Showing posts with label 1958. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1958. Show all posts

1 January 2019

Cesare Paciotti - shoe designer

Exclusive brand worn by many celebrities

Cesare Paciotti has been designing shoes full time since 1980
Cesare Paciotti has been designing shoes
full time since 1980
The shoe designer Cesare Paciotti, whose chic collections have attracted a celebrity clientele, was born on New Year’s Day in 1958 in Civitanova Marche, a town on the Adriatic coast.

His company, Paciotti SpA, is still headquartered in Civitanova Marche, as it has been since his parents, Giuseppe and Cecilia, founded their craft shoe-making business in 1948, producing a range of shoes in classical designs made entirely by hand.

Today, the company, which trades as Cesare Paciotti, has major showrooms in Milan, Rome and New York and many boutique stores in cities across the world. The business, which also sells watches, belts, others accessories and some clothing lines, has an annual turnover estimated at more than $500 million (€437 million).

Cesare Paciotti inherited the family firm in 1980 at the age of 22, having spent his late teenage years and early adulthood pursuing his interest in the arts by studying Drama, Art and Music at the University of Bologna, and then travelling to London, the United States and the Far East.

When he returned home, he already had solid shoemaking skills, having learned from his parents in their workshop as he grew up.

Paciotti's shoes are known for their elegant design, with particular emphasis on the heel
Paciotti's shoes are known for their elegant design, with
particular emphasis on the heel
He and his sister, Paola, were entrusted with running the business between them, Cesare focusing on creativity and design with Paola in charge of operational matters. They established Pariotti SpA in 1980 and launched their first collection in the same year.

Most of the workers employed by their parents were retained but Cesare nonetheless was able to drive the company forward. Thanks to Paola's astute management and Cesare's originality of design, the name quickly acquired a high profile and prestigious fashion houses such as Gianni Versace, Romeo Gigli and Dolce & Gabbana began to approach them to craft shoes for their labels.

Versace, in fact, had worn some handmade shoes created by Cesare’s father, so he was familiar with their workshop’s use of high quality materials and attention to detail.

In 1990, Cesare turned his attention in particular to the image of the Paciotti women's collection. It had traditionally produced shoes with a rather masculine appearance but Cesare was determined to change this and introduced a tall stiletto heel that soon became highly recognisable as a Paciotti trademark, synonymous with extremely feminine shoes.

In recent years, celebrities such as as Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, supermodels Bar Refaeli and Miranda Kerr, actresses Anne Hathaway and Sienna Miller and singer-songwriter Taylor Swift have become clients.

Paciotti not only produces luxury shoes but other items such as watches and jewellery.  The company is famous for a dagger illustrated in its logo.

The port of Civitanova Marche, where Paciott's parents established the family business in 1948
The port of Civitanova Marche, where Paciott's parents
established the family business in 1948
Travel tip:

Civitanova Marche, where Cesare Paciotto was born, is a port and resort on the Adriatic coast, about 50km (37 miles) south of Ancona. Now with a population of more than 42,000 inhabitants, the town developed in the 16th century under the Sforza and Cesarini families, the legacy of which is the Palazzo Cesarini-Sforza, the interior of which conserves some 16th-century frescoes by Pellegrino Tibaldi.  The 15th century walls commissioned by the Sforza family remain intact. The town also has some interesting Liberty-style architecture, including the Villa Conti, originally built in 1910, destroyed during the Second World War and subsequently rebuilt.

I faraglioni are a familiar landmark off the coast of Capri
I faraglioni are a familiar landmark off the coast of Capri
Travel tip:

Among Cesare Paciotti’s many boutiques is one on Via Vittorio Emanuele III on Capri, the street that links the quaint Piazzetta with the exclusive Grand Hotel Quisisana.  The area brims with designer shops. Among Paciotti’s neighbours on Via Vittorio Emanuele III and the adjoining Via Camerelle are branches of Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, Moschino and Dolce & Gabbana. A short walk beyond Via Camerelle along Via Tragara leads to the Belvedere Tragara, which offers views of Capri’s famous offshore rock formation i faraglioni.

