Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts

4 March 2024

Alfonso Bialetti – engineer

The genius behind one of the most quintessentially Italian style symbols

Alfonso Bialetti (right) pictured in his workshop at his Crusinallo foundry in the 1920s
Alfonso Bialetti (right) pictured in his workshop
at his Crusinallo foundry in the 1930s
Alfonso Bialetti, who became famous for designing the aluminium Moka Express coffee maker, died on this day in 1970 in Omegna in Piedmont.

Originally designed in 1933, the Moka Express has been a style icon since the 1950s, and it remains a famous symbol of the Italian way of life to this day.

Bialetti was born in 1888 in Montebuglio, a district of the Casale Corte Cerro municipality in Cusio, Piedmont. As a young man, he is said to have alternated between assisting his father, who sold branding irons, and working as an apprentice in small workshops.

He emigrated to France while he was still young and became a foundry worker, acquiring metalworking skills by working for a decade in the French metal industry.

In 1918 he returned to Montebuglio, opened a foundry in nearby Crusinallo and began making metal products. This became the foundation of Alfonso Bialetti & Company.

Moka pots made today have the same design and still carry the L'omino con i baffi logo
Moka pots made today have the same design
and still carry the L'omino con i baffi logo

He came up with the brilliant idea of the Moka Express, which was to revolutionise the process of making coffee in the home.  The process by which hot water in the pot’s lower chamber is forced by the pressure of steam to percolate through a funnel containing coffee grounds is said to have been influenced by Bialetti’s observations of a washing machine used by his wife.

The name given to his invention was inspired by the city of Mokha in Yemen, one of the world’s leading centres for coffee production.

The Moka’s classic design, with its eight-faceted metallic body, is still manufactured by the Bialetti company today and it has become the world’s most famous coffee pot. The use of aluminium was a new idea at the time because it was not a metal that was traditionally used for domestic purposes.

The design transformed the Bialetti company into a leading Italian coffee machine designer and manufacturer.

At the start, Bialetti sold the Moka coffee pot only at local markets, but many millions of Moka coffee pots were to be sold throughout the world during the years to follow. The Moka express was small, cheap to produce, and easy to use, and made it possible for many more people to brew good coffee in their own homes.

When Alfonso Bialetti’s son, Renato, took over the business, he initiated a big marketing campaign to boost the profile of the Moka coffee pot and to ensure the popularity of the Bialetti brand in the face of many copy-cat products coming on to the market. 

Key to that campaign was the introduction of a Moka ‘trademark’ on every Bialetti coffee pot in the form of a cartoon caricature - L'omino con i baffi - the little man with the moustache - his right arm raised with finger outstretched as if summoning a waiter, based on a humorous doodle of Renato drawn by Paul Campani, an Italian cartoonist.

Alfonso Bialetti was the grandfather of Alberto Alessi, president of Alessi Spa, the famous Italian design house.

In 2007, Bialetti’s company was listed on the online stock market of the Italian stock exchange.

Montebuglio sits on a hillside a short distance from the picturesque Lago d'Orta
Montebuglio sits on a hillside a short distance
from the picturesque Lago d'Orta
Travel tip: 

Montebuglio, where Alfonso Bialetti was born, is a tiny village occupying a hillside location overlooking the valley of the Strona river in Piedmont, a short distance from Lago d’Orta, one of the smaller lakes of the Italian ‘lake district’ but no less picturesque than its better-known neighbour, Lago Maggiore, which lies a few kilometres to the east, the other side of Monte Falò.  Montebuglio is a parish of the municipality of Casale Corte Cerro, located 15km (nine miles) from Verbania, 50km (31 miles) from the Swiss town of Locarno and 100km (62 miles) northwest of Milan.  The popular Lake Maggiore resorts of Baveno and Stresa are within a short distance of Casale Corte Cerro. The largely wooded countryside around the area is crossed by a dense network of paths, by which walkers are able to reach vantage points on the steep, mountainous slopes from which, in clear weather, it is possible to enjoy a view that includes the Orta, Maggiore, Varese, Monate and Comabbio lakes. 

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Omegna is a beautiful and lively town on the north side of Lake Maggiore's neighbour, Lake Orta
Omegna is a beautiful and lively town on the north
side of Lake Maggiore's neighbour, Lake Orta
Travel tip: 

Omegna, where Bialetti spent the final years of his life and where the Alessi company still has its headquarters, is a lively town on the north side of Lake Orta, an area of outstanding natural beauty where tree-lined mountains meet the shimmering water of the lake. Omegna’s civilisation dates back to the Bronze Age, with settlements subsequently established there by the Ligures - a tribe from Greece - the Celts and Romans. Omegna, which is popular in the summer months, when it hosts many festivals and concerts, is sometimes referred to as the Riviera di San Giulio, named after an early Christian saint buried on an island in Lake Orta.  Among places to visit are a museum of the town’s history, the Romanesque church of Sant’Ambrogio and the Porta della Valle, sometimes called Porta Romana, one of five ancient protective gates still standing. 

Find accommodation in Omegna with Booking.com

More reading:

The Turin bar and hotel owner who invented the espresso machine 

The former peasant farmer who founded the Lavazza coffee company

The opening of Venice’s historic Caffè Florian

Also on March 4:

1678: The birth of composer Antonio Vivaldi

1848: The first Italian Constitution is approved by the King of Sardinia

1916: The birth of writer and novelist Giorgio Bassani

1943: The birth of singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla

(Picture credits: Montebuglio by Bart292CCC; Omegna by Fabio Pocci; via Wikimedia Commons)



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14 January 2024

Leonardo Servadio - entrepreneur

Tailor from Perugia whose Ellesse brand found global success

The Ellesse logo came to symbolise the style and quality associated with the brand's range
The Ellesse logo came to symbolise the style and
quality associated with the brand's range 
The tailor and businessman Leonardo Servadio, who founded the Italian sportswear company Ellesse, was born on this day in 1925 in Perugia.

Ellesse - the name is taken from Servadio’s initials as they are spelled in the Italian alphabet, elle and esse - was a groundbreaker in its field, the first manufacturer to display its brand name on the outside of a garment.

Under Leonardo’s management, it grew to become one of the best known names in sportswear, particularly in the worlds of tennis and skiing, and acquired a glamorous image that enabled it to expand successfully into the leisurewear market.

