Showing posts with label 1993. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1993. Show all posts

24 June 2017

Piero Barone – singer

Young tenor found fame on TV talent show

Piero Barone, one of the stars of the group Il Volo
Piero Barone, one of the stars
of the group Il Volo
Piero Barone, one of the three singers who make up the Italian opera and pop group, Il Volo, was born on this day in 1993 in Naro, a town in the province of Agrigento in Sicily.

Il Volo hit the headlines after winning the Sanremo Music Festival in 2015. They came third when they represented Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest with their hit Grande Amore later that year in Austria and have since acquired growing popularity world wide.

In 2016, the group, together with tenor Placido Domingo, released Notte Magica – A Tribute to the Three Tenors, a live album featuring many of the songs performed by the Three Tenors (Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras) for their iconic concert held at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome on the eve of the Italia ’90 World Cup.

Piero’s father, Gaetano Barone, is a mechanic and his mother, Eleonora Ognibene, a housewife.

His musical talent was discovered by his grandfather, Pietro Ognibene, when he was just five years of age. Pietro was a blind musician who had written a song in Sicilian and when Piero sang it for him he was amazed by his voice.

The family helped Piero develop his talent and his grandfather paid for him to have piano lessons. Piero sang at school and in the church choir and even earned money as a wedding singer.

Il Volo performing at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015
Il Volo performing at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015
Considered a spinto tenor, a singer who easily reaches high notes but has elements of a baritone, Piero’s voice is powerful and he can sustain notes for a long while.

He had professional singing tuition while he was growing up and won a number of singing festivals in Italy. When he took part in the TV talent show, Ti Lascio Una Canzone, in 2009 he met fellow contestants Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble, with whom he would later form the group, Il Volo.

On the show, Piero sang with them for the first time in a rendition of the famous Neapolitan song, O’ Sole Mio.

Il Volo describe their music as ‘popera’ and sing at venues all over Italy and abroad. They have so far released five CDs, which have been hits all over the world.

Grande Amore was part of an album issued as L'amore si muove - Love moves - in Italy, which reached number one in the Italian album charts.

The view over Naro from the medieval castle
The view over Naro from the medieval castle
Travel tip:

Naro in Sicily, where Piero Barone was born, dates back to Roman times and the remains of catacombs and villas have been found there. The town has a medieval castle, the ruins of a Norman Church and several Baroque buildings. It is famous for the festival held on 18 June every year to remember the patron saint, San Calogero, when a statue of the saint is carried through the streets in a procession. The composer, Achille Campisiano, was born in the town in 1837.

Piazza Santa Croce is one of the most famous squares in Florence
Piazza Santa Croce is one of the most famous
squares in Florence
Travel tip:

Il Volo’s album, Notte Magico – A Tribute to the Three Tenors, was recorded at a live concert held on July 1, 2016 in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence accompanied by the orchestra of the Teatro Massimo di Palermo. The tenor, Placido Domingo, conducted the orchestra for eight pieces and joined with Il Volo to sing Non ti scordar di me. Set in one of the most famous squares in Florence, the concert took place against the backdrop of the 13th century church of Santa Croce, which contains the tombs of many illustrious Florentines, including Michelangelo and Galileo.

12 May 2017

Zeno Colò - Olympic skiing champion

Downhill ace reached speeds of almost 100mph with no helmet

Zeno Colò, pictured on the way to his 1947 skiing world speed record
Zeno Colò, pictured on the way to his 1947
skiing world speed record
Zeno Colò, the first Italian to win an Olympic alpine skiing title when he took the downhill gold at the 1952 Oslo Winter Games, died on this day in 1993, aged 72.

The winner, too, of the downhill and giant slalom World championship titles in Aspen in 1950, Colò achieved his success during a brief window in a life spent on skis.

Deprived of prime competitive years by the Second World War, part of which he spent as a prisoner of war, he began his career late, in 1947 at the age of 27, only to be banned for life in 1954 under the strict rules defining amateur status after he endorsed a brand of ski boots and a ski jacket.

Colò was born in Tuscany but in a mountainous part of the region in the village of Cutigliano, which is 678m (2,044ft) above sea level and is just 14km (9 miles) from Abetone, one of the largest ski resorts in the Apennines, with more than 50km (31 miles) of ski slopes, several of which were designed by Colò himself.

He began competitive skiing at the age of 14 and was selected for the Italian national team at 15. The outbreak of war brought his career to a stop but he maintained his skills as a member of an army alpine patrol in Cervinia, close to the Swiss border.

He remained in Cervinia after the war had finished and in 1947, the first year of his resumed career, on the Italian side of the nearby Klein Matterhorn (the Little Matterhorn), he set a world speed record of 158.8kph (98.7 mph), which stood for 13 years. The previous record of 136 kph (85mph), set by Leo Gasperl had stood for 16 years.

