Showing posts with label Chieti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chieti. Show all posts

2 December 2021

Ferdinando Galiani - economist and philosopher

Leading figure in the Neapolitan Enlightenment

Ferdinando Galiani spent much of his life in government service
Ferdinando Galiani spent much of
his life in government service
The economist and philosopher Ferdinando Galiani, whose theories on market economics are considered to be years ahead of his time, was born on this day in 1728 in Chieti, now in Abruzzo but then part of the Kingdom of Naples.

Galiani spent much of his life in the service of the Naples government, spending 10 years as secretary to the Neapolitan ambassador in Paris before returning to Naples in the role of councillor of the tribunal of commerce, being appointed administrator of the royal domains in 1777.

A fine writer and wit as well as a talented economist, Galiani wrote a number of humorous works as well as two significant treatises, the first of which, Della Moneta, was written while he was still a student, at the age of 22.

Initially published anonymously, Della Moneta - On Money - was ostensibly a work about the history of money and the monetary system, but Galiani used it as an opportunity to intervene in the Neapolitan debate on economic reform, his opinions on the development of the Neapolitan economy evolving into a theory of market value based on utility and scarcity.

At the same time, he put forward what was then a revolutionary notion of the importance of freedom to the well-being of any society, one shared by many contemporary thinkers, including the French writer and philosopher Voltaire.

Advancing arguments based on the principle of personal freedom, Galiani suggested that the value of anything should be determined by the mutual agreement of buyer and seller, with prices and wages set naturally according to demand.

Galiani's seminal work, Della Moneta, which he wrote at 22
Galiani's seminal work, Della
which he wrote at 22
He argued that any form of control of the market would lead to injustices in society and could therefore be defined as tyranny. 

Galiani’s views on fairness could almost certainly be attributed to the education he received from his uncle, Monsignor Celestino Galiani, a prominent archbishop, whose intention was to prepare his nephew for a life as a clergyman.

In the event, Galiani revealed a talent not only for economics but as a witty writer, whose clever parodies of the Neapolitan literary style established his reputation as a humorist. In all his writing, however, he was faithful to the fundamental principles of truth and justice imbued in him by his uncle. 

During his time in Paris, Galiani wrote his second important treatise, Dialogues sur le commerce des blés - Dialogues on the Grain Trade - in which he argued in favour of regulation of the corn market on the basis that free international trade in grain, not so much a commodity as a necessity, risked the wellbeing of the population if foreign markets were more attractive to producers than domestic ones.

Galiani wrote fluently in both French and Italian, and his letters are seen as valuable for their depiction of economic, social, and political life in 18th-century Europe. He died in Naples in 1787 at the age of 58.

Chieti's Baroque Cathedral of San Giustino
Chieti's Baroque Cathedral
of San Giustino
Travel tip:

Chieti, the capital of the Abruzzi region, is among the most historic Italian cities, reputedly founded in 1181BC by the Homeric Greek hero Achilles and named Theate in honour of his mother, Thetis. The city is notable for the Gothic Cathedral of San Giustino, which has a Romanesque crypt dated at 1069 but is mainly of later construction, having been rebuilt a number of times, usually because of earthquake damage.  The main part of the cathedral is in early 18th century Baroque style.  Situated about 20km (12 miles) inland from the Adriatic city of Pescara, the city consists of Chieti Alta, the higher part and the historic centre, and the more modern Chieti Scalo.

Pescara, with the snow-capped mountains of the Gran Sasso range in the background
Pescara, with the snow-capped mountains of the
Gran Sasso range in the background
Travel tip:

Pescara, a city of almost 120,000 people on the Adriatic in the Abruzzo region, is known for its 10 miles of clean, sandy beaches, yet is only 50km (31 miles) from the Gran Sasso mountain range, the snow-capped peaks of which are visible even from the coast on a clear winter’s day. The city is the birthplace of the poet, patriot and military leader, Gabriele D’Annunzio. His childhood home, the Casa Natale di Gabriele D’Annunzio, which can be found in the historic centre of the city on the south side of the Fiume Pescara, which bisects the city, houses a museum about his life and works. The Museo delle Genti d'Abruzzo has exhibitions on regional industries like ceramics and olive oil. Pieces by Miró and Picasso are on view at the Vittoria Colonna Museum of Modern Art.

Also on this day:

1684: The birth of cook and unlikely war hero Maria Bricca

1916: The death of composer Paolo Tosti

1930: The birth of fashion designer Roberto Capucci

1946: The birth of fashion designer Gianni Versace


28 November 2016

Fabio Grosso - World Cup hero

Unspectacular career illuminated by unforgettable goal

Fabio Grosso at the 2006 World Cup finals
Fabio Grosso at the 2006
World Cup finals
Fabio Grosso, the unlikely hero of Italy's victory in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, was born on this day in 1977 in Rome.

