1 March 2019

1 March

Pietro Canonica - sculptor

Artist in demand from European royalty

The sculptor Pietro Canonica, who was also a proficient painter and an accomplished musician but who found himself most in demand to create busts, statues and portraits for the royal courts of Europe, was born on this day in 1869 in Moncalieri in Piedmont.  Canonica’s ability to create realism in his work, bringing marble sculptures almost to life, resulted in an endless stream of commissions, taking him from Buckingham Palace in London to the courts of Paris, Vienna, Brussels and St Petersburg.  His mastery of Naturalism and Realism were exemplified nowhere to stunning effect as in his 1909 work L'abisso - The Abyss - which depicts Paolo and Francesca, the ill-fated lovers from Dante’s Inferno. Read more...


Cesare Danova - movie actor

Acclaim came late for Bergamo-born star

The actor Cesare Danova, who appeared in more than 300 films and TV shows over the course of a 45-year career, was born Cesare Deitinger on this day in 1926 in the Lombardy city of Bergamo.  The son of an Austrian father, he adopted Danova as his professional name after meeting the film producer, Dino De Laurentiis, who cast him in his 1947 movie The Captain's Daughter, playing alongside Amedeo Nazzari and Vittorio Gassman. Danova went on to star opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra (1963), with Elvis Presley and Ann-Margaret in Viva Las Vegas (1964), alongside Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in Mean Streets (1973) and as part of a star-studded cast in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978). Read more…


Luigi Vanvitelli – architect

Neapolitan genius drew up a grand design for his royal client

The most famous Italian architect of the 18th century, Luigi Vanvitelli, died on this day in 1773 in Caserta in Campania.  Vanvitelli’s huge Royal Palace designed for the Bourbon kings of Naples in Caserta is considered one of the greatest triumphs of the Baroque style of architecture in Italy.  Trained in Rome by Niccolo Salvi, with whom he worked on lengthening the fa├žade of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Palazzo Chigi-Odelscalchi and on the construction of the Trevi Fountain, Vanvitelli was commissioned by Charles III, King of Naples, to build a summer palace for the royal family in Caserta and modelled his design on the Palace of Versailles in France. Read more…


Gastone Nencini – cycling champion

Lion of Mugello won both Tour de France and Giro d’Italia

Gastone Nencini, sometimes described as Italy’s forgotten cycling champion, and certainly one of its least heralded, was born on this day in 1930 in Barberino di Mugello, a town in the Tuscan Apennines, about 38km (24 miles) north of Florence.  Nencini won the 1957 Giro d’Italia and the 1960 Tour de France, putting him in the company of only seven Italians to have won the greatest of cycling’s endurance tests. He followed Ottavio Bottechia, Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi and preceded Felice Gimondi, Marco Pantani and the most recent winner, 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali. His courage and resilience earned him the nickname The Lion of Mugello. Read more...


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