22 September 2021

22 September

Roberto Saviano - writer and journalist

Author of ‘Gomorrah’ who lives under police protection

The author and journalist Roberto Saviano, whose 2006 book Gomorrah exposed the inner workings of the Camorra organised crime syndicate in his home city of Naples, was born on this day in 1979.  Gomorrah was an international bestseller that was turned into a film and inspired a TV series, bringing Saviano fame and wealth.  However, within six months of the book’s publication, Saviano had received so many threats to his life from within the Camorra that the decision was taken on the advice of former prime minister Giuliano Amato to place him under police protection.  Some 15 years later, he remains under 24-hour police guard.  He travels only in one of two bullet-proof cars, lives either in police barracks or obscure hotels and is encouraged never to remain in the same place for more than a few days. His protection team includes seven bodyguards.  Saviano has written several more books including a collection of his essays and Zero, Zero, Zero - an exposé of the cocaine trade. He has also written The Piranhas, a novel set in Naples with the Camorra at the centre of the story.  Yet Saviano has complained that, although he has so far avoided being killed, he has no real life.  Read more…

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Carlo Ubbiali - motorcycle world champion

Racer from Bergamo won nine GP titles

Carlo Ubbiali, who preceded Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi as Italy’s first great motorcycling world champion, was born on this day in 1929 in Bergamo.  Between 1951 and 1960, he won nine Grand Prix titles, in the 250cc and 125cc categories, setting a record for the most world championships that was equalled by Britain’s Mike Hailwood in 1967 but not surpassed until Agostini won the 10th of his 15 world titles in 1971.  Until his death in 2020, Ubbiali was the second oldest surviving Grand Prix champion after Britain’s Cecil Sandford, who was his teammate in the 1950s. Ubbiali’s compatriot Agostini, who came from nearby Lovere, in Bergamo province,was born in 1942.  Ubbiali won a total of 39 Grand Prix races, all bar two of them for the MV Agusta team.  Three times – in 1956, 1959 and 1960 – he was world champion in 125cc and 250cc classes, and on no fewer than five occasions, including both categories in 1956, he won the title with the maximum number of points possible under the scoring system.  He was also a five-times winner at the prestigious Isle of Man TT festival and six-times Italian champion.  Read more…

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Andrea Bocelli - tenor

Singer has perfect voice for either opera or pop

Tenor Andrea Bocelli was born on this day in 1958 in La Sterza, a hamlet or frazione of Lajatico in Tuscany.  Bocelli, who is blind, had poor eyesight from birth and was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, but he lost his sight completely at the age of 12 after an accident while playing football.  He always loved music and started to learn the piano at the age of six. But after hearing a recording by opera singer Franco Corelli, he set his heart on becoming a tenor.  Bocelli won his first singing competition in Viareggio with ‘O sole mio’ at the age of 14.  He has since sold 150 million records worldwide and performed for four US presidents, three Popes and the British Royal family. His voice has been acclaimed by critics as perfect for either opera or pop.  Bocelli originally studied law and spent one year working as a lawyer, but in 1992 the great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti heard a recording of his unique voice performing Italian rock and pop artist Zucchero’s song Miserere and helped his career take off.  He sang Miserere with Zucchero during a European tour and performed it at the San Remo song festival, where he won the newcomer’s section.  Read more…

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Leonardo Messina - Mafia ‘pentito’

Sicilian who linked ex-premier with organised crime

The Mafia pentito or turncoat Leonardo ‘Narduzzo’ Messina, the first to accuse former prime minister Giulio Andreotti of links with organised crime, was born on this day in 1955 in San Cataldo, a town in the centre of the island of Sicily.  Messina, who decided to reveal what he knew to the authorities soon after the murder of the anti-Mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone, named Andreotti as part of extensive testimony that led to the arrest of more than 200 mafiosi in 1992.  A so-called ‘man of honour’ for more than a decade, Messina, who had been arrested for his part in a drugs racket, became a pentito - literally a ‘repentant’ - after Falcone was killed by a massive bomb placed under the highway linking the city of Palermo with its airport.  Falcone’s wife and three police escorts died with him when the bomb was detonated, and it was the emotional appeal for information by the widow of one of the police officers that persuaded Messina he no longer wished to be associated with the Cosa Nostra.  Messina provided a goldmine of information to Falcone’s friend and fellow magistrate Paolo Borsellino, who himself would be killed by a car bomb in July of that year.  Read more…


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21 September 2021

21 September

Cigoli – painter and architect

First artist to paint a realistic moon

The artist Cigoli was born Lodovico Cardi on this day in 1559 near San Miniato in Tuscany.  He became a close friend of Galileo Galilei, who is said to have regarded him as the greatest painter of his time. They wrote to each other regularly and Galileo practised his drawing while Cigoli enjoyed making astronomical observances.  Cigoli painted a fresco in the dome of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome depicting the Madonna standing upon a pock-marked lunar orb, exactly as it had been seen by Galileo through his telescope.  This is the first example still in existence of Galileo’s discovery about the surface of the moon being portrayed in art. The moon is shown just as Galileo had drawn it in his astronomical treatise, Sidereus Nuncius, which published the results of Galileo’s early observations of the imperfect and mountainous moon.  Until Cigoli’s fresco, the moon in pictures of the Virgin had always been represented by artists as spherical and smooth.  Lodovico Cardi was born at Villa Castelvecchio di Cigoli, and was therefore commonly known as Cigoli.  He trained as an artist in Florence under the Mannerist painter Alessandro Allori.   Read more…

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Giacomo Quarenghi - architect

Neoclassicist famous for his work in St Petersburg

The architect Giacomo Quarenghi, best known for his work in Russia, and in St Petersburg in particular, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was born on this day in 1744 in Rota d’Imagna, a village in Lombardy about 25km (16 miles) northwest of Bergamo.  His extensive work in St Petersburg between 1782 and 1816, which followed an invitation from the Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great), included the Hermitage Theatre, one of the first buildings in Russia in the Palladian style, the Bourse and the State Bank, St. George’s Hall in the Winter Palace, several bridges on the Neva river, and a number of academic buildings including the Academy of Sciences, on the University Embankment.  He was also responsible for the reconstruction of some buildings around Red Square in Moscow in neo-Palladian style.  Quarenghi’s simple yet imposing neoclassical buildings, which often featured an elegant central portico with pillars and pediment, are responsible for much of St Petersburg’s stately elegance.  As a young man, Quarenghi was allowed to study painting in Bergamo despite his parents’ hopes that he would follow for a career in law or the church.   Read more…

