Showing posts with label 1886. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1886. Show all posts

10 April 2019

Agostino Bertani – physician and politician

Compassionate doctor was Garibaldi’s friend and strategist

Agostino Bertani was a hero for tending to the wounds of Garibaldi's soldiers
Agostino Bertani was a hero for tending
to the wounds of Garibaldi's soldiers
Agostino Bertani, who worked with Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi to liberate Italy, died on this day in 1886 in Rome.

He had been a surgeon in Garibaldi’s corps in the Austro-Sardinian War of 1859 and personally treated Garibaldi’s wounds after the military leader lost the Battle of Aspromonte in 1862.

Bertani became a hero to the Italian people for his work organising ambulances and medical services during Garibaldi’s campaigns and he became a close friend and strategist to the military leader.

Born in Milan in 1812, Bertani's family had many friends with liberal ideals and his mother took part in anti-Austrian conspiracies.

At the age of 23, Bertani graduated from the faculty of medicine at the Borromeo College in Pavia and became an assistant to the professor of surgery there.

He took part in the 1848 uprising in Milan and directed a military hospital for Italian casualties. He organised an ambulance service for soldiers defending Rome in 1849 and distinguished himself by his service in Genoa with Mazzini during the cholera epidemic of 1854.

In 1860 Bertani was one of the strategists who planned the attack on Sicily and Naples known as the Expedition of the Thousand.

Bertani was one of the strategists who planned the Expedition of the Thousand
Bertani was one of the strategists who
planned the Expedition of the Thousand
Bertani became Garibaldi’s secretary general after the occupation of Naples in 1860. While serving in this role he reorganised the police and planned the sanitary reconstruction of the city.

He organised the medical service for Garibaldi’s 40,000 and fought in the Battle of Mentana in 1867 during Garibaldi’s march on Rome, even though he had been opposed to the campaign.

Bertani became leader of the extreme left in the new Italian parliament established in 1861. He founded La Riforma, a journal advocating social reforms, and launched an inquiry into the sanitary conditions of ordinary people. It was Bertani who prepared the sanitary code adopted by the administration of Francesco Crispi.

In 1885, along with Anna Maria Mozzoni, a journalist and social reformer, he visited the anarchist Giovanni Passannante in prison. Passannante had attempted to kill King Umberto I but had failed. Originally condemned to death, his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Passannante was kept in solitary conferment in a tiny cell in Portoferraio on the island of Elba. The inhuman conditions he was kept in eventually drove him insane.

Bertani and Mozzoni reported on Passannante’s maltreatment and after an examination by doctors the anarchist was transferred to the asylum of Montelupo Fiorentino, although doctors there were unable to reverse his poor condition.

Bertani continued to serve in the Italian parliament until his death the following year at the age of 73 in Rome.

The statue of Bertani
in Milan
Travel tip:

There are streets named in honour of Agostino Bertani all over Italy and in his home town of Milan there is a monument to him in Piazza Fratelli Bandiera, near the historic gateway of Porta Venezia. In its present form, the gate dates back to the 19th century; nevertheless, its origins can be traced back to the Medieval and even the Roman walls of the city. The surrounding streets are often referred to as the Porta Venezia district.

The storming of the Roman walls at Porta Pia that enabled Garibaldi to declare the unification of Italy complete
The storming of the Roman walls at Porta Pia that enabled
Garibaldi to declare the unification of Italy complete
Travel tip:

Italy was officially declared united after crack infantry troops from Piedmont entered Rome on 20 September 1870 after briefly bombarding defending French troops. They got through Rome’s ancient walls near the gate of Porta Pia. A marble plaque commemorating the liberation of Rome marks the place. Not far away in Piazza Montecitorio is the Camera dei Deputati, Italy’s parliament, which Bertani first entered in 1861.