More reading:

How Salvatore Ferragamo rose from humble beginnings to be a fashion giant

The meteoric rise of Gianni Versace

Guccio Gucci - from carrying bags to making them

Also on this day:

Capodanno - New Year - in Italy

1803: The birth of Guglielmo Libri, notorious book thief

1926: The birth of singing star Claudio Villa


8 January 2018

Maria Teresa de Filippis – racing driver

Pioneer for women behind the wheel

Maria Teresa de Filippis in 1958
Maria Teresa de Filippis in 1958
The racing driver Maria Teresa de Filippis, who was the first woman to compete in a Formula One world championship event and remains one of only two to make it on to the starting grid in the history of the competition, died on this day in 2016 in Gavarno, a village near Bergamo in Lombardy.

De Filippis, a contemporary of the early greats of F1, the Italians Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari and the Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio, qualified for the Belgian Grand Prix in June 1958 and finished 10th.

She made the grid for the Portuguese and Italian Grands Prix later in the year but had to retire from both due to engine problems. 

She managed only six laps in the former but was unlucky not to finish in the latter event at Monza, where she completed 57 of the 70 laps. Although she was at the back of the field, 13 other cars had retired earlier in the race and she would therefore have finished eighth.

These were her only F1 races. The following year she turned her back on the sport following the death of her close friend, the French driver Jean Behra, in a crash in Germany. Only a year earlier, her former fiancé, the Italian driver Luigi Musso, had also been killed.

De Filippis prepares to take the wheel outside the Maserati garage during the 1958 season
De Filippis prepares to take the wheel outside the Maserati
garage during the 1958 season
De Filippis came from a wealthy background, born in Naples in 1926 and brought up in the 16th century Palazzo Marigliano. Her family, with aristocratic roots, also owned the Palazzo Bianco in Caserta.

A keen horsewoman, she also loved skiing and tennis as a teenager but took up car racing in order to prove a point to her two older brothers, Antonio and Giuseppe, who had teased her about her prowess at the wheel.

Determined to prove them wrong, at 22 she entered her first race, a hill climb between the port of Salerno and the town of Cava di Tirreni, 10km (6 miles) inland, and won.

Finding, to her surprise, that she had no fear behind the wheel she quickly progressed to sports car events, finishing second in the 1954 Italian sports car championship.

It was at the sports car race that accompanied the 1956 Naples Grand Prix that De Filippis caught the eye.  Driving a works-entered Maserati 200S on a circuit that followed the walled streets and tree-lined boulevards of Posillipo, an upmarket residential area of her home city, she started at the back of the grid after missing practice but worked her way through the field to finish second.

Maria Teresa de Filippis pictured at the age of 88
Maria Teresa de Filippis pictured at the age of 88
The invitation to compete in Formula One soon followed and it was in the Maserati 250F, the same car that took Fangio to his fifth world title the previous year, that she made her historic debut at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Although a woman in motorsport was not a new phenomenon – the French driver and aviator Camille du Gast had taken part in the 1901 Paris to Berlin rally – Formula One was a wholly male-dominated world and there were considerable barriers to overcome.

Stirling Moss, the British driver she considered a friend, doubted whether a woman had the strength to handle an F1 car at speed, while the director of the French Grand Prix at Reims that followed the Belgian race allegedly barred her from taking part, telling her – in her words – that “the only helmet a woman should wear is the one at the hairdressers.”

It was at the French Grand Prix that Luigi Musso died. Although they had broken off their engagement and he had a new girlfriend, his death hit De Filippis hard nonetheless and made her think about whether she wanted to continue.

As the only female driver, she was never short of attention, but one of the fans to whom she was introduced at her Monza appearance in 1958, an Austrian textile chemist by the name of Theodor Huschek, made a bigger impression than others.

The iconic Maserati 250F
The iconic Maserati 250F
She bumped into him again in Istanbul the following year and after meeting for a third time on a skiing trip they became engaged and married. After living in Austria and Switzerland they moved to Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites, then to Rome and next Capri, the idyllic island in the Bay of Naples.

They had a daughter, Carola, and settled in Bergamo area when Theodor began working for the Legler textile firm in Ponte San Pietro, to the northwest of the city. They settled in Gavarno, a village between Scanzorosciate and Nembro.

Despite De Filippis having broken new ground for women in motor racing, the only other female driver to participate in a Formula One race is Lella Lombardi, her fellow Italian, who started 12 times between 1974 and 1976.

In later life, De Filippis was vice-president of the International Club of Former F1 Grand Prix Drivers.

