25 March 2019

25 March

Tina Anselmi - ground-breaking politician

Former partisan became Italy’s first female cabinet minister

The politician Tina Anselmi, who made history in 1976 as the first woman to hold a ministerial position in an Italian government and later broke new ground again when she was appointed to chair the public inquiry into the infamous Propaganda Due masonic lodge, was born on this day in 1927 in Castelfranco Veneto. A former Second World War partisan, Anselmi served as Minister for Labour and Social Security and then Minister for Health under prime minister Giulio Andreotti. In 1981, she became the first woman to lead a public inquiry in Italy when she was asked to head the commission looking into the clandestine P2 masonic lodge, an illegal association of prominent journalists, members of parliament, industrialists, and military leaders suspected of involvement in many scandals in pursuit of an ultra-right agenda. Read more…


Mina - pop star

Italy’s all-time top selling female artist

The pop singer Anna Maria Mazzini, better known simply as Mina, was born on this day in 1940 in the Lombardy city of Busto Arzisio. Since her debut single in 1958, Mina has sold well in excess of 150 million records, which makes her the top-selling female performer in Italian music history. Only her fellow 60s star Adriano Celentano can boast larger figures. The pair worked together on one of Italy’s biggest-selling albums of all-time in 1998, selling 2.365 million copies. Mina, who attracted opprobrium for wearing short skirts, heavy make-up and openly smoking at a time when the Catholic Church still set strict moral codes, also enjoys an iconic status in the history of female emancipation in Italy as a result of the sensational ban imposed on her by the state television station RAI in 1963. Read more…


Francesco I - Grand Duke of Tuscany

Florentine ruler at heart of Medici murder mystery

Francesco I, the Medici Grand Duke whose death at the age of 46 became the subject of a murder mystery still unsolved 430 years later, was born on this day in 1541 in Florence. The second to be given the title Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francesco was the son of Cosimo I de' Medici, the first to hold the title, and Eleonor of Toledo. He continued his father's patronage of the arts, supporting artists and building the Medici Theatre as well as founding the Accademia della Crusca and the Uffizi Gallery, but - like his father - he was often a despotic leader.  He and his second wife, his former mistress, Bianca Cappello, died just 12 hours apart in October 1587, at the Medici family villa in Poggio a Caiano.  The death certificates stated malaria as the cause, but it has been widely speculated since that the couple was poisoned, possibly by Francesco's brother, Ferdinando. Read more…


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