25 November 2023

25 November

Giorgio Faletti – writer and entertainer

Comedian who became best-selling novelist

Giorgio Faletti, who became a best-selling thriller writer, was born on this day in 1950 in Asti in Piedmont.  He was a successful actor, comedian, and singer-songwriter before he turned his hand to writing fiction. His first thriller, I Kill (Io uccido), sold more than four million copies.  Faletti’s books have now been published in 25 languages throughout Europe, South America, China, Japan, Russia and the US.  Faletti graduated from law school but then began a career as a comedian at the Milanese Club ‘Derby’.  In 1983 he made his debut on local television before appearing alongside the popular hostess and former actress, Raffaella Carrà, on RAI’s daytime game show, Pronto, Raffaella? He was cast as a comedian in the popular variety show, Drive In, which was followed by other television successes.  He wrote the soundtrack for a TV series in which he was one of the main actors and then released an album of his songs.  In 1992 he took part in the Sanremo Music Festival with Orietta Berti with the song Rumba di tango.  In 1994, performing his own song, Signor tenente, he came second at Sanremo.  Read more…


Stefano Boeri - architect

Milan urban planner famous for Vertical Forest

The architect Stefano Boeri, a specialist in environmentally sustainable developments and best known for his Bosco Verticale - Vertical Forest - project in Milan, was born on this day in 1956 in Milan.  The Bosco Verticale consists of two residential tower blocks in the Isola neighbourhood in the north of the city, just beyond the Porta Garibaldi railway station.  The two towers, one of 111m (364 ft), the other of 76m (249 ft), incorporate 8,900 sqm (96,000 sq ft) of terraces that are home to approximately 800 trees, 5,000 shrubs and 11,000 perennial plants.  The vegetation - the equivalent of what might be found in three hectares of woodland but with a footprint of just 3,000 sqm - mitigates against urban pollution, absorbing dust and carbon dioxide while producing oxygen. The trees also provide natural climate control for the inhabitants, shading the interior from sun in the summer and blocking cold winds in the winter.  Boeri incorporated other features to make the building self-sufficient, generating energy from solar panels and using filtered waste water to irrigate the plants.  Construction of the towers began in late 2009 and the project was completed in 2014.  Read more…


Rosanna Schiaffino – actress

Dramatic life of Italian screen goddess

Film star Rosanna Schiaffino, who for more than 20 years, between the 1950s and the 1970s, starred opposite the most famous actors of the period, was born on this day in 1939 in Genoa in Liguria.  Schiaffino worked for some of Italian cinema’s greatest directors, but in the 1980s turned her back on the cinema world to marry the playboy and steel industry heir, Giorgio Falck, entering a relationship that descended into acrimony after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Born into a wealthy family, Schiaffino was encouraged in her acting ambitions by her mother, who paid for her to go to a drama school.  She entered beauty contests and won the title of Miss Liguria when she was just 14.  She also took some modelling jobs and her photograph appeared in many magazines. She was spotted by the film producer Franco Cristaldi, who paired her with Marcello Mastroianni in Un ettaro di cielo (Piece of the Sky) in 1959.  Schiaffino made her name in her second film for Cristaldi, La Sfida (The Challenge), directed by Francesco Rosi, in which she gave a powerful, but sensitive performance as a Neapolitan girl, inspired by the real life character of Pupetta Maresca, a former beauty queen who became a famous Camorra figure.  Read more…


Amalfi destroyed by tsunami

Quake beneath Tyrrhenian Sea sparked killer wave

The former maritime republic of Amalfi, which once had a population of 70,000 people, was effectively wiped out when a massive earthquake that occurred under the Tyrrhenian Sea on this day in 1343 sparked a devastating tsunami along the coast of southern Italy.  The tremor itself caused deaths but not on the scale of the tsunami that followed, as a stretch of coastline from north of Naples to south of the Cilento National Park bore the brunt of a huge killer wave.  The towns of Bussanto and Blanda, near the present-day resorts of Sapri and Maratea, were among communities that disappeared completely, while Amalfi and Minori on what we know now as the Amalfi Coast were decimated.  Amalfi’s harbour and all the boats in it were destroyed, while the lower town fell into the sea. Where there had once been a thriving city, only a village remained, the population of which has never grown much beyond about 6,000 people. Its days as a significant maritime power were over.  Salerno and Naples suffered considerable damage, although the death toll was never recorded, it can be assumed it ran into tens of thousands.  Read more…


