5 April 2024

5 April

- Francesco Laparelli - architect and military engineer

Italian who designed Valletta, the fortified capital of Malta

The architect Francesco Laparelli da Cortona, who worked as assistant to Michelangelo Buonarroti at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome but is chiefly renowned for the design of Valletta, the fortified capital city of Malta, was born on this day in 1521 in the hilltop city of Cortona in what is now Tuscany.  Laparelli designed the bell tower for Cortona’s cathedral but turned his talents towards military engineering after serving as an officer under Cosimo de’ Medici during the battle for control of the Republic of Siena in the 1550s. He went on to serve on Cortona’s city council and worked with other engineers on the Fortezza del Girifalco above the city. The cost of the fortress and other work on the city walls eventually bankrupted the city but Laparelli’s reputation was established.  He was summoned to Rome by Pope Pius IV in 1560  on the recommendation of Gabrio Serbelloni, the pope’s cousin and a condottiero with whom Laparelli had worked in Cortona.  Pius IV commissioned him to restore the fortifications at Civitavecchia, Rome’s main port, to build defences for the mouth of the Tiber river and to direct the strengthening of fortifications around the Vatican and the new suburb of Borgo Pio.  Read more…


Vincenzo Viviani – mathematician and scientist

Galileo follower's name lives on as moon crater

Forward-thinking scientist Vincenzo Viviani was born on this day in 1622 in Florence.  Viviani worked as an assistant to Galileo Galilei and after his mentor's death continued his experimental work in the field of mathematics and physics. This work was considered so important that Viviani has had a small crater on the moon named after him.  While at school in Florence, Viviani was given a scholarship to buy mathematical books by the Grand Duke Ferdinando II de' Medici. He later became a pupil of Evangelista Torricelli and worked with him on physics and geometry.  By the time he was 17 he was working as an assistant to Galileo Galilei. After Galileo’s death in 1642, Viviani edited the first edition of his teacher’s collected works.  Viviani was appointed to fill Torricelli’s position at the Accademia dell’Arte del Disegno in Florence after his death in 1647.  In 1660 Viviani conducted an experiment with another scientist, Giovanni Borelli, to determine the speed of sound by timing the difference between seeing the flash and hearing the noise of a cannon being fired from a distance.  As his reputation as a mathematician grew, Viviani started to receive job offers from abroad.  Read more…


Giovanni dalle Bande Nere - condottiero

Medici soldier who fathered Cosimo I de' Medici

Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, the military leader regarded as the last of the great Italian condottieri, was born on this day in 1498 in Forlì, in what is now the Emilia-Romagna region.  The condottieri were professional soldiers, mercenaries who hired themselves out to lead the armies of the Italian city-states and the Papacy in the frequent wars that ensued from the Middle Ages through to the Renaissance.  Giovanni spent the greater part of his military career in the service of Pope Leo X, the Medici pope. Indeed, he was a Medici himself, albeit from a then secondary branch of the family. Baptised Ludovico, he was the son of Giovanni de’ Medici, also known as Il Popolano and a great-nephew of Cosimo the Elder, the founder of the dynasty.  It was his mother, Caterina Sforza, the powerful daughter of the Duke of Milan, who renamed him Giovanni in memory of his father, her fourth husband, who died when the boy was just five months old. He became Giovanni dalle Bande Nere much later, in 1521, when he added black stripes to his military insignia in a show of mourning for Pope Leo X.  His upbringing brought out the worst aspects of his character.  Read more…


Vincenzo Gioberti - philosopher and politician

Writings helped bring about unification of Italy

Vincenzo Gioberti, a philosopher regarded as one of the key figures in the Italian unification, was born on this day in 1801 in Turin.  He became prime minister of Sardinia-Piedmont in December 1848, albeit for only two months.  Although he was an associate of the republican revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini - and was arrested and then exiled as a result - he did not agree with Mazzini’s opposition to the monarchy and was not an advocate of violence.  However, he was staunchly in favour of a united Italy, particularly because of his conviction that Italians represented a superior race, intellectually and morally, and that by pulling together as one nation they could assert a profound influence on civilisation that would benefit the world.  Gioberti’s book Del Primato civile e morale degli Italiani (The civic and moral primacy of the Italians), which detailed examples from history to underline his theories about Italian supremacy, is said to have helped give momentum to the unification campaign.  Born into a family of modest means, Gioberti studied diligently, obtained the baccalaureate in theology and in 1825 was ordained a priest.  Read more…


Book of the Day: DK Eyewitness Top 10 Malta and Gozo (Pocket Travel Guide)

Step back in time to explore the ancient cities of Mdina and Rabat, marvel at the splendid Grand Master's Palace in Valletta, explore the historic streets of Birgu (Vittoriosa), the charming bay in Marsaxlokk, or snorkel in the Mediterranean off the beautiful island of Gozo. From top 10 outdoor activities to top 10 walks and drives, discover the best of the Maltese archipelago with this easy-to-use travel guide. Inside DK Eyewitness Top 10 Malta and Gozo you will find: eight easy-to-follow itineraries, perfect for a day trip, a weekend, or a week; top 10 Lists showcasing the best attractions in Malta and Gozo, covering St John's Co-Cathedral, Mnajdra and Hagar Qimtemples, Comino, and more; a free laminated pull-out map of Malta and Gozo, plus six full-colour area maps; in-depth area guides that explore Malta and Gozo's most interesting neighbourhoods, with the best places for shopping, going out and sightseeing; colour-coded chapters divided by area making it easy to find information quickly and plan your day; and essential travel tips including where to stay, eat, shop and sightsee, plus useful transport, visa and health information. The guide covers Valletta, the area around Sliema, St Julian's and the Three Cities, Northern Malta, Central Malta, Southern Malta, Gozo and Comino.

DK Eyewitness travel guides have been helping travellers since 1993. Filled with expert advice, striking photography and detailed illustrations, the guides cover more than 200 destinations, from pocket-sized city guides to comprehensive country guides. 


No comments:

Post a Comment