The facade of the Palazzo Marigliano
The facade of the Palazzo Marigliano
Travel tip:

The Palazzo Marigliano, built in the early 16th century, is the former home of Andrea de Capua, the fourth Count of Altavill and the chief legal executive for the Kingdom of Naples. It was refurbished in the 1750s with frescoes by Francesco de Mura and paintings by Giovanni Battista Maffei. It can be found right in the heart of the city in Via San Biagio dei Librai, which forms part of the historic Spaccanapoli, the narrow, straight thoroughfare that runs in a 2km (1.25 miles) diagonal across the city. Today the beautiful inner courtyard hosts artisan workshops and part of the palace is given over to apartments.

Gavarno is situated in a wooded valley near Bergamo
Gavarno is situated in a wooded valley near Bergamo
Travel tip:

Gavarno is a village of some 1,200 residents a few kilometres to the northeast of Bergamo overlooking the stream of the same name that joins the Serio river at nearby Nembro. Built largely on a gentle hillside, it is in an area popular with walkers, offering pleasant woodland paths. Between Gavarno and Nembro there is a interesting modern church, consecrated only in 2000, dedicated to Pope Giovanni XXIII, who hailed from Sotto il Monte in Bergamo province.

26 March 2017

Elio de Angelis - racing driver

The 'last gentleman racer' of Formula One

Elio de Angelis drove for Lotus for six seasons
Elio de Angelis drove for Lotus for six seasons
The Formula One motor racing driver Elio de Angelis was born on this day in 1958 in Rome.

His record of winning two Grands Prix from 108 career starts in F1 may not look impressive but he was regarded as a talented driver among his peers, holding down a place with Lotus for six consecutive seasons alongside of such talents as Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna, both future world champions.

He had his best seasons in 1984 and 1985, which encompassed seven of his nine career podium finishes and in which he finished third and fifth respectively in the drivers' championship standings.

Tragically, he was killed in testing the following year, having left Lotus for Brabham in frustration after perceiving that Senna was being given more favourable treatment.

De Angelis was seen by many in motor racing as "the last of the gentlemen racers."

De Angelis hailed from a wealthy background in Rome
De Angelis hailed from a wealthy
background in Rome
In contrast to his teammate Mansell, who came from a working class background in the West Midlands of England, De Angelis was born into wealth.

His family was long established in the upper echelons of Roman society.  His father, Giulio, ran a successful construction company and raced powerboats, winning many championships in the 1960s and 1970s. Elio was the oldest of his four children.

This glittering pedigree had its disadvantages.  Elio was known to be on the target list for Red Brigades kidnappers and when he returned to Rome to visit his parents he was whisked from the airport in a bulletproof limousine and could not step out even for a pizza without two bodyguards for company.

On the other hand, he was free to indulge himself in whatever entertainment took his fancy.  He skied and played tennis and showed a talent for both, as he did for the piano, which he learned to concert standard.  Perhaps through his father's genes, he also loved speed.

He started karting when he was 14, finishing second in the World Championship in 1975 and winning the European title in 1976.

By the age of 19 he was driving in Formula Three, winning his first race on only his third start at the Mugello circuit near Florence. He then went on to win the Italian Formula Three Championship in 1977.

In 1978 he raced in Formula Two as well as Formula Three, in which his victory in the prestigious Monaco F3 race. That led to a chance to test for the Shadow F1 team.

Ultimately, his father paid for him to race for Shadow, which was not good for Elio's reputation at the start.  Yet his talent shone through and won his respect.

De Angelis in action for Lotus in 1985
De Angelis in action for Lotus in 1985
It also led him to being hired by Colin Chapman to drive for Lotus in 1980 and when, in only his second race, the 21-year-old Elio failed narrowly to become the youngest winner of a Formula One race when he finished second to René Arnoux in Brazil it was clear he was a star in the making.

Off the track he was both envied and admired.  He had style in abundance and any resentment of his privileged background was soon overcome by his easy charm.  He was friendly and respectful towards the other drivers but could also join in the jokes.  And such was his natural talent that he could turn up at the last minute for a qualifying session, sometimes so disorganised he might have to borrow a helmet from another driver, yet still set the fastest lap time.

His first victory came in the Austrian Grand Prix in 1982 and he finished ahead of Mansell in the drivers' standings all but the 1983 season, when his car was plagued by mechanical problems.

The 1985 season brought a second Grand Prix victory for De Angelis at San Marino after Alain Prost took the chequered flag first but was subsequently disqualified for an underweight car.  However, the arrival of Senna in place of Mansell, who had gone to Williams, marked a change in fortunes for the Italian.

Senna finished fourth to his fifth in the drivers' championship, despite De Angelis maintaining the consistency he and his car had shown in 1984, and when Lotus appeared to be concentrating their resources and expertise on the Brazilian driver De Angelis began to look elsewhere.

