10 November 2022

10 November

Vanessa Ferrari - gymnast

First Italian woman to win a World Championship gold

The gymnast Vanessa Ferrari, who in 2006 became the first Italian female competitor to win a gold medal at the World Championships of artistic gymnastics, was born on this day in 1990, in the town of Orzinuovi in Lombardy.  Ferrari won the all-around gold - consisting of uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise - at the World Championships in Aarhus in Denmark when she was only 15 years old. It remains the only artistic gymnastics world title to be won by an Italian woman.  Earlier in 2006, Ferrari had picked up her first gold medal of the European Championships at Volos in Greece as Italy won the all-around team event.  Naturally small in stature, Ferrari was inspired to take up gymnastics by watching the sport on television as a child, when the sport was dominated by Russian and Romanian athletes.  With the help of her Bulgarian-born mother, Galya, who made many sacrifices to help her daughter fulfil her ambitions, Ferrari joined the Brixia gym in the city of Brescia. Brixia was co-founded by Enrico Casella, a former rugby player who was technical director of the Italian women’s gymnastics team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.  Read more…


Lord Byron in Venice

Romantic English poet finds renewed inspiration

Aristocratic English poet Lord Byron and his friend, John Cam Hobhouse, arrived in Venice for the first time on this day in 1816.  They put up at the Hotel Grande Bretagne on the Grand Canal and embarked on a few days of tourism.  But it was not long before Byron decided to move into an apartment just off the Frezzeria, a street near St Mark's Square, and settled down to enjoy life in the city that was to be his home for the next three years.  Byron has become one of Venice’s legends, perhaps the most famous, or infamous, of all its residents.  Tourists who came afterwards expected to see Venice through his eyes. Even the art critic, John Ruskin, has admitted that on his first visit he had come in search of Byron’s Venice.  Byron once wrote that Venice had always been ‘the greenest island of my imagination’ and he never seems to have been disappointed by it.  He also wrote in a letter to one of his friends that Venice was ‘one of those places that before he saw them he thought he already knew’. He said he appreciated the silence of the Venetian canals and the ‘gloomy gaiety’ of quietly passing gondolas.  Read more…


Ennio Morricone - film music maestro

Composer who scored some of cinema's greatest soundtracks

Ennio Morricone, who composed some of the most memorable soundtracks in the history of the cinema, was born on this day in 1928 in Rome.  Morricone has written more than 500 film and television scores, winning countless awards.  Best known for his associations with the Italian directors Sergio Leone, Giuseppe Tornatore and Giuliano Montaldo, he has also worked among others with Pier Paolo Pasolini, Brian de Palma, Roland JoffĂ©, Franco Zeffirelli and Quentin Tarantino, whose 2015 Western The Hateful Eight finally won Morricone an Oscar that many considered long overdue.  Among his finest soundtracks are those he wrote for Leone's 'Dollars' trilogy in the 1960s, for the Leone gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America two decades later, for JoffĂ©'s The Mission and De Palma's The Untouchables.  He composed the score for Tornatore's hauntingly poignant Cinema Paradiso and for Maddalena, a somewhat obscure 1971 film by the Polish director Jerzy Kawalerowicz that included the acclaimed Come Maddalena and Chi Mai, which later reached number two in the British singles chart after being used for the 1981 TV series The Life and Times of David Lloyd George.  Read more…


Gaetano Bresci - assassin

Anarchist who gunned down a king

Gaetano Bresci, the man who assassinated the Italian king Umberto I, was born on this day in 1869 in Coiano, a small village near Prato in Tuscany.  He murdered Umberto in Monza, north of Milan, on July 29, 1900, while the monarch was handing out prizes at an athletics event.  Bresci mingled with the crowd but then sprang forward and shot Umberto three or four times with a .32 revolver.  Often unpopular with his subjects despite being nicknamed Il Buono (the good), Umberto had survived two previous attempts on his life, in 1878 and 1897.  Bresci was immediately overpowered and after standing trial in Milan he was given a life sentence of hard labour on Santo Stefano island, a prison notorious for its anarchist and socialist inmates.  He had been closely involved with anarchist groups and had served a brief jail term earlier for anarchist activity but had a motive for killing Umberto.  A silk weaver by profession, he was living in the United States, where he had emigrated in the 1890s and had settled in New Jersey with his Irish-born wife.  Working as a weaver in a mill in Paterson, New Jersey, Bresci and others set about propagating anarchist ideas among the large local Italian immigrant population. Read more…


Charles Ferdinand - Prince of the Two Sicilies

The heir presumptive whose marriage earned him exile

Charles Ferdinand, the Bourbon Prince of the Two Sicilies and Prince of Capua and heir presumptive to the crown of King Ferdinand II, was born on this day in 1811 in Palermo.  Prince Charles, the second son of King Francis I of the Two Sicilies and Maria Isabella of Spain, gave up his claim to the throne when he married a commoner, after his brother, King Ferdinand II, issued a decree upholding their father’s insistence that blood-royal members of the kingdom did not marry beneath their status.  In 1835, at which time Ferdinand II had not fathered any children and Charles therefore held the status of heir presumptive, Charles met and fell in love with a beautiful Irish woman, Penelope Smyth, who was visiting Naples.  Penelope Smyth was the daughter of Grice Smyth of Ballynatray, County Waterford, and sister of Sir John Rowland Smyth. Ferdinand II forbade their union, in accordance with his father’s wishes, but the lovers would not be parted.  On January 12, 1836 the couple eloped. Two months later, Ferdinand II issued the decree that forbade their marriage but three weeks after that Charles and Penelope reached Gretna Green, the town just over the border between England and Scotland.  Read more…


No comments:

Post a Comment