More reading:

The death of Garibaldi

Why Giuseppe Mazzini was the hero of Italian unification

The novel that became a symbol of the Risorgimento

Also on this day:

1762: The birth of Giovanni Aldini, the physicist thought to have given Mary Shelley the idea for Frankenstein

1926: An airship leaves Rome on an expedition to the North Pole

1991: The Moby Prince Disaster


31 July 2018

Salvatore Maranzano - crime boss

Sicilian ‘Little Caesar’ who established New York’s Five Families

Salvatore Maranzano had a  mission to kill rival boss
Salvatore Maranzano had a
mission to kill rival boss
The criminal boss Salvatore Maranzano, who became the head of organised crime in New York City after the so-called Castellammarese War of 1930-31, was born on this day in 1886 in Castellammare del Golfo in Sicily.

Maranzano’s position as ‘capo di tutti capi’ - boss of all bosses - in the city lasted only a few months before he was killed, but during that time he came up with the idea of organising criminal activity in New York along the lines of the military chain of command established in ancient Rome by his hero, Julius Caesar.

His fascination with and deep knowledge of the Roman general and politician led to him being nicknamed 'Little Caesar' by his Mafia contemporaries in New York.

Installing himself and four other survivors of the Castellammarese War as bosses, he established the principle of replacing the unstructured gang rivalry in New York with five areas of strictly demarcated territory to be controlled by criminal networks known as the Five Families.

Originally the Maranzano, Profaci, Mangano, Luciano and Gagliano families, they are now known by different names - Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese to be precise - but are essentially based on the same structure.

Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, pictured at the exclusive  Excelsior Hotel in Rome in 1948
Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, pictured at the exclusive
Excelsior Hotel in Rome in 1948
Maranzano, perversely, had originally set out to be a priest in his homeland and even undertook the necessary studies to become one. Somehow, his path changed and he found himself drawn into the criminal underworld and became a respected figure in the Sicilian Mafia.

He decided to emigrate to the United States shortly after the end of the First World War. He opened a business as a real estate broker in Brooklyn, while simultaneously growing a bootlegging business, eager to cash in on the restrictions of the Prohibition Era. In time, his activity extended to prostitution and the illegal smuggling of narcotics. He became acquainted with a young mobster called Joseph Bonanno, whom he groomed for power.

Maranzano’s true purpose in going to the United States, however, was not simply for his own personal gains. He had been despatched there by Don Vito Ferro, a powerful Sicilian mafioso who had designs on seizing control of Mafia operations in the US from Giuseppe ‘Joe the Boss’ Masseria, another Sicilian but one from the Agrigento province on the south coast of the island.

Joseph Bonanno was groomed  for high office in the Mafia
Joseph Bonanno was groomed
for high office in the Mafia
From his base in Castellammare del Golfo, not far from Palermo on the north coast, Ferro sent Maranzano specifically to eliminate Masseria, a mission he accomplished but only at the end of the 14 months of the Castellammarese War.

Masseria was shot dead in April 1931 while playing cards at a restaurant on Coney Island. The hit had been arranged by Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano, the former Masseria lieutenant who had defected to Maranzano’s side along with Vito Genovese, Frank Costello and others on the understanding that Masseria’s death would result in Maranzano calling off the conflict, which was impacting heavily on gang profits.

Maranzano kept his side of the bargain and Luciano was rewarded with a position of power within the Five Families structure.

However, Luciano was uneasy about Maranzano declaring himself ‘boss of all bosses’ and it was not long before he concluded that his new boss was no more forward thinking about Mafia activity than his predecessor.  There were major ideological differences between the two. While Maranzano, like Masseria, trusted only fellow Sicilians, Luciano had partnerships with Jewish gangsters, of which Maranzano strongly disapproved.

Luciano decided that to leave Maranzano in charge would not be in the best interests of progress and began plotting his downfall almost immediately. In fact, Maranzano had been boss for only five months when four men, including Luciano’s Jewish associates Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel and Samuel ‘Red’ Levine, entered his office in what is now the Helmsley Building in Manhattan, posing as tax officials, and murdered him.