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Maurizio Cattelan - conceptual artist

Controversial work softened by irreverent humour

The conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan, known for the dark humour and irreverence of much of his work, was born on this day in 1960 in Padua.  Cattelan, probably best known for his controversial waxwork sculptures of Pope John Paul II and Adolf Hitler, has been described at different times as a satirist, a prankster, a subversive and a poet, although it seems to have been his aim to defy any attempt at categorisation.  His works are often interpreted as critiques of the art world and of society in general and while death and mortality are recurring themes there is more willingness among modern audiences to see how even tragic circumstances can give rise to comedic absurdities.  Although some of his work has provoked outrage, more viewers have been enthralled than angered by what he has presented, and some of his creations have changed hands for millions of dollars.  Cattelan has said that his memories of growing up in Padua are of economic hardship, punishments at school and a series of unfulfilling menial jobs.  His artistic skills were entirely self-taught. He was designing and making wooden furniture in Forlì, in Emilia-Romagna, when he began his first experiments with sculpture and conceptual art.  Read more…


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20 September 2021

20 September

Sophia Loren – actress

Glamorous star one of just three Italian Oscar winners

The actress Sophia Loren, who came to be regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful women and is the most famous name in Italian cinema history, was born on this day in 1934 in Rome.  In a career spanning more than 60 years, Loren appeared in almost 90 films made for the big screen and several others for television.  Although she was often picked for her looks and box-office appeal, she proved her acting talent by winning an Oscar for her role in Vittorio De Sica’s gritty 1960 drama Two Women, released in Italy as La Ciociara.  In doing so she became one of only three Italians to win the Academy Award for Best Actor or Actress and the first of either sex to win the award for an Italian-language film. She followed Anna Magnani, who had won in 1955 for The Rose Tattoo, as the second Italian Oscar winner.  Loren stayed away from the awards ceremony in 1961 on the grounds that the suspense of waiting to learn whether she had won was something she would rather suffer in private but she was there in person to accept an honorary Oscar in 1991, recognising her career achievements.  She also attended the 1993 Oscars to present an honorary award to the director Federico Fellini.  Read more… 

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Capture of Rome

Troops enter the capital in final act of unification

Crack infantry soldiers from Piedmont entered Rome and completed the unification of Italy on this day in 1870.  Rome had remained under French control even after the first Italian parliament had proclaimed Victor Emmanuel of Savoy the King of Italy in 1861.  The Italian parliament had declared Rome the capital of the new Kingdom of Italy even though it had not yet taken control of the city.  A French garrison had remained in Rome on the orders of Napoleon III of France in support of Pope Pius IX.  But after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, Napoleon III had to withdraw many of his troops. Italian soldiers from the Bersaglieri regiments in Piedmont led by General Raffaele Cadorna seized their chance and after a brief bombardment were able to enter Rome through a breach in the Aurelian Walls near Porta Pia.  King Victor Emmanuel II was then able to take up residence in the Quirinale Palace and Italy was declared officially united.  The date of 20 September, which marked the end of the Risorgimento, the long process of Italian unification, is commemorated in practically every town in Italy with a street named Via XX Settembre.  Read more…

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Election of Pope Clement VII

Appointment that sparked split in Catholic Church

The election of Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII by a group of disaffected French cardinals, prompting the split in the Roman Catholic Church that became known as the Western Schism or the Great Schism, took place on this day in 1378.  The extraordinary division in the hierarchy of the church, which saw two and ultimately three rival popes each claiming to be the rightful leader, each with his own court and following, was not resolved until 1417.  It was prompted by the election in Rome of Urban VI as the successor to Gregory XI, who had returned the papal court to Rome from Avignon, where it had been based for almost 70 years after an earlier dispute.  The election of Cardinal Bartolomeo Prignano as Urban VI followed rioting by angry Roman citizens demanding a Roman be made pope. Prignano, the former Archbishop of Bari was not a Roman - he was born in Itri, near Formia in southern Lazio - but was seen as the closest to it among those seen as suitable candidates.  His appointment was not well received, however, by some of the powerful French cardinals who had moved from Avignon to Rome, who claimed the election should be declared invalid because it was made under fear of civil unrest.  Read more…


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19 September 2021

19 September

Mariangela Melato - actress

Versatile star excelled on stage and screen

Mariangela Melato, who won acclaim for her work with the brilliant and sometimes controversial director Lina Wertmüller, played a camp villain in the comic book send-up Flash Gordon, and later excelled as a classical stage actress, was born on this day in 1941 in Milan.  She enjoyed her peak years on screen in the 1970s, most notably in Wertmuller’s The Seduction of Mimi, Love and Anarchy and Swept Away.  From the mid-80s onwards, Melato was based at the Teatro Stabile in Genoa, where she played many of the great classical parts in works by authors such as Pirandello, Euripides and Shakespeare.  She made her mark in television, notably winning praise for her portrayal of Mrs Danvers in an Italian adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in 2008.  Melato’s father emigrated to Italy from Nazi Germany, changed his name from Honing to Melato and became a traffic policeman in Trieste. He moved to Milan and met his future wife, who worked as a seamstress.  Their daughter showed a talent for art and enrolled at the Brera Academy in Milan but was interested in acting and as a teenager employed her artistic talents working as a window dresser at the Milan department store La Rinascente, which helped pay for acting lessons.  Read more…

