Showing posts with label Genoa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genoa. Show all posts

18 February 2024

Alessandro Varaldo – crime writer and playwright

The first Italian author of gialli to be accepted by Mondadori

Varaldo's Il sette bello was the
first giallo by an Italian
Alessandro Varaldo, the author credited with creating the first fictional Italian police officer, died on this day in 1953 in Rome.

His character, the police commissario Ascanio Bonichi, made his first appearance in Varaldo’s novel Il sette bello - the name by which Italians refer to the seven of diamonds in a deck of cards - which was published by Mondadori in 1931.

The author had been approached by Arnaldo Mondadori himself and encouraged to create a novel in Italian to appeal to the readers who were already eagerly buying their gialli, the Italian translations of English, American and French detective novels that the firm published.

Gialli take their name from the distinctive yellow - giallo in Italian - covers used by Mondadori for their crime novels in the 1930s. 

Varaldo was born in Ventimiglia in Liguria in 1873 and grew up to become a journalist, novelist and playwright. From 1910 onwards he wrote novels, short stories and plays and contributed to newspapers such as Gazzetta del Popolo and Il Caffaro. 

He was president of the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers between 1920 and 1928 and director of the Academy of Dramatic Art in Milan from 1943.

In 1931, the Italian Government had brought in measures to try to curb the number of translated books by foreign authors being published, which encouraged Varaldo, along with other authors at the time, to try his hand at the genre.

Varaldo, who was also a journalist, wrote seven other gialli in addition to Il sette bello
Varaldo, who was also a journalist, wrote
seven other gialli in addition to Il sette bello
Esteemed for the quality of his writing, which Mondadori considered essential for the books they published, Varaldo became the first Italian author accepted into Mondadori’s series of gialli, and he went on to write eight mysteries for them. He was able to reconcile the traditionally Anglo-Saxon genre of crime fiction with Fascist values in order to comply with the dictates of the Mussolini regime.

He portrayed Bonichi as a down to earth character from the countryside who solved his cases by chance, rather than using the more scientific methods employed by other fictional detectives such as Sherlock Holmes.

His novels were set in Rome before the war and described the city’s Baroque and neo-Baroque buildings, which formed a theatrical background during the night and at dawn, when the silhouette of a figure could be illuminated. Crime fiction experts think this evoked an irretrievable past for his readers to escape to.

Varaldo wrote a total of eight gialli between 1931 and 1938 and he also wrote some drammi gialli -detective plays - before his death.


Travel tip: 

Ventimiglia, where Alessandro Varaldo was born, is the last major town on the Italian riviera before the border with France, which is about 6km (3.7 miles) away. Situated about 130km (81 miles) west of the Ligurian capital Genoa, it is not a well known as nearby Sanremo but has plenty going for it, nonetheless, its charm enhanced by the pastel colours of its houses. The town is divided in two by the Roia river, which separates the newer lower town from the old upper town - Ventimiglia Alta - which sits on a hill encircled by walls. Ancient buildings and churches dating back to the 10th century make the climb worthwhile, as does the spectacular view over the Ligurian sea. The mediaeval old town is also home to the Biblioteca Civica Aprosiana - founded by the writer and Augustan monk Angelico Aprosio in 1648 - has one of the largest collections of 17th century manuscripts and books in Italy.  The elegant lower town is best known for the massive open-air market that takes place in the beautiful setting of the lungomare - the promenade - every Friday. There are a smaller number of stalls open on the other days of the week. For beach lovers, the Spiaggia dei Balzi Rossi and the Spiaggia delle Calandre are only a short walk from the centre.

Travel tip:

The Mondadori publishing house, whose Gialli Mondadori broke new ground in publishing in Italy as the first book series to feature detective and crime stories alone, was launched in Ostiglia, an historical town about 160 km (99 miles) southeast of Milan and about 30 km (19 miles) from Mantua. In Roman times, when it was called Hostilia, its location on the Via Claudia Augusta Padana saw it become a trade hub linking Emilia with northern Europe.  In the Middle Ages it was a stronghold of Verona before being acquired in turn by the Scaliger, Visconti and Gonzaga families. The Palazzina Mondadori, an elegant Art Nouveau-style building that was the first Arnoldo printing house, hosts Arnoldo Mondadori’s private library consisting of about 1,000 books, many signed by the authors. Mondadori relocated to Milan in 1929 and now boasts a modern headquarters in the suburb of Segrate, to the east of the centre.

More reading:

How Giorgio Mondadori helped launch the newspaper La Repubblica

Why Augusto De Angelis is regarded as the 'father of Italian crime fiction'

The Naples bank worker who became a leading modern crime writer

Also on this day:

1455: The birth of painter Fra Angelico

1564: The death of painter and sculptor Michelangelo

1626: The birth of biologist Francesco Redi

1967: The birth of footballer Roberto Baggio

1983: The birth of tennis champion Roberta Vinci


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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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12 December 2023

Giancarlo De Carlo - architect

Forward-thinking designer who helped shape modern Urbino

De Carlo's ideas often put him at odds with more traditional urban planners
De Carlo's ideas often put him at odds
with more traditional urban planners
The architect Giancarlo De Carlo, who gained international recognition for his forward-thinking work in urban planning, was born in Genoa on this day in 1919. 

De Carlo was also a writer and educator, who was critical of what he saw as the failure of 20th century architecture.   Many of his building projects were in Urbino, the city in Marche known for its 15th century ducal palace and as the birthplace of the painter Raphael.  

He put forward a master plan for Urbino between 1958-64, which involved new buildings and renovations added carefully to the existing fabric of the city, described as genteel modernism and designed with the lives of Urbino citizens in mind. 