It left Luciano as the most powerful boss in New York City. He did nothing to change the Five Families structure Maranzano had established but, in a further measure aimed at reducing conflict between rival groups, not only in New York but across the United States, by establishing The Commission, a kind of board of directors of the American Mafia, consisting of the heads of the Five Families and the leaders of the Chicago and Buffalo crime families, who would oversee and coordinate Mafia activities across the US and mediate in disputes.

The attractive port area at Castellammare del Golfo
The attractive port area at Castellammare del Golfo
Travel tip:

Castellammare del Golfo is a resort and fishing town overlooking a large bay in the northwest corner of Sicily, midway between Trapani and Palermo.  It has an attractive setting, guarding over a broad sweep of water and with steep lanes of houses climbing the hillside from the harbour towards the elevated Piazza Petrolo.  A popular backdrop for TV dramas, including some episodes of the Inspector Montalbano series, it has the remains of a castle probably built at the time of the ninth-century Arab occupation of the town, and a good selection of bars and restaurants. It is the birthplace of many American Mafia figures, including Sebastiano DiGaetano, Stefano Magaddino, Vito Bonventre, John Tartamella and Joseph Bonanno, as well as Maranzano.

The Tempio di Giunone in the Valley of the Temples
The Tempio di Giunone in the Valley of the Temples
Travel tip:

Agrigento, the home town of Maranzano’s rival boss Joe Masseria, is on the southern coast of Sicily and is built on the site of an ancient Greek city. Its most famous sight is the Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) a large sacred area where seven monumental Greek temples were constructed during the sixth and fifth centuries BC. Situated on a ridge rather than in a valley, It is one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture anywhere and at 1,300 hectares the the largest archaeological site in the world.

More reading:

How Lucky Luciano brought order among warring Mafia clans

Was Carlo Gambino the model for The Godfather?

Joe Petrosino - the Italian immigrant who fought against the mob

Also on this day:

1598: The birth of sculptor Alessandro Algardi

1969: The birth of football coach Antonio Conte


16 March 2018

Emilio Lunghi - athlete

Italy's first Olympic medallist 

Emilio Lunghi in his Sport Pedestre Genova club vest
Emilio Lunghi in his Sport Pedestre
Genova club vest
Emilio Lunghi, a middle-distance runner who was the first to win an Olympic medal in the colours of Italy, was born on this day in 1886 in Genoa.

Competing in the 800 metres at the 1908 Olympic Games in London, Lunghi took the silver medal behind the American Mel Sheppard. In a fast-paced final, Lunghi's time was 1 minute 54.2 seconds, which was 1.8 seconds faster than the previous Olympic record buts still 1.4 seconds behind Sheppard.

It was the same Olympics at which Lunghi's compatriot Dorando Pietri was controversially disqualified after coming home first in the marathon, when race officials took pity on him after he collapsed from exhaustion after entering the stadium and helped him across the line.

A versatile athlete who raced successfully at distances from 400m up to 3,000m, Lunghi was national champion nine times in six events and is considered the first great star of Italian track and field.

An all-round sportsman, Lunghi was a talented gymnast, swimmer and boxer, but after winning a 3,000m-race in his home city he was encouraged to develop his potential as a runner by joining Sport Pedestre Genova, at the time the most important athletics club in Liguria.

In June 1906 in the historic city of Vercelli in Piedmont, Lunghi took his first national title in the 1500m. In the next six years, he was at different times Italian champion over 400m and 400m hurdles, 800m, 1000m (three times), 1500m (twice) and 1200m steeplechase.

Piazza di Siena in Rome's Borghese Gardens, where Lunghi won the 400m and 700m events to qualify for the 1908 Olympics
Piazza di Siena in Rome's Borghese Gardens, where Lunghi
won the 400m and 700m events to qualify for the 1908 Olympics
The qualifying competition for the 1908 Olympics took place on a track round the Piazza di Siena within the Borghese Gardens in Rome, watched by members of the Italian royal family. Lunghi won both the 400m and 1000m events, the latter in a world record time of 2 min 31 sec.

