Showing posts with label 1954. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1954. Show all posts

10 July 2018

Calogero Vizzini - Mafia chieftain

‘Man of Honour’ installed as Mayor by Allies

Calogero Vizzini used his power to solve problems and settle disputes
Calogero Vizzini used his power to solve
problems and settle disputes
The Sicilian Mafia boss Calogero Vizzini, known as Don Calò, died on this day in 1954 in Villalba, a small town in the centre of the island about 100km (62 miles) southeast of the capital, Palermo.

He was 76 and had been in declining health. He was in an ambulance that was taking him home from a clinic in Palermo and was just entering the town when he passed away.

His funeral was attended by thousands of peasants dressed in black and a number of politicians as well as priests played active roles in the service. One of his pallbearers was Don Francesco Paolo Bontade, a powerful mafioso from Palermo.

Although he had a criminal past, Don Calò acquired the reputation as an old-fashioned ‘man of honour’, whose position became that of community leader, a man to whom people looked to settle disputes and to maintain order and peace through his power.

In rural Sicily, such figures commanded much greater respect than politicians or policemen, many of whom were corrupt.

In his own words, in a newspaper interview in 1949, his view of the world was that “in every society there has to be a category of people who straighten things out when situations get complicated.

Like many traditional Mafia figures, Vizzini dressed like a peasant
Like many traditional Mafia figures,
Vizzini dressed like a peasant
“Usually they are functionaries of the state. Where the state is not present, or where it does not have sufficient force, this is done by private individuals."

His position in this regard was legitimised after the Second World War when the US military government of the occupied territories was looking to ensure the defeated Fascists did not retain any vestige of power on the island.

The Americans wanted positions in a restructured local government on the island to be given to known opponents of Fascism.

Vizzini had once supported Mussolini and had even attended a dinner with the future dictator in Milan in 1922 but turned against him when the Fascists sent Cesare Mori, the so-called Iron Prefect, to Sicily on a mission to destroy the Mafia.

He, and other mafiosi, who would have been almost wiped out but for the Allied invasion, had joined the movement for an independent Sicily and were therefore seen as fitting the bill by the Americans, who installed Vizzini as Mayor of his home town.

For many years, the story has been told that Mafia figures were handed key political positions in return for facilitating the Allied landings but many historians dismiss this as a myth.

A scene from Vizzini's funeral in July 1954
A much more likely scenario is that the Mafia were seen as an important block not only on any  resurgence in Fascism but against the growing support on the mainland for communism.  Where the Mafia leaders had rebelled against Fascism, they were never likely to support the Italian Communists.

Whatever the truth,  Don Calò had moved from a life of crime - his ‘charge sheet’ included scores of murders, attempted murders, robberies, thefts and extortions - to one in which local people revered him as a bastion of law and order and a protector of his community.

He had run protection rackets, smuggled livestock, controlled flour mills and sulphur mining, ‘acquired’ considerable land from aristocratic absentee landlords, and operated a huge black market business during the Second World War selling goods stolen from warehouses and army bases.

Yet after his death a notice was pinned on the door of the church where his funeral mass would take place. It read: "Humble with the humble. Great with the great. He showed with words and deeds that his Mafia was not criminal. It stood for respect for the law, defence of all rights, greatness of character: it was love."

he Chiesa Madre di San Giuseppe on the main square in Vizzini's home town of Villalba
The Chiesa Madre di San Giuseppe on the main square
in Vizzini's home town of Villalba
Travel tip:

Villalba is a town with a population of a little less than 2,000 in the province of Caltanissetta, about 51km (32 miles) northwest of the town of the same name and 68km (42 miles) inland from Agrigento.  The name of the village has has Spanish origins, meaning "the white city" because of town's white houses. Villalba is known for the production of cereals, grapes, vegetables, tomatoes, and lentils. The Sagra del Pomodoro (tomato festival) is held in August each year.  Important churches include the Chiesa Madre, built in 1700, and the Chiesa della Concezione, erected in 1795, preserving a statue by artist Filippo Quattrocchi.

The Greek Temple of Concordia is one of the attractions in the Valley of the Temples outside Agrigento
The Greek Temple of Concordia is one of the attractions in
the Valley of the Temples outside Agrigento
Travel tip:

Agrigento, a city of 55,000 inhabitants on the southern coast of Sicily, is built on the site of an ancient Greek city. It is regularly visited by tourists, largely for the ruins of the Greek city Akragas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site generally known as the Valley of the Temples and, at 1,300 hectares, the largest archaeological site in the world.  The site features a series of temples, the most impressive of which is the Temple of Concordia, one of the largest and best preserved Doric temples in the world, with 13 rows of six columns, each 6m (20ft) high, still virtually intact.