Now owned by the Pentland Group, a British company with a large portfolio of sportswear brands, at its peak Ellesse sponsored tennis stars such as Chris Evert and Boris Becker, the skier Alberto Tomba and the racing driver Alain Prost, as well as the New York Cosmos football team.

Leonardo, whose parents owned a textile business in Perugia, became interested in making clothes as a young man. He learned tailoring skills at the age of 14 so that he could work in the family shop.

The brilliant Chris Evert was one of  the tennis greats signed up by Ellesse
The brilliant Chris Evert was one of 
the tennis greats signed up by Ellesse
In 1959, after 20 years working for his father, he struck out on his own, acquiring a workshop in the Pallotta suburb, before opening his first factory in Via Mario Angeloni, to the west of the city centre. Trading as L & S, his initial speciality was trousers, designed for everyday use but smartly cut. They were so popular it was not long before they became a bestselling line and Leonardo stepped up production to become the second largest trouser manufacturer in Italy.

The company grew, taking on more employees and Leonardo’s brother in law, Franco D’Attoma, who would later become president of the city’s football team, joined the company, taking charge of administrative matters to allow Leonardo to focus on design.

Setting his sights first on skiing, which had always been a passion, he produced high quality skiing trousers, to which he added a distinctive touch in the form of a penguin logo attached to the thighs, and the company name on the lower part of the leg, a marketing device that at the time was unique.

He ploughed his profits into acquiring a plot of land to the west of the city at Ellera di Corciano, where he built a modern factory and warehouse, which remains the company headquarters today. It was around this time that the Ellesse name was born and a decision was taken to sponsor the Italian national alpine skiing team, the brand’s profile receiving a massive boost when Gustav Thöni won the giant slalom world cup wearing the Ellesse name and logo.

A new type of ski garment, which was dubbed the jet pant and featured protective knee pads and a flared bottom worn outside the boot, brought the company further success before Leonardo turned his attention to his other major sporting love, tennis.

With individual and tournament sponsorship as its marketing drivers, Ellesse soon became one of the most visible names in tennis. The Italian number one male player, Corrado Barazzutti, was the first to sign a clothing contract, sporting a new logo, the now-familiar red-and-orange symbol, a semi-circle said to represent the top of a tennis ball bisected by two ski tips.

Leonardo Servadio was often seen at tennis tournaments
Leonardo Servadio was often
seen at tennis tournaments
When stars such as Wimbledon champions Chris Evert and Boris Becker joined the Ellesse stable, along with four-times Grand Slam winner Guillermo Vilas of Argentina, the brand had positioned itself as one of the world’s leading tennis wear manufacturers, further cementing its market status by sponsoring a series of international tournaments that became known as the Ellesse Women’s Circuit.

At the time Leonardo sold 90 per cent of the company’s shares to the Pentland Group in 1993, having already struck a deal with Reebok for the sale of Ellesse’s United States operations, the company had annual sales in excess of £80 billion and a workforce of more than 450 employees.

Although he retained an interest in Ellesse as company president, Leonardo devoted much of his time thereafter to projects closer to home.

He turned the large rooms with mediaeval vaults in the city centre that were once home to his father's business into the Caffè di Perugia, which became popular with local people and a great attraction for tourists, including a bar, restaurant and wine shop.

Leonardo Servadio died in Perugia in January 2012 at the age of 87.

The Fontana Maggiore at the heart of Perugia's main square, Piazza IV Novembre
The Fontana Maggiore at the heart of Perugia's
main square, Piazza IV Novembre
Travel tip:

Perugia, Leonardo Servadio’s home city and the capital of the Umbria region, is an ancient city that sits on a high hilltop midway between Rome and Florence. In Etruscan times it was one of the most powerful cities of the period.  It is also a university town with a long history, the University of Perugia having been founded in 1308.  The presence of the University for Foreigners and a number of smaller colleges gives Perugia a student population of more than 40,000.  The centre of the city, Piazza IV Novembre, has a mediaeval fountain, the Fontana Maggiore, which was sculpted by Nicolo and Giovanni Pisano.  The city’s imposing Basilica di San Domenico, built in the early 14th century also to designs by Giovanni Pisano, is the largest church in Umbria, with a distinctive 60m (197ft) bell tower and a 17th-century interior, designed by Carlo Maderno, lit by enormous stained-glass windows. The basilica contains the tomb of Pope Benedict XI, who died from poisoning in 1304.

A panorama over the skyline of Corciano, the beautiful town just outside Perugia
A panorama over the skyline of Corciano, the
beautiful town just outside Perugia
Travel tip:

Corciano, a beautiful town in Umbria of which Ellera di Corciano is a neighbouring village, can be found about 12km (7 miles) west of the city of Perugia. Surrounded by the mediaeval walls built in the 13th and 14th centuries, it is characterised by small streets and stairways and houses built in limestone and travertine, dominated by the . The village is dominated by a majestic castle, the Rocca Paolina, a monumental fortress built to a design by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger between 1540 and 1543. The town has an imposing gateway, the Porta Santa Maria, while the town's main church, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta contains an altarpiece painting of the Assumption of the Virgin by Pietro Vannucci, known as il Perugino. 



Also on this day:

1451: The birth of composer Franchino Gaffurio

1507: The birth of painter Luca Longhi

1552: The birth of lawyer Alberico Gentili

1883: The birth of fashion designer Nina Ricci

1919: The birth of politician Giulio Andreotti


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9 January 2024

Marco Polo - merchant and explorer

Venetian trader who described travels in China 

A 19th century portrait in mosaic of Marco Polo at Palazzo Tursi in Genoa
A 19th century portrait in mosaic of
Marco Polo at Palazzo Tursi in Genoa
The Italian explorer Marco Polo, who achieved a place in history as the first European to write in extensive detail about life in China, is thought by many historians to have died on or close to this day in 1324 in his home city of Venice.

Accounts of his final days say he had been confined to bed with an illness and that his doctor was concerned on January 8 that he was close to death. Indeed, so worried were those around his bedside that they sent for a local priest to witness his last will and testament, which Polo dictated in the presence of his wife, Donata, and their three daughters, who were appointed executors.