The most notable parts of the Urbino project were at the University of Urbino, where he worked for decades, constructing housing, classroom and administration buildings, carefully embedded into the hilly landscape and designed to facilitate ease of movement between parts of the campus.

He also built Matteotti New Village, a social housing project in Terni in Umbria to provide homes for the employees of Italy’s largest steel company, designed housing for working people in Matera in Basilicata and worked on the Mirano Hospital in Venice, buildings for the University of Siena, and the redevelopment of the Piazza della Mostra, Trento.

De Carlo’s buildings reflected his views on the involvement of users and inhabitants in the design process. On the Terni housing project, for example, he insisted that workers be paid to attend consultation sessions to enable him to understand better how they wanted to live. 

The Palazzo Battiferri at the University of Urbino, part of De Carlo's biggest planning project
The Palazzo Battiferri at the University of Urbino,
part of De Carlo's biggest planning project
He was a member of the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) and Team 10, which brought together a new generation of architects focussed on a new type of architecture, better suited to local social and environmental conditions.

De Carlo was educated at Milan Polytechnic, where he graduated in engineering in 1943. He joined the Italian navy but with Italy’s surrender to the Allies in September of that year he went into hiding, then joined the Italian Resistance movement. Together with another architect, Giuseppe Pagano, he organized an anarchist-libertarian partisan group in Milan, the Matteotti Brigades.

He resumed his studies in 1948, obtaining an architecture degree from the University of Venice before opening his first studio in Milan.  His progressive views came to the fore when he produced a series of short films denouncing prevalent ideas about the modern metropolis and, as a professor of urban planning, often clashed with other architects, who he claimed put abstract ideas ahead of the interests of people and their environment.

His 1956 housing project in Matera ignored most of what had become the accepted principles of modern architecture in favour of design sympathetic to the geographical, social and climatic context of the region.  Architects who shared his progressive views joined together in the group known as Team 10. 

De Carlo began working on his Urbino project in 1964, winning international recognition for his designs for the University Campus. During the 1968 student uprisings, he sought constructive dialogue with the students and subsequently wrote a number of essays in which he explored his theories on what became known as “participatory architecture”, underpinned by his own libertarian socialist ideals

Among many honours, De Carlo was awarded the Wolf Prize in Arts in 1988 and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 1993. He died in Milan in 2005.

As well as being the home of Raphael, Urbino offers the attraction of a beautiful ducal palace
As well as being the home of Raphael, Urbino
offers the attraction of a beautiful ducal palace
Travel tip: 

Urbino, which is 36km (22 miles) inland from the Adriatic resort of Pesaro, in the Marche region, is a majestic city on a steep hill.  It was once a famous centre of learning and culture, known not just in Italy but also in its glory days throughout Europe, attracting outstanding artists and scholars to enjoy the patronage of the noble rulers. The Ducal Palace - a Renaissance building made famous by Baldassare Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier - is now one of the most important monuments in Italy and is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. Inside the palace, the National Gallery of the Marche features paintings by Titian and Raphael, who was born in Urbino, and there are more examples of Raphael’s paintings at his house - Casa Natale di Raffaello - in Via Raffaello. The University swells the city’s population by up to 20,000. Urbino is home to a number of gastronomic delights, including crescia sfogliata, a flatbread often served stuffed with melted caciotta cheese, and prosciutto di Carpegna, a local cured ham.

Matera is renowned for its famous cave district, the Sassi di Matera, to which visitors flock
Matera is renowned for its famous cave district,
the Sassi di Matera, to which visitors flock
Travel tip:

Declared a European Capital of Culture in 2019, the city of Matera in Basilicata, where De Carlo completed his first important housing project, is famous for an area called the Sassi di Matera, made up of former cave-dwellings carved into an ancient river canyon. The area became associated with extreme poverty in the last century and was evacuated in 1952, lying abandoned until the 1980s, when a gradual process of regeneration began. Now, the area contains restaurants, hotels and museums and is an increasingly popular destination for visitors.  The oldest part of the city, known as the Civita, sits above the cave districts on a flat, rocky plateau. Before they were turned into new dwellings, the caves became an extension to the Civita, used for storage and stabling horses. The Cattedrale della Madonna della Bruna e di Sant'Eustachio, Matera’s duomo, built in Apulian Romanesque style in the 13th century, can be found at Civita’s highest point.  

Also on this day:

1572: The death of Loredana Marcello, Dogaressa of Venice

1685: The birth of composer Lodovico Giustini

1889: The death in Venice of the English poet, Robert Browning

1901: Guglielmo Marconi receives the first transatlantic radio signal

1957: The birth of novelist Susanna Tamaro

1969: The Piazza Fontana bombing in Milan


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9 October 2022

Stefanina Moro – partisan

Amazing courage of a young girl who protected her compatriots

Stefanina was a courier who helped groups of partisans to communicate
Stefanina was a courier who helped
groups of partisans to communicate
Brave teenager Stefanina Moro, who served as a partisan during World War II, died on this day in 1944 in Asti as a result of injuries inflicted upon her by Nazis, who caught her and tortured her for information.

Stefanina, who was born in Genoa in 1927, is thought to have been between 16 and 17 years old when she died of her wounds in a hospital in Asti.

After growing up in the Quezzi district in Genoa, Stefanina became a partisan and later served as una staffetta - a courier - responsible for maintaining communications between groups of partisans to help the Italian resistance movement during the war of Italian liberation.