In London, Lunghi should have participated in the 1500m as well as the 800m, but the qualifying rules were that only the winners of the eight heats could take part in the final and Lunghi was beaten into second place in his by the Englishman Norman Hallows, although his time was quicker than any of the other seven heat winners.

As it was he had to content himself with the 800m, which Sheppard won after deciding to run a very fast first lap and building such a lead that Lunghi was unable to catch him, even though the American's second lap was almost seven seconds slower than his first.

After the Olympics, Lunghi spent a profitable year in North America, where he participated in 31 races and won 27, setting world records at 700 yards, 880yds and 1320yds (two-thirds of a mile).

Lunghi spent a year racing in the USA and Canada
Lunghi spent a year racing in
the USA and Canada
He had been invited to America by the Irish-American Athletics Club, for whom Sheppard raced. His accomplishments during his time there were recognised with honorary life membership of the club, on whose own track at Celtic Park stadium in Queens, New York, he set the world's fastest time for the 700yds.

His 880yd record came only eight days later at the Canadian championships Montreal.

Returning home, he continued to collect national titles, but his second Olympics was a disappointment.  At the Stockholm Games in 1912 he was eliminated at the semi-final stage in both the 400m and 800m events.

The First World War denied him a third Olympics and at the end of the conflict he announced his retirement from competitive running. A seaman by trade, he helped set up a trade union for dock workers and merchant seamen, his talent as an administrator earning him a role at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, where he was a judge and assistant to the newly-created Athletics Technical Commissioner.

He died in 1925 in Genoa at the age of just 39, having contracted a severe bacterial infection in the days before antibiotics had been discovered.

The Basilica of Sant'Andrea in Vercelli
Travel tip:

Vercelli, where Lunghi won his first Italian track title, a city of around 46,500 inhabitants some 85km (53 miles) west of Milan and about 75km (46 miles) northeast of Turin, is reckoned to be built on the site of one of the oldest settlements in Italy, dating back to 600BC. It is home to numerous Roman relics, the world's first publicly-funded university and the Basilica of Sant'Andrea, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful and best-preserved Romanesque buildings in Italy.

The Porto Antico in Genoa
The Porto Antico in Genoa
Travel tip:

Genoa is Italy's sixth largest city, with an urban population of more than 500,000 and up to 1.5 million living along the coastline.  The city's historic centre consists of numerous squares and narrow alleys, while there are also many fine palaces.  The waterfront area around the Porto Antico has been redeveloped to designs by Renzo Piano as a cultural centre, with the Aquarium and Museum of the Sea now among the city's major tourist attractions.

More reading:

Dorando Pietri and the most famous Olympic disqualication

How Luigi Beccali brought home Italy's first track Gold

Valentina Vezzali - Italy's most decorated female athlete 

Also on this day:

1940: The birth of controversial film maker Bernardo Bertolucci

1978: Italy in shock as Red Brigades kidnap former PM


1 September 2017

Guido Deiro - vaudeville star

Accordion player who wowed America

Guido Deiro with the instrument that made  him a highly-paid vaudeville star
Guido Deiro with the instrument that made
him a highly-paid vaudeville star
The musician Guido Deiro, who was the first artist to become a star playing the piano-accordion, was born on this day in 1886 in an Alpine village north of Turin.

For a while, in the early part of the 20th century, he and his brother Pietro were among the highest-paid performers on the booming American vaudeville circuit. Using his stage name, which was simply ‘Deiro’, he made more than 110 recordings, which sold in large numbers.

He ‘covered’ many popular hits and well known classical and operatic pieces and wrote compositions of his own, the most famous of them the song Kismet, which became the theme song for the Broadway musical and was used in two film versions of the story, which was based on a play by Edward Knoblauch.

Deiro became something of a celebrity and was seldom short of glamorous female company. He was married four times, on the first occasion to his fellow vaudeville star Mae West, who would go on to become much more famous as a movie actress.

