Showing posts with label Orzinuovi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Orzinuovi. Show all posts

10 November 2018

Vanessa Ferrari - gymnast

First Italian woman to win a World Championship gold

Vanessa Ferrari is Italy's most successful female gymnast
Vanessa Ferrari is Italy's most
successful female gymnast
The gymnast Vanessa Ferrari, who in 2006 became the first Italian female competitor to win a gold medal at the World Championships of artistic gymnastics, was born on November 10, 1990, in the town of Orzinuovi in Lombardy.

Ferrari won the all-around gold - consisting of uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise - at the World Championships in Aarhus in Denmark when she was only 15 years old. It remains the only artistic gymnastics world title to be won by an Italian woman.

Earlier in 2006, Ferrari had picked up her first gold medal of the European Championships at Volos in Greece as Italy won the all-around team event.

Naturally small in stature, Ferrari was inspired to take up gymnastics by watching the sport on television as a child, when the sport was dominated by Russian and Romanian athletes.

With the help of her Bulgarian-born mother, Galya, who made many sacrifices to help her daughter fulfil her ambitions, Ferrari joined the Brixia gym in the city of Brescia, a 30km (19 miles) drive from the family home.

Brixia was co-founded by Enrico Casella, a former rugby player who was technical director of the Italian women’s gymnastics team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Casella recognised Ferrari’s potential and took it upon himself to become her personal coach.

Vanessa Ferrari became a World champion when she was only 15 years old
Vanessa Ferrari became a World champion
when she was only 15 years old
Ferrari’s first major success came at the 2004 European junior championships, when as a 13-year-old she won the silver medal. She dominated the Mediterranean Games and European Junior Olympic festival the following year. She was all-around champion at both events, as well as winning four more golds at the former.

After her success in the European and World senior events in 2006, she won two gold medals at the 2007 European championships in Amsterdam, finishing first in both the all-around event and the floor exercises.

She could finish only ninth in the all-round when the European championships were held on home ground in Milan in 2009 but collected another medal by finishing runner-up to Great Britain’s Beth Tweddle in the floor exercises.

In Brussels in 2012 she picked up her sixth medal overall with bronze in the team event before bouncing back to win her fourth gold on the floor in Sofia in 2014.

Although she is the most successful of all female Italian gymnasts, an Olympic medal has eluded Ferrari so far, although she has twice narrowly missed out.

At the London Games of 2012 she finished level on points with close rival Aliya Mustafina in the floor exercises only for the Russian to be given the bronze medal on the tie-break system, despite Ferrari finishing with a better mark for difficulty than her rival.

Vanessa Ferrari was injured at the   2017 World Championships
Vanessa Ferrari was injured at the
 2017 World Championships
And at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Ferrari again had to settle for fourth place. This time bronze medallist Amy Tinkler of Great Britain scored higher for difficulty and execution but missing out was again a disappointment for Ferrari because she was in the bronze medal position at the end of qualifying, although it later emerged that she was struggling with an Achilles tendon injury for which she had surgery later in 2016.

Rio was Ferrari’s third Olympics - the most at which any female Italian gymnast has competed - and although she once said she would retire after the 2012 Games she has ambitions to compete at a fourth in Tokyo in 2020 in the hope of clinching that elusive medal.

Since Rio, however, she has another Achilles tendon injury.  She has begun a coaching career alongside competing and hopes to be in Tokyo at least as a coach if not actually on the floor herself.

The Sforzesca Castle at Soncino, one of the neighbouring towns of Ferrari's home town of Orzonuovi
The Sforzesca Castle at Soncino, one of the neighbouring
towns of Ferrari's home town of Orzonuovi
Travel tip:

Orzinuovi is a town in Lombardy of just over 12,500 inhabitants about 30km (19 miles) southwest of Brescia and about 36km (22 miles) northeast of Cremona in an area of historical interest that includes the neighbouring town of Soncino, where there is well-preserved castle - the Rocca Sforzesca - built in 1473 for Galeazzo Maria Sforza and often used nowadays as a location for films and TV series, and the Casa degli Stampatori - Printers' House - where, in 1488, the first complete Jewish Bible in the world was printed.

Il Torrazzo in Cremona is the tallest bell tower in the whole of Italy
Il Torrazzo in Cremona is the tallest bell
tower in the whole of Italy
Travel tip:

Cremona is famous for having the tallest bell tower in Italy, il Torrazzo, which measures more than 112m (367ft) in height. The city is famous for violins, being the home of Antonio Stradivari and the Amati family, and there is a fascinating museum, the Museo Stradivariano in Via Ugolani Dati, which is dedicated to the city’s violin-making tradition of the 16th and 17th centuries. As well as violins, Cremona is also famous for producing confectionery. Negozio Sperlari in Via Solferino specialises in the city’s famous torrone (nougat), a concoction of almonds, honey and egg whites created to mark the marriage of Bianca Maria Visconti to Francesco Sforza in 1441, when the city was given to the bride as part of her dowry.