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Umberto Bossi - politician

Fiery leader of separatist Lega Nord

Controversial politician Umberto Bossi was born on this day in 1941 in the town of Cassano Magnago in Lombardy.  Until 2012, Bossi was leader of Lega Nord (Northern League), a political party whose goal was to achieve autonomy for northern Italy and establish a new independent state, to be called Padania.  With his distinctive, gravelly voice and penchant for fiery, sometimes provocative rhetoric, Bossi won a place in the Senate in 1987 representing his original party, Lega Lombarda. He was dismissed as an eccentric by some in the political mainstream but under his charismatic leadership Lega Nord became a force almost overnight.  Launched as Alleanza Nord in 1989, bringing together a number of regional parties including Bossi’s own Lega Lombarda, it was renamed Lega Nord in 1991 and fought the 1992 general election with stunning results.  With an impressive 8.7% of the vote, Lega Nord went into the new parliament with 56 deputies and 26 senators, making it the fourth largest party in Italy.  By 1996 that share had risen to 10% and Bossi had become a major figure in Italian politics.  Read more…

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Italo Calvino – writer

One of 20th century Italy's most important authors

Novelist and journalist Italo Calvino died on this day in 1985 in Siena in Tuscany.  Calvino was regarded as one of the most important Italian writers of fiction of the 20th century.  His best known works are the Our Ancestors trilogy, written in the 1950s, the Cosmicomics collection of short stories, published in 1965, and the novels, Invisible Cities, published in 1972 and If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller, published in 1979.  Both of Calvino’s parents were Italian, but he was born in Santiago de Las Vegas, a suburb of Havana in Cuba, in 1923, where his father, Mario, an agronomist and botanist, was conducting scientific experiments. Calvino’s mother, Eva, was also a botanist and a university professor. It is believed she gave Calvino the first name of Italo to remind him of his heritage.  Calvino and his parents left Cuba for Italy in 1925 and settled permanently in Sanremo in Liguria, where his father’s family had an ancestral home at San Giovanni Battista.  His family held the science subjects in greater esteem than the arts and Calvino, a prolific reader of stories as a child, is said to have ‘reluctantly’ studied agriculture.  Read more…

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Festival of San Gennaro

Worldwide celebrations for patron saint of Naples

Local worshippers, civic dignitaries and visitors meet together in the Duomo in Naples every year on this day to remember the martyrdom of the patron saint of the city, San Gennaro.  Each year a service is held to enable the congregation to witness the dried blood of the saint, which is kept in a glass phial, miraculously turn to liquid.  The practice of gathering blood to be kept as a relic was common at the time of the decapitation of San Gennaro in 305.  The ritual of praying for the miracle of liquefaction of the blood on the anniversary of his death dates back to the 13th century.  Gennaro is said to have been the Bishop of Benevento and was martyred during the Great Persecution led by the Roman Emperor Diocletian for trying to protect other Christians.  His decapitation is believed to have taken place in Pozzuoli but his remains were transferred to Naples in the 15th century to be housed in the Duomo. The festival of the saint’s martyrdom is celebrated each year by Neapolitan communities all over the world and the recurrence of the miracle in Naples is televised and reported in newspapers.  On 19 September in 1926, immigrants from Naples congregated along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of Manhattan in New York City to celebrate the Festa di San Gennaro there for the first time.  Read more…

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Giuseppe Saragat – fifth President of Italy

Socialist politician opposed Fascism and Communism

Giuseppe Saragat, who was President of the Italian Republic from 1964 to 1971, was born on this day in 1898 in Turin.  As a Socialist politician, he was exiled from Italy by the Fascists in 1926.  When he returned to Italy in 1943 to join the partisans, he was arrested and imprisoned by the Nazi forces occupying Rome, but he managed to escape and resume clandestine activity within the Italian Socialist Party.  Saragat was born to Sardinian parents living in Turin and he graduated from the University of Turin in economics and commerce. He joined the Socialist party in 1922.  During his years in exile he did various jobs in Austria and France.  After returning to Italy, he was minister without portfolio in the first post-liberation cabinet of Ivanoe Bonomi in 1944.  He was sent as ambassador to Paris between 1945 and 1946 and was then elected president of the Constitutional Assembly that drafted postwar Italy’s new constitution.  At the Socialist Party Congress in 1947, Saragat opposed the idea of unity with the Communist Party and led those who walked out to form the Socialist Party of Italian Workers (PSLI).  Read more…


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Mariangela Melato - actress

Versatile star excelled on stage and screen

Mariangela Melato was admired and respected for her screen and stage work
Mariangela Melato was admired and
respected for her screen and stage work
Mariangela Melato, who won acclaim for her work with the brilliant and sometimes controversial director Lina Wertmüller, played a camp villain in the comic book send-up Flash Gordon, and later excelled as a classical stage actress, was born on this day in 1941 in Milan.

She enjoyed her peak years on screen in the 1970s, most notably in Wertmuller’s The Seduction of Mimi, Love and Anarchy and Swept Away.

From the mid-80s onwards, Melato was based at the Teatro Stabile in Genoa, where she played many of the great classical parts in works by authors such as Pirandello, Euripides and Shakespeare. 

She made her mark in television, notably winning praise for her portrayal of Mrs Danvers in an Italian adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in 2008. 

Melato’s father emigrated to Italy from Nazi Germany, changed his name from Honing to Melato and became a traffic policeman in Trieste. He moved to Milan and met his future wife, who worked as a seamstress. 

Their daughter showed a talent for art and enrolled at the Brera Academy in Milan but was interested in acting and as a teenager employed her artistic talents working as a window dresser at the Milan department store La Rinascente, which helped pay for acting lessons.

After making her stage debut in 1960, she became part of a touring company directed by the comedian and playwright Dario Fo. She appeared in productions by Luchino Visconti and a celebrated performance of Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, directed by Luca Ronconi, at the Spoleto Festival.

Melato with Giancarlo Giannini in Wertmüller's Swept Away, regarded as among her finest work
Melato with Giancarlo Giannini in Wertmüller's
Swept Away, regarded as among her finest work
Her film debut came in 1969 in Pupi Avati's horror fantasy, Thomas e gli indemoniati - Thomas and the Possessed.  Her acting talent soon became recognised and she was soon working for some of Italy’s leading directors, including Nino Manfredi, Vittorio De Sica, Luigi Comencini and Elio Petri, who had her starring opposite the brilliant Gian Maria Volonté in La classe operaia va in paradiso - The Working Class Goes to Heaven - which tied with another Italian film, The Mattei Affair, for the Grand Prix International at the 1972 Canne Film Festival.