He was born Count Guido Pietro Deiro in the village of Salto Canavese, near Courgnè, about 45km (28m) north of Turin. His family were long-standing rural nobility.

The generation in which he was raised farmed dairy cattle, kept vineyards and fruit orchards, and sold their produce from a number of general stores in their ownership.

Pietro Deiro tried to take credit for his brother's achievements by making false claims
Pietro Deiro tried to take credit for his brother's
achievements by making false claims 
As a young boy growing up, Guido showed a talent for music when he entertained himself on the ocarina, a kind of flute. It was his uncle, Frederico, who introduced him to the accordion, which at that time required the player to press buttons to create sound.

Guido taught himself and his father was happy to let him play in the street outside his general stores, reasoning that the crowds who gathered to listen were potential customers.

He decided to turn his talent into a career partially to avoid the marriage his parents had planned for him, to the daughter of another noble family.

Despite being offered the chance to succeed his father in running the family business, he left home to become a professional musician in France and Germany.  He ended up in America after Ronco-Vercelli, an Italian accordion manufacturer, asked if he would travel to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition to demonstrate their new piano-accordion, which has buttons on one side and a piano-style keyboard on the other.

The event was held in Seattle from June to October 1909, after which he stayed on in Seattle. He played the piano-accordion in saloons, soon becoming a highly skilled player and attracting the attention of agents looking for new acts.

Hired by the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit, he made his debut at the American Theatre in San Francisco in June, 1910, and never looked back.

Mae West often starred on the same bill as Deiro in her vaudeville days
Mae West often starred on the same bill as
Deiro in her vaudeville days
Soon he was a headline act, playing at music halls across the United States and Canada, and even beyond.  As the piano-accordion became more and more popular, he was its biggest star.  At his peak, he was earning as much as $600 dollars per week, at a time when an ordinary worker might earn as little as $5.

He continued to appear in vaudeville until about 1930, when he began to wind down. He concentrated on selling piano-accordions and coaching would-be players, setting up a number of studios on the west coast of America.  He married four times, although none of his marriages lasted many years.

Deiro suffered badly in the financial crash, which not only saw his stage appearances fall away drastically as vaudeville companies ran into difficulties, but the value of his investments diminished massively, in some cases wiped out.  He never recovered and when he died in 1950 his lifestyle was barely recognisable from that he enjoyed as a high roller in the 1920s.

His brother, Pietro, was never as good a musician, but was more shrewd with his money and his decision to start a publishing company producing accordion music helped his build his own fortune.

Controversially, though, he did so in part by seeming to rewrite history, allegedly making outrageous claims about he and his brother’s early days in Seattle so that he could take credit for Guido’s achievements.  He wrote a book in which he claimed he had been the first to play the piano-accordion, in San Francisco in 1907, a year before Guido arrived.

He had indeed been in America in 1907, but worked as a coal miner in Washington State, living with a relative who had emigrated. He did not learn to play the piano-accordion until Guido taught him, yet built an entire profile for himself around this and other falsehoods, brazenly passing himself off as the ‘Daddy of the Accordion’.

Medieval win towers dominate the
skyline of Courgnè
Pietro died in 1954 and it was not until many years later that Count Guido Roberto Deiro, Guido’s son by his fourth marriage, enlisted the help of Peter Muir, a scholar of early American music, in putting the record straight and giving his father the credit he deserved.

Travel tip:

Salto Canavese is a village in the Valle dell’Orco, which stretches into the mountains to the north of Turin, descending from the Gran Paradiso National Park. It is close to the town of Courgnè, which has some well-preserved medieval buildings around the Via Arduino, the town’s former commercial centre.  The old town is dominated by two towers – the round tower, known as Carlevato, probably dating back to 1200 and part of a larger castle, and the square tower, called the Clock, originally of the 14th century.

