Showing posts with label Porta Vittoria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Porta Vittoria. Show all posts

6 January 2018

Adriano Celentano – singer and actor

Italy’s biggest-selling recording artist of all time

Adriano Celentano on stage in 2012
Adriano Celentano on stage in 2012
The pop singer and movie actor Adriano Celentano, who is estimated to have sold in the region of 200 million records in a career spanning 60 years, was born on this day in 1938 in Milan.

One of the most important and influential figures in Italian pop culture, Celentano enjoys such enduring popularity that when he gave his first live performance for 18 years at the Arena di Verona in 2012, screened on the Canale 5 television channel, it attracted an audience of more than nine million viewers.

He has recorded more than 40 albums, the latest of which, Tutti le migliori (All The Best) reviving his collaboration with another veteran Italian star, Mina, was released only last year and included new material.

Celentano’s biggest individual hits include Stai lontana di me (Stay away from me, 1962), Si è spento il sole (The sun has gone out, 1962), Pregherò (I will pray, 1962), Il ragazzo della via Gluck (The boy from Gluck Street, 1966), La coppia più bello del mondo (The most beautiful couple in the world, 1967), Azzurro (Blue, 1968), Sotto le lenzuola (Under the sheets, 1971), Ti avrò (I will have you, 1978) and Susanna (1984).

He also had an unexpected worldwide hit in 1972 with Prisencolinensinainciusol – a made-up word that Celentano sung in such a way as to demonstrate what American English – the language of most pop songs – sounds like to a non-English speaking Italian.

Celentano, centre, with his 1950s band The Rock Boys
Celentano, centre, with his 1950s band The Rock Boys
Celentano also appeared in more than 30 films and countless TV shows, mainly comedies, in which he developed a character with comic facial expressions and a distinctive way of walking. It was no surprise that he was a great fan of the zany American comic actor Jerry Lewis.

One of his earliest parts was in Federico Fellini’s classic La Dolce Vita, in which he played a rock musician, while his most acclaimed role was in Pietro Germi’s Serafino, in which he played a simple shepherd who inherits a fortune from a wealthy art and squanders it all before returning to his old life in the mountains.

Born in Milan in Via Cristoforo Gluck, in a modest neighbourhood near Milano Centrale station, Celentano grew up obsessed with the American rock and roll scene.  His early music was pure rock and roll, heavily influenced by Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Bill Haley, whose iconic track Rock Around the Clock was part of the soundtrack of Blackboard Jungle, the film that captured the imagination of Celentano and his fellow teenagers when it was released in 1955.

He and a group of friends formed a group The Rock Boys, who recorded covers of Rip It Up, Jailhouse Rock, Blueberry Hill and Tutti Frutti.  They are credited now with having introduced Italy to the rock and roll genre.

Celentano with his wife, actress Claudia Mori, on the  set of a TV show in 1972
Celentano with his wife, actress Claudia Mori, on the
set of a TV show in 1972
As his career developed, he won the Sanremo Music Festival in 1970 with Chi non lavora non fa l’amore (Who does not work does not make love), in which he partnered his wife, Claudia Mori.

He had met Claudia, a beautiful actress and singer from Rome, on the set of a film in 1963 and they married secretly in Grosseto the following year.  

Mori, who appeared with her husband in several films as well as accompanying him in several duets, is the manager of his record company, Clan Celentano. They have three children – Rosita, Giacomo and Rosalinda, all born in the 1960s.

In the 1970s, Celentano was so popular and the demand for tickets for his concerts so great he began to stage events at football stadiums, playing to 65,000 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples and 50,000 at the football stadium in Rimini.

He has several times taken long breaks from performing live, in order to focus on other projects. After 14 years without going on stage, he made a comeback of sorts in 2008 at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan – home of his beloved Internazionale – as part of the celebrations for the club’s centenary.

Scene at the Arena di Verona for Celentano's 2012 concert
Scene at the Arena di Verona for Celentano's 2012 concert
It set the seed for him to plan his 2012 show in Verona, where he demonstrated that his voice had lost none of its power and sophistication, reeling off a string of his greatest hits from six decades of music.

Increasingly a political figure – many of his songs carry strong messages – he is a supporter of the centre-right Five Star Movement, led by his long-time friend Beppe Grillo.

The Palazzo del Ghiaccio now stages events such as banquets in a uniquely striking setting
The Palazzo del Ghiaccio now stages events such as banquets
in a uniquely striking setting 
Travel tip:

Adriano Celentano made his performing debut in 1957 at the Palazzo del Ghiaccio (The Ice Palace), a beautiful Art Nouveau building in Via Piranesi, in the Porta Vittoria area of the city. Opened in 1923, covering 1,800 square metres, it was once the major covered ice rink in Europe and one of the largest in the world. The building was seriously damaged during the Second World War but was restored and reopened and remained an active venue for skating events until 2002. It has also hosted boxing, fencing and basketball among other sports, as well as entertainment events such as the Italian Festival of Rock and Roll at which Celentano took his first bows. His contemporary Mina played there for the first time in 1959. The Palazzo is still an important venue today for fashion shows, exhibitions, business conventions, concerts and other events.

The Piazza Cinque Giornate
The Piazza Cinque Giornate in Milan
Travel tip:

Porta Vittoria was formerly known as Porta Tosa, the eastern gate of the Spanish walls of the city in the 16th century. It was renamed Porta Vittoria with Italian unification in 1861 in respect of its historical significance, having been the seen of a battle between Milanese rebels and the occupying Austrian forces during the so-called Five Days of Milan in 1848.  The actual gate was demolished in 1881 and its location in what is now Piazza Cinque Giornate is marked with an obelisk designed by Giuseppe Grandi.