The supposition has been that he died on the same evening. The will document was preserved and is kept by the Biblioteca Marciana, the historic public library of Venice just across the Piazzetta San Marco from St Mark’s Basilica. It shows the date of the witnessing of Polo’s testament as January 9, although it should be noted that under Venetian law at the time, the change of date occurred at sunset rather than midnight.

Confusingly, the document recorded his death as occurring in June 1324 and the witnessing of the will on January 9, 1323. The consensus among historians, however, is that he reached his end in January, 1324.

Born in 1254 - again the specific date is unknown - Marco Polo was best known for his travels to Asia in the company of his father, Niccolò, and his uncle, Maffeo.

Having left Venice in 1271, when Marco was 16 or 17, they are said to have reached China in 1275 and remained there for 17 years. Marco wrote about the trip in a book that was originally titled Book of the Marvels of the World but is today known as The Travels of Marco Polo. It is considered a classic of travel literature.

A map showing the journeys said to have been  made by Marco Polo on his travels to China
A map showing the journeys said to have been 
made by Marco Polo on his travels to China
The book, which was written in prison after he had been captured during a war between the rival republics of Venice and Genoa upon returning to Italy, describes his experiences in China in terms of first-hand accounts. Sceptical experts have suggested some of the stories might have been appropriated from other explorers and merchants and passed off by Polo as his own. Yet although some of his descriptions of the exotic animals he ecountered seem somewhat fantastical, the accuracy of much of what he described has generally been confirmed in subsequent years.

The book, which Polo dictated to Rustichello da Pisa, a fellow prisoner of the Genoese who happened to be a writer, introduced European audiences to the mysteries of the Eastern world, including the wealth and sheer size of the Mongol Empire and China, providing descriptions of China, Persia, India, Japan and other Asian cities and countries.

Polo’s father and uncle had traded with the Middle East for many years and had become wealthy in the process. They had visited the western territories of the Mongol Empire on a previous expedition, established strong trading links and visited Shangdu, about 200 miles (320km) north of modern Beijing, where Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan dynasty, had an opulent summer palace, and which was immortalised by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge as Xanadu.

Their journey with Marco originally took them to Acre in present-day Israel, where - at the request of Kublai Khan - they secured some holy oil from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. They continued to the Persian port city of Hormuz and thereafter followed overland routes that later became known as the Silk Road.

Travelling through largely rough terrain, the journey to Shangdu took the best part of three years.  Marco Polo’s long stay owed itself partly to Kublai Khan taking him into his court and sending him on various official missions.  In that capacity, he extended his travels to include what is now the city of Hangzhou and may have crossed the border into India and what is now Myanmar.

A painting of unknown origin of Marco Polo's father and uncle presenting a gift to Kublai Khan
A painting of unknown origin of Marco Polo's
father and uncle presenting a gift to Kublai Khan
The Polos left China in around 1291 or 1292, given the responsibility to escort a young princess to Persia, where she was to marry the Mongol ruler. Their route from Persia took through parts of what is now Turkey, to Constantinople, and then north along the Adriatic to Venice.  They arrived home in 1295.

It was during the second of four wars between Venice and their trading rival Genoa that Marco Polo was captured.  He remained a prisoner until 1299, when a peace treaty allowed for his release.  Thereafter, he continued his life as a merchant, achieving prosperity, but rarely left Venice or its territories again until his death.

His book, known to Italians under the title Il Milione after Polo’s own nickname, introduced the West to many aspects of Chinese culture and customs and described such things as porcelain, gunpowder, paper money and eyeglasses, which were previously unknown in Europe. Contrary to some stories, his discoveries did not include pasta, which was once held widely to have been imported by Marco Polo but is thought actually to have existed in the Italy of the Etruscans in the 4th century BC. 

Christopher Columbus and other explorers are said to have been inspired by Marco Polo to begin their own adventures, Columbus discovering the Americas effectively by accident after setting sail across the Atlantic in the expectation of reaching the eastern coast of Asia.

Marco Polo is buried at the church of San Lorenzo
Marco Polo is buried at the
church of San Lorenzo
Travel tip:

One of the wishes Marco Polo expressed on his deathbed was that he be buried in the church of San Lorenzo in the Castello sestiere of Venice, about 850m (930 yards) on foot from Piazza San Marco. The church, whick dates back to the ninth century and was rebuilt in the late 16th century, houses the relics of Saint Paul I of Constantinople as well as Marco Polo’s tomb. Castello is the largest of the six sestieri, stretching east almost from the Rialto Bridge and including the shipyards of Arsenale, once the largest naval complex in Europe, the Giardini della Biennale and the island of Sant’Elena. Unlike its neighbour, San Marco, Castello is a quiet neighbourhood, where tourists can still find deserted squares and empty green spaces.

Arched Byzantine windows thought to have been from the Polo family home
Arched Byzantine windows thought to
have been from the Polo family home
Travel tip: 

The Polo family home in Venice, which was largely destroyed in a fire in 1598, was in the Cannaregio sestiere close to where the Teatro Malibran now stands, in Corte Seconda del Milion, one of two small square that recall Marco Polo’s nickname, Il Milione, which may have been coined as a result of his enthusiasm for the wealth he encountered at the court of Kublai Khan in China or as a result of his being from the Polo Emilioni branch of the family. The Byzantine arches visible in Corte Seconda del Milion are thought to have been part of the Polo house.  The Teatro Malibran was originally inaugurated in 1678 as the Teatro San Giovanni Grisostomo, opening with the premiere of Carlo Pallavicino's opera Vespasiano.  It was renamed Teatro Malibran in 1835 in honour of a famous soprano, Maria Malibran, who was engaged to sing Vincenzo Bellini's La sonnambula there but was so shocked as the crumbling condition of the theatre that she refused her fee, insisting it be put towards the theatre’s upkeep instead. 

Also on this day:

1878: The death of Victor Emmanuel II, first King of Italy

1878: Umberto I succeeds Victor Emanuel II

1944: The birth of architect Massimiliano Fuksas

2004: The death of political philosopher Norberto Bobbio


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21 December 2023

Italo Marchioni - ice cream maker

Italian-American inventor of the waffle cone


Italo Marchioni hailed from mountainous northern Veneto
Italo Marchioni hailed from
mountainous northern Veneto
Italo Marchioni, the ice cream manufacturer credited by many as the inventor of the ice cream cone, was born in the tiny mountain hamlet of Peaio in northern Veneto on this day in 1868.