Sadly, in 1944, Stefanina was captured by Nazis and taken to the Casa del Fascio - the local Fascist party headquarters - in Cornigliano, about seven kilometres (4 miles) west of Genoa, to be interrogated. Stefanina was then moved to the Casa dello Studente in Corso Gastaldi, a former university building that was being occupied by the Nazis and had been turned into a prison.

Prisoners were routinely tortured there under the command of an SS officer, Friedrich Engel, who would come to be known as the ‘Executioner of Genoa’ or the ‘Butcher of Genoa.’ To try to make Stefanina reveal the names of her fellow partisans, the Nazis tortured her for several days, but their attempts were unsuccessful and she would not speak and never gave anyone away.

SS commander Friedrich Engel ordered the torture of partisans
SS commander Friedrich Engel
ordered the torture of partisans
After her ordeal, she was taken to a hospital in Asti in the Piedmont region, where she died on 9 October as a result of her wounds. It is believed she had not yet reached her 17th birthday.

Stefanina’s name is inscribed on a memorial to all those from the Quezzi district of Genoa, who had died while opposing the Nazi occupation of the city. The dedication on the memorial reads: ‘Non caddero invano ma per la libertà. Il comitato di Liberazione Nazionale Liguria agli eroici caduti del rione di Quezzi. (They did not fall in vain but for freedom. The National Liberation Committee of Liguria to the heroic fallen of the Quezzi district.)

The city of Genoa also named a street in Stefanina’s honour. In Via Stefanina Moro, there is a plaque that says: Via Stefanina Moro – Caduta per la libertà – 1927 – 9/10/1944.

In April 2020 on the 75th anniversary of Italy’s liberation, Sandra Zampa, under secretary at the Ministry of Health in the Giuseppe Conte administration, gave an address honouring the women of the Italian resistance, naming Stefanina Moro alongside other women partisans, such as Nilde Iotti and Irma Bandiera.

Friedrich Engel, under whose command Stefanina’s torture took place, was convicted in absentia of 246 murders by an Italian military court in 1999, for his role in the 1944 executions of Italian prisoners.

A street in the Genoa district of Quezzi,  where Stefania was born, carries her name
A street in the Genoa district of Quezzi, 
where Stefania was born, carries her name
He was then brought before a court in Hamburg in 2002 and tried and convicted on 59 counts of murder. He was sentenced to seven years in prison but because he was by then 95 years old, he was given a stay of that ruling and was able to leave court a free man.

In 2004, Germany’s highest court, the Bundesgerichtshof, overturned the previous ruling on the grounds that, despite acknowledging that Engel ordered the executions, the case of criminal murder had not been proven. The court would not permit a new trial because of Engel’s age and state of health.

Engel died at the age of 97 in February 2006 in Hamburg, more than 60 years after he ordered the torture that led to the death of Stefanina Moro.

The Doge's Palace in Genoa is one of the city's many splendid 16th century palaces
The Doge's Palace in Genoa is one of the city's
many splendid 16th century palaces
Travel tip:

Genoa, where Stefanina Moro was born and brought up, is the capital city of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy. It has earned the nickname of La Superba because of its proud history as a major port. Part of the old town was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2006 because of the wealth of beautiful 16th century palaces there, many of which have been restored to their original splendour.  The Doge's Palace, the 16th century Royal Palace and the Romanesque-Renaissance style San Lorenzo Cathedral are just three examples.  The area around the restored harbour area offers a maze of fascinating alleys and squares.

The Ascensore di Quezzi climbs 249 feet to link two parts of the hillside district
The Ascensore di Quezzi climbs 249 feet
to link two parts of the hillside district
Travel tip:

The street named after Stefanina, Via Stefanina Moro, is in the Quezzi district of Genoa, where the heroic girl was born. Quezzi, a residential area with many high rise buildings, sits high above the port. Built on a hillside, it has many steep streets. Since 2015, residents and visitors have been able to use the Ascensore di Quezzi - the Quezzi Lift - a kind of cross between a conventional lift and a cable car, which links the lower part of the district at Via Pinetti with the upper part at Via Fontanarossa, 76 metres (249 feet) above, in exactly 100 seconds. The 131m (430ft) journey is in two sections, one with a gradient of 44%, the other with a gradient of 30%. The lift’s single car, which carries a maximum of 25 passengers, tilts at the moment the gradient changes so that its floor remains level.

Also on this day:

1221: The birth of historian Salimbene di Adam

1469: The death of Renaissance painter Fra’ Filippo Lippi

1562: The birth of anatomist and physician Gabriele Falloppio

1841: The birth of Paris art café owner Agostina Segatori

1963: The Vajont Dam Disaster


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27 October 2021

Niccolò Paganini - musician and composer

Extraordinary talent aroused bizarre suspicions

Niccolò Paganini is widely regarded as one of history's greatest violinists
Niccolò Paganini is widely regarded
as one of history's greatest violinists
The musician and composer Niccolò Paganini, widely regarded as one of the greatest violinists of all time, was born on this day in 1782 in Genoa.

Paganini’s ability was so far ahead of his contemporaries that to some observers it defied comprehension. He possessed unusually long fingers, a memory that enabled him to play entire pieces without the need for sheet music, and could play at up to 12 notes per second.

This, combined with his appearance - he was tall and thin, with hollow cheeks, pale skin and a fondness for dressing in black - and a habit of making wild, exaggerated movements as he played, gave rise to outlandish theories that he was possessed by the Devil, or even was the Devil himself.

He also pursued a somewhat dissolute lifestyle, drinking heavily, gambling and taking advantage of his fame to engage in numerous affairs.  