Selected for Marcello Lippi's squad for the Finals as cover for first-choice left-back Gianluca Zambrotta, Grosso eventually secured a place in Lippi's team and went on to score one of the most important goals in Italy's World Cup history as they beat the hosts, Germany, to reach the final.

He then secured his place in Azzurri folklore by scoring the winning penalty in the final against France as Italy lifted the trophy for the fourth time, equalling Brazil's record.

Yet Grosso arrived at the finals as a player who, if not an unknown, seldom attracted attention and had enjoyed a career that was respectable but certainly not eye-catching.

Five years before 2006,  he was playing in Serie C for Chieti, in the town in Abruzzo where he grew up, and only two and a half years before the tournament he left Serie A side Perugia to play for Palermo in Serie B.

Nonetheless, Palermo did win promotion to Serie A soon after Grosso arrived and at the same time he quietly established himself as Lippi's first choice at left back in the 2006 World Cup qualifying competition.

Yet his solid performances seldom making headlines.  Commentators have speculated that some Italian fans might not have even recognised him before 2006.

Even after the finals, when he earned a €5 million move to Internazionale, his career was notable for its fits and starts.

Marcello Lippi, Italy's coach
Marcello Lippi, Italy's coach
He won championships with Inter under Roberto Mancini and then in France with Olympique Lyon but at both clubs he quickly fell out of favour.  Inter sold him after one season, Lyon after two.

At international level, he retained Lippi's loyalty in the qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup but was not selected in the final squad for South Africa.

After Lyon, he joined Juventus, where he enjoyed a respectable first season but figured in fewer matches in his second campaign and was rarely selected after Antonio Conte took charge in the summer of 2011.  After making just two appearances in the 2011-12 campaign, he announced his retirement.

Yet thanks to the 2006 World Cup, his career will never be forgotten.  Picked for the opening group match after Zambrotta had been injured in training, he then benefited from right-back Cristian Zaccardo's poor form, which persuaded Lippi to switch Zambrotta from his normal position and play Grosso at left-back.

His first important contribution came in the round-of-16 match against Australia, when he won a disputed penalty in stoppage time that enabled Italy to scrape into the quarter-finals.

Relieve Fabio Grosso's goal against Germany and Italy's second moments later

The semi-final goal in Dortmund that made him a star came with a penalty shoot-out just two minutes away after a match that had been goalless but full of dramatic excitement, with Germany desperate to reach the Final in their own country.

It stemmed from a corner on the right that found its way to playmaker Andrea Pirlo on the edge of the penalty area.  Pirlo kept the ball at his feet before he spotted Grosso in a yard of space inside the box to the right, threading the ball to him between two defenders.

Grosso admitted to half closing his eyes as he swung his left foot, aiming at where he hoped the far corner of the goal might be.  His guesswork and delivery could not have been better, the ball curling inside the post just out of the reach of goalkeeper Jens Lehmann's dive.

Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo
Grosso ran away, repeatedly shouting 'Non ci credo' - 'I don't believe it' - in a celebration reminiscent of Marco Tardelli after his goal in the 1982 final in Spain, before teammates piled on top of him.  Moments later, Alessandro Del Piero scored Italy's second goal on a break from defence as Germany threw all their players forward in search of an equaliser.

The quality of Grosso's shot took some fans by surprise but he had been a goalscoring winger in his early career, scoring 47 times in 108 games for Renato Curi Angolana in regional football in Abruzzo.  Only when he had joined Perugia was he converted to a full back.

It impressed Lippi enough to name him as the man to take the often crucial fifth penalty, and after David Trezeguet's miss for France gave Grosso the chance to win the match and the trophy for Italy, he kept his cool and duly scored, to be the man of the moment for the second time.

Married with two children, Grosso returned to Juventus in 2014 to join the coaching staff.  He is currently in charge of the Primavera (Under-20s) team, having turned down the chance to coach Crotone in Serie A earlier this year.

Travel tip:

Chieti is among the most historic Italian cities, supposedly founded in 1181BC by the Homeric Greek hero Achilles. Among its main sights are a Gothic Cathedral, rebuilt after earthquake damage in the 18th century on the sight of a church that dates back to the 11th century, and the Villa Comunale, a neo-classical palace of the 19th century that is home to the National Archaeological Museum of Abruzzo.

The Fontana Maggiore in Perugia's Piazza IV Novembre
The Fontana Maggiore in Perugia's Piazza IV Novembre
Travel tip:

Perugia, an ancient city that sits on a high hilltop midway between Rome and Florence, has a history that goes back to the Etruscan times, when 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 an interesting medieval fountain, the Fontana Maggiore, which was sculpted by Nicolo and Giovanni Pisano.