Marchioni learned his skills in Italy, where gelato was well established as a popular treat, but in common with so many Italians during what were tough economic times in the late 19th century he took the bold step of emigrating to the United States in 1890.

Records suggest his first American home was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and that it was there that he married Elvira De Lorenzo in 1893.

Marchioni - by then known by his Americanised name of Marchiony - later settled in Hoboken, a city in New Jersey with a strong pull for Italian immigrants that retains an Italian flavour to this day, with almost a quarter of the area’s population thought to have Italian roots. 

As he had done at home, Marchiony made and sold ice cream, starting out by selling lemon ice from a single cart, crossing the Hudson River every day to wheel his cart around the Wall Street financial district, where the traders were good customers.

His invention of what we now know as the ice cream cone came about after he found that his profits were being impacted by the frequent loss of the small glass dishes or glasses that he used to serve his ice creams.

The designs that accompanied Marchioni's patent application
The designs that accompanied
Marchioni's patent application
He would ask his customers to return the dish when they had finished and while many did, others forgot. Combined with the inevitable breakages, this meant that Marchiony had to spend a sizeable proportion of his takings on restocking with dishes.

By then, Marchiony was spending the evenings in the kitchen at the family home making waffles to accompany his ice cream. He found that if he folded a freshly made waffle before it had fully cooled, he could shape it into a cup.

Now he had a container for his ice cream that was edible. They quickly became known as “toots” according to some accounts, perhaps because Marchiony told his customers they could eat all of it, the container as well as the ice cream - “tutti”.

Ice cream vendors themselves were often called “hokey-pokey men”, thought to have derived from Marchiony’s habit of offering a taste of his ice cream with the words “ecco un poco” - “here’s a little”.

Marchiony’s cones became hugely popular. He soon took on his first employee, followed by many more, in time operating a “fleet” of 45 or 50  ice cream carts on the streets of Manhattan.

Keeping up with demand by making his waffle cups by hand became impossible, so the ever-enterprising Marchiony adapted the design of a waffle iron to build a device which could mass produce ice cream cups. He filed for a patent on the device in 1902, which was awarded the following year, rented a garage and set the machine up there.

In 1904, he acquired a factory in Grand Street, Hoboken, to manufacture cones as well as rectangular wafers that were either flat or moulded into shapes that resembled clams or bananas. Horse-drawn wagons carrying the Marchiony name supplies retailers all over the New York area. At its peak, the factory reputedly could turn out 150,000 cones in 24 hours.

An ice cream cart similar to that operated by Marchioni in late 19th century New York
An ice cream cart similar to that operated
by Marchioni in late 19th century New York
Although Marchiony’s descendants - records show he was married twice and had seven children - hail him as the inventor of the ice cream cone, the story has at times been disputed.

One popular alternative story is that the ice cream cone was invented at the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis, Missouri.  Ernest Hamwi, an immigrant from Syria, had a stall making zalabia, a wafer dessert, next to one selling ice cream. The two stallholders chatted and Hamwi suggested that the two things might be sold in combination. Hamwi eventually opened the Missouri Cone Company.

In 1913, Marchiony was accused of patent infringement by his cousin, Frank, another immigrant from Italy who also had a cart selling ice creams in New York City. By the time the accusation was made, Frank was in business with Antonio Valvona, an Italian migrant who had originally settled in Manchester, England, where he was one of dozens of Italian ice cream makers. He had patented a machine to produce edible cup-shaped biscuits in 1901.

Italo admitted his association with Frank and the judge found in the latter’s favour, ruling that the device Italo patented was too similar not to have been a copy of Valvona’s. Despite the judgement, Italo continued in business as before.

He retired just before the outbreak of World War Two at the age of 70, selling the business to the Schrafft Candy Company, and he died in 1954 at the age of 86.

Peaio is a hamlet in the beautiful Cadore Valley in the north of Italy's Veneto region
Peaio is a hamlet in the beautiful Cadore Valley
in the north of Italy's Veneto region
Travel tip:

Italo Marchioni’s home village of Peaio today has a population of just 138 residents. Situated on the SS51 highway in the Cadore Valley in the northern part of the Veneto region, it is about 50km (31 miles) north of Belluno, the provincial capital, and approximately 140km (87 miles) from Venice.  Once an undeveloped and poor district, the Cadore Valley now has a thriving economy, which is based largely on tourism, the area being popular for trekking in the summer months and skiing in the winter, with the ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo situated in the upper part of the valley, near the border with Austria.  The painter Titian was born in the town of Pieve di Cadore, just 12km (7.5 miles) from Peaio.

Picturesque Piazza del Duomo is one of the many charms of the town of Belluno in the Dolomites
Picturesque Piazza del Duomo is one of the many
charms of the town of Belluno in the Dolomites
Travel tip:

Belluno, the capital of the province of which Peaio is part, is a beautiful town in the Dolomites, situated just over 100km (62 miles) north of Venice. It occupies an elevated position above the Piave river surrounded by rocky slopes and dense woods that make for an outstanding scenic background. The architecture of the historic centre has echoes of the town's Roman and mediaeval past. Notable Renaissance-era buildings including the 16th century Cattedrale di San Martino in the picturesque Piazza del Duomo and the nearby 15th century Palazzo dei Rettori, which is the former town hall. The Piazza dei Martiri, the scene of an execution of partisans during the Second World War, is now a popular meeting place. Local cuisine includes some unusual cheeses, including Schiz, a semi-soft cheese often served fried in butter.

Also on this day:










22 November 2023

Beatrice Trussardi – entrepreneur

Art promoter chosen among the 100 most successful Italian women

Beatrice Trussardi has become an important promoter of art and design
Beatrice Trussardi has become an
important promoter of art and design
Art and design promoter and business woman Beatrice Trussardi, the daughter of fashion designer Nicola Trussardi, was born on this day in 1971 in Milan.

Since 1999, Beatrice has been president of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, which was founded by her father to promote contemporary art and culture.

Nicola Trussardi, who was born in Bergamo, went to work in his grandfather’s glove making business in the city and turned it into a multimillion-dollar business that helped contribute to the popularity of the Made in Italy label throughout the world.

Beatrice, who was his eldest child, obtained a degree in Art, Business and Administration at New York University and went on to work at the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.  