Using wooden skis,Zeno Colo won Olympic and world titles in downhill and giant slalom competitions
Using wooden skis,Zeno Colò won Olympic and world
titles in downhill and giant slalom competitions
Colò thus established himself as one of the first great downhill skiers. His so-called “turtle egg" position was the precursor of egg position that skiers still use today to reduce drag. His achievement in clocking such a speed was all the more remarkable, considering he used skis from wood and did not wear a helmet.

His big successes came at the World championships in 1950 in Aspen, when he won gold medals in both downhill and giant slalom, and the silver in slalom, followed two years later, at the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, with gold in the downhill.

Colò also finished fourth in the giant slalom and the slalom. Italy would wait two decades for its next Olympic gold in alpine skiing until Gustav Thöni's took giant slalom gold in 1972.

He was the first Italian to win the downhill title at the World championships and the first of any nationality to win the giant slalom, which was contested for the first time that year. Staying on in Aspen afterwards, he took in the North American championships, where he was also winner of the downhill.

Colò was Italy's torch bearer at the 1956 Olympics despite being banned
Colò was Italy's torch bearer at the 1956
Olympics despite being banned
After the Oslo Games, Colò linked his name to a ski boot maker and a ski jacket. According to the regulations of the time, this breached his amateur status and in 1954 he was barred from participating in subsequent competitions.

Colò protested against the disqualification but his appeals were dismissed. Although he was allowed to compete in the national championships, it was the end of his international career. Pointedly, Italy selected him for the Olympics of Cortina d'Ampezzo in 1956 as a simple torchbearer.

He retired from competition with a record in the Italian Alpine ski championships of 29 wins in downhill, four in giant slalom, 10 in special slalom and six in combined disciplines.

Skiing remained the focus of his life, however. Leaving behind competitive skiing, he became a ski instructor at the Abetone resort, which he helped promote and develop as the ski resort of the Pistoia province. In 1973 he designed three ski slopes, which he named Zeno 1, 2 and 3.

He retained his connection with the Alps as director of the ski school in Madesimo, in the province of Sondrio in northern Lombardy.

In 1989 the Italian Winter Sports Federation finally revoked the disqualification imposed on him in 1954, although by then his days of competition were in the distant past. A lifelong smoker, his death in 1972 was the result of lung cancer.

Since Colò won his Olympic gold, Italy has won 12 more Alpine skiing gold medals, three of the them collected by the great Alberto Tomba.

The Palazzo Pretorio in Cutigliano
The Palazzo Pretorio in Cutigliano
Travel tip:

Colò was born in Cutigliano and died in San Marcello Pistoiese, a small town less than 10km (6 miles) away. Cutigliano is an attractive medieval village, its roots possibly going back to Roman times but more likely to have origins in the eighth or ninth centuries, when it was a staging post on the mountain road linking Pistoia with Modena.  The 14th-century Palazzo Pretorio is built in Florentine Renaissance style.

Travel tip:

San Marcello Pistoiese is a much larger place than Cutigliano, with a population of about 7,000 and again with a medieval heritage.  The churches of Santa Caterina and San Marcello are worth visiting, the latter featuring a mural by the 18th century Florentine artist Giuseppe Gricci.  San Marcello is home to the Pistoia Mountains Astronomical Observatory.

20 February 2017

Ferruccio Lamborghini - car maker

Tractor manufacturer inspired by Enzo Ferrari's 'insult'

Ferruccio Lamborghini was dismissed by Enzo Ferrari as a mere tractor maker
Ferruccio Lamborghini was dismissed
by Enzo Ferrari as a mere tractor maker
Fans on one side of a great rivalry in Italy's performance car market were in mourning on this day in 1993 following the death at the age of 76 of Ferruccio Lamborghini.

Lamborghini, who made his fortune from building tractors to service Italy's post-war agricultural recovery, set up as a car maker in 1963 in direct competition with Enzo Ferrari, who had been selling sports cars with increasing success since 1947.

It is said there was no love lost between the two, not least because they first met when Lamborghini turned up at Ferrari's factory in Maranello, a few kilometres from Modena, to complain to Enzo in person that Ferrari were using inferior parts.

Lamborghini had become a collector of fast cars and owned a Mercedes-Benz 300SL, a Jaguar E-Type and two Maserati 3500 GTs among others.  He acquired his first Ferrari, a two-seater 250GT with bodywork designed by Pinin Farina, in 1958, and went on to own several more.

He was generally unimpressed, complaining that they were noisy and rough and essentially re-purposed track cars, with too little luxury refinement.  After encountering a series of mechanical problems, notably with the clutches, all of which required the cars to be returned to the factory, he accused Ferrari of fitting poor quality parts.

Lamborghini's raging bull logo
Lamborghini's raging bull logo
Yet Enzo is alleged to have dismissed his complaints, telling Ferruccio that he was not prepared to be lectured about high performance cars by a tractor manufacturer.  Insulted, Lamborghini decided he would hit back.

His first step was to prove his point about inferior parts by fitting one of his troublesome 250GTs with a clutch used in his tractors, delightedly making it known that the problem was solved and never returned.