More reading:

Cesare Mori - Mussolini's fabled Mafia buster

How Charles 'Lucky' Luciano played a part in the Allied invasion of Sicily

Politics, the Mafia and a Labour Day massacre

Also on this day:

138AD - The death of the Roman emperor Hadrian

1897: The birth of former NATO secretary-general Manlio Brosio


17 April 2018

Riccardo Patrese - racing driver

Former Williams ace was first in Formula One to start 250 races

Riccardo Patrese was considered brash and  impetuous at the start of his career
Riccardo Patrese was considered brash and
impetuous at the start of his career
The racing driver Riccardo Patrese, who for 15 years was the only Formula One driver to have started more than 250 Grand Prix races, was born on this day in 1954 in Padua.

The former Williams driver reached the milestone in the German Grand Prix of 1993, having three years earlier been the first to make 200 starts.

Patrese retired at the end of the 1993 season with his total on 256 and his  record of longevity was not surpassed until 2008, when the Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello made his 257th start at the Turkish Grand Prix.

Ferrari ace Michael Schumacher passed 250 two years later and Patrese’s total has now been exceeded by six drivers, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa having all joined the 250 club.

Patrese also became famous for an unwanted record, having gone more than six years between his second Grand Prix victory in Formula One, in the 1983 South African GP, and his third, in the San Marino GP of 1990.

He enjoyed his most successful years while driving for Williams between 1987 and 1992, finishing third in the drivers’ championship in 1989 and 1991 and runner-up in 1992, albeit a long way behind that season’s champion, his Williams team-mate Nigel Mansell.

Patrese scored four of his six Grand Prix wins during that period, when he was also runner-up no fewer than 12 times.

Patrese became a key figure in the  successful years of the Williams team
Patrese became a key figure in the
successful years of the Williams team
A former world karting champion - he had started in karting at the age of nine - Patrese began his motor racing career in 1975.  Impetuous and brash, characteristics that did not endear him to some of his rivals and colleagues, he nonetheless had exceptional talent and was a dual Formula Three champion in only his second season on the track, winning both the Italian and European titles.

He made his debut at the 1977 Monaco Grand Prix with the Shadow racing team, switching later in the year to Arrows, for whom he almost won the 1978 South African Grand Prix, which he was leading when an engine failure forced him to retire 15 laps from the end.

But his early career was overshadowed by controversy following the death of the Swedish driver Ronnie Peterson following a pile-up soon after the start of the Italian Grand Prix later in the 1978 season, when the cars driven by Peterson and James Hunt came together, sending Peterson’s car into the barriers, where it broke in two and caught fire.

Peterson appeared to have escaped serious injury but while he was in hospital recovering from surgery on a broken leg he developed a blood clot and died. Hunt blamed Patrese, whose car had gone off onto the grass and rejoined the race moments before the collision.

Together with a race official, Patrese stood trial in 1981 over Peterson’s death but was found not guilty.

Patrese scored his first Grand Prix wins after joining Brabham, although his maiden success at the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix was somewhat fortuitous. He spun off while in the lead just two laps from the finish, which seemed to have put paid to his chance, but then three cars in front of him sensationally dropped out, one from engine failure, a second in a crash and a third, his fellow Italian Andrea de Cesaris, because he ran out of fuel.

Riccardo Patrese won four of his six Grand Prix while with the Williams team, finishing championship runner-up in 1992
Riccardo Patrese won four of his six Grand Prix while with the
Williams team, finishing championship runner-up in 1992
His second victory came in the South African Grand Prix in 1983, when his Brabham teammate Nelson Piquet, who needed only to finish in the top four to be confirmed as world champion, cautiously dropped his pace in the closing stages.

Then came the long wait for a third success as two seasons with Alfa Romeo and two more with Brabham yielded nothing but frustration. His move to Williams to be Nigel Mansell’s teammate in 1988 surprised the motor racing world but proved to be the break Patrese needed.