The suspicion of demonic associations stayed with him all his life to the extent that after his death at the age of 58 it was four years before his body was laid to rest because the Catholic Church would not give him a Christian burial, their reticence not helped by his refusal to accept the last rites.

Only years later was it concluded that his long fingers were probably the result of a genetic disorder called Marfan syndrome, while the speed of his playing and jerky movements could have been symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, another inherited condition, whose sufferers have increased flexibility but a lack of coordination.

Paganini has such an accurate memory that he could play without sheet music
Paganini has such an accurate memory
that he could play without sheet music
Paganini was born the third of six children. His father, Antonio, was a trader, albeit not a prosperous one, and would supplement his income by playing the mandolin. Niccolò soon learned to play the instrument and had moved on to the violin by the age of seven.

It was soon clear he was blessed with prodigious talent and was soon offered scholarships to study with local teachers in Genoa. His ability quickly outpaced what they could offer him, prompting his father to take him to Parma in search of more advanced tuition.

His progress was interrupted in 1796 when northern Italy was invaded by France and Paganini’s family left the city to move inland along the Polcevera river to Bolzaneto, where they owned another property. Paganini occupied himself by learning to play the guitar, again to an extraordinary standard, although it was an instrument he played largely for his own amusement and for close friends, rather than give public performances.

He embarked on his first solo violin tour at the age of 15, appearing at various places around Italy, but being away from home was not good for his mental health and it was thought that this pushed him towards drinking and gambling as an escape. 

After he recovered, he was appointed first violin of the Republic of Lucca, at that time one of the most powerful city states in Italy, but in 1805 Lucca was annexed by Napoleonic France, and the region was ceded to Napoleon's sister, Elisa Baciocchi.  Paganini stayed, becoming a violinist to the Baciocchi court.  It was during this time that he composed perhaps his most famous work, his 24 Caprices for solo violin.

Paganini's violin Il Cannone Guarnerius
Paganini's violin Il
Cannone Guarnerius
Eventually, he decided to return to touring, giving concerts around Genoa and Parma, where he had attracted large audiences previously. He was still not well known outside Italy, even after beginning to make appearances at La Scala in Milan, gaining admirers among their international clientele. 

It was not until after Pope Leo XII had conferred upon him the Order of the Golden Spur, the papal equivalent of a knighthood, in 1827, that his fame spread across Europe. The following year, he was invited to play in Vienna, followed by a prolonged tour that saw him perform in almost all the major cities of Germany, Poland and Bohemia. Later, he performed in Paris and London.

Still, his phenomenal ability attracted suspicion. In Vienna, an audience member claimed he had seen the Devil on stage with Paganini. A story circulated that the sound of a woman’s scream could be heard emanating from his violin while he played, the consequence, it was said, of his murdering a woman and making strings from her intestines, while imprisoning her soul within the body of the instrument. 

Given such stories, it was hardly surprising that he made few friends. Two exceptions were Gioachino Rossini, the Italian composer he first met in Bologna in 1818 and for whom he once conducted an opera performance after the sudden death of the regular conductor, and Hector Berlioz, the French composer whom he compared with Beethoven and supported with large sums of money towards the end of his life.

Among his many romantic associations, the most enduring involved a singer from Como, Antonia Bianchi. After meeting in Milan in 1813 they gave concerts together throughout Italy. They had a son, Achille Ciro Alessandro, born in Palermo in 1825, but they were never married and split up in around 1828. 

Paganini began learning the violin at the age of seven
Paganini began learning the violin
at the age of seven
Paganini’s health was never good. He was diagnosed with syphilis in 1922 and the treatment for it, which involved mercury and opium, did as much damage as it cured. In 1834 he developed tuberculosis while in Paris, which left him prone to infection and bouts of depression.

Touring soon became impossible and he returned to Genoa initially, giving lessons to a small number of pupils, including Camillo Sivori, who would go on to assume his mantle as Italy’s finest violinist. 

Restless, he went back to Paris in 1836 and unwisely invested much money in a casino, which failed so badly he was forced to auction off many of his prized collection of violins and guitars, including several made by Antonio Stradavari in Cremona, in order to recoup his losses. He left Paris for Marseille in 1838 and from there went to Nice, which is where he died in 1840, apparently from internal bleeding as a result of cancer of the larynx. It was the Bishop of Nice who arranged for a local priest to visit him and perform the last rites, but Paganini refused to accept his life was nearing its end and dismissed the priest.

The local church refused to bury him on consecrated ground and his embalmed body remained in the house where he died for more than a year and in the Nice area for almost four years while his son, Achille, pleaded with the Catholic Church to allow his body to be moved back to Italy. Ultimately, Achille’s entreaties were answered by Pope Gregory XVI and Paganini’s body was finally laid to rest at La Villetta cemetery in Parma.

The Fratello Minore fortress above the Polcevera valley outside Bolzaneto
The Fratello Minore fortress above the
Polcevera valley outside Bolzaneto
Travel tip:

Bolzaneto, where the Paganini family had a house while Niccolò was growing up, was once a hamlet located outside the city of Genoa in the Polcevera valley. Today it is a suburb of Genoa, surrounded by many small industries and business firms. On the mountains behind Bolzaneto, at the left side of Polcevera valley, are two fortresses, which are part of the external fortresses of Genoa: the Fort Diamante and a smaller fortress known as Fratello Minore. Close to the Bolzaneto exit of the A7 motorway that runs from Genoa to Milan is what used to be Bolzaneto’s castle, built in the early 14th century but subsequently destroyed in clashes between the Guelphs and Ghibbelines before being rebuilt and destroyed several times thereafter, finally as a grand residence at the beginning of the 20th century.