She directed the move by the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi from its permanent exhibition space in Milan to develop a new, itinerant model. The foundation now focuses on holding art exhibitions in historical monuments and forgotten buildings in Milan, that were not previously accessible to the public.

As part of this, Palazzo Litta, Palazzo Dugnani and Palazzo Citterio have all been restored, enabling them to host major exhibitions by contemporary artists.

In 2021, Beatrice launched the Beatrice Trussardi Foundation, a nomadic art foundation, working with artistic director Massimiliano Gioni to produce and exhibit art installations in international locations. Issues such as climate change, gender inequality and talent empowerment are at the core of the foundation’s research programme.

Beatrice was CEO of her father's Trussardi Group for 11 years
Beatrice was CEO of her father's
Trussardi Group for 11 years
Beatrice became president and CEO of Trussardi Group in 2003, positions she held until 2014.

In 2007, she enrolled in the Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st century programme at the John F Kennedy School of Government.

Beatrice became one of 237 people selected by the World Economic Forum to be part of its Young Global Leaders group in 2005. She joined the Women’s Leadership Board at the John F Kennedy School of Government, which was founded to promote gender equality in society and politics, in 2007. She became president of the Friends of Aspen at Aspen Institute Italia, whose aim is to analyse and discuss important economic, social and cultural issues fundamental to development.

She was appointed to the Board of Directors of Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo in Rome in 2013 by invitation of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and, in 2014, she joined the Board of Directors of Comitato Fondazioni Italiane Arte Contemporanee.

Beatrice is married to businessman Federico Roveda and the couple have two children. She was chosen by Forbes Italia as among the 100 Most Successful Italian Women in 2019.

Bergamo's Città Alta is guarded by imposing walls built by the Venetians in the 16th century
Bergamo's Città Alta is guarded by imposing
walls built by the Venetians in the 16th century
Travel tip:

Bergamo, where Trussardi’s father, Nicola, was born, is a beautiful city in Lombardy about 50km (31 miles) northeast of Milan. It has upper and lower town that are separated by impressive fortifications. The magical upper town - the Città Alta - has gems of mediaeval and Renaissance architecture surrounded by the impressive 16th century walls, which were built by the Venetians who ruled at the time. Outside the walls, the elegant Città Bassa, which grew up on the plain below, has some buildings that date back to the 15th century as well as imposing architecture added in the 19th and 20th centuries. While the Città Alta is the draw for many tourists, the lower town also has art galleries, churches and theatres and a wealth of good restaurants and smart shops to enjoy.  The Trussardi family home, Casa Trussardi, which they acquired in 1983, sits on top of the south-facing walls overlooking Viale delle Mura, with commanding views over the Città Bassa and the vast Po Valley.

Travel tip:

Palazzo Litta, also known as Palazzo Arese-Litta, is a Baroque palace on Corso Magenta in the centre of Milan, opposite the church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore and a short distance from the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses Leonardo da Vinci’s wall painting of The Last Supper. Built between 1642 and 1648, it dates back to the period of Spanish rule of the city. The original owner was Count Bartolomeo Arese, a member of one of Milan’s most influential families of the period, who went on to become President of the Senate of Milan in 1660. The structure of the palace has changed over time, although parts of architect Francesco Maria Richini’s original design remain intact. Having become the property of the Litta family in the mid-18th century, the palace was given a facelift when Bartolomeo Bolli constructed the current façade, highly decorated with Rococò features. Apart from its exhibition spaces, the palace is home to the oldest theatre in Milan, originally Richini’s oratory and later turned into a private theatre for the use of the Arese family and guests. It is still in use as the Teatro Litta di Milano.

Also on this day:

1533: The birth of Alfonso II d’Este, last Duke of Ferrara

1710: The death of Baroque composer Bernardo Pasquini

1902: The birth of Mafia boss Joe Adonis

1911: The birth of Olympic champion cyclist Giuseppe Olmo

1947: The birth of footballer and coach Nevio Scala

1949: The birth of entrepreneur Rocco Commisso

1954: The birth of former prime minister Paolo Gentiloni


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18 November 2023

Gianni Mazzocchi - publisher

Business success marred by personal heartache

Gianni Mazzocchi working on an edition of Domus, his first magazine venture
Gianni Mazzocchi working on an edition
of Domus, his first magazine venture
The publisher Gianni Mazzocchi, a magazine editor-proprietor who founded more than 15 national magazines, of which several titles, including Il Mondo, L'Europeo and Quattroruote, continued to be published long after his death, was born on this day in 1906 in Ascoli Piceno in Marche.

Mazzocchi became a publisher by accident after quitting university to support his family. But through a combination of boundless energy and a chance meeting with the architect and designer Gio Ponti, he launched himself as a magazine proprietor with enormous success.

His life was bookended by personal heartache. His early years were marred when illness and misfortune struck his family. Towards the end of his life he suffered the ordeal of having his eldest daughter kidnapped and was then left a widower, the stress of the episode being blamed for the sudden death of his wife. 

Mazzocchi, whose father was a breeder of silkworms at a time when such skills could yield a good living, seemed destined for a career in the law after winning a scholarship to study jurisprudence in Rome.

But the family’s prosperity abruptly collapsed when Mazzocchi’s father lost his business to a confidence trickster. With both his mother and sister in poor health and his father struggling with mountainous debts, Gianni abandoned his studies in order to find work. He moved to Milan, believing that opportunities were likely to be more plentiful in the northern city.

Gio Ponti, the architect and designer, put his trust in Mazzocchi's talents
Gio Ponti, the architect and designer,
put his trust in Mazzocchi's talents
His first offer of work came from Father Giovanni Semeria, a prominent Catholic priest concerned with fund-raising projects aimed at improving the lives of victims of poverty in southern Italy.  Mazzocchi was charged with typing up manuscripts of books Father Semeria produced and sold to raise money.

This gave him an introduction to publishers and book traders in Milan and it was not long before he found a permanent position paying enough for him to send money home as well as keep himself.

It was through Father Semeria that Mazzocchi met Ponti - with whom he shares a birthday - who was impressed enough by the young man’s talents to invite him to take over the running of his own architecture and design magazine, Domus, which was facing closure.