He got on well with the Renault engine and after a string of podium finishes in 1989 he ended his long drought by winning in San Marino in 1990. He collected more wins in Mexico and Portugal in 1991 and scored his final success in 1992 in Japan, before concluding his career alongside Schumacher at Benetton.

Patrese’s later successes largely repaired the reputation damaged by the Peterson incident, although BBC television viewers became used to Hunt routinely referring to the controversy and what he thought of the Italian whenever he commentated on a Patrese race.

After retiring from F1 Patrese drove in the Le Mans 24 Hours race in 1997 and finished third in a Grand Prix Masters race in 2005, again coming in behind Nigel Mansell.

A former schoolboy swimming champion and successful skier, Patrese remains involved with sport. One of his twin daughters, Beatrice, is an international class equestrian and his youngest son, Lorenzo, has followed his father into karting, with ambitions to become a Formula One driver.

Patrese himself now rides and has a stable of horses. He still lives with his family in Padua.

Frescoes by Giotto at the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua
Frescoes by Giotto at the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua
Travel tip:

Padua has become acknowledged as the birthplace of modern art because of the Scrovegni Chapel, the inside of which is covered with frescoes by Giotto, an artistic genius who was the first to paint people with realistic facial expressions showing emotion. His scenes depicting the lives of Mary and Joseph, painted between 1303 and 1305, are considered his greatest achievement and one of the world’s most important works of art.

Monza's 14th century Duomo
Monza's 14th century Duomo
Travel tip:

Monza, the Lombardy city best known for its motor racing circuit, has been the home of the Italian Formula One Grand Prix every year bar one since 1950.  The city has other attractions, including a 14th century Duomo, built in Romanesque-Gothic style with a black and white marble facade, and the church of Santa Maria in Strada, also built in the 14th century, which has a facade in terracotta. The Royal Villa, on the banks of the Lambro river, dates back to the 18th century, when Monza was part of the Austrian Empire.

More reading:

Alberto Ascari, one of Italy's Formula One pioneers

Flavio Briatore, the entrepreneur behind the Benetton team

Lella Lombardi, the only woman to win points in a Formula One Grand Prix

Also on this day:

1598: The birth of astronomer Giovanni Riccioli

1927: The birth of the vivacious operatic soprano Graziella Sciutti


16 December 2017

Ivana Spagna – singer-songwriter

Dance track made 30 years ago still holds record

Spagna performing her 1986 hit Easy Lady
Spagna performing her 1986 hit Easy Lady
The singer and songwriter Ivana Spagna, whose single Call Me achieved the highest placing by an Italian artist in UK chart history when it reached number two in 1987, was born on this day in 1954 in the town of Valeggio sul Mincio, in the Veneto.

Often performing as simply Spagna, she has sold more than 10 million copies of her singles and albums in a career spanning 46 years, having released her first single in 1971 at the age of 16.

She began to sing professionally in the early 1980s, when she provided the vocals for a number of disco tracks lip-synched by other artists, and when she relaunched her recording career in her own right she met with immediate success.

The single Easy Lady, recorded in 1986 and which she tends to regard as her debut single as a professional artist, sold more than two million copies, as did Call Me, which was released the following year.

Spagna defied the expectations of her record company, who had misgivings about promoting an Italian singing in English under the stage name “Spain” but were pleasantly surprised by her popularity.

The cover for Spagna's UK success Call Me
The cover for Spagna's UK success Call Me
Call Me topped the European singles chart and reached No 13 in the Billboard dance chart in the United States.

In 1987, her first album, featuring both successful singles under the title Dedicated To The Moon, achieved a further 500,000 sales. She followed up with a dance-rock album, You Are My Energy, and another hit in the UK chart, Every Girl and Boy.

Supported by Sony Music, Spagna moved to the US in 1990, living in Santa Monica, working on her new disco-pop album No Way Out, which was geared to the US market.

After returning to Europe in 1993, recording her last European hit, Lady Madonna, in 1995, Spagna decided it was time to start singing in her native Italian.

Her big ‘break’ in that regard was to be chosen to sing Elton John’s song Circle of Life, in Italian, for the soundtrack of the Italian version of the Disney movie The Lion King. Released as a single, it was a big hit in Italy.

Encouraged by the TV host Pippo Baudo, she took part in several Sanremo Festivals, finishing third in 1995 with Gente Come Noi (People Like Us), which was another successful single in Italy.