Paganini's tomb memorial at the La Villetta cemetery in Parma
Paganini's tomb memorial at the
La Villetta cemetery in Parma
Travel tip:

La Villetta, the monumental cemetery at Parma where Paganini’s body was finally buried and an elaborate memorial erected, takes its name after the farm that Duchess Marie Louise of Austria, the second wife of Napoleon, chose as the site for the city's burial ground during her rule of the city from 1816 to 1847. Designed by the engineer Giuseppe Cocconcelli in neoclassical style, it contains the tombs among others of the poet Angelo Mazza and the composer Ildebrando Pizzetti. Paganini’s tomb, housed under a domed portico supported by eight Doric columns, is on the left side of the entrance, opposite the main chapel dedicated to San Gregorio Magno.

Also on this day:

1952: The birth of Oscar-winning actor Roberto Benigni

1962: The death in a plane crash of industrialist Enrico Mattei

1967: The birth of mountaineer Simone Moro


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9 July 2021

Gianluca Vialli - footballer and coach

Striker who managed Chelsea has faced personal battle

Gianluca Vialli is currently working with the Italian national team
Gianluca Vialli is currently working
with the Italian national team
The footballer Gianluca Vialli, who enjoyed success as a player in Italy and England and led Chelsea to five trophies as manager of the London club, was born on this day in 1964 in Cremona in Lombardy.

After beginning his professional career with his local team, Cremonese, Vialli spent eight seasons with Sampdoria of Genoa, helping a team that had seldom previously finished higher than mid-table in Serie A enjoy their most successful era, winning the Coppa Italia three times, the European Cup-Winners’ Cup and an historic first Serie A title in 1990-91.

He then spent four years with Juventus, winning another Scudetto in 1994-95 and becoming a Champions League winner the following season.

He signed for Chelsea in 1996 as one of the first in a wave of top Italian players arriving in the Premier League in the second half of that decade, becoming player-manager in 1998 after the man who signed him, Ruud Gullit, was sacked. 

In the blue of Chelsea, Vialli won medals in the FA Cup as a player, the Football League Cup, the Cup-Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Super Cup as player-manager, before guiding the team to another FA Cup success as manager, after retiring as a player at the end of the 1998-99 season.

After leaving Stamford Bridge, Vialli remained in London, dropping out of the Premier League to take charge of second-tier club Watford but lasted only a season before being sacked and has not worked in management since.

Vialli was a prolific goalscorer in the  colours of Sampdoria
Vialli was a prolific goalscorer in the 
colours of Sampdoria 
Vialli, who also made 59 appearances and scored 16 goals for the Italian national team, was for many years a pundit on the Sky Italia satellite TV channel and has written two books. He has been a member of current Azzurri head coach Roberto Mancini’s pitch-side technical staff during the delayed 2020 European championships, having emerged successfully from a two-and-a-half year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Vialli’s upbringing was very different from most footballers. The youngest of five children, he enjoyed the trappings of his entrepreneur father’s wealth, being brought up in the historic 60-room Castello di Belgioioso, in the small town of the same name set in extensive gardens a little under 60km (37 miles) west of Cremona on the way to Pavia.  Vialli senior was the millionaire owner of a construction company.

He was as keen on football as any young child and played endless games with his sister and three brothers in a large courtyard at the back of the castle. His first formal steps towards a football career came after he had entered the Cristo Re oratory, an educational institution in Cremona, which had a football team and links to others, including Pizzighettone, a regional team from Cremona province. After a few games there, his talent as a striker was quickly picked up on the Cremonese radar and made his senior debut at the age of 16.

Fired by Vialli’s goals, Cremonese jumped from Serie C to Serie A in four seasons. Vialli enjoyed his time there and was often seen around the city, zipping about on his Vespa scooter with the girlfriend from childhood, Giovanna, on the back.  He would sometimes hang out with the club’s fans at the Bar Rio in the centre of Cremona.

Vialli played alongside fellow striker Fabrizio Ravanelli (left) during his four years with Juventus
Vialli played alongside fellow striker Fabrizio
Ravanelli (left) during his four years with Juventus
But bigger things beckoned. In 1984, at the age of 20, Vialli signed for Sampdoria, making the acquaintance for the first time of his new teammate, Roberto Mancini.  The coach, Vujadin Boskov, treated him like a son and gave him the confidence to form a deadly partnership with Mancini. In 1991, Vialli was top scorer with 19 goals and helped the club to win both the Scudetto and the Italian Super Cup.

In June 1992, with Sampdoria wishing they could keep him but also needing a cash influx, Vialli moved to Juventus for a world record fee, the equivalent of £12.5 million. He made a slow start, his first two seasons disrupted by injuries, but under coach Marcello Lippi he won the domestic league and cup double and the UEFA Cup and both main domestic trophies as well as the Uefa Cup and before making his final appearance in the 1996 Champions League final in Rome, when a Juventus side captained by him beat Ajax of Holland. 

Vialli’s international career ended in 1992, essentially because of his poor relationship with Arrigo Sacchi, the manager who succeeded Azeglio Vicini after the 1990 World Cup and took Italy to the final in USA ‘94. 

After moving to Chelsea, he settled in London, buying a house in Belgravia, marrying an English interior designer, Cathryn White-Cooper, with whom he has two daughters, and later moving to Hampstead.  A smoker even in his playing days, Vialli was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017. He announced in April 2020 that he had been given the all-clear.

Vialli collaborated with his friend, football journalist Gabriele Marcotti, in writing The Italian Job: A Journey to the Heart of Two Great Footballing Cultures, which discusses the differences between English and Italian football. He donated the proceeds of the book to a charitable foundation he founded together with player-turned-politician Massimo Mauro to raise funds for research into cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as motor neurone disease.

