24 September 2023

24 September

NEW - Vincenzo da Filicaja – poet

Patriotic writer was inspired by victory against the Turks

Vincenzo da Filicaja, a writer and a politician whose poetry has been compared with that of the great Italian poet Petrarch, died on this day in 1707 in Florence.  Da Filicaja’s six celebrated odes inspired by a famous battle victory led to scholars placing him on a level with some of the greatest Italian poets.  He was also a respected politician and was named governor of Volterra and Pisa by Cosimo III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who later appointed him to serve in the Tuscan Senate.  Born into an aristocratic family in Florence in 1642, Da Filicaja was educated by Jesuits before going to Pisa University to study law. In Pisa, he was inspired by the historical associations he saw that were linked with the former glory of the republic of Pisa.  The banners and emblems of the Order of St Stephen, which had its seat in Pisa, had great significance for the young student, who knew that the navy of this military order, created by Cosimo I de’ Medici, formed the main defence of his country and its commerce against Turkish, Algerian and Tunisian corsairs.  After returning to Florence, Da Filicaja married Anna Capponi in 1673, the daughter of a senator and marquis. Read more…


Riccardo Illy - businessman

Grandson of Illy coffee company founder who became firm’s chairman

Riccardo Illy, whose paternal grandfather, Hungarian-born Francesco Illy, founded the world-famous illy coffee company, was born on this day in 1955 in Trieste.  Illy is president and former chairman of Gruppo illy and vice-chairman of illycaffè. Under his leadership, the company has expanded to include Domori chocolate, Dammann Frères teas, Agrimontana - which makes fruit preserves, jams and confectionery -  and Mastrojanni, a winery located in the Montalcino region of southern Tuscany.  It also holds a stake in Grom, a chain of premium ice cream parlours.  The company now has a presence in 140 countries and as well as coffee shops the company also operates ice cream stores in Italy, as well as in New York, Malibu, Los Angeles, Paris, Dubai, Osaka, and Jakarta.  Although the company’s roots are in Trieste, where Francesco opened for business in 1933, Gruppo illy Spa is based in Rome.  Riccardo’s first job was as a skiing instructor at the Piancavallo resort in the Dolomites and a sailing instructor at Monfalcone, near Trieste. He married the food and wine journalist Rossana Bettini, with whom he had a daughter, Daria.  Read more…


Marco Tardelli - footballer

Joyous celebration is lasting image of Italy's 1982 World Cup win

Marco Tardelli, the footballer whose ecstatic celebration after scoring a goal in the final became one of the abiding images of Italy's victory in the 1982 World Cup, was born on this day in 1954.  The midfield player, who spent much of his club career with one of the best Juventus teams of all time, ran to the Italian bench after his goal against West Germany gave the Azzurri a 2-0 lead, clenching both fists, tears flowing as he shook his head from side to side and repeatedly shouted "Gol! Gol!" in what became known as the Tardelli Scream.  Italy went on to complete a 3-1 win over the Germans in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid with Paolo Rossi and Antonio Altobelli scoring Italy's other goals.  Tardelli, who was part of Italy's squad for three World Cups, had earlier scored against Argentina in the second group phase.  Tardelli later said that he felt he "was born with that scream inside me" and its release was sparked by the sheer joy at realising a dream he had nurtured since he was a child, of scoring in the final of a World Cup.  It meant that when he retired as a player in 1988 he could look back on winning international football's greatest prize as well as every competition in which he participated in club football.  Read more…


Girolamo Cardano - doctor and mathematician

Polymath was also a gambler and womaniser

The Renaissance polymath Girolamo Cardano, whose range of talents included mathematics and medicine but who also invented a number of mechanical devices still in use today, was born on this day in 1501 in Pavia, then part of the Duchy of Milan.  Cardano, also known as Gerolamo, Hieronymus Cardanus in Latin and Jerome Cardan in English, is notable for writing Ars Magna which was the first Latin treatise devoted solely to algebra.  Far from being a stuffy academic, however, Cardano led a controversial life, practising as a physician without a licence and becoming proficient at gambling to keep himself solvent, while as a university professor being regularly accused of sexual impropriety with students.  In his wide range of interests, he seemed to be inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, who was a close friend of his father. Like Da Vinci, he wanted to put his mathematical and scientific skills to practical use and is credited with inventing among other things the first combination locks, the gimbal that allows a supported compass or gyroscope to rotate freely, and a universal joint that allows the transmission of rotation between the components of a drive train even when out of alignment.  Read more…


Maria Pia of Bourbon-Parma - exiled princess

Vote for republic forced King's daughter to leave

Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Parma was born into the Italian royal family on this day in 1934, the grand-daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III.  Her father, Umberto of Savoy, would himself become King on her grandfather’s abdication but reigned for just 34 days in 1946 before Italy voted to become a republic and the royals were effectively thrown out of the country.  Italians could not forgive Victor Emmanuel III for not doing enough to limit the power of the Fascists and for approving Benito Mussolini’s anti-semitic race laws. The constitution of the new republic decreed that no male member of the House of Savoy could set foot in Italy ever again.  It meant that Princess Maria Pia, the eldest of Umberto’s four children, had to leave Italy immediately along with her brother and two sisters and all the other members of the family, bringing to an abrupt end the life she had known until that moment.  Born in Naples, where the Villa Rosebery, once the property of the British prime minister, the Earl of Rosebery, had been renamed Villa Maria Pia by her doting father, the 11-year-old princess was removed to Cascais in Portugal.  Read more…


Book of the Day: The Match: The Story of Italy v Brazil 1982, by Piero Trellini

The Match is a multi-award-winning book first published in Italy in 2019. The book has been reprinted numerous times, with translated versions published to great acclaim in Spain and Latin America. It also inspired the 2022 Sky Sports TV series Italy v Brazil 3-2 – La Partita. This is the eagerly awaited English edition.  The book tells the tale of an extraordinary sports event – a match described by Time magazine in 2010 as the most beautiful game in football history: Italy v Brazil at Spain 82.  Piero Trellini delves into the stories and lives of the many great players and characters who shone on that day and lit up that unforgettable match – from Paolo Rossi to Sócrates, from Enzo Bearzot to Zico – as well as some forgotten figures who all played their part.  The Match takes us on a fascinating journey through the 1982 World Cup, and includes fresh insight and fascinating anecdotes on the historical and sporting links between the two countries. Italy, a nation historically at the forefront of football, did not arrive in Spain as favourites, with widespread doubts about their chances, not least in the Italian press. This is one of the reasons why their triumph that summer is still celebrated in Italy above any others by the azzurri.

Piero Trellini is an award-winning Italian writer whose journalistic work has appeared in La Repubblica and many other leading Italian newspapers. He has spent most of his life researching and reliving the Italy-Brazil match of 1982, collecting stories, anecdotes and memorabilia, including the referee’s whistle used that day. The Match won the 2020 Bancarella Sport Prize, the Mastercard Letteratura Prize, the Massarosa Jury Award, was named Book of the Year by TuttoSport and the book with the best narrative by Corriere della Sera.

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