Bruno Tonioli - dance show judge

Dancer and choreographer who starred in Strictly Come Dancing

Dancer, choreographer and television dance show judge Bruno Tonioli was born on this day in 1955 in Ferrara in north-east Italy.  Tonioli was one of the judging panel of Strictly Come Dancing on British TV and on its US equivalent Dancing With the Stars, which required him to divide his time between London and New York when seasons overlap.  He began his show business career in the 1980s as a member of the Paris-based dance company La Grande Eugène before moving into the music industry as a choreographer.  Among the artists he has worked with are Tina Turner, Sting, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Freddie Mercury, Sinitta, Boy George, Dead or Alive, and Duran Duran.  Tonioli has also worked on numerous films and television shows including Little Voice, The Gathering Storm, Dancin' thru the Dark and Enigma.  He also has a number of acting credits, including the role of Peppino, manservant to Michael Gambon's Oscar Wilde in the BBC production Oscar.  Tonioli appeared as himself in the movie version of the BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous.  Renowned for his flamboyantly wild gestures and amusingly extravagant comments, Tonioli became a member of the Strictly Come Dancing team on the show's launch in 2004.  Read more…


Pope John XXIII

Farmer’s son went on to become ‘the Good Pope’

Pope John XXIII was born on this day in 1881 at Sotto il Monte near Bergamo.  He was originally named Angelo Roncalli and was part of a large farming family but he went on to become a much loved Pope and respected world leader.  Angelo was tutored by a local priest before entering the Seminary in Bergamo at the age of 12. He went on to study theology in Rome and rose to become Cardinal Patriarch of Venice before being elected Pope in 1958.  His religious studies had been interrupted by a spell in the Italian army, but he was ordained in 1904. He served as secretary to the Bishop of Bergamo for nine years before becoming an army chaplain in World War One.  After the war he worked in Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece on behalf of the church helping to locate and repatriate prisoners of war.  In 1944 he was appointed nuncio to Paris to help with the post war effort in France. He became a Cardinal in 1953 and expected to spend his last years serving the church in Venice.  But when he was elected Pope by his fellow cardinals in the conclave of 20 October 1958, it was a turning point in the church’s history.  Read more…


Book of the Day: The Killer in My Eyes, by Giorgio Faletti

A murderer obsessed with comic strips... When Mayor Marsalis's son, Gerald, is found dead in his studio, his body is stained red and arranged like the cartoon character Linus - with a blanket next to his ear and his thumb stuck in his mouth. Desperate, Marsalis asks his ex-cop brother, Jordan, to investigate the murder. Yet the killer strikes again. This time Chandelle Stuart, a film producer with strange sexual predilections, is found leant against a piano like Lucy, listening to Shroeder playing. Meanwhile, a beautiful young detective Maureen Martini has moved from Rome to New York to forget the brutal murder of her boyfriend. After undergoing a corneal transplant, she starts having distressing visions that somehow seem connected with the grisly murders. Thrown together, Maureen and Jordan race against time to unmask this killer. But who is Snoopy? And who is Pig Pen? And why does this killer find pleasure in arranging his victims like comic-strip characters? In New York nothing is ever quite what it seems. The Killer in My Eyes demonstrates Faletti's sure touch for pace and the unexpected, with a string of neat, bizarre twists. 

Giorgio Faletti was was an actor and writer, whose first novel appeared in 1994 and who became internationally known when his first thriller, I Kill, published in 2002, became a bestseller.  Three of his books - Notte prima degli esami (The Night before the Exams), The Killer in My Eyes and Crimes - were turned into TV mini-series. 

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