10 April 2019

10 April

Agostino Bertani - physician and politician

Compassionate doctor was Garibaldi’s friend and strategist

Agostino Bertani, who worked with Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi to liberate Italy, died on this day in 1886 in Rome. He had been a surgeon in Garibaldi’s corps in the Austro-Sardinian War of 1859 and personally treated Garibaldi’s wounds after the military leader lost the Battle of Aspromonte in 1862 and eventually would become one of his major strategists in planning the historic Expedition of the Thousand, the military operation that would eventually unite the peninsula. Bertani became a hero to the Italian people for his work organising ambulances and medical services during Garibaldi’s campaigns and he became a close friend to the military leader.  Read more...


From Rome to the North Pole

Aeronautical history launched from Ciampino airport

On this day in 1926, an airship took off from Ciampino airport in Rome on the first leg of what would be an historic journey culminating in the first flight over the North Pole. The expedition was the brainchild of the Norwegian polar explorer and expedition leader Roald Amundsen, but the pilot was the airship's designer, aeronautical engineer Umberto Nobile, who had an Italian crew. They were joined in the project by millionaire American explorer Lincoln Ellsworth who, along with the Aero Club of Norway, financed the trip which was known as the Amundsen-Ellsworth 1926 Transpolar Flight.  The trip was fraught with difficulties but eventually the airship crossed the pole on May 11. Read more…


Giovanni Aldini - physicist

Professor thought to given Mary Shelley the idea for Frankenstein

The physicist and professor Giovanni Aldini, whose experiment in trying to bring life to a human corpse is thought to have inspired Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, was born on this day in 1762 in Bologna. The nephew of Luigi Galvani, who discovered the phenomenon that became known as galvinism, one of Aldini’s goals in life was to build on his uncle’s work in the field of bioelectricity. Galvani’s discovery that the limbs of a dead frog could be made to move by the stimulation of electricity sparked an intellectual argument with his rival physicist Alessandro Volta. Aldini essentially picked up his uncle’s mantle and was determined to discover whether the effect of an electrical impulse on the body of a frog could be reproduced in a human being. His most famous experiment came in 1803, when he was given permission to test his electrical equipment on the corpse of George Forster shortly after he had been hanged at Newgate Prison in London. Read more…


The Moby Prince disaster

Tragic toll of collision between ferry and tanker

The worst maritime catastrophe to occur in Italian waters in peacetime took place on this day in 1991 when a car ferry collided with an oil tanker near the harbour entrance at Livorno on the coast of Tuscany. The collision sparked a fire that claimed the lives of 140 passengers and crew and left only one survivor. The vessels involved were the MV Moby Prince, a car ferry en route from Liverno to Olbia, the coastal city in north-east Sardinia, and the 330-metres long oil tanker, Agip Abruzzo. The ferry departed Livorno shortly after 22.00 for a journey scheduled to last eight and a half hours but had been under way for only a few minutes when it struck the Agip Abruzzo, which was at anchor near the harbour mouth. Read more…


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