Ivana Spagna as she was in 1969
Ivana Spagna as she was in 1969
Her first album in Italian, Siamo in due, sold more than 350,000 copies, which made it the best-selling album by a female singer in Italy in 1995.

Throughout her early career in particular, Spagna was guided by her brother, Giorgio Theo Spagna, who gave her piano lessons and wrote songs for her.  He and Larry Pignagnoli, the promoter and producer, joined forces with Spagna in the Opera Madre group as they set out to conquer the Italo Disco scene.

Pignagnoli, who also writes songs, has worked with Spagna for most of her career.

Today, Spagna is still recording and more recently returned to creating dance tracks. She has also written a book, Sarà capitato anche a te (It will have happened to you too), describing the premonitory dreams she claims to have experienced repeatedly during her life.

Tortellini di Valeggio
Tortellini di Valeggio
Travel tip:

Spagna’s home town of Vallegio sul Mincio, which can be found about 25km (16 miles) southwest of Verona, is famous for tortellini pasta, which it claims was invented there (although Bologna also makes that claim). Vallegio’s story is that the shape of the pasta parcels was inspired by the legend of Marco, a captain in the Visconti army, who eloped with a girl he originally took to be a nymph from the Mincio river, leaving behind a knotted gold silk handkerchief as a symbol of their love. The pasta shape is supposed to represent the knotted handkerchief.

The remains of the fortified dam, the Ponte Visconteo
The remains of the fortified dam, the Ponte Visconteo
Travel tip:

Each year on June 18, Vallegio sul Mincio stages a festival that not only celebrates tortellini but also the 650m (710yds)-long Ponte Visconteo, a fortified dam built across the Mincio by Gian Galeazzo Visconti in 1393. Two huge tables of 600m (656yds) each are assembled on the 25m (27yds)-wide bridge with seats for 4,000 diners, who are served local specialities including the tortellini, which has a filling of beef, pork and chicken flavoured with celery, carrot and rosemary and is served cooked in a broth, with butter and sage and a sprinkling of cheese.

Also on this day:

22 November 2017

Paolo Gentiloni – Prime Minister of Italy

Current premier is both noble and a Democrat

Paolo Gentiloni has been prime minister of Italy since December 2016
Paolo Gentiloni has been prime minister
of Italy since December 2016
Italy’s Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, was born on this day in 1954 in Rome.

A member of the Democratic Party, Gentiloni was asked to form a Government in December 2016 by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

A professional journalist before he entered politics, Gentiloni is a descendant of Count Gentiloni Silveri and holds the titles of Nobile of Filottranno, Nobile of Cingoli and Nobile of Macerata.

The word Nobile, derived from the Latin nobilis, meaning honourable, indicates a level of Italian nobility ranking somewhere between the English title of knight and baron.

Gentiloni is related to the politician Vincenzo Ottorino Gentiloni, who was a leader of the Conservative Catholic Electoral Union and a key ally of Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti, who held the office five times between 1892 and 1921.

Gentiloni attended the Classical Lyceum Torquato Tasso in Rome and went on to study at La Sapienza University in the city where he became a member of the Student Movement, a left wing youth organisation. He moved on to become a member of the Workers’ Movement for Socialism and graduated in Political Sciences.

He came director of La Nuova Ecologia, the official newspaper of Legambiente, which led to him first meeting Francesco Rutelli, who at the time was leader of the Federation of the Greens.

Gentiloni was a member of the Olive Tree coalition led by Romano Prodi
Gentiloni was a member of the Olive
Tree coalition led by Romano Prodi
He became Rutelli’s spokesman in his campaign to become Mayor of Rome. After being elected as mayor, Rutelli appointed Gentiloni as Jubilee and Tourism Councillor on Rome’s city council .

Gentiloni was elected as a member of parliament in 2001 and helped found the Daisy party in 2002, serving as the party’s communications spokesman.

He was elected again in 2006 as a member of the Olive Tree, the coalition led by Romano Prodi.

Gentiloni helped found the Democrat party in 2007 and was elected again in the 2008 election, which was won by Silvio Berlusconi.

Gentiloni came third when he ran for Mayor of Rome in 2013 but was elected to the Chamber of Deputies again in the same year.

He supported Matteo Renzi in the Democratic party leadership election and was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs when Renzi became prime minister in 2014.

Gentiloni stated on television that Italy would be ready to fight in Libya against the Islamic State because there was an active terrorist threat to the country only a few hours away by boat. He was subsequently threatened by ISIL.