More reading:

1990 World Cup: Italy's semi-final heartbreak on home soil

1982 World Cup: Paolo Rossi's hat-trick in classic victory over Brazil

1970 World Cup: Gianni Rivera - the midfield maestro who became a politician

Also on this day:

1907: The birth of novelist Alberto Moravia

17 June 2016

Sergio Marchionne - business leader

Man who saved Fiat divides opinions in Italy

Photo of Sergio Marchionne
Sergio Marchionne became chief
executive of Fiat in 2004
Controversial business leader Sergio Marchionne was born on this day in 1952 in the city of Chieti in the Abruzzo region of Italy.

The 64-year-old chief executive of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is credited with saving the iconic Italian motor manufacturer from potential extinction in 2004, when Fiat was on the verge of being taken into the ownership of the banks that were keeping it afloat.

It had suffered cumulative losses of more than $8 billion over the previous two years and a strategic alliance with General Motors had failed. Its share of the European car market had shrunk to an historic low of just 5.8 per cent.

Yet after the little known Marchionne was appointed chief executive at the company's Turin headquarters it took him only just over a year to bring Fiat back into profit.

When Fiat opened a new assembly line at the Mirafiori plant outside Turin in 2006, Marchionne was hailed as a hero.  The inauguration celebrations were attended by politicians of all parties and trade union leaders.  Soon, the new Fiat 500 was launched, tapping into Italian nostalgia by reprising the name that was synonymous with the optimistic years of the 1950s and 60s.

But Marchionne, who had left Italy when he was 14 and learned his business skills in Canada and Switzerland, in time antagonised the more hard-line unions with the changes he introduced to working conditions.

His popularity was not helped when ambitious plans for a 20 billion euro five-year investment in Fiat in Italy, which would have given jobs back to most of the workers laid off during the crisis years, were abandoned. Marchionne blamed the collapse of the European car market.

His standing dipped further in 2014 when he merged Fiat with Chrysler, the American company he had rescued from bankruptcy in 2009, and Fiat became a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, a multi-national company with its administrative headquarters in London.

Photo of old and new Fiat 500s
A 1966 Fiat 500 with its modern incarnation, built
 after Marchionne relaunched the model in 2006
The new company had more employees in North America and Mexico (34 per cent) than in Italy (29 per cent) and apart from fears over jobs for Italians, there was opposition from traditionalists to the idea of Fiat losing its Italian identity.

The company, founded by Giovanni Agnelli in 1899 and always based in Turin, is seen as an Italian institution, an important part of the country's industrial heritage.

Marchionne prefers to describe the company as having many bases, with factories and offices in Canada, India, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Poland and China as well as Italy and the United States. He spends much of his time flying between them.

His global outlook might owe something to his own multi-national heritage.  His mother hailed from Istria, the peninsula in Croatia that used to belong to Italy, and met his father, from Abruzzo, when the latter was serving in Istria as a carabiniere officer.

They moved to Chieti in 1945 and decided to relocate to Canada in 1966, joining relatives in Toronto. Marchionne has degrees in philosophy, commerce and law, is qualified as an accountant and a barrister, holds dual Canadian and Italian citizenship and is fluent in Italian and English.

Before joining Fiat he was chief executive of a company in Switzerland, where he has a home.  He has a passion for fast cars -- he is also chief executive of Ferrari -- and classical music but has managed largely to keep his private life out of the public gaze.  His wife and two sons live in Switzerland.

UPDATE: Marchionne died in Zurich in July 2018 at the age of 66.

Photo of Gothic Church in Chieti
The Gothic Cathedral in Chieti
Travel tip:

Chieti is among the most historic Italian cities, supposedly founded in 1181BC by the Homeric Greek hero Achilles and was named Theate in honour of his mother, Thetis. Among its main sights are a Gothic Cathedral, rebuilt after earthquake damage in the 18th century on the sight of a church that dates back to the 11th century.

Travel tip:

The former Fiat plant in the Lingotto district of Turin was once the largest car factory in the world, built to a linear design by the Futurist architect Giacomo Matte Trucco and featuring a rooftop test track made famous in the Michael Caine movie, The Italian Job. Redesigned by the award-winning contemporary architect Renzo Piano, it now houses concert halls, a theatre, a convention centre, shopping arcades and a hotel, as well as the Automotive Engineering faculty of the Polytechnic University of Turin.

