9 April 2019

9 April

Gian Maria Volonté – actor

Brilliant talent who played ‘spaghetti western’ parts for fun

Gian Maria Volonté, recognised as one of the finest character actors Italy has produced, was born on this day in 1933 in Milan. Volonté became famous outside Italy under the pseudonym John Wells for playing the villain to Clint Eastwood’s hero in two movies in Sergio Leone’s ‘spaghetti western’ trilogy. In Italy, it was for the much heavier roles given to him by respected directors such as Elio Petri and Francesco Rosi that he won huge critical acclaim. He was a particular favourite of Rosi, the neo-realist director who directed in him in five movies, including the acclaimed The Mattei Affair (1972), in which he played an oil company executive who meets a suspicious death in a plane crash in Sicily, Lucky Luciano (1973), in which he portrayed the Sicilian-American Mafia boss controversially released from a 30-year prison sentence in the United States in return for helping the Allies with the 1943 invasion of Sicily, and Christ Stopped at Eboli (1979), in which he played the Jewish-Italian anti-Fascist writer Carlo Levi. Read more…


Patty Pravo - pop singer of enduring fame

Venetian artist's career has spanned more than 50 years

The pop singer Patty Pravo was born Nicoletta Strambelli in Venice on this day in 1948. Pravo, whose first single, Ragazzo Triste, was released in 1966, has recorded 28 albums and 54 singles, selling more than 110 million records, making her the third biggest selling Italian artist of all time.  She grew up in an intellectual environment in Venice. Family friends included Cardinal Angelo Roncalli - the future Pope John XXIII - and the American poet Ezra Pound, who lived in Venice and would take the young Nicoletta for walks and buy her ice cream.  She would spend time too at the house of Peggy Guggenheim, the American socialite and art collector. Her parents enrolled her to study music at the Conservatory Institute of Benedetto Marcello from the age of 10 but by the time she was 16 she had left Venice for London, lured by what she had heard about the rapidly evolving pop culture.  She is still performing today. Read more…


The Treaty of Lodi

When the battles stopped (briefly) in northern Italy

The Treaty of Lodi, which brought peace between rival states in the north of Italy for 40 years, was signed on this day in 1454 at Lodi in Lombardy. Also known as the Peace of Lodi, it established a balance of power among Venice, Milan, Naples, Florence and the Papal States. Venice had been faced with a threat to its commercial empire from the Ottoman Turks and was eager for peace and Francesco Sforza, who had been proclaimed Duke by the people of Milan, was also keen for an end to the costly battles. By the terms of the peace, Sforza was recognised as ruler of Milan and Venice regained its territory in northern Italy, including Bergamo and Brescia in Lombardy. The treaty was signed at the Convent of San Domenico in Via Tito Fanfulla in Lodi, where a plaque today marks the building, no longer a convent. Read more...


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