31 October 2022

Angelo Rizzoli – publisher

Rags to riches story of an editorial entrepreneur

Angelo Rizzoli was raised in an orphanage in Milan
Angelo Rizzoli was raised in
an orphanage in Milan
Printer, publisher and film producer Angelo Rizzoli was born on this day in 1889 in Milan.

Rizzoli was orphaned when still very young and grew up in poverty, but by the time he was in his 20s he had become an entrepreneur.

Young Angelo was brought up in the orphanage of Martinitt in Milan, which had been founded in the 16th century in Via Manzoni for orphaned and abandoned Roman Catholic boys. It was there that he learnt the trade of a printer. 

Along with another trained print worker, and using his savings for the downpayment on a Linotype machine, he opened a typographical firm under the name of A. Rizzoli & C. in Via Cerva in Milan in 1911. The company was later to evolve into the publishing giant, RCS MediaGroup.

Rizzoli acquired Novella magazine, a bi-weekly aimed mainly at women and went on to add new publications, such as Annabella, Bertoldo, Candido, Omnibus, Oggi and L’Europeo.

In 1929, he started publishing books, producing La Storia del Risorgimento by Cesare Spellanzon. He later began producing both classic and popular novels.

The Rizzoli logo has become famous in Italian publishing
The Rizzoli logo has become
famous in Italian publishing 
His business gradually grew. He bought the Lama di Reno paper mill, near the town of Marzabotto in Emilia-Romagna, which would become the supplier of paper for the entire publishing empire, and in 1960 the moved to a large complex in the northeast of Milan in Via Civitavecchia, since renamed Via Angelo Rizzoli. 

Rizzoli’s dream of producing a new national newspaper never materialised although four years after his death his company purchased Corriere della Sera, Italy’s biggest selling daily. 

His interest in the film industry led him to create the production and distribution house Cineriz - short for Cinema Rizzoli - in 1956. The company produced two of Federico Fellini’s most famous films, La dolce vita in 1960 and Otto e mezzo in 1963.

Angelo Rizzoli (right) with son Andrea (centre) and nephew Angelo jr, who would take over the business
Angelo Rizzoli (right) with son Andrea (centre) and
nephew Angelo jr, who would take over the business
In recognition of his success as an entrepreneur, Rizzoli was given the title cavaliere del lavoro. In 1967, he was also given the title of Conte, by the ex-king of Italy, Umberto of Savoy, who was at the time living in exile in Lisbon in Portugal.

Rizzoli married Anna Marzorati, the daughter of one of his first clients, in 1912. The couple had three children, Andrea, Giuseppina, and Giuditta. Rizzoli died in 1970 at the age of 81 in Milan, leaving a fortune of more than 100 billion lire in his will.

The company passed into the hands of Andrea Rizzoli. His nephew, also called Angelo, joined the company’s board. Andrea enjoyed success in another sphere as the owner and president of AC Milan football club between 1954 and 1963, during which time the club won the Serie A title four times and the European Cup for the first time in its history.

RCS Media group (formerly Rizzoli-Corriere della Sera) has since changed hands a number of times but remains an international multimedia publishing group producing daily newspapers, magazines and books and operating in radio broadcasting, new media and digital and satellite TV.

The Casa Manzoni can be found where Via Morone meets Piazza Belgioioso
The Casa Manzoni can be found where
Via Morone meets Piazza Belgioioso
Travel tip:

Rizzoli grew up in the orphanage of Martinitt in Via Manzoni in Milan, which was housed in the oratory of Saint Martin that had been originally given to the founder of the orphanage, Gerolamo Emiliani, by Francesco II Sforza. The street takes its name from the writer Alessandro Manzoni, the author of I promessi sposi (The Betrothed), one of the most famous novels in Italian literary history, who was born in a house on nearby Via Gerolamo Morone. Via Manzoni, which stretches from Piazza della Scala towards the Piazza Cavour, today is a busy shopping street, one section of which is part of the quadrilatero della moda - Milan’s famous fashion quarter, where most of the biggest names in haute couture have a presence.

Rizzoli's Albergo Reginella Isabella  was Ischia's first luxury hotel
Rizzoli's Albergo Reginella Isabella 
was Ischia's first luxury hotel
Travel tip:

Angelo Rizzoli has a street named after him on Ischia, the verdant island off Campania that he fell in love with on his first visit in 1950. He established a home for himself and his family there in Villa Arbusto, an 18th century house in the spa of Lacco Ameno. The house is now given over to a museum displaying Greco-Roman and other artefacts recovered on the island. Rizzoli was invited to take part in a project to renovate the Regina Isabella spa at Lacco Ameno and accepted enthusiastically. He also built the main hospital of Ischia, which is named Anna Rizzoli in honour of his wife, and the Albergo Reginella Isabella, the island’s first luxury hotel .

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