Mazzocchi and Ponti assembled a group of backers and Mazzocchi launched a new publishing company, taking over all aspects of administration and marketing while Ponti concentrated on the content. Over time, Mazzocchi increased his stake in the company, becoming sole proprietary by 1940, and began to publish other titles, using Domus as the template.  Able to anticipate public appetites, he turned a magazine about needlework into an early fashion title and acquired another that foresaw the growing interest in homes and interior design.

His first venture into news magazines came with Panorama, which appeared in 1939 as a fortnightly chronicle of public events. It was closed down after a year by the Fascist authorities, which was enough to persuade Mazzocchi to steer clear of news for the remainder of World War Two.

Panorama, which is still published today, was revived by the Mondadori publishing house and could be seen as an opportunity that slipped through Mazzocchi’s hands, but he had his own successes in the news market. 

L'Europeo became Italy's leading news magazine under Mazzocchi
L'Europeo became Italy's leading
news magazine under Mazzocchi
After the war, he launched L’Italia libera, a centre-left daily newspaper, and then, in partnership with Arrigo Benedetti, L’Europeo, for which a team of leading journalists was assembled. Finding a market along Italy’s growing intellectual class, the magazine prospered sufficiently for Mazzocchi to expand still further.

A second major news magazine, Il Mondo, launched in 1949, became Italy’s leading political title, before Mazzocchi expanded his interests to include car magazines such as Quattroruote and L’Auto Italiana. He had a car collection of his own that included Ferraris and Alfa Romeos.

Mazzocchi married one of his editors, Emma Robbutti, and they had two daughters, Maria Grazia and Giovanna. But their world was shattered in May 1978 when Maria Grazia, by then a journalist aged 33 and the mother of her own two sons, disappeared after leaving her father’s editorial offices to meet a friend for dinner.

It eventually transpired she had been kidnapped, a not uncommon occurrence in Italy in the 1970s as gangs snatched individuals, usually prominent or wealthy members of Italian society or their relatives, for political or criminal purposes.

The motive in this instance was simply to extract money. The original demand was for three billion lire but Mazzocchi secured his daughter’s release for one and a half billion after she had been held for two months. Maria Grazia was physically unharmed but the psychological strain was too much for her mother, Emma, who died within days of her release.

Gianni Mazzocchi was himself never the same man, losing much of the energy that had seen him work into his 70s. He died in 1984 at the age of 77, being laid to rest in a family mausoleum he had built at Gignese on Lake Maggiore.

His younger daughter, Giovanna, took over the running of the business, while Maria Grazia became president of the Domus Academy, a private school of design founded by her father two years before his death.

The elegant Piazza del Popolo at the centre of  the town is Ascoli Piceno's focal point
The elegant Piazza del Popolo at the centre of 
the town is Ascoli Piceno's focal point
Travel tip: 

Ascoli Piceno, where Gianni Mazzocchi was born, is a beautiful small city located in the Marche region of Italy, about 30km (19 miles) inland from the Adriatic coast. It is known for its picturesque mediaeval architecture and rich cultural heritage. Main attractions include the Piazza del Popolo, noted for the honey-coloured travertine stone of its paving and the historic buildings around it. Lined with cafes and restaurants, the square is a lively meeting place. Other places worth visiting include the Palazzo dell’Arengo, which houses a museum showcasing the history of the city, the Ventidio Basso Theatre and the Cathedral of Sant’Emidio, which dates back to the fifth century and houses an altarpiece by Carlo Crivelli. According to traditional accounts, Ascoli Piceno had some 200 towers in the Middle Ages, of which around 50 can still be seen today.

The Giardino Alpinia above Gignese offers stunning views across Lake Maggiore
The Giardino Alpinia above Gignese offers
stunning views across Lake Maggiore
Travel tip:

Located in a scenic position on the slopes of Mount Mottarone, overlooking Lago Maggiore, Gignese, where Mazzocchi was laid to rest in the family tomb, is said to have been founded by Genesio Dotti, from Genoa, in the 12th century.  It has strong connections with both the Visconti and Borromeo families.  Gignese became well known for the manufacture of umbrellas and today boasts the Museo dell’Ombrello e del Parasole (Museum of the Umbrella and Parasol), which houses an interesting and unique collection of umbrellas and parasols from the period between 1840-1940.  A nearby attraction is the Giardino Alpinia in the hamlet of Alpino, a botanical garden dedicated to the flowers and grasses of the Alps. The panoramic views from the garden’s natural balcony include Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta, the Lombardy plain and the Alps.

Also on this day:

1626: The consecration of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome

1630: The birth of Eleonora Gonzaga – Holy Roman Empress

1804: The birth of military leader Alfonso Ferrero La Marmora

1849: The birth of builder and architect Stefano Cardu

1891: The birth of architect and designer Gio Ponti

1911: The birth of poet Attilio Bertolucci


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30 October 2023

Luisa Spagnoli - businesswoman

Inventor of Baci chocolates who diversified into fashion


Luisa Spagnoli became the driving force of Perugina chocolates after Italy entered the First World War
Luisa Spagnoli became the driving force of Perugina
chocolates after Italy entered the First World War
The businesswoman Luisa Spagnoli, who is credited with creating the Perugina company’s famous Baci chocolates and later developed clothing lines using wool from angora rabbits, was born on this day in 1877 in Perugia.

Spagnoli was one of the four partners who launched the Perugina brand in 1907. She is said to have invented the confection that came to be known as Baci as a way to avoid wasting surplus chocolate and hazelnuts left over from the company’s other lines.

Perugina, now owned by Nestlé, grew to be Italy’s biggest chocolate manufacturer and Baci its best-selling product. The romantic messages inside the wrappers that remain a popular feature of the chocolates to this day are said to have been inspired by the clandestine romance between Spagnoli and the son of one of the other partners.

Her Angora Spagnoli business evolved into the Luisa Spagnoli fashion line that was developed by her son, Mario, and grandson, Lino, who took the business forward after Luisa had died in 1935, at the age of just 57.

Spagnoli was born Luisa Sargentini, the daughter of a fishmonger, Pasquale. After leaving school at 13 to work on the accountancy and commercial side of her father’s business, she was married at the age of 21 to Annibale Spagnoli.

She went into business with her husband when they took over the running of a grocery store in Perugia.  They produced their own sugared almonds to sell in the store, expanding into jams, confectionery and chocolate.