More reading:

How Valentina Vezzali became Italy's most successful female athlete

World records and Moscow gold for high jumper Sara Simeoni

Horrific accident that drove Francesca Porcellato to Paralympic glory

Also on this day:

1816: Lord Byron arrives in Venice

1869: The birth of assassin Gaetano Bresci

1928: The birth of film music maestro Ennio Morricone


19 August 2017

Cesare Prandelli – football coach

Led Italy to the final of Euro 2012

Cesare Prandelli
Cesare Prandelli
The former head coach of the Italian national football team, Cesare Prandelli, was born on this day in 1957 in Orzinuovi, near Brescia.

Under Prandelli’s guidance, the Azzurri finished runners-up in the European Championships final of 2012 and qualified for the finals of the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

Despite winning a two-year extension to his contract, he quit after Italy’s elimination at the group stage in Brazil, which he considered was the honourable course of action after a very  disappointing tournament in which the Azzurri beat England in their opening match but then lost to Costa Rica and Uruguay.

As a player, Prandelli had been a member of a highly successful Juventus team in the early 1980s, winning Serie A three times and the European Cup in 1985 – albeit on a night overshadowed by tragedy at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels. 

After beginning his coaching career as youth team coach with Atalanta in Bergamo, his last club as a player, he twice achieved promotion from Serie B, with Hellas Verona in 1999 and Venezia in 2001.

But it was his achievements in Serie A with Fiorentina that impressed the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).

Prandelli guided Italy to the semi-finals of the Euro 2012 tournament
Prandelli guided Italy to the semi-finals
of the Euro 2012 tournament
Appointed in the summer of 2005, he had immediate success, transforming the team from relegation strugglers to finish in fourth place, winning qualification for the Champions League, although the prize was then snatched away from them after the investigation into the Calciopoli bribes scandal found the Tuscan club to be heavily involved.

Prandelli himself was not party to any wrongdoing but had to deal with the consequences as Fiorentina began the following season with a 15-point penalty. Remarkably, despite the handicap, they qualified for the UEFA Cup by finishing sixth. Had they started level with the rest of the field they would have been third. Prandelli was named Serie A’s Coach of the Year.

In each of the following two seasons, the viola did qualify for the Champions League, achieving a last 16 place for the first time in their history in the 2009-10 season, on the back of which he was approached by the FIGC in May 2010 and appointed as Marcello Lippi’s successor in charge of the national team.

Prandelli was head coach of the Azzurri for 56 matches, winning 25 of them and losing 14. The high spots came in Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, when Italy qualified unbeaten from their group before beating England in a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-finals and knocking out Germany in the semis, when Prandelli’s protégé, Mario Balotelli, scored both goals.

They lost the final 4-0 to Spain but Prandelli’s team won popular approval and on their return to Italy were invited to meet the president, Giorgio Napolitano, at a reception at the Palazzo Quirinale.

Prandelli (centre) introduces striker Mario Balotelli to the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano
Prandelli (centre) introduces striker Mario Balotelli to
the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano
Since resigning from the Italy job, Prandelli has had unhappy spells in Turkey with Galatasaray, where he was sacked after just 147 days in charge, and in Spain with Valencia, where he resigned after 10 matches.  He is currently working in Dubai with the Emirates Arabian Gulf League club Al-Nasr.

Off the field, Prandelli suffered the tragedy of losing his wife Manuela to cancer in 2007, after 25 years of marriage.  They had met in Orzinuovi as teenagers.  They had a daughter, Carolina, and a son, Nicolò, who worked for the Italian national team as a fitness coach in the build-up to Euro 2012.

The Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II in Orzinuovi
The Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II in Orzinuovi
Travel tip:

Orzinuovi, a town of 12,500 people situated about 32km (20 miles) south-east of Brescia, is typical of many municipalities in Lombardy in that it is clean, orderly and understatedly elegant. The attractive Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II is a long, wide thoroughfare at the heart of the town lined with porticos on each side.

The Stadio Artemio Franchi, with the Torre del Maratona
away to the left, in Florence
Travel tip:

Fiorentina’s home ground, the Stadio Artemio Franchi, is one of Italy’s most historic football venues, constructed entirely from reinforced concrete to a design by the celebrated architect Pier Luigi Nervi, who included a 70-metre (230ft) tower – La Torre del Maratona – that is a landmark on the Florence skyline. The stadium hosted matches at the 1934 and the 1990 World Cups. It is likely to be the club’s home for only a short while longer, however, with plans approved for a now 40,000-seater stadium as part of the redevelopment of north-west Florence, to be completed in time for the 2021-22 season.