Mancini, who became Italy’s head coach in 2018 after their failure to qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia, turned to Vialli to be part of his backroom team in 2019, giving him the title of delegation chief, a position unfilled since Luigi Riva's retirement in 2013.

UPDATE: Italy won the final of the delayed Euro 2020 championships two days after this article was originally published, defeating host nation England on penalties at Wembley. Vialli shared the glory with Mancini, his close friend since they played together at Sampdoria.

Sadly, Vialli's cancer returned late in 2021. The disease was kept under control initially but his condition deteriorated in December 2022, causing him to be readmitted to hospital in London. He died on 6 January, 2023, aged just 58.

Vialli grew up in the ancient Castello di Belgioioso between Cremona and Pavia
Vialli grew up in the ancient Castello di
Belgioioso between Cremona and Pavia
Travel tip:

It is thought the Castello di Belgioioso was founded by Galeazzo II Visconti in the second half of the 14th century as part of an extensive area owned by the family in the territory where the village of Belgioioso later arose. In the 18th century the castle belonged to Don Antonio Barbiano, the first prince of Belgioioso, who was responsible for the many improvements to the complex.Lombard nobility often met there to celebrate lavish receptions.  Today the castle is home to exhibitions, cultural events, exhibitions and fairs, as well as becoming a popular venue for weddings.





The fishing village and resort of Bogliasco is close to where Vialli lived in his time at Sampdoria
The fishing village and resort of Bogliasco is close
to where Vialli lived in his time at Sampdoria

Travel tip: 

During his time at Sampdoria, lived close to the Ligurian resort of Bogliasco, situated just 11km (7 miles) east of Genoa in an area known as the Golfo Paradiso. Bogliasco is not so well known as the beautiful Camogli or exclusive Portofino further down the coast, yet is an attractive port village with characteristic pastel-coloured houses lining a sweep of sandy beach. Bogliasco has many good restaurants, is accessible by train along the railway line that hugs the coast and has three important art collections in the Frugone, Wolfsoniana and Galleria d'Arte Moderna.

Also on this day:

1879: The birth of violinist and composer Ottorino Respighi

1897: The of former NATO Secretary-General Manlio Brosio

1950: The birth of tennis champion Adriano Panatta


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8 March 2021

Gianni Baget Bozzo – priest and politician

Theologian moved from party to party

Gianni Baget Bozzo during a session of the European Parliament, where he spent 10 years
Gianni Baget Bozzo during a session of the
European Parliament, where he spent 10 years
Prolific writer, ordained Catholic priest, political activist and one-time MEP Gianni Baget Bozzo - often referred to as Don Gianni - was born on this day in 1925 in Savona in the northern Italian region of Liguria.  He took the name Baget from his mother, who was of Catalan origin but died when he was five, and Bozzo from the two uncles who raised him.

Baget Bozzo was known for supporting parties from both ends of the political spectrum at different times. At one time a Christian Democrat activist, Baget Bozzo was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the Italian Socialist party in 1984, which led to him being suspended from the priesthood. He was a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia party from 1994.

He wrote many books about Christianity and as a theologian was a follower of the theories of Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

Baget Bozzo grew up in Genoa where he graduated in law. He studied at the Pontificia Universita Gregoriana in Rome, which was established by Ignatius Loyola in 1551 as a school of grammar, humanity and Christian doctrine. It was more generally referred to as the Roman College. After graduating Baget Bozzo was ordained as a priest in 1949.

Over the years he contributed to many newspapers, in particular La Repubblica and he wrote dozens of books.

Baget Bozzo made regular appearances as a guest in televised political debates
Baget Bozzo made regular appearances as a
guest in televised political debates
Among them was one about the Christian Democrats, The Christian Party in Power: the DC of De Gasperi and Dossetti, 1945-1954. He also wrote Catholics and Berlinguer’s letter (Enrico Berlinguer was the leader of the Italian Communist party from 1972 until 1984).

In 1983 with Giovanni Tanassini, he co-authored Aldo Moro: A politician in Crisis 1962-1973. Moro, who was twice elected as Prime Minister of Italy, was kidnapped by the Red Brigades in 1978 and killed after 55 days in captivity.

During the early 1970s Baget Bozzo had been moving closer to the Socialist Party (PSI) and he eventually became a strong supporter of Bettino Craxi.

In 1993 he transferred his allegiance to Berlusconi and became one of his advisers and speech writers.  He had been suspended from the priesthood after becoming an MEP but was readmitted after leaving the European Parliament in 1994. He continued to write about religion and politics until 2006, by which time his output exceeded 70 titles.

Baget Bozzo died in Genoa in 2009 at the age of 84. 

A view of the harbour area in Savona, the third largest city in maritime Liguria
A view of the harbour area in Savona, the third
largest city in maritime Liguria
Travel tip:

The third largest city in Liguria after Genoa and La Spezia, Savona used to be one of the biggest centres of the Italian iron industry, the iron works and foundries providing materials for shipbuilding and railways among other things. It also has a busy port but as well as industrial areas the city has a charming medieval centre containing architectural gems such as the Baroque Cattedrale di Nostra Signora Assunta - behind which is Italy’s other Sistine Chapel, like the Rome version erected by Pope Sixtus IV - and the Fortezza del Priamar, built by the Genoese in 1542 after their conquest of the city and later used a prison. The popes Sixtus IV and Julius II were born in the city and it was there in 1830 that the revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini was imprisoned.   Food specialities include gnocchi with nettles, bardenulla (white polenta flavored with leek and mushrooms) and tagliatelle with mushrooms.