Today's Baci chocolates are still produced according to Luisa's 1922 recipe
Today's Baci chocolates are still produced
according to Luisa's 1922 recipe
In 1907, Annibale and Luisa joined up with pasta manufacturer Francesco Buitoni and another businessman, Leone Ascoli, in launching La Società Perugina.

The first product line was sugared almonds, but recognising the potential of chocolate they opened a factory at Fontivegge, near the city’s railway station, which produced cocoa powder and cocoa butter. 

Italy’s entry into World War One in 1915 brought profound changes. After the men were enlisted to do military service, Luisa found herself in charge of the business. As resources became limited, Luisa turned her focus to chocolate, blending caramelised sugar with cocoa to produce a 51% dark chocolate.  

Sugary sweets were defined by the Italian government as superfluous, luxury goods as they tried to avoid shortages and their production was prohibited, but Luisa priced her chocolate bars at a level that meant they were available to all and could not be classed as luxuries. For good measure, boxes of bars were sent to fortify Italian soldiers on the frontline.

In 1922, Annibale Spagnoli left the business, apparently because of internal friction within the company. Luisa remained, running the business jointly with Francesco Buitoni’s son, Giovanni.

Giovanni Buitoni, with whom Luisa had a clandestine romance
Giovanni Buitoni, with whom Luisa
had a clandestine romance
It was in the same year that Baci chocolates was born. Ever resourceful, Luisa was determined that the surplus chocolate and hazelnuts left at the end of each batch of bars produced would not be thrown away. She had the idea to use the excess to make small, individual chocolates, wrapping chocolate round a blob of chopped hazelnuts and gianduja - a concoction of chocolate and hazelnut paste - topped with a whole hazelnut.

She thought the sweet resembled a clenched fist and decided to call it a cazzotto - the Italian word for punch. Giovanni, however, thought it was an inappropriate name for something meant to give pleasure and suggested bacio, which is Italian for kiss.

Buitoni was 32 and Luisa 46 but despite the age gap - and the fact that Luisa was already married - a romance developed between the two, which was to continue clandestinely for the rest of her life. While they were working together in the factory, she would secretly wrap love notes around chocolates as she sent them to Giovanni to taste.

These became the inspiration for the way Baci were marketed - chocolate kisses with a romantic note attached as the perfect present for young lovers.

At a time when women in business were a rarity, Spagnoli proved herself not only to have a shrewd commercial brain but also to be one of the most forward-thinking bosses of her age. 

She had houses and a swimming pool built for Perugina’s workforce and organised leisure activities to aid their wellbeing. During the war, she provided a nursery so that female employees with young children could continue to work even when their husbands were away at the front.

The fashion stores opened by her son, Mario, carry his mother;s name
The fashion stores opened by her son,
Mario, carry his mother;s name

Her first moves into the fashion business came at around the same time as Baci were born as she began breeding long-haired angora rabbits, from which wool could be produced not by shearing their coats but simply by combing. She set up a production plant in the Perugia suburb of Santa Lucia, where the wool was used to make shawls, boleros and other fashionable garments. 

After a favourable reception when she showed off her products at the Milan Fair, she recruited a network of 8,000 breeders to supply the business. 

Sadly, Spagnoli did not live long enough to see her fashion enterprise reach its potential. Diagnosed with throat cancer, she moved at Giovanni’s insistence to Paris in order to receive the best care available but died there in 1935.

Two years after her death, Mario Spagnoli - one of three sons she had with Annibale - turned Angora Spagnoli from a small, artisan concern to industrial scale production, opening a new factory in Santa Lucia. Later, together with his son, Annibale - known as Lino - they opened a network of Luisa Spagnoli fashion stores, which still exist today.

In the 1940s, at a time when many Italians suffered from hunger and cold thanks to the deprivations of war, Mario maintained his mother’s spirit of generosity towards the workers who helped generate the company’s profits, making sure their efforts were rewarded with a Christmas gift of shirts, socks and wool to a value of 4,000 lire, a considerable sum at the time.

His mother is buried in the crypt adjacent to the Santa Lucia factory.  Her name lives on, though, in the packaging on Baci chocolates - still in the blue of the originals - with the subtitle 'Fondente Luisa', while the Perugina 51% dark chocolate bar is still marketed as the Perugina Luisa bar.

Piazza IV Novembre is the main square of the Umbrian capital, Perugia, where Spagnoli was born
Piazza IV Novembre is the main square of the
Umbrian capital, Perugia, where Spagnoli was born
Travel tip:

Perugia, the capital of the Umbria region, is an ancient city that sits on a high hilltop midway between Rome and Florence. In Etruscan times it was one of the most powerful cities of the period.  It is also a university town with a long history, the University of Perugia having been founded in 1308.  The presence of the University for Foreigners and a number of smaller colleges gives Perugia a student population of more than 40,000.  The centre of the city, Piazza IV Novembre, has a mediaeval fountain, the Fontana Maggiore, which was sculpted by Nicolo and Giovanni Pisano. The city’s imposing Basilica di San Domenico, built in the early 14th century also to designs by Giovanni Pisano, is the largest church in Umbria, with a distinctive 60m (197ft) bell tower and a 17th-century interior, designed by Carlo Maderno, lit by enormous stained-glass windows. The basilica contains the tomb of Pope Benedict XI, who died from poisoning in 1304.

Perugia's historic Pasticceria Sandri
Perugia's historic
Pasticceria Sandri
Travel tip:

Luisa Spagnoli’s main store in Perugia is in Corso Vannucci, right in the heart of the city, which connects Piazza IV Novembre with Piazza Italia. The street takes its name from Pietro Vannucci , a painter born in Città della Pieve and best known by his nickname Il Perugino. His frescoes decorate the Palazzo dei Priori, one of the most important buildings on Corso Vannucci along with the 15th century Palazzo dei Notari and the House of Baldo degli Ubaldi, the deconsecrated church of Sant'Isidoro and the Palazzo Donini.  The street is also home to the historic Pasticceria Sandri, which has been trading there since 1860.






Also on this day:






22 October 2023

Ettore Boiardi - entrepreneur

Emilian immigrant who founded canned pasta brand

Boiardi wowed diners with his signature pasta sauce
Boiardi wowed diners with
his signature pasta sauce
Ettore Boiardi, the former New York chef whose name lives on in the Chef Boyardee canned pasta products brand, was born on this day in 1897 in Piacenza, now part of the Emilia-Romagna region.