After a car bomb exploded outside the Italian consulate in Cairo, he said that Italy would continue to fight against terrorism.

Gentiloni and US president Donald Trump
Gentiloni and US president Donald Trump
Gentiloni also negotiated the release of two Italians held hostage by Syrian terrorists in 2015.

In December 2016, after Renzi announced his resignation, Gentiloni was asked by President Mattarella to form a new Government.

Since taking office, he has signed agreements with Libya and Tunisia to try to prevent immigrants entering Italy illegally.

He hosted the 43rd G7 summit in Taormina in Sicily, attended by British premier Theresa May and US president Donald Trump.

In January 2017, during an official trip to Paris, he suffered an obstructed coronary artery and received an emergency angioplasty. The following day he tweeted that he felt well and would be back at work soon.

Yesterday, on the eve of his 63rd birthday, he held talks with trade unions and told them his Government had prepared a significant, sustainable package on pensions and retirements.

The Palazzo Chigi, the Italian PM's official residence
The Palazzo Chigi, the Italian PM's official residence
Travel tip:

When in Rome, Paolo Gentiloni lives in Palazzo Chigi, the official residence of the Prime Minister of Italy, which is a 16th century palace in Piazza Colonna,  just off Via del Corso and close to the Pantheon.

The port city of Ancona is the capital of Le Marche
The port city of Ancona is the capital of Le Marche
Travel tip:

Gentiloni holds the title of Nobile of Macerata, which is a city in the Marche region. He also holds the titles of Nobile of Filotranno and Nobile of Cingoli, two nearby towns. Le Marche is an eastern region, located between the Apennine mountains and the Adriatic. The capital, Ancona, is a port city surrounded by medieval villages. Nearby is Pesaro, the birthplace of the composer Gioachino Rossini.

30 November 2016

Simonetta Stefanelli – actress

Godfather star now designs bags and shoes

Simonetta Stefanelli, in a scene from Dino Risi's 1971 movie, In the Name of the Italian People
Simonetta Stefanelli, in a scene from Dino Risi's 1971
movie, In the Name of the Italian People
Simonetta Stefanelli, the actress and fashion designer, was born on this day in 1954 in Rome.

Stefanelli is perhaps best-known for her performance as Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone in the 1972 film The Godfather directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

She also made several films with her former husband, the actor and director Michele Placido.

The couple had three children together, Michelangelo, Brenno and Violante Placido, who is also an actress.

They divorced in 1994 and Stefanelli and her three children went to live in London for a short time.

Before appearing in The Godfather, Stefanelli had small roles in films guided by some of the top Italian directors, such as Gian Luigi Polidoro, Giulio Petroni, Marco Vicario and Dino Risi.

In 1972 she appeared in a German film for television, Di Sonne angreifen, 'The Sun Attack'.

Then came her role in The Godfather alongside Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan and Diane Keaton.  Her character is the first wife of Pacino's character, Michael Corleone, a local girl Michael marries while in hiding in Sicily, but is then murdered in a bomb attack of which her husband was the intended victim.

Apollonia also featured in the 1977 mini series The Godfather: A Novel for Television.

Stefanelli with her then-husband Michele Placido in a scene from the 1975 film Scandal in the Family
Stefanelli with her then-husband Michele Placido
in a scene from the 1975 film Scandal in the Family
Stefanelli once explained during an interview that she had refused a career in Hollywood to avoid being typecast and chose instead to continue her career in Italy.

She appeared in Peccati in famiglia ('Scandal in the Family'), an erotic drama in which she starred opposite her husband Michele Placido, and in Francesco Rosi’s Tre Fratelli ('Three Brothers).

She made her final appearance in Michele Placido’s film Le Amiche del cuore, ('Close friends') before ending her acting career in 1992.

Stefanelli continues to live in Rome and now owns a fashion store in the city, Simo Bloom, for which she designs bags and shoes.

Michele Placido, who is now 70, is well-known for playing the role of Corrado Cattani in the TV series La Piovra, which means 'The Octopus' in English, a reference to the many tentacles of the Mafia.

The actress Violante Placido, who is now 40, has many film and television credits to her name and is also a singer and song writer.