Savona hotels from Booking.com

Il Bigo, the sculpture by Renzo Piano which is a centrepiece of his old harbour development
Il Bigo, the sculpture by Renzo Piano which is a
centrepiece of his old harbour development
Travel tip:

Genoa, wedged between the Ligurian Sea and the Apennine mountains, is a colourful port city with a vibrant character and the home of many outstanding buildings, such as the Romanesque Cathedral of San Lorenzo, with its black-and-white-striped façade and frescoed interior, the Doge's Palace and the 16th century Royal Palace.  The area around the restored harbour area offers a maze of fascinating alleys and squares, enhanced recently by the work of Genoa architect Renzo Piano, and a landmark aquarium, the largest in Italy.  The city’s Piazza de Ferrari, as well as being renowned for its bronze fountain, is surrounded by the headquarters of a number of banks, reflecting the status the city enjoyed at the end of the 19th century as Italy's financial centre, alongside Milan.  

Also on this day:

La Festa della Donna - Women’s Day

1566: The birth of controversial composer Carlo Gesualdo

1949: The birth of singer-songwriter Antonello Venditti

(Picture of Savona by Mariangela Calabria via Wikimedia Commons; Il Bigo by Mirko Bozzato from Pixabay)


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8 May 2020

Giovanni Battista Gaulli – artist

Baroque painter decorated leading Jesuit church in Rome


Baroque painter Giovanni Battista Gaulli, a self-portrait  painted in about 1667
Baroque painter Giovanni Battista Gaulli,
a self-portrait  painted in about 1667
Painter Giovanni Battista Gaulli, whose nickname was Baciccio, was born on this day in 1639 in Genoa.

He became a leading baroque painter whose work was influenced by the sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. He is most remembered for his beautiful frescoes in the Church of Gesù in Rome, which are considered a masterpiece of quadratura, or architectural illusionism.

Gaulli was born in Genoa and his parents died when he was just a teenager in an outbreak of plague in the city.

He was apprenticed with the painter Luciano Borzone but would also have been influenced by some of the foreign artists who were working in Genoa in the mid 17th century.

Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck were in Genoa at the time but it is also said that Gaulli adopted the warm palette of Genoese artist Bernardo Strozzi.

Gaulli was introduced to Bernini, who recognised his talent and helped to promote him. In 1662 he was accepted into the Roman artists’ guild, the Accademia di San Luca.

The following year Gaulli received his first public commission, for an altarpiece in the Church of San Rocco in Rome.

Gaulli's masterpiece, the Triumph of the  Name of Jesus, in the Church of the Gesù
Gaulli's masterpiece, the Triumph of the
Name of Jesus,
in the Church of the Gesù
At the height of his popularity, Gaulli was also one of Rome’s most prestigious portrait painters.

But a visit to Parma in 1669, where he saw Correggio’s frescoed dome ceiling in the cathedral of Parma, had a profound influence on his style.

With the support of Bernini, the 22-year-old Gaulli was awarded the prestigious commission of decorating the interior of the large Jesuit church in Rome, the Church of the Gesù.

Gaulli decorated the entire dome, central vault, window recesses, and the ceilings of the transepts. He unveiled the main vault fresco on Christmas Eve 1679 and after this he continued the frescoing of the vaults of the tribune and other areas of the church. The work took him nearly 14 years.

Gaulli’s nave masterpiece, the Triumph of the Name of Jesus, is an allegory of the work of the Jesuits that envelops worshippers below into the whirlwind of devotion. It is one of the grandest baroque ceilings in Rome and the theatrical effect prompted art experts to label Gaulli as ‘a Bernini in paint’.

A series of ceilings like this were painted in the naves of other Roman churches until the beginning of the 18th century. But as the high baroque movement evolved into the rococo, the popularity of this style dwindled.

Gaulli also moved in the new direction, adopting less intense colours and more delicate compositions.

He had many pupils during his long career, who spoke of him as ‘generous, liberal of mind and charitable’.

Gaulli died in 1709 in Rome, at the age of 70.

The facade of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) in Genoa. one of the maritime city's architectural highlights
The facade of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) in Genoa.
one of the maritime city's architectural highlights
Travel tip:

Genoa, where Gaulli was born, is the capital city of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy. It has earned the nickname of La Superba because of its proud history as a major port. Part of the old town was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2006 because of the wealth of beautiful 16th century palaces there.   Genoa has a rich history as a powerful trading centre with considerable wealth built on its shipyards and steelworks, but also boasts many fine buildings, many of which have been restored to their original splendour.  The Doge's Palace, the 16th century Royal Palace and the Romanesque-Renaissance style San Lorenzo Cathedral are just three examples. 

The baroque facade of the Church of the Gesù, which Michelangelo offered to design for free
The baroque facade of the Church of the Gesù,
which Michelangelo offered to design for free
Travel tip:

The Church of the Gesù, which was built between 1568 and 1584 was the first Jesuit church in Rome and its design has been much imitated throughout the Catholic world.  Located in the Piazza del Gesù, it has the first truly baroque façade, which introduced the style into architecture. Gaulli’s ceiling fresco is considered the most striking feature of the interior decoration.  Although Michelangelo offered, out of devotion, to design the church for free, the endeavor was funded by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, grandson of Pope Paul III, and the main architects involved in the construction were Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, architect of the Farnese family, and Giacomo della Porta.

