discovered the four largest satellites of Jupiter and analysed sunspots. He also invented a military compass, among other things. However, after supporting the theory that the sun was at the centre of the solar system he was tried by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, forced to recant and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Read more…


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