The performances regarded as the most memorable of her film career came while she was working with Wertmüller, who met her for the first time while she was doing stage work with Ronconi.  Wertmüller, a director prepared to explore areas of human behaviour considered off limits by some, recognised Melato's natural comic potential and chose her to play opposite Giancarlo Giannini in The Seduction of Mimi (1972), in which Giannini played a man on the run from the Mafia and Melato the communist with whom he has an affair.

Wertmüller paired them again in Love and Anarchy, in which Giannini was a country bumpkin who travels to Rome with a plan to assassinate Mussolini and discovers that his cousin Salomé, played by Melato, works in a brothel.

Melato with Renzo Arbore, her long-term partner
Melato with Renzo Arbore,
her long-term partner
Their collaboration is remembered most, however, for Swept Away (1974), which featured a bravura performance from Melato as a neurotic Italian noblewoman, a jet-set snob, who takes a yachting holiday and ends up marooned on an island with one of the boat’s crew, a communist, played by Giannini.  Despite the differences in their politics and social backgrounds, which initially leads to furious rows, they eventually have an affair, but one which lasts only until they are rescued and return to their previous lives.

Her success in Europe led Melato to be invited to America, where she played the villainess General Kala in Flash Gordon (1980), and co-starred with Ryan O'Neal in the comedy, So Fine (1981).  

However, her quirky style and appearance did not match American perceptions of European glamour and she did not enjoy enough success to persuade her to stay.

Back in Italy, she worked with Wertmüller again on Summer Nights (1986) but her focus increasingly switched to a stage career and latterly television.

Although she never married, she had a long relationship with the actor, singer and TV host Renzo Arbore.

Melato died in 2013 at the age of 71 in Rome, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.  Her funeral at the church of Santa Maria di Montesanto in Piazza del Popolo attracted a large gathering of colleagues and fans.

Milan's La Rinascente department store is in Piazza Duomo, opposite the cathedral itself
Milan's La Rinascente department store is in
Piazza Duomo, opposite the cathedral itself
Travel tip:

La Rinascente in Milan, where Mariangela Melato worked to fund her acting lessons, is right in the centre of the city in Piazza Duomo, close to the entrance to the Duomo metro stop. The store, which sells house wares as well as clothes and cosmetics, was nominated the Best Department Store in the World at a Global Department Store Summit in 2016.  The company, who evolved from a shop opened in Milan in 1865 by Luigi and Ferdinando Bocconi, acquired its name when it changed hands in 1917 and the new owners commissioned to poet, Gabriele D’Annunzio, to come up with a name and he suggested La Rinascente, meaning new birth.

Rome's 'twin churches' - Santa Maria in Montesanto (left) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli
Rome's 'twin churches' - Santa Maria in
Montesanto (left) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli
Travel tip:

The church of Santa Maria in Montesanto stands in Piazza del Popolo, between Via del Corso and Via del Babuino. It is also known as the Church of the Artists and is regarded as the twin church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, which stands between Via del Corso and Via di Ripetta, facing the piazza, which sits just inside the northern gate of the ancient city, the Porta Flaminia. The church was built in 1662, on the initiative of Pope Alexander VII. The original design was the work of Carlo Rainaldi and there was later input from Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Carlo Fontana.  It is known as the Church of the Artists because, since 1953, Sunday mass has been celebrated there by representatives of the world of culture and art. 

Also on this day:

1898: The birth of Giuseppe Saragat, fifth President of Italy

1941: The birth of fiery politician Umberto Bossi

1985: The death of writer Italo Calvino

The Festival of San Gennaro


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18 September 2021

18 September

Rossano Brazzi - Hollywood star

Actor quit as a lawyer for career on the big screen

The movie actor Rossano Brazzi, whose credits include The Barefoot Contessa, Three Coins in the Fountain and South Pacific, was born on this day in 1916 in Bologna.  Brazzi gave up a promising career as a lawyer in order to act and went on to appear in more than 200 films, more often than not cast as a handsome heartbreaker or romantic aristocrat.  He was at his peak in the 50s and 60s but continued to accept parts until the late 80s. His last major role was as Father DeCarlo in Omen III: The Final Conflict in 1981.  Brazzi's family moved to Florence when he was aged four. His father Adelmo, a shoemaker, opened a leather factory in which Rossano, his brother Oscar and his sister, Franca, would all eventually work.  Adelmo had ambitions for Rossano, however, helping him win a place at the University of Florence, where he obtained a law degree, and then sending him to Rome to work in the legal practice of a family friend. But Rossano had become involved in a drama group at university and looked for opportunities to continue acting.  Eventually, he was approached by a film director and when he was offered a part in a film in 1939 he quit his job with the legal practice in order to devote himself to acting as a career.  Read more…

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Alberto Franchetti - opera composer

Caruso sang his arias on first commercial record in 1902

The opera composer Alberto Franchetti, some of whose works were performed by the great tenor Enrico Caruso for his first commercial recording, was born on this day in 1860 in Turin.  Caruso had been taken with Franchetti’s opera, Germania, when he sang the male lead role in the opera’s premiere at Teatro alla Scala in Milan in March 1902.  A month later, Caruso famously made his first recording on a phonograph in a Milan hotel room and chose a number of arias from Germania and critics noted that he sang the aria Ah vieni qui… No, non chiuder gli occhi with a particular sweetness of voice.  A friend and rival of Giacomo Puccini, Franchetti had a style said to have been influenced by the German composers Wagner and Meyerbeer. He was sometimes described as the "Meyerbeer of modern Italy."  Despite the exposure the success of Germania and the association with Caruso brought him, Franchetti’s operas slipped quite quickly into obscurity.  Blame for that can be levelled at least in part at the Fascist Racial Laws of 1938, which made life and work very difficult for Italy's Jewish population.  Read more…

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Francesca Caccini – singer and composer

Court musician composed oldest surviving opera by a woman

Prolific composer and talented singer Francesca Caccini was born on this day in 1587 in Florence.  Sometimes referred to by the nickname La Cecchina, she composed what is widely considered to be the oldest surviving opera by a woman composer, La Liberazione di Ruggiero, which was adapted from the epic poem, Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto.  Caccini was the daughter of the composer and musician, Giulio Caccini, and she received her early musical training from him. Like her father, she regularly sang at the Medici court.  She was part of an ensemble of singers referred to as le donne di Giulio Romano, which included her sister, Settimia, and other unnamed pupils.  After her sister married and moved to Mantua, the ensemble broke up, but Caccini continued to serve the court as a teacher, singer and composer, where she was popular because of her musical virtuosity.  She is believed to have been a quick and prolific composer but sadly very little of her music has survived. She was considered equal at the time to Jacopo Peri and Marco da Gagliano, who were also working for the court.  Read more…