More reading:

Vittorio Jano - motor racing engineer who helped put Ferrari on the map

Enrico Piaggio - man behind the iconic Vespa

Daniela Riccardi - leading Italian businesswoman

(Photo of Sergio Marchionne by Ricardo Stuckert CC BY-SA 3.0 br)
(Photo of Fiat 500s by dave_7 CC BY-SA 2.0)
(Photo of Cathedral in Chieti by Raboe001 CC BY-SA 2.5)


13 May 2016

The first Giro d'Italia

Tour of Italy cycle race ran from Milan to Naples and back

Photo of Luigi Ganna
An exhausted Luigi Ganna after
his 1909 Giro d'Italia triumph
A field of 127 riders left Milan on this day in 1909 as Italy's famous cycle race, the Giro d'Italia, was staged for the first time.

Those who lasted the course returned to Milan 13 days later having covered a distance of 2,447.9 kilometres (1,521 miles) along a route around Italy that took them through Bologna, Chieti, Naples, Rome, Florence, Genoa and Turin.

The winner was Luigi Ganna, an Italian cyclist from Lombardy who had finished fifth in the Tour de France in 1908 and won the Milan-San Remo race earlier in 1909.  Only 49 riders finished.  Second and third places were also filled by Italian riders, with Carlo Galetti finishing ahead of Giovanni Rossignoli.

The race was run in eight stages with two to three rest days between each stage. It was a challenge to the riders' stamina. The stages were almost twice as long as those that make up the Giro today, with an average distance of more than 300 km (190 miles). The modern Giro covers a greater distance in total at 3,481.8 km (2,163.5 miles).

Thankfully, the route was primarily flat, although it did contain a few major ascents, particularly on the third leg between Chieti in Abruzzo and Naples, which took the race across the Apennines. The sixth stage, from Florence to Genoa, and the seventh, from Genoa to Turin, were also classified as mountainous.

Ganna led the overall standings after the second stage but was behind Galetti when the race reached Naples.  However, after he won the Naples-Rome leg he regained the overall lead and held it for the remainder of the race, winning two more stages.  Rossignoli won two of the three mountain stages.

Picture of map of Giro d'Italia
Map showing the route followed by the first
Giro d'Italia in 1909
Galetti could count himself unlucky not to have finished at the top of the standings.  With a crowd of 30,000 turning out to see the participants return to Milan, an escort of mounted police was organised to clear a path for a sprint finish into the Arena Civica.  Just as the sprint was beginning, a police horse fell, causing several riders to crash and allowing Dario Beni, who had also won the opening stage, to pass Galetti, pushing him back into second place.

Ganna finished third but only after the race directors took pity on him after he suffered two punctured tyres, stopping the race to allow him to catch up.  The final points margin was so small that had Galetti won the final stage and Ganna finished only a couple of places further back, then Galetti would have been champion.

In the event, Galetti won by an 18-point margin in 1910 and defended his crown successfully the following year.

The Giro had been the idea of the sports newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, who saw an opportunity to boost their sales by giving Italy its own version of the Tour de France, which had proved hugely popular after its launch in 1903.  The paper raised 25,000 lira to stage the event and provide prize money and the starting line was outside its headquarters in Piazzale Loreto, the square that would 26 years later acquire notoriety as the place where the body of the slain dictator Mussolini was put on public display.

The popularity of the race grew rapidly and it has been staged every year since the 1909 contest, with interruptions only because of the world wars.

The controversies that have cast a shadow over cycling's recent past with the use of performance enhancing drugs were unknown in those early days, although cheating reared its ugly head in the very first Giro.  Three riders were disqualified before the start of the third stage when it was discovered they had taken a train for part of the Bologna-Chieti leg, while the French rider, Louis Trousselier, the 1905 Tour de France winner, had his chances scuppered outside Rome when spectators threw tacks into the road just as he was about to pass.

The main grandstand at Milan's historic Arena Civica
Travel tip:

The Arena Civica, which can be found in the Parco Sempione behind the Castello Sforzesco, is one of Milan's main examples of neoclassical architecture, an elliptical amphitheatre commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte soon after he became King of Italy in 1805. At one time the home of the Milan football club Internazionale, it is known nowadays as the Arena Gianni Brera and is a venue for international athletics, also hosting rugby union as well as Milan's third football team, Brera Calcio FC.

Travel tip:

Chieti is amongst the most ancient of Italian cities, reputedly founded in 1181BC by the Homeric Greek hero Achilles and named Theate in honour of his mother, Thetis. The city is notable for the Gothic Cathedral of San Giustino, which has a Romanesque crypt dated at 1069 but is mainly of later construction, having been rebuilt a number of times, usually because of earthquake damage.  The main part of the cathedral is in early 18th century Baroque style.  Situated about 20 kilometres inland from Pescara, the city consists of Chieti Alta, the higher part and the historic centre, and the more modern Chieti Scalo.

More reading:

Italy's first football championship

(Photo of Giro d'Italia map by Cruccone CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of Arena Civica by Sergio d'Afflitto CC BY-SA 3.0)