The 18th century Temple of Aesculapius is an attraction in the Villa Borghese gardens in Rome
The 18th century Temple of Aesculapius is an attraction
in the Villa Borghese gardens in Rome
Travel tip:

Stefanelli’s shop, Simo Bloom, is in Via Chiana in Rome to the north east of the Villa Borghese and its gardens on the Pincian Hill. The beautiful gardens were developed for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V, starting in 1605. They were bought by the city of Rome and opened to the public in 1903.

Travel tip:

The Godfather's location scenes in Sicily were filmed in the towns of Savoca and Forza d’Agro near Taormina because the town of Corleone was considered too developed to be suitable. In Savoca you can see the church in which Michael and Apollonia (played by Stefanelli) were married and walk the route they took to the Bar Vitelli in the village’s main square where they went to celebrate afterwards in the film.

More reading:

How playing an anti-Mafia police inspector Michele Placido into a TV star

Nino Rota - the brilliant composer behind the music of The Godfather

The wonderful cinema legacy of Francesco Rosi

Also on this day:

1466: The birth of navy commander Andrea Doria

1485: The birth of writer and stateswoman Veronica Gambara

1957: The death of the great tenor Beniamino Gigli

(Picture credits: Simonetta Stefanelli by Cavarrone; Temple of Aesculapius by Jean-Christophe Benoist; via Wikimedia Commons)


26 October 2016

Trieste becomes part of Italy

Fascinating city retains influences from past rulers

The harbour of Trieste in 1885, when it was still under the control of Austria
The harbour of Trieste in 1885, when it was still under
the control of Austria
The beautiful seaport of Trieste officially became part of the Italian Republic on this day in 1954.

Trieste is now the capital of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, one of the most prosperous areas of Italy.

The city lies towards the end of a narrow strip of land situated between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia and it is also just 30 kilometres north of Croatia.

Trieste has been disputed territory for thousands of years and throughout its history has been influenced by its location at the crossroads of the Latin, Slavic and Germanic cultures.

Remnants of Trieste's Roman past are still visible
Remnants of Trieste's Roman
past are still visible
It became part of the Roman Republic in 177 BC and was granted the status of a Roman colony by Julius Caesar in 51 BC.

In 788 Trieste was conquered by Charlemagne on behalf of the French but by the 13th century was being occupied by the Venetian Republic.

Austria made the city part of the Habsburg domains in the 14th century but it was then conquered again by Venice. The Hapsburgs recovered Trieste in the 16th century and made it an important port and a commercial hub.

Trieste fell into French hands during the time of Napoleon but then became part of Austrian territory again.

Italy annexed Trieste at the end of the First World War after finishing on the winning side. By the 1930s, thousands of the resident Slovenians had left Trieste to go and live in either Yugoslavia or South America.

During the Second World War the city was occupied by German troops but after briefly being occupied by communist Yugoslavia it was taken back by the Allies in 1945 and came under a joint British and US military administration.

Trieste today is a busy city of many dimensions
Trieste today is a busy city of many dimensions
In 1947 the Paris Peace Treaty established Trieste as free territory. It was divided into two zones, one governed by American troops and one by Yugoslav troops. In 1954 the city of Trieste and part of the zone governed by the Americans was given back to Italy and the territory in the other zone was given to Yugoslavia.

The final border with Yugoslavia was settled in 1975 with the Treaty of Osimo and this is now the present day border between Italy and Slovenia.

Today, Trieste is a lively and cosmopolitan city and a major centre for trade and ship building.

In 2012, Lonely Planet called Trieste ‘the world’s most underrated travel destination’.

Inside one of Trieste's typical cafés
Inside one of Trieste's typical cafés
It is a fascinating place to visit because of the Venetian, Slovenian, Austrian and Hungarian influences in the architecture, culture and cuisine.

As well as Italian, the local dialect Triestino is spoken along with Slovenian, German and Hungarian.

If you stroll along the sea front you experience the atmosphere of being in a major Italian port and there are many excellent fish restaurants to try. Away from the sea you will find restaurants serving traditional Italian, Friulian, Slovenian, Hungarian and Austrian dishes.

Look out for Tocai Friulano, sometimes just labelled Friulano, which is a good quality, local white wine.

Travel tip:

When in Trieste, visit one of the typical coffee houses that date back to the Hapsburg era, such as Caffe Tommaseo, the oldest café in the city. Or, find out why Irish writer James Joyce enjoyed living in Trieste for so many years by dropping into his favourite bar, Caffe Pirona.