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17 September 2021

17 September

Reinhold Messner - mountaineer

Climber from Dolomites who conquered Everest

Reinhold Messner, the Italian mountaineer who was the first climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen and the first to reach the peak on a solo climb, was born on this day in 1944 in Bressanone, a town in Italy's most northerly region of Alto Adige, which is also known as South Tyrol.  Messner was also the first man to ascend every one of the world's 14 peaks that rise to more than 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) above sea level.  His 1976 ascent of Everest with the Austrian climber Peter Habeler defied numerous doctors and other specialists in the effects of altitude who insisted that scaling the world's highest mountain without extra oxygen was not possible.  Born only 45km from Italy's border with Austria, Messner grew up speaking German and Italian and has also become fluent in English.  His father, Josef, introduced him to climbing and took him to his first summit at the age of five. He soon became familiar with all the peaks of the Dolomites.   From a family of 10 children - nine of them boys - Messner shared his passion for adventure with brothers Günther and Hubert, with whom he would later cross the Arctic.  Read more…

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Ranuccio II Farnese – Duke of Parma

Feuding with the Popes led to the destruction of a city

Ranuccio II Farnese, who angered Innocent X so much that the Pope had part of his territory razed to the ground, was born on this day in 1630 in Parma.  Ranuccio II was the eldest son of Odoardo Farnese, the fifth sovereign duke of Parma, and his wife, Margherita de’ Medici.  Odoardo died while Ranuccio was still a minor and, although he succeeded him as Duke of Parma, he had to rule for the first two years of his reign under the regency of both his uncle, Francesco Maria Farnese, and his mother.  The House of Farnese had been founded by Ranuccio’s paternal ancestor, Alessandro Farnese, who became Pope Paul III. The Farnese family had been ruling Parma and Piacenza ever since Paul III gave it to his illegitimate son, Pier Luigi Farnese. He also made Pier Luigi the Duke of Castro.  While Odoardo had been Duke of Parma he had become involved in a power struggle with Pope Urban VIII, who was a member of the Barberini family. The Barberini family were keen to acquire Castro, which was north of Rome in the Papal States.  When Odoardo found himself unable to pay his debts, Urban VIII responded to the creditors’ pleas for help, by sending troops to occupy Castro.  Read more…

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Nives Meroi - mountaineer

One of history’s greatest female climbers 

The climber Nives Meroi, widely regarded as one of history’s finest female mountaineers, was born on this day in 1961 in Bonate Sotto, a small town in the province of Bergamo, about 40km (25 miles) northeast of Milan.  One half of a renowned husband-and-wife climbing team with Romano Benet, Meroi is one of only three women to have reached the peak of all 14 of the so-called eight-thousanders, the only mountains in the world that tower about 8,000m, topped by Everest (8,848m), which she conquered in 2007, and K2 (8,611), which she had scaled in 2006.  Meroi completed the full set of 14 when she reached the summit of Annapurna (8,091m) in the Himalayas in 2017.  She and Benet, born in Italy but who has Slovenian nationality, are the first married couple to have climbed all 14 together.  The two first met more than 40 years ago in Tarvisio in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Benet’s hometown, situated in an Alpine valley close to the borders with Austria and Slovenia. Meroi, a student, was sharing a house with Benet’s sister. They began hiking and climbing together after discovering they had a common love of the mountainous scenery.  Read more…

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Maria Luisa of Savoy

Girl from Turin ruled Spain while a teenager

Maria Luisa of Savoy, who grew up to become a queen consort of Spain with a lot of influence over her husband, King Philip V, was born on this day in 1688 at the Royal Palace in Turin.  She was the daughter of Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy, and his French wife, Anne Marie d’Orleans.  Philip V of Spain wanted to maintain his ties with Victor Amadeus II and therefore asked for Maria Luisa’s hand in marriage. She was wed by proxy to Philip V in 1701 when she was still only 13.  Maria Luisa was escorted to Nice and from there sailed to Antibes en route to Barcelona. The official marriage took place in November of the same year.  Maria Luisa was both beautiful and intelligent and Phillip V was deeply in love with her right from the start.  In 1702 when Philip V left Spain to fight in the War of the Spanish Succession, Maria Luisa acted as Regent in his absence.  She was praised as an effective ruler despite being only 14 years old. She gave audiences to ambassadors, worked for hours with ministers, and prevented Savoy from joining the enemy. She inspired people to make donations towards the war effort and her leadership was admired throughout Spain.  Read more…


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16 September 2021

16 September

Sir Antony Panizzi - revolutionary librarian

Political refugee knighted by Queen Victoria

Sir Anthony Panizzi, who as Principal Librarian at the British Museum was knighted by Queen Victoria, was a former Italian revolutionary, born Antonio Genesio Maria Panizzi in Brescello in what is now Reggio Emilia, on this day in 1797.  A law graduate from the University of Parma, Panizzi began his working life as a civil servant, attaining the position of Inspector of Public Schools in his home town.   At the same time he was a member of the Carbonari, the network of secret societies set up across Italy in the early part of the 19th century, whose aim was to overthrow the repressive regimes of the Kingdoms of Naples and Sardinia, the Papal States and the Duchy of Modena and bring about the unification of Italy as a republic or a constitutional monarchy.  He was party to a number of attempted uprisings but was forced to flee the country in 1822, having been tipped off that he was to be arrested and would face trial as a subversive.  Panizzi found a haven in Switzerland, but after publishing a book that attacked the Duchy of Modena, of which Brescello was then part, he was sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Modena.  Read more…

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Paolo di Lauro - Camorra boss