His move to Brabham seemed full of promise, giving him the chance to drive the BT55, a new low-frame chassis car designed to create less drag.  After only four races, however, during testing at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, De Angelis's BT55 lost its rear wing at high speed, catapulted over a barrier and caught fire.

The driver's physical injuries were minor but he was unable to escape from the car unaided. He died just over a day later from the affects of smoke inhalation. The lack of qualified track marshalls on hand, combined with a delay in the arrival of a helicopter to take him to hospital, were said to have contributed to his death.

Monza's duomo, with its white and green facade
Monza's Duomo, with its white and green facade
Travel tip:

Formula One motor racing in Italy is about Monza, which has hosted the Italian Grand Prix every year since 1950. The city itself - situated about 15km (9 miles) north of Milan - is underappreciated. It has several notable architectural attractions, including the Gothic Duomo, with its white-and-green banded facade, which contain the Corona Ferrea (Iron Crown), which according to legend features one of the nails from the Crucifixion. The crown is on show in the chapel dedicated to the Lombard queen Theodolinda.  The adjoining Museo e Tesoro del Duomo contains one of the greatest collections of religious art in Europe.

TripAdvisor's lowdown on the best hotels in Monza

The view across Rome from Monte Mario
The view across Rome from Monte Mario
Travel tip:

There are many ways of enjoying Rome, but to appreciate the city in its full perspective, the Monte Mario natural park offers breathtaking views. Situated to the west of the city, it is the highest point of Rome and it is possible to pick out almost every notable dome and bell tower. The most popular panoramic terrace, called Zodiaco, is near the astronomical observatory.

Hotels in Rome by

More reading:

How Michele Alboreto almost ended Italy's long F1 drought

Vittorio Grigolo - the singer who chose opera over F1

Luigi Fagioli - still F1's oldest winning driver

1 December 2016

Alberto Cova - Olympic champion

Los Angeles gold completed 10k hat-trick

Alberto Cova in his moment of triumph at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles
Alberto Cova in his moment of triumph
at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles
Alberto Cova, the athlete who won the 10,000 metres gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, was born on this day in 1958 in Inverigo, a small town not far from Lake Como and a little under 40km north of Milan.

Cova's triumph at the 1984 Los Angeles Games completed a golden hat-trick of 10,000m titles, following on from his gold medals over the distance at the 1982 European Championships in Athens and the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki.

He was not able to maintain that form, however.  He was run out of the gold on the final lap of the 10,000m by fellow Italian Stefano Mai at the European Championships in Stuttgart in 1986 and failed to qualify for the final at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, which proved to be his last international competition.

Cova's chief asset was his devastating sprint finish, which could be nullified in a race run at a strong pace throughout but often was not.

He was an outsider when he sprang a surprise in Athens in 1982, when his finishing speed enabled him to charge through to beat the favourite, Werner Schildhauer from East Germany, to win his first international championship title.

His disciplined running style enabled him to triumph again in Helsinki the following year, when the pace was slow and 13 runners were still in a leading pack at the bell. With only 30m left, Cova was in fifth place, but then found the energy to sprint for the line, passing all four runners in front of him and relegating Schildhauer into second place again.

Cova found the field playing into his hands again in Los Angeles.  The final began at an even slower pace than at Helsinki.  With 4km to go, Finland's Martti Vainio began to accelerate but Cova stayed with him and Vainio could not maintain the quicker pace and Cova swept past him after the bell.  Vainio was subsequently stripped of his silver medal after traces of an anabolic steroid were found in a urine sample.

A qualified accountant, Cova combined his athletics with his office job.  He was nicknamed 'the accountant' in part because of his profession but also because of the meticulous way he kept to his racing plans and stayed faithful to his tactics.

Alberto Cova, pictured in 1987
Alberto Cova, pictured in 1987
Cova won 14 Italian titles, including five cross-country championships, four over 5,000m and two at 10,000m, and attributes his success to his work with the top Italian coach, Giorgio Rondelli, at the Pro Patria athletics club in Milan.

His successes were tarnished somewhat when, in the wake of revelations of organised blood doping by the Italian federation, Cova confessed he had used the process by which the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is increased by the withdrawal and re-infusion of red blood cells.

Blood doping, or blood boosting, can improve performances by 5 per cent.  Yet Cova was never punished.