Trieste's Canal Grande has echoes of Venice
Trieste's Canal Grande has echoes of Venice
Travel tip:

You could imagine yourself to be in Venice if you linger at a table outside one of the bars or restaurants at the side of Canal Grande, an inlet in the centre of Trieste with moorings for small crafts that is reminiscent of the Grand Canal.

More reading

Writer from Trieste immortalised by James Joyce in his epic novel Ulysses

The fall of the Republic of Venice


24 September 2016

Marco Tardelli - footballer

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

Marco Tardelli loses himself in his joy after scoring in the 1982 World Cup final
Marco Tardelli loses himself in his joy
after scoring in the 1982 World Cup final
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 in front of his chest, 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.

During his career with Juventus, whom he joined in 1975 and left after 11 seasons, the Turin team won the Scudetto - the Serie A title - five times, the Coppa Italia twice, plus the UEFA Cup, the Cup-Winners' Cup and the European Cup, as well as the UEFA Super Cup.

Relive Marco Tardelli's goal and celebration from the 1982 World Cup final

He and his Juventus team-mates Antonio Cabrini and Gaetano Scirea were the first three players in football history to have collected winners' medals for all three major European club competitions.  His goal in the first leg of the 1977 UEFA Cup final against Athletic Bilbao helped Juventus win their first European title.

Tardelli was born in the tiny village of Capanne di Careggine, in the mountainous Garfagnana area of northern Tuscany.  The village has between 500 and 600 residents.

He began his career with Pisa, then in Serie C, moved next to Serie B club Como and joined Juventus in 1975.  He went on to play 376 matches for Juventus, scoring 51 goals, before moving to Internazionale in 1985, spending two seasons in Milan before completing his playing career with a season in Switzerland, playing for St Gallen.

Called up for the national team in 1976, he won 81 international caps and scored six goals, captaining his country between 1983 and 1985.

During an era when Italian football was heavily defensive, Tardelli stood out for his versatility, a hard-tackling yet technically skilful and elegant defensive midfielder, with an ability to contribute in attack too.  He could play anywhere in midfield or defence but was also blessed with accurate passing ability with both feet and a powerful shot.

Tactically intelligent, it was inevitable he would move into coaching.  Indeed, he was hired by the Italian Football Federation as soon as he retired as a player.

Appointed as head coach of the Under-16 Italian national team in 1988, he quickly graduated to assistant Under-21 coach under Cesare Maldini before trying his hand in club football with Como, with whom he won promotion to Serie B.

Marco Tardelli and Giovanni Trappatoni during their time in charge of the Republic of Ireland national team
Marco Tardelli and Giovanni Trapattoni during their time
in charge of the Republic of Ireland national team
After a stint with another Serie B team, Cesena, he returned to the Federation and head coach of the Italian Under-21 team, winning the European Under-21 Championship and reaching the quarter-finals at the 2000 Olympics.

His return to club football with Internazionale ended after one season, a string of embarrassing defeats culminating in a 6-0 defeat to local rivals AC Milan. Tardelli was fired in June 2001 and spells with Bari, the Egyptian national team and Arezzo brought no success.

He then spent five years working alongside Giovanni Trapattoni as assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland national team.  The pair took the Irish team to the finals of Euro 2012 but were dismissed after failing to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and Tardelli has worked largely as a pundit since then. He has recently published an autobiography, Tutto o niente: La mia storia (All or Nothing: My Story).

The Church of San Pietro in Careggine
The Church of San Pietro in Careggine
Travel tip:

Careggine stands on a plateau offering stunning views of the strikingly beautiful Monte Pisanino and the valley it overlooks. The parish Church of St Peter, founded in 720, still conserves parts of its original medieval structure, including the bell tower, despite damage suffered in an earthquake in 1920.

Travel tip:

The Garfagnana is the mountainous area around the Serchio valley north of the walled city of Lucca.  Its heavy annual rainfall means that the lower mountain slopes have a lush covering of dense woodland, mainly sweet chestnut trees.  The main towns are Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, home to the impressive Rocca Ariostesca (Ariosto's Castle), and Barga, which is famous for its annual opera and jazz festivals. Barga was once dubbed "the most Scottish town in Italy" because its surrounding countryside bears similarities with the Scottish Highlands and has twinned with no fewer than four towns in Scotland.

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(Photo of Marco Tardelli and Trapattoni by Michael Cranewitter CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of Careggine church by Davide Papalini CC BY-SA 3.0)