Capture of mobster struck at heart of Naples underworld

Italy's war against organised crime achieved one of its biggest victories on this day in 2005 when the powerful Camorra boss Paolo di Lauro was arrested.  In a 6am raid, Carabinieri officers surrounded a building in the notorious Secondigliano district of Naples and entered the modest apartment in which Di Lauro was living with a female companion.  The 52-year-old gang boss did not resist arrest, possibly believing any charges against him would not be made to stick.  However, at a subsequent trial he was convicted and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment for drug trafficking and other crimes and remains in jail.  Di Lauro's conviction was significant because it removed the man who had been at the head of one of the most lucrative criminal networks in all of Italy for more than 20 years and yet managed to maintain such a low profile that police at times suspected he was dead.  At its peak, the Di Lauro clan presided over an organisation that imported and distributed cocaine and heroin said to be worth around €200 million per year.  The clan essentially controlled the run-down northern suburbs of Naples, making money also from real estate, counterfeit high-end fashion and prostitution.  Read more…

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Alessandro Fortis - politician

Revolutionary who became Prime Minister

Alessandro Fortis, a controversial politician who was also Italy’s first Jewish prime minister, was born on this day in 1841 in Forlì in Emilia-Romagna.  Fortis led the government from March 1905 to February 1906. A republican follower of Giuseppe Mazzini and a volunteer in the army of Giuseppe Garibaldi, he was politically of the Historical Left but in time managed to alienate both sides of the divide with his policies.  He attracted the harshest criticism for his decision to nationalise the railways, one of his personal political goals, which was naturally opposed by the conservatives on the Right but simultaneously upset his erstwhile supporters on the Left, because the move had the effect of heading off a strike by rail workers. By placing the network in state control, Fortis turned all railway employees into civil servants, who were not allowed to strike under the law.  Some politicians also felt the compensation given to the private companies who previously ran the railways was far too generous and suspected Fortis of corruption.  His foreign policies, meanwhile, upset politicians and voters on both sides.  Read more…


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15 September 2021

15 September

Fausto Coppi - cycling great

Multiple title-winner who died tragically young

The cycling champion Fausto Coppi, who won the Giro d’Italia five times and the Tour de France twice as well as numerous other races, was born on this day in 1919 in Castellania, a village in Piedmont about 37km (23 miles) southeast of Alessandria.  Although hugely successful and lauded for his talent and mental strength, Coppi was a controversial character. His rivalry with his fellow Italian rider Gino Bartali divided the nation, while he offended many in what was still a socially conservative country by abandoning his wife to live with another woman.  Fausto, who openly admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs, which were then legal, died in 1960 at the age of just 40 following a trip to Burkina Faso in West Africa. The cause of death officially was malaria but a story has circulated in more recent years that he was poisoned in an act of revenge.  The fourth in a family of five children, Coppi had poor health as he grew up and would skip school in order to amuse himself riding a rusty bicycle he found in a cellar. He left at the age of 13 to work in a butcher’s shop in Novi Ligure, a town about 20km (12 miles) from his home village in Piedmont.  Read more…

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Ettore Bugatti - car designer

Name that became a trademark for luxury and high performance

The car designer and manufacturer Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan on this day in 1881.  The company Bugatti launched in 1909 became associated with luxury and exclusivity while also enjoying considerable success in motor racing.  When the glamorous Principality of Monaco launched its famous Grand Prix in 1929, the inaugural race was won by a Bugatti.  Although Bugatti cars were manufactured for the most part in a factory in Alsace, on the border of France and Germany, their stylish designs reflected the company’s Italian heritage and Bugatti cars are seen as part of Italy’s traditional success in producing desirable high-performance cars.  The story of Bugatti as a purely family business ended in 1956, and the company closed altogether in 1963.  The name did not die, however, and Bugatti cars are currently produced by Volkswagen.  Ettore came from an artistic family in Milan. His father, Carlo Bugatti, was a successful designer of Italian Art Nouveau furniture and jewelry, while his paternal grandfather, Giovanni Luigi Bugatti, had been an architect and sculptor.  His younger brother, Rembrandt Bugatti, became well known for his animal sculpture.  Read more…

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Umberto II - last King of Italy

Brief reign was followed by long exile

The last King of Italy, Umberto II, was born on this day in 1904 in Racconigi in Piedmont.  Umberto reigned over Italy from 9 May 1946 to 12 June 1946 and was therefore nicknamed the May King - Re di Maggio.  When Umberto Nicola Tommaso Giovanni Maria di Savoia was born at the Castle of Racconigi he became heir apparent to the Italian throne as the only son and third child of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and his wife Queen Elena of Montenegro.  He was given the title of Prince of Piedmont.  Umberto married Marie Jose of Belgium in Rome in 1930 and they had four children.  He became de facto head of state in 1944 when his father, Victor Emmanuel III, transferred his powers to him in an attempt to repair the monarchy’s image after the fall of Benito Mussolini’s regime.  Victor Emmanuel III abdicated his throne in favour of Umberto in 1946 ahead of a referendum on the abolition of the monarchy in the hope that his exit and a new King might give a boost to the popularity of the monarchy.  However, after the referendum, Italy was declared a republic and Umberto had to live out the rest of his life in exile in Portugal.  Read more…

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The first free public school in Europe

Frascati sees groundbreaking development in education

The first free public school in Europe opened its doors to children on this day in 1616 in Frascati, a town in Lazio just a few kilometres from Rome.  The school was founded by a Spanish Catholic priest, José de Calasanz, who was originally from Aragon but who moved to Rome in 1592 at the age of 35.  Calasanz had a passion for education and in particular made it his life’s work to set up schools for children who did not have the benefit of coming from wealthy families.  Previously, schools existed only for the children of noble families or for those studying for the priesthood. Calasanz established Pious Schools and a religious order responsible for running them, who became known as the Piarists.  Calasanz had been a priest for 10 years when he decided to go to Rome in the hope of furthering his ecclesiastical career.  He soon became involved with helping neglected and homeless children via the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.  He would gather up poor children on the streets and take them to schools, only to find that the teachers, who were not well paid, would not accept them unless Calasanz provided them with extra money.  Read more…


