18 April 2019

18 April

Lucrezia Borgia – Pope’s daughter

Notorious blonde beauty inspired painters and poets

Lucrezia Borgia, the illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, was born on this day in 1480 in Subiaco near Rome.  A reputedly beautiful woman, she entered into arranged marriages to important men to advance her family’s political position and rumours have abounded about the fate of her first two husbands.  Macchiavelli wrote about the Borgia family in his book, The Prince, depicting Lucrezia as some kind of femme fatale and this characterisation of her, whether just or unjust, has lasted over the years, being reproduced in many works of art, books and films. Apart from her marriages, Lucrezia also had an affair with the poet, Pietro Bembo, with whom she exchanged love letters, which are now in the collection of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, along with a lock of her hair. Read more…


Ilario Bandini - racing car maker

Farmer's son who created beautiful and successful cars

Ilario Bandini, a businessman and racing driver who went on construct some of Italy’s most beautiful racing cars, was born on this day in 1911 in Villa Rovere in Emilia-Romagna. His cars won races in Europe and America and his designs earned the respect of the great Italian performance car maker Enzo Ferrari.  Bandini was from a farming family but was fascinated with cars and motorcycles and began to work part-time as a mechanic while he was still at school, eventually becoming an apprentice in a workshop in nearly Forlì.  At the age of 25 he took the bold decision to move to Eritrea, then an Italian colony, in northern Africa, where he repaired trucks and in time set up a transport business, which was very successful.  The venture made him enough money to open a garage in Forlì. when he returned to Italy in 1939, running a repair workshop alongside a car rental and chauffeured limousine business. Read more…


Ippolita Maria Sforza – noble woman

Learned lady sacrificed happiness for a political alliance

Ippolita Maria Sforza, a cultured young noblewoman who wrote poetry, letters and documents in Latin, was born on this day in 1446 in Cremona. She was married to Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, who later became King Alfonso II of Naples, because it was a politically advantageous alliance, but she did not live long enough to become his Queen consort.  Ippolita was the eldest daughter of Francesco I Sforza, Duke of Milan, and Bianca Maria Visconti.  She was tutored along with her six younger brothers and one younger sister by a Greek scholar who taught her philosophy and Greek.  When she was 14 years old she composed a Latin address for Pope Pius II, which became well known after it was circulated in manuscript form. She wrote many letters, which were published in Italy in one volume in 1893. She also wrote poetry and a Latin eulogy for her father, Francesco. Read more...


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