After his athletics career, Cova became involved in politics and was elected to the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament in 1994 after winning the Olgiate Comasco seat in Lombardy for Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

Two years later he ran again for the town of Erba but was defeated this time by the Northern League candidate, Cesare Rizzi.

Nowadays, Cova works as a commentator on athletics events for Italian television.

The Villa La Rotonda outside Inverigo
The Villa La Rotonda outside Inverigo
Travel tip:

Inverigo falls into the area of Lombardy known as Brianza, which extends from Monza, just north of Milan, to the triangle of mountainous land that sits between the forks at the southern end of Lake Como.  Brianza is best defined as a cultural, geographical and cultural region, first settled in the second millenium BC.  Inverigo's most interesting building is the Villa Rotonda, a castle built in the early part of the 19th century to a design by Luigi Cagnola inspired by Andrea Palladio's Villa Capra near Vicenza, also commonly known as La Rotonda.

Travel tip:

Erba, the town for which Alberto Cova stood and lost during his career as a politician representing the Forza Italia party, is situated about 10km (six miles) east of Como at the foot of the mountainous area known as the Lombard Prealps.  Its Romanesque church of Sant' Eufemia has an eye-catching 11th century bell tower and there are the remains of a medieval castle.

More reading:

Luigi Beccali - the 1,500m runner who brought home Italy's first track gold

Why the 1960 Olympics in Rome was an historic moment for African athletics

How cyclist Attilio Pavesi won Italy's first Olympic gold on the road

Also on this day:

1964: The birth of Italy's 1990 goals hero Salvatore 'Toto' Schillaci


22 September 2016

Andrea Bocelli - tenor

Singer has perfect voice for either opera or pop

Andrea Bocelli performing a concert outdoors in the  United States, where he has a big following
Andrea Bocelli performing a concert outdoors in the
 United States, where he has a big following
Tenor Andrea Bocelli was born on this day in 1958 in La Sterza, a hamlet or frazione of Lajatico in Tuscany.

Bocelli, who is blind, had poor eyesight from birth and was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, but he lost his sight completely at the age of 12 after an accident while playing football.

He always loved music and started to learn the piano at the age of six. But after hearing a recording by opera singer Franco Corelli, he set his heart on becoming a tenor.

Bocelli won his first singing competition in Viareggio with ‘O sole mio’ at the age of 14.

He has since sold 150 million records worldwide and performed for four US presidents, three Popes and the British Royal family. His voice has been acclaimed by critics as perfect for either opera or pop.

Bocelli originally studied law and spent one year working as a lawyer, but in 1992 the great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti heard a recording of his unique voice performing Italian rock and pop artist Zucchero’s song Miserere and helped his career take off.
Andrea Bocelli (right) with the late Luciano Pavarotti and rock  musician Zucchero at one of Pavarotti's fund-raising events
Andrea Bocelli (right) with the late Luciano Pavarotti and rock
 musician Zucchero at one of Pavarotti's fund-raising events

He sang Miserere with Zucchero during a European tour and performed it at the San Remo song festival, where he won the newcomer’s section with the highest ever number of votes. He later performed it at Pavarotti’s annual charity concert in Modena.

He has sung duets with many top names in the classical and popular music world, made recordings, performed in concerts and operas and appeared on television all over the world. 

Many of his recordings have enjoyed record sales figures. His album Sacred Arias became the all-time biggest-selling classical crossover album by a solo artist when sales reached five million copies and, with more than 20 million copies sold worldwide, his 1997 pop album Romanza became the best-selling album by an Italian artist of any genre in history.

Watch Andrea Bocelli perform his hit single Time to Say Goodbye with British artist Sarah Brightman

Bocelli was made a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2006 and was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010.

Bocelli's open-air Teatro del Silenzio, which he helped to create near his home town of Lajatico in Tuscany
Bocelli's open-air Teatro del Silenzio, which he helped
to create near his home town of Lajatico in Tuscany
Travel tip:

Lajatico in the province of Pisa lies among rolling hills within easy distance of Florence and Pisa. Every summer, Bocelli performs in a concert with guest singers and musicians at the Teatro del Silenzio, an open air amphitheatre he helped establish in his home town. 

Travel tip:

La Sterza, the hamlet where Andrea Bocelli was born, is about two and a half kilometres from Lajatico and is surrounded by gentle sloping countryside dotted with olive trees. It is a prime area for strawberry cultivation and the local people celebrate producing their crops each year with a strawberry festival at the beginning of May.