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14 September 2021

14 September

Vittorio Gui – composer and conductor

Precise and sensitive musician enjoyed a long and distinguished career

Internationally renowned orchestra conductor Vittorio Gui was born on this day in 1885 in Rome.  Gui composed his own operas, while travelling around Italy and Europe conducting the music of other composers. He spent many years conducting in Britain and served as the musical director of the Glyndebourne Festival for 12 years.  He was taught to play the piano by his mother when he was a young child. He graduated in Humanities at the University of Rome and then studied composition at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.  The premiere of his opera, David, took place in Rome in 1907. He made his professional conducting debut at the Teatro Adriano in Rome in the same year, having been brought in as a substitute to lead Ponchielli’s La Gioconda.  This led to Gui being invited to conduct in Rome and Turin. Arturo Toscanini then invited him to conduct Salome by Richard Strauss as the season opener at La Scala in Milan in 1923.  He conducted at the Teatro Regio in Turin between 1925 and 1927 and premiered his own fairytale opera, Fata Malerba, there.  Gui founded the Orchestra Stabile in Florence and developed the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival. Read more…

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Tiziano Terzani - journalist

Asia correspondent who covered wars in Vietnam and Cambodia

The journalist and author Tiziano Terzani, who spent much of his working life in China, Japan and Southeast Asia and whose writing received critical acclaim both in his native Italy and elsewhere, was born on this day in 1938 in Florence.  He worked for more than 30 years for the German news magazine Der Spiegel, who took him on as Asia Correspondent in 1971, based in Singapore.  Although he wrote for other publications, including the Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica, it was Der Spiegel who allowed him the freedom he craved. To a large extent he created his own news agenda but in doing so offered a unique slant on the major stories.  He was one of only a handful of western journalists who remained in Vietnam after the liberation of Saigon by the Viet Cong in 1975 and two years later, despite threats to his life, he reported from Phnom Penh in Cambodia after its capture by the Khmer Rouge.  He lived at different times in Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and New Delhi. His stay in China came to an end when he was arrested and expelled in 1984 for "counter-revolutionary activities".  Read more…

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Renzo Piano – architect

Designer of innovative buildings is now an Italian senator

Award-winning architect Renzo Piano was born on this day in 1937 in Genoa.  Piano is well-known for his high-tech designs for public spaces and is particularly famous for the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, which he worked on in collaboration with the British architect, Richard Rogers, and the Shard in London.  Among the many awards and prizes Piano has received for his work are the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale prize for architecture in 1995, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1998 and the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 2008.  Piano was born into a family of builders and graduated from the Polytechnic in Milan in 1964. He completed his first building, the IPE factory in Genoa, in 1968 with a roof of steel and reinforced polyester.  He worked with a variety of architects, including his father, Carlo Piano, until he established a partnership with Rogers, which lasted from 1971-1977.  They made the Centre Georges Pompidou look like an urban machine with their innovative design and it immediately gained the attention of the international architectural community.  Read more…

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Dante Alighieri – poet

Famous son of Florence remains in exile

Dante Alighieri, an important poet during the late Middle Ages, died on this day in 1321 in Ravenna in Emilia-Romagna.  Dante’s Divine Comedy is considered to be the greatest literary work written in Italian and has been acclaimed all over the world.  In the 13th century most poetry was written in Latin, but Dante wrote in the Tuscan dialect, which made his work more accessible to ordinary people.  Writers who came later, such as Petrarch and Boccaccio, followed this trend.  Therefore Dante can be said to have played an instrumental role in establishing the national language of Italy.  His depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven in the Divine Comedy later influenced the works of John Milton, Geoffrey Chaucer and Lord Alfred Tennyson, among many others.  Dante was also the first poet to use the interlocking three-line rhyme scheme, terza rima.  Dante was born around 1265 in Florence into a family loyal to the Guelphs. By the time he was 12 he had been promised in marriage to Gemma di Manetto Donati, the daughter of a member of a powerful, local family.  He had already fallen in love with Beatrice Portinari, whom he first met when he was only nine.  Read more…


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Vittorio Gui – composer and conductor

Precise and sensitive musician enjoyed a long and distinguished career

Vittorio Gui enjoyed a long and distinguished career
Vittorio Gui enjoyed a long
and distinguished career
Internationally renowned orchestra conductor Vittorio Gui was born on this day in 1885 in Rome.

Gui composed his own operas, while travelling around Italy and Europe conducting the music of other composers. He spent many years conducting in Britain and served as the musical director of the Glyndebourne Festival for 12 years.

He was taught to play the piano by his mother when he was a young child. He graduated in Humanities at the University of Rome and then studied composition at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

The premiere of his opera, David, took place in Rome in 1907. He made his professional conducting debut at the Teatro Adriano in Rome in the same year, having been brought in as a substitute to lead Ponchielli’s La Gioconda.

This led to Gui being invited to conduct in Rome and Turin. Arturo Toscanini then invited him to conduct Salome by Richard Strauss as the season opener at La Scala in Milan in 1923.

He conducted at the Teatro Regio in Turin between 1925 and 1927 and premiered his own fairytale opera, Fata Malerba, there.

Gui founded the Orchestra Stabile in Florence and developed the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival, which he led for ten years, conducting the Orchestra Stabile and trying out unusual operas there.

Some recordings of performances conducted by Gui are still available
Some recordings of performances
conducted by Gui are still available 
He was guest conductor at the Salzburg festival in 1933 and invited by Sir Thomas Beecham in 1936 to be a regular conductor at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in London.

Complete recordings of Gui conducting Il Trovatore and La Traviata from the 1939 Covent Garden season have survived.

Gui remained in Britain during World War Two and made his debut at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1948. He served as musical director there from 1951 to 1963 and as artistic counsellor to the festival from 1963 to 1965.

He was particularly known for his conducting of music by Brahms and in 1947, on the 50th anniversary of the death of Brahms, he conducted a complete cycle of the orchestral and choral works of the composer  throughout Italy.

A prolific writer and critic, Gui’s works include a study of Boito’s opera, Nerone, an article on Mozart in Italy and a collection of essays, Battuta d’aspetto.

Gui died in October 1975 at his home in Florence at the age of 90 after an attack of angina. He had made his final appearance as a conductor in Italy just two weeks before his death, when he inaugurated the new season at the Teatro Comunale in Florence with a concert of Mozart and Brahms.