A wintry scene in Valle delle'Orco
A wintry scene in Valle delle'Orco
Travel tip:

The Valle dell’Orco, particularly in its upper reaches, offers some dramatic Alpine scenery and is very popular with walkers and climbers, with many towering rock faces. Indeed, the famous cliffhanger scene from the film The Italian Job was shot in the village of Ceresole Reale, which sits alongside the beautiful Lago di Ceresole.

2 March 2017

Vittorio Pozzo - double World Cup winner

Manager led Azzurri to victory in 1934 and 1938

Vittorio Pozzo is Italy's most  successful manager
Vittorio Pozzo is Italy's most
successful manager
Vittorio Pozzo, the most successful manager in the history of Italy's national football team, was born on this day in 1886 in Turin.

Under Pozzo's guidance, the Azzurri won the FIFA World Cups of 1934 and 1938 as well as the Olympic football tournament in 1936. He also led them to the Central European International Cup, the forerunner of the European championships, in 1931 and 1935. No other coach in football history has won the World Cup twice.

Pozzo managed some outstanding players, such as Internazionale's Giuseppe Meazza and the Juventus defender Pietro Rava, but his reputation was tarnished by the success of his team coinciding with the Fascist regime's tight grip on power. Italy's success on the football field was exploited ruthlessly as a propaganda vehicle.

While not a Fascist himself, Pozzo upset many opponents of Mussolini across Europe at the 1938 World Cup in France when his players gave the so-called 'Roman' salute - the extended right-arm salute adopted by the Fascists - during the playing of the Italian anthem.

At Italy's opening match against Norway, the salute was greeted with boos and hisses, generated by Italian supporters in the crowd who had fled their home country to escape Fascism.  Some of the Italian players dropped their arms but Pozzo ordered them to resume the salute, which further antagonised the crowd.

Pozzo holds aloft the Jules Rimet Trophy surrounded by the Italian team after their 1934 triumph on home soil
Pozzo holds aloft the Jules Rimet Trophy surrounded by
the Italian team after their 1934 triumph on home soil
Afterwards, Pozzo said he insisted on the salute only out of respect for protocol, claiming that neither he nor his players had given consideration to political issues.  He explained that he gave the order to resume the salute because he did not want his players to be cowed by intimidation, fearing their confidence would suffer.

Nonetheless, the incident cast a shadow over the remainder of his career and some commentators feel the appreciation of his achievements was diminished as a result.

Pozzo was born in Turin, where family had moved from the small town of Ponderano in the province of Biella, some 75km (47 miles) north-west of the city in the foothills of the Alps.

He attended the Liceo Cavour, where he studied the classics and languages.  He became proficient in English, French and German, in which he expanded his knowledge by studying in England, France and Switzerland.

At the same time, Pozzo took the opportunity to immerse himself in football, for which he had a passion.  While in Manchester, he became friends with two prominent players, the Manchester United half-back, Charlie Roberts, and the Derby County forward, Steve Bloomer.

The 1934 World Cup final took place in the Stadio Nazionale del PNF - the national stadium of the Fascist party
The 1934 World Cup final took place in the Stadio Nazionale
del PNF - the national stadium of the Fascist party
In Switzerland he played as a professional, spending the 1905-06 season with Grasshoppers of Zurich, and on returning to Italy was one of the founding members of FC Torino.  He retired as a player in 1911 but stayed at the club as technical director, while simultaneously pursuing a business career as a manager with the tyre manufacturer Pirelli.

He became involved with the national team for the first time in 1912, when an Italian team - the first in a competitive event - went to the Olympics in Stockholm, but he resigned after defeat to Finland in the first round.  He returned to Pirelli before joining the Alpini - the mountain warfare corps of the Italian army - at the outbreak of the First World War.

He was handed the reins of the national team for a second time in 1921.  He stepped down again in 1924 following a quarter-final defeat to Switzerland at the Olympics in Paris, although his decision was influenced by the need to care for his wife, who was terminally ill.

Appointed as national team coach for a third time in 1929, he had almost immediate success, winning the Central European International Cup, defeating Hungary 5-0 in the final.