Boiardi, whose culinary skills first gained popularity when he was working in the kitchens of the iconic Plaza Hotel in New York, hit upon the idea of selling cook-at-home Italian food after opening his first restaurant while still in his 20s.

He and his brother, Paolo, built a company that employed 5,000 staff and filled 250,000 cans per day at its peak, making the Chef Boyardee brand a familiar sight in grocery stores across America. 

They eventually sold the business for $6 million dollars in 1948 but the Chef Boyardee brand never went away. Today, Chef Boyardee products, which still carry Ettore Boiardi’s image on their packaging, are made and marketed by Chicago-based Conagra Brands.

Ettore and Paolo grew up in Piacenza.  Their parents, Giuseppe and Maria, inspired them to be interested in food from an early age and Ettore was working in a local restaurant, La Croce Bianca, by the time he was 11. Although his tasks were limited to peeling potatoes, emptying waste bins and other menial duties, he performed them while observing how the head chef created dishes to serve to his customers.

Like many young Italians of his time, Ettore believed he would need to go abroad if he was to make something of his life. As a teenager, he made his way to Paris and London, taking work where he could to gain experience. 

Ettore (centre) with brothers Mario (left) and Paolo pictured at their factory in Milton
Ettore (centre) with brothers Mario (left) and
Paolo pictured at their factory in Milton
Paolo, meanwhile, had emigrated to New York, his waiting skills enabling him to climb quickly to the role of Maître d’hôtel at the Plaza. Ettore managed to join him there in 1914 after crossing the Atlantic on a French-registered ship, La Lorraine, and with his brother’s help became a sous chef in the hotel’s kitchen. Allowed to cook some of the Emilian recipes he knew from home, Ettore quickly acquired a following among the hotel’s well-heeled clients.

Indeed, such was his popularity that word quickly spread about his culinary talents and he enjoyed a meteoric rise. Within a year of disembarking at Ellis Island, he had been hired as head chef by the Barbetta restaurant on 46th Street and was soon also headhunted by the exclusive Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia.

It was there, at the age of just 17, that Boiardi is said to have been put in charge of catering at the wedding reception of the US President, Woodrow Wilson, and his second wife, Edith. Wilson was so impressed he asked Boiardi to supervise a homecoming meal for 2,000 soldiers returning from service in World War One.

An offer to be head of the kitchen at the prestigious Hotel Winton took him next to Cleveland, Ohio, where he met and married his wife, Helen, who encouraged him to open his own restaurant, the Giardino d’Italia, in 1926.  It was something of a gamble. While Italian restaurants were rapidly gaining popularity in the cities of the east and west coasts, there were still comparatively few inland.

Ettore's image still figures on the packaging labels of Chef Boyardee products today
Ettore's image still figures on the packaging
labels of Chef Boyardee products today
Yet the rarity factor worked in Boiardi’s favour. Word soon spread among Cleveland diners that the young chef’s signature sauce, served with spaghetti and sprinkled with grated hard cheese, was something special. Not only did the Giardino d’Italia frequently have queues of people waiting for a table, its customers, once they had tried the sauce, began asking for an extra portion to take home. 

Boiardi obliged by filling sterilised milk bottles with the sauce. This was noticed by two of his regular customers, Maurice and Eva Weiner, who were the owners of a nationwide chain of grocery stores. They suggested he should consider canning the sauce, which they could sell in their shops.

So it was that Helen and Ettore - now known by his anglicised name of Hector - were joined by Paolo and another brother, Mario, in launching the Chef Boiardi Food Company, in 1928, selling the sauce together with packs of spaghetti and tubs of grated parmesan cheese as a ready-to-heat meal kit.

In time, the name was changed to Chef Boyardee, which the brothers reasoned wa easier for Americans to pronounce, and production shifted to a bigger plant in Milton, Pennsylvania, which Boairdi chose for its fertile soil so that he could use locally-produced tomatoes, the key ingredient of his sauces, which eventually required him to produced 20,000 tons every year.

The Second World War created problems for the company, despite being handed a contract to produce ration packs for American servicemen. By the end of the war, maintaining 24-hour production and employing 5,000 staff in their factories became too much for the brothers, who decided to sell up to American Home Foods.

By the time Ettore died in 1985, at the age of 87, Chef Boyardee lines were grossing $500 million a year as one of the best-known tinned pasta brands in America.

The Palazzo Comunale in Piacenza, flanked by Francesco Mochi's equestrian statues
The Palazzo Comunale in Piacenza, flanked by
Francesco Mochi's equestrian statues 
Travel tip:

Piacenza, where Ettore Boiardi was born, is a city in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. The main square in Piacenza is named Piazza Cavalli because of its two bronze equestrian monuments featuring Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma and his son Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma, who succeeded him. The statues are masterpieces by the sculptor Francesco Mochi.  The square is dominated by the Palazzo Comunale, also known as il Gotico, was built in 1281 as the town hall. With its pink marble and brick facade, notable for its five arcades, it is an excellent example of civil architecture in Lombard Gothic style.  The city is situated between the River Po and the Apennines, between Bologna and Milan. It has many fine churches and old palaces. Piacenza Cathedral was built in 1122 and is a good example of northern Italian Romanesque architecture.

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is one of many food products from Emilia-Romagna
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is one of many
food products from Emilia-Romagna
Travel tip: 

The Emilia-Romagna region is widely regarded as one of the food capitals of  Europe. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar from Modena and Prosciutto di Parma cured ham all originated in Emilia-Romagna, while ragù bolognese meat sauce originates in the region capital of Bologna, although it would be served with tagliatelle rather than spaghetti in Italy. The stuffed pasta dish tortellini in brodo - cushions of pasta filled with mortadella, prosciutto and pork loin served in a clear chicken broth - is another local speciality.  Historically, it was the cities of Emilia - Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and Ferrara - whose cuisines were dominated by pork and pork products, although the whole region is renowned as a meat-eater’s paradise. 

Also on this day:

1885: The birth of tenor Giovanni Martinelli

1946: The birth of singer Roberto Loreti

1965: The birth of actress Valeria Golino

1967: The birth of conductor Salvatore Di Vittorio

1968: Soave wine awarded DOC status


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