Also on this day:

1587: The birth of Victor Amadeus I of Savoy

1898: Genoa become the first football champions of Italy

1960: The birth of AC Milan and Italy icon Franco Baresi


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13 January 2020

Prince Emanuele Filiberto – Duke of Aosta

Savoy prince who became a brilliant soldier


Emanuele Filiberto was a brilliant soldier who became known as the 'Undefeated Duke'
Emanuele Filiberto was a brilliant soldier
who became known as the 'Undefeated Duke'
Prince Emanuele Filiberto, who became the second Duca d'Aosta - Duke of Aosta - was born on this day in 1869 in Genoa.

The Prince successfully commanded the Italian Third Army during World War I, earning himself the title of the ‘Undefeated Duke.’ After the war he became a Marshall of Italy.

Emanuele Filiberto was the eldest son of Prince Amedeo of Savoy, Duca d'Aosta, and his first wife, Donna Maria Vittoria dal Pozzo della Cisterna, an Italian noblewoman.

In 1870 Prince Amedeo was elected to become King of Spain but he resigned after three years on the throne and returned to Italy, declaring Spain ‘ungovernable’. In 1890 Emanuele Filiberto succeeded his father to the title of Duca d'Aosta.

The Duke began his army career in Naples in 1905 as a Commander. His record while in command of the Italian Third Army led to his troops being nicknamed ‘armata invitta’ - undefeated army - despite some of the heavy losses suffered by Italian troops under other commanders during World War I.

After the war, in 1926, he was promoted to the rank of Marshal of Italy by Benito Mussolini in recognition of his long and successful service to his country.

Emanuele Filiberto was married to the beautiful Princess Hélène of Orléans
Emanuele Filiberto was married to the
beautiful Princess Hélène of Orléans
In 1895 the Duke had married Princess Hélène of Orléans, a daughter of Prince Philippe of Orleans and the Infanta Maria Isabel of Spain.

Princess Hélène was a member of the deposed Orléans Royal family of France. Her hand in marriage had previously been sought by heirs to the thrones of both the United Kingdom and the Russian Empire but neither alliance took place.

Hélène was born in exile in Twickenham in England and spent many years living in England and Scotland.

Considered a great beauty at the time, her parents had hopes that she would marry an heir to a throne.

There was too much opposition to her marrying the eldest son of Edward VII, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, because Hélène was a Catholic. The Duke of Clarence was said to be very much in love with her and never got over it.

She was also suggested as a bride for Tsar Nicolas II, but he did not pursue his parents’ choice of Hélène as a bride because he was already in love with someone else.

The marriage between Hélène and Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, second Duke of Aosta, took place at the Church of Saint Raphael in Kingston upon Thames, at a time when the Duke was second in line to the Italian throne. The wedding was attended by Crown Prince Victor Emmanuel of Italy and members of the British Royal family.

Emanuele Filiberto with his eldest son, Amedeo, in their military uniforms
Emanuele Filiberto with his eldest son,
Amedeo, in their military uniforms
The couple had two sons, Amedeo, third Duke of Aosta, who married Princess Anne of Orléans, and Aimone, fourth Duke of Aosta, who married Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark and reigned as King Tomislav II of Croatia from 1900 to 1948.

During World War I, Hélène, who had trained as a nurse, became head of the Italian Red Cross nurses and spent much of her time near the front line. She is remembered for improving sanitary conditions in military hospitals.

She was awarded the Italian Silver Medal for Bravery and also received awards from other countries. Her wartime diary was later published, with an introduction written by Mussolini, and sold in aid of the Italian Red Cross.

Prince Emanuele Filiberto died in 1931 in Turin and was buried, according to instructions in his will, in the military cemetery of Redipuglia, together with thousands of other soldiers from the Italian Third army.

Among the many Italian honours and decorations he received was the Gold Medal of Military Valour, awarded in 1937. He was also made a Knight of the Order of the Garter by the English King, Edward VII in 1902.

His wife, Hélène, remarried to Colonel Otto Campini in 1936.

The Ponte Duca d'Aosta, which spans the Tiber in Rome, was constructed in 1942
The Ponte Duca d'Aosta, which spans the Tiber in
Rome, was constructed in 1942
Travel tip:

The Duke of Aosta Bridge in Rome, built in 1942 to a design by Vincenzo Fasolo, was named after Prince Emanuele Filiberto. It connects the area of Lungotevere Flaminio with the area around the Foro Italico, then known as the Foro Mussolini.  The bridge has a bas relief by Ercole Drei has scenes on battles on the rivers Tagliamento, Isonzo, Sile and Piave and other episodes from the First World War.


The vast memorial at the Redipuglia cemetery. The remains of Prince Emanuele Filiberto are buried in the sepulchre (right)
The vast memorial at the Redipuglia cemetery. The remains of
Prince Emanuele Filiberto are buried in the sepulchre (right)
Travel tip:

The Redipuglia military cemetery, where Prince Emanuele Filiberto was buried among his men in line with instructions left in his will, is located on the Karst Plateau near the village of Fogliano Redipuglia, in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. It consists of a vast memorial, the largest war memorial in Italy and one of the largest in the world, housing the remains of 100,187 Italian soldiers killed between 1915 and 1917 in the eleven battles fought on the Karst and Isonzo front. It was built between 1935 and 1938 on Monte Sei Busi, one of the rocky hills of the Karst Plateau for which a bitter battle for possession was fought during the early stages of the Isonzo campaign.  At the base of the memorial, seven sepulchres contain the remains of Prince Emanuele Filiberto and six other generals killed in action.

Also on this day:

1898: The birth of opera star Carlo Tagliabue

1936: The birth of operatic baritone Renato Bruson

1950: The birth of actress and author Veronica De Laurentiis

1970: The birth of tragic cycling star Marco Pantani


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