2 April 2019

2 April

Achille Vianelli - painter and printmaker

Artist from Liguria who captured scenes of Naples

The painter and printmaker Achille Vianelli, whose specialities were landscapes and genre pictures, notably in his adopted city of Naples, died on this day in 1894 in Benevento in Campania. For a while he worked at the French court, giving painting lessons to King Louis Philippe. Some of his works have sold for thousands of euros. Achille spent his youth in Otranto in the province of Lecce before moving to Naples, where he became close friends with Giacinto Gigante, with whom he shared an interest in painting. Both were members of the Posillipo School, a group of landscape painters, based in the Posillipo area of Naples, a stretch of coastline extending from Mergellina to the headland at Parco Virgiliano. Read more…


Giacomo Casanova – adventurer

Romantic figure escaped from prison in a gondola 

Author and adventurer Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was born on this day in 1725 in Venice.  He is so well known for his affairs with women that his surname is now used as an alternative word for ‘womaniser’. But Casanova’s autobiography, ‘Story of My Life’, has also become regarded as one of the most authentic sources of information about European social life produced during the 18th century. The Venice into which he was born was the pleasure capital of Europe, a required stop on the Grand Tour for young men coming of age, because of the attractions of the Carnival, the gambling houses and the courtesans.  Casanova was widely travelled, had several different professions and was a prolific writer but he spent a lot of his time having romantic liaisons and gambling. Read more…


Gelindo Bordin - marathon champion

First Italian to win Olympic gold in ultimate endurance test

Gelindo Bordin, the first Italian to win the gold medal in the Olympic Marathon, was born on this day in 1959 in Longare, a small town about 10km (six miles) south-east of Vicenza. Twice European marathon champion, in 1986 and 1990, he won the Olympic competition in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Until Stefano Baldini matched his achievements by winning the marathon at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and claiming his second European title in Gothenburg in 2006, Bordin was Italy’s greatest long-distance runner. He attained that status somewhat against the odds, too, having been sidelined for a year with a serious intestinal illness at the age of 20 and then being hit by a car while on a training run. Read more…


Francesca Cuzzoni - operatic soprano

Diva who came to blows with rival on stage

Francesca Cuzzoni, an 18th century star whose fiery temper earned her a reputation as one of opera’s great divas, was born on this day in 1696 in Parma. Described rather unkindly by one opera historian of the era as “short and squat, with a doughy face” she was nonetheless possessed of a beautiful soprano voice, which became her passport to stardom. However, she was also notoriously temperamental and jealous of rival singers, as was illustrated by several incidents that took place while she was in the employment of George Frederick Handel, the German composer who spent much of his working life in London. Read more…


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