18 March 2017

The Five Days of Milan

Citizens rebel to drive out ruling Austrians

A painting by an unknown artist that shows fighting between Austrian troops and Milanese citizens
A painting by an unknown artist that shows fighting between
Austrian troops and Milanese citizens 
The Five Days of Milan, one of the most significant episodes of the Risorgimento, began on this day in 1848 as the citizens of Milan rebelled against Austrian rule. 

More than 400 Milanese citizens were killed and a further 600 wounded but after five days of street battles the Austrian commander, Marshal Josef Radetzky, withdrew his 13,000 troops from the city.

The 'Cinque Giornate' uprising sparked the First Italian War of Independence between the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Austrian Empire.

Much of northern Italy was under Austrian rule in the early part of the 19th century and they maintained a harsh regime. Elsewhere, governments were introducing social reform, especially in Rome but also in Sicily, Salerno and Naples after riots against the Bourbon King Ferdinand II.

Ferdinand, ruler of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and Charles Albert (Carlo Alberto) of Savoy, in the Kingdom of Sardinia, adopted a new constitution, limiting the power of the monarchy, and Pope Pius IX in the Papal States followed suit a little later.

Marshall Josef Radetzky and his troops were driven out of Milan
Marshall Josef Radetzky and his troops
were driven out of Milan
The response of the Austrians was to seek a still tighter grip on their territories in Lombardy-Venetia, where they imposed tax increases on the citizens and sent out tax collectors, supported by the army, to ensure that everybody paid.

There was a warning of what lay ahead in January 1848, when Milanese rebels organised a boycott of gambling and of tobacco, which were government monopolies and a major source of revenue.

Fighting broke out between rebels and Austrian soldiers, who ultimately quelled the trouble by charging the crowd with swords and bayonets.

Peace was restored but trouble exploded again in March, when news reached Italy that riots in Vienna were threatening to overthrow the Austrian prime minister, Klemens von Metternich.  An anti-Austrian movement quickly spread through the city and gained widespread support.  The Austrian garrison mobilised in response under the vastly experienced Radetzky, whose tactical astuteness had not diminished, even though he was in his 81st year.

Yet such was the fierce passion among the local people to rid themselves of Austrian rule, with even priests joining the street battles and farmers from the surrounding countryside arriving in numbers to give their support, that the Austrians, weakened after Radetzky had been forced to send some of his troops to Vienna, sought an armistice.

When it was rejected, Radetsky felt obliged to act to minimise his own losses and at the end of the five days, on the evening of March 22, he began a withdrawal to the Quadrilatero, the a four-cornered area between Milan and Venice guarded by fortresses at Verona, Legnano, Mantua and Peschiera del Garda.

There is a statue of Carlo Cattaneo on Via Santa Margherita in central Milan
There is a statue of Carlo Cattaneo on Via
Santa Margherita in central Milan
A provisional government of Milan was formed and presided over by the podestà (mayor), Gabrio Casati, and a council of war under the political writer, Carlo Cattaneo.

The following day, March 23, Charles Albert of Savoy declared war on Austria, launching what became known and the First War of Italian Independence.

As a memorial to the victory of the rebels, the official newspaper of Cattaneo's temporary government was given the name Il 22 marzo (March 22). A monument to the uprising by the sculptor Giuseppe Grandi was built at what is now Porta Vittoria.

Soon after the Milan riots, an insurrection in Venice led by Daniele Manin, a lawyer, also succeeded in ejecting Austrian forces and a new Republic of San Marco was proclaimed.

However, the First War of Italian Independence, which lasted a year, ended in victory for the Austrians, who won decisive battles at Custoza and Novara, resulting in the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia being returned to Austrian control.

Piazza Cinque Giornate at Porta Vittoria commemorates the Milan uprising of 1848 in which  400 citizens died
Piazza Cinque Giornate at Porta Vittoria commemorates
the Milan uprising of 1848 in which  400 citizens died
Travel tip:

Formerly known as Porta Tosa, the eastern gate in the old Spanish Walls of Milan, Porta Vittoria was the first strategic position to be taken by the Milanese rebels during the Five Days. It was renamed Porta Vittoria in 1861, when Italian unification was completed. The gate was demolished in the late 19th century and an obelisk designed by Giuseppe Grandi erected in its place and inaugurated on March 18, 1895. The square is now called Piazza Cinque Giornate. Nearby streets and squares are named after heroes and prominent events of the Risorgimento and the Five Days.

Travel tip:

The significance of Carlo Cattaneo in the history of Milan is commemorated in the Carlo Cattaneo Institute of Higher Education in Piazza Vetra in the historic Corrobbio district, which has Roman origins, to the south-west of the city.  Cattaneo, strongly republican in his politics, was a philosopher and writer and a former member of Carbonari, a network of secret revolutionary groups.  There is a statue of Cattaneo in Via Santa Margherita in central Milan, close to the Duomo and the Galleria.

Milan hotels by

More reading:

Why Giuseppe Mazzini was the ideological inspiration for Italian unification

The end of the Venetian Republic

Victor Emmanuel II - first king of the new Kingdom of Italy

Also on this day: 

1944: The last time Vesuvius erupted

(Picture credits: Carlo Cattaneo monument by Giovanni Dall'Orto; Piazza Cinque Giornate by Arbalete; via Wikimedia Commons)