Then, happy in the knowledge that the tractor business, as well as the heating and air conditioning business he had set up as a second income stream, would continue to make profits without requiring too much attention from him, he devoted himself to producing cars of his own.

Working on the basis that a car in the grand tourer category should have attributes that were lacking in Ferrari's offerings, namely high performance without compromising ride quality, and luxury interior appointments, he took only four months to produce his first car, unveiling the Lamborghini 350 GTV at the Turin Motor Show in October 1963.

Ferruccio sold the 350 GTV at a loss at first to remain competitive on price with the Ferraris but soon his factory at Sant'Agata Bolognese - just 40km (25 miles) from Maranello - was increasing production and expanding its workforce.

The Lamborghini Miura was hailed for its aerodynamic and beautiful design features
The Lamborghini Miura was hailed for its aerodynamic
and beautiful design features
Over the next few years, models such as the 400 GT, the Miura - the first to use the mid-engined, rear-wheel drive design that is now standard - the Urraco and the Espada established Lamborghini as Ferrari's main rival in what became known as the supercar market.

In opposition to Ferrari's famous prancing horse on the company badge, Lamborghini's symbol was a raging bull, inspired by his interest in bullfighting.  The Miura, in fact, was named after Don Eduardo Miura, a breeder of bulls from Seville, the Urraco after a bull breed, and the Espada after the Spanish word for sword.

Ferruccio's involvement with making cars ended in 1974 after a series of events beyond his control plunged all of his companies one by one into financial difficulties.  He retired to a 740-acre estate on the shores of Lake Trasimeno, near the town of Castiglione del Lago in Umbria, and began to produce wine.

It represented a return to his roots in farming, having been born into a family of grape producers in 1916 in Cento, a town in the province of Ferrara in Emilia-Romagna, only a few kilometres from Sant'Agata Bolognese.

His interest in his youth had been in agricultural vehicles.  He acquired skills as a mechanic while serving in the Italian Royal Air Force in the Second World War, opened a garage after the war and competed in the 1948 Mille Miglia motor race in a modified Fiat, which he crashed into the side of a restaurant in Fiano, near Turin, ending his participation after 700 miles (1,100km).

The Lamborghini Museum in Sant'Agata Bolognese
The Lamborghini Museum in Sant'Agata Bolognese
The accident put him off racing and encouraged him to devote his energy to using spare parts from military vehicles to turn into tractors before eventually building new tractors from components made for the purpose.

Lamborghini died in hospital in Perugia on February 20, 1993, after suffering a heart attack. He is buried at the Monumental Cemetery of the Certosa di Bologna monastery.

His cars live on, now produced under the ownership of Volkswagen.  In fact, recent years have seen the marque achieve record sales.

The Lamborghini name is also preserved in Ferruccio's son Tonino's range of clothing and accessories, while his daughter, Patrizia, runs the Lamborghini winery on the Umbrian estate.

In 1995, Tonino opened a museum in honour of his father's legacy, the Centro Studi e Ricerche Ferruccio Lamborghini in Dosso (Ferrara), which was moved to Sant'Agata Bolognese in 2014 with the new name Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum.

Travel tip:

Cento is an agricultural town in Emilia-Romagna that was once part of the dowry of Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI, who seized it from the Bishop of Bologna.  Things to see include the Rocca (castle), built by the Bishop in 1378, and the 18th century Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, in which is housed a civic gallery exhibiting paintings by the famed local artist, Giovan Francesco Barbieri, better known as Il Guercino, whose works can also be found in the Basilica Collegiata San Biagio. Apart from Lamborghini and Il Guercino, other notable people born in Cento include the grandfather of former British prime minister Benjamin D'Israeli and Jessica Rossi, who won a gold medal for shooting at the London 2012 Olympics.

Book your stay in Cento with

Lamborghini's estate offers beautiful views of the lake
Lamborghini's estate offers beautiful views of the lake
Travel tip:

Castiglione del Lago is a charming small town sitting on a promontory in the south-west corner of Lake Trasimeno. The old centre, which is ringed with medieval walls, is not only full of character but has an outstanding view of the lake and some fine buildings, including the Renaissance style Palazzo della Corgna, which has a museum and gallery and serves as the town hall, which is connected by a covered corridor with the Rocca del Leone, a pentagonal castle completed in 1247.  The lake shore nearby has some pleasant beaches and reputedly very good restaurants.

Hotels in Castiglione del Lago by

More reading:

Flaminio Bertoni - a sculptor who designed works of art on four wheels

Why Battista 'Pinin' Farina was so important to Ferrari

How a motor scooter changed the life of helicopter designer Corradino D'Ascanio

Also on this day:

(Picture credits: Ferrucio Lamborghni by kys96811; logo by vllmtt; Miura by Andrew Bossi; museum by Leonard J DeFrancisci; Lake Trasimeno by Schwarzer Kater; all via Wikimedia Commons)