Giuseppe Meazza of Internazionale was one of Pozzo's key players
Giuseppe Meazza of Internazionale was
one of Pozzo's key players
The key to Pozzo's winning formula was his clever use of tactics. Most teams still favoured the so-called Cambridge Pyramid formation, consisting of five forwards, three half-backs and just two out-and-out defenders.  Teams were top-heavy with attacking players because the basic philosophy of the game was simply to score more goals than the opposition, with little attention paid to defending.

Pozzo saw things differently.  His military experiences had taught him that even when on the attack it was an unwise general who would leave his base undefended.  Under what he called simply Il Metodo - the Method - he tweaked the 2-3-5 formation, retaining the centre forward and the wingers but pulling the two inside forwards back into midfield, where the half-backs served a dual purpose, supporting the attacking players but dropping back to defend when the opposing team was in possession.

A pragmatist who was always more concerned with winning than entertaining the crowd with expansive football, he was never afraid to leave a player out if his abilities did not suit his tactics. Twice he dropped the team captain, leaving out Adolfo Baloncieri, the Torino star who was country's highest scoring midfield player, in 1930 and, on the eve of 1934 finals, of which Italy were hosts, the Juventus defender Umberto Caligaris.

Thus Pozzo, who became known as il Vecchio Maestro - the Old Master - achieved unprecedented and - so far - unrepeated success.

Pozzo's 2-3-2-3 formation was revolutionary in terms of football tactics
Pozzo's 2-3-2-3 formation was revolutionary
in terms of football tactics
He continued as national manager until the London Olympics of 1948, his last match ending in a 5-3 defeat to Denmark in the quarter-finals. His Azzurri record was 64 wins, 17 draws and 16 defeats.

After declaring his career in management was over, he became a journalist with the Turin newspaper La Stampa, for whom he reported the 1950 World Cup finals.

He returned to his roots in Ponderano on retirement and died there in 1968 at the age of 82, a few months after watching Italy win the 1968 European championships.

Even after his death, some Italians felt his two World Cup wins were devalued by the association with Mussolini's regime. In the 1990s, he was posthumously exonerated, at least in part, when evidence came to light that he had secretly fought with the Italian anti-Fascist resistance during the Second World War.

Biella's Romanesque baptistry in Piazza Duomo
Biella's Romanesque baptistry in Piazza Duomo
Travel tip:

The village of Ponderano sits just outside Biella, an attractive town in the sub-Alpine area of northern Piedmont. Biella is famed for Menabrea beer, for its production of wool and cashmere products and as a centre for hiking and mountain biking holidays.  The Fila sportswear company was founded in Biella in 1911. The town's historic centre is notable for a Romanesque baptistry and the Renaissance church and convent of San Sebastian.  Ponderano has staged an annual youth football tournament, one of the most prestigious in Italy, in Pozzo's honour every year since his death.

Piazza San Carlo is a typically elegant square in the beautiful city centre of Turin
Piazza San Carlo is a typically elegant square
in the beautiful city centre of Turin
Travel tip:

Turin made its name as Italy’s manufacturing powerhouse, spearheaded by the car giant Fiat, although the city itself has elegant echoes of Paris in the tree-lined boulevards put in place during its time as capital of the Kingdom of Savoy. However, the city's economy suffered badly in the face of global competition in the 1980s, when more than 100,000 workers lost their jobs. Modern Turin is doing its best to regenerate. Former industrial sites such as Parco Dora, once a factory district where Fiat, Michelin and carpet manufacturer Paracchi were big employers, have been transformed into public leisure venues with modern facilities for sport and the infrastructure to host major open-air concerts.

Search Tripadvisor for hotels in Turin

More reading:

Giuseppe Meazza - Italy's first superstar

How Marcello Lippi led Italy to 2006 World Cup glory

Paolo Rossi's hat-trick in World Cup classic

Also on this day:

1603: The birth of the Sicilian painter Pietro Novelli

(Picture credit: Baptistry by Alessandro Vecchi via Wikimedia Commons)