He was considered by critics to have been one of the most precise and sensitive conductors of the 20th century and he had been presented with a gold medal by the regional administration of Florence on 14 September, 1975, his 90th birthday.

The Teatro Regio in Turin was closed for 37  years after a catastrophic fire in 1936
The Teatro Regio in Turin was closed for 37 
years after a catastrophic fire in 1936
Travel tip:

The Teatro Regio in Turin, where Gui conducted in the 1920s, was burnt down in a catastrophic fire in 1936. It remained dark for 37 years until reopening in 1973. The theatre, which is in Piazza Castello close to the Palazzo Reale in the centre of the city, had something of a chequered history even before the fire. Inaugurated in 1740, it was closed by royal decree in 1792 then reopened with the French occupation of Turin during the early 19th century, first as the Teatro Nazionale and then the Teatro Imperiale before its original name was reinstated with the fall of Napoleon in 1814. It endured several financial crises in the late 1800s but somehow survived.

The Teatro del Maggio Musicale  has been fully open only since 2014
The Teatro del Maggio Musicale 
has been fully open only since 2014
Travel tip:

The Orchestra Stabile Fiorentina founded by Gui evolved into the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, resident at the Teatro Comunale in Corso Italia, on the edge of the city’s historic centre, about 1.5km (1 mile) from the Ponte Vecchio along the Arno river.  Since 2014, the May Festival has had its own base at the new Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, situated less than one kilometre away on land opposite the vast public park known as Le Cascine. Designed by Paolo Desideri, it was inaugurated in 2011 with a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony conducted by Zubin Mehta, although not fully opened until 2014-15, when its first opera season was staged. The square in front of the theatre is named Piazza Vittorio Gui in honour of the festival’s founder.

Also on this day:

1321: The death of the poet Dante Alighieri

1937: The birth of architect Renzo Piano

1938: The birth of journalist Tiziano Terzani


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13 September 2021

13 September

Andrea Mantegna – artist

Genius led the way with his use of perspective

The painter Andrea Mantegna died on this day in 1506 in Mantua.  He had become famous for his religious paintings, such as St Sebastian, which is now in the Louvre in Paris, and The Agony in the Garden, which is now in the National Gallery in London.  But his frescoes for the Bridal Chamber (Camera degli Sposi) at the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua - Mantova in Italian - were to influence many artists who followed him because of his innovative use of perspective.  Mantegna studied Roman antiquities for inspiration and was also an eminent engraver.  He was born near Padua - Padova - in about 1431 and apprenticed by the age of 11 to the painter, Francesco Squarcione, who had a fascination for ancient art and encouraged him to study fragments of Roman sculptures.  Mantegna was one of a large group of painters entrusted with decorating the Ovetari Chapel in the Church of the Eremitani in Padua.  Much of his work was lost when the Allied forces bombed Padua in 1944, but other early work by Mantegna can be seen in the Basilica of Sant’Antonio and in the Church of Santa Giustina in Padua.  The artist later came under the influence of Jacopo Bellini, the father of Giovanni and Gentile Bellini.  Read more…

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Fabio Cannavaro - World Cup winner

Defender captained Azzurri to 2006 triumph

The footballer and coach Fabio Cannavaro, who was captain of the Italy team that won the 2006 World Cup in Germany, was born on this day in 1973 in Naples.  In a hugely successful playing career, the central defender was part of the excellent Parma team that won the UEFA Cup and the Coppa Italia under coach Alberto Malesani in the late 1990s, winning another Coppa Italia in 2002 with Pietro Carmignani in charge.  But his biggest glories were to come after he left Italy for Spain to play for Real Madrid under the Italian coach Fabio Capello, winning the La Liga title twice in 2006 and 2007.  His 136 appearances for the Azzurri made him the most capped outfield player in the history of the Italian national team (only goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has more caps in total) and the feat of winning La Liga and the World Cup in the same year helped him win the coveted Ballon d’Or, awarded annually by the magazine France Football to the player judged to be the best in Europe. He is only the third defender to be given the award, joining the company of Franz Beckenbauer and Matthias Sammer.  Read more…

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Girolamo Frescobaldi – composer

Organist was a ‘father of Italian music’

Girolamo Alessandro Frescobaldi, one of the first great masters of organ composition, was born on this day in 1583 in Ferrara.  Frescobaldi is famous for his instrumental works, many of which are compositions for the keyboard, but his canzone are of historical importance for the part they played in the development of pieces for small instrumental ensembles and he was to have a strong influence on the German Baroque school.  Frescobaldi began his career as organist at the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome in 1607. He travelled to the Netherlands the same year and published his first work, a book of madrigals, in Antwerp.  In 1608 he became the organist at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and, except for a few years when he was court organist in Florence, he worked at St Peter’s until his death.  He married Orsola Travaglini in 1613 and they had five children.  Frescobaldi published 12 fantasie that are notable for their contrapuntal mastery.  In a collection of music published in 1626 he provides valuable information about performing his work. He writes in the preface: ‘Should the player find it tedious to play a piece right through he may choose such sections as he pleases provided only that he ends in the main key.’  Read more…

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Saverio Bettinelli – writer

Jesuit scholar and poet was unimpressed with Dante

Poet and literary critic Saverio Bettinelli, who had the temerity to criticise Dante in his writing, died at the age of 90 on this day in 1808 in Mantua.  Bettinelli had entered the Jesuit Order at the age of 20 and went on to become known as a dramatist, poet and literary critic, who also taught Rhetoric in various Italian cities.  In 1758 he travelled through Italy and Germany and met the French writers Voltaire and Rousseau.  Bettinelli taught literature from 1739 to 1744 at Brescia, where he formed an academy with other scholars. He became a professor of Rhetoric in Venice and was made superintendent of the College of Nobles at Parma in 1751, where he was in charge of the study of poetry and history and theatrical entertainment.  After travelling to Germany, Strasbourg and Nancy, he returned to Italy, taking with him two young relatives of the Prince of Hohenlohe, who had entrusted him with their education. He took the eldest of his pupils with him to France, where he wrote his famous Lettere dieci di Virgilio agli Arcadi, which were published in Venice.  He also wrote a collection of poems, Versi sciolti, and some tragedies for the Jesuit theatre.  Read more…


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