Showing posts with label Subiaco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Subiaco. Show all posts

16 December 2018

Francesco Graziani - World Cup winner

Forward injured seven minutes into 1982 final

Francesco Graziani in action for  the Italy national team
Francesco Graziani in action for
the Italy national team
The footballer Francesco Graziani, who played in all of Italy’s matches in the 1982 World Cup in Spain but had the misfortune to be reduced to the status of a spectator when injury struck just seven minutes into the final, was born on this day in 1952 in Subiaco, in Lazio.

Graziani, a striker with Fiorentina who had made his name with Torino, scored a vital goal in Italy’s final match of the opening group phase against Cameroon, securing the draw that was enough to take the azzurri through to the second stage of the competition.

He played in Italy’s epic victories over Argentina and Brazil in the second group phase and in the thumping semi-final win over Poland but was replaced by Alessandro Altobelli after damaging a shoulder in the opening moments of the final against West Germany.

Altobelli went on to score Italy’s third goal as they overcame the Germans 3-1 to lift the trophy for a third time.

With 23 goals in 64 appearances for the national team, Graziani - nicknamed ‘Ciccio’ - achieved a strike rate in international football similar to his goals-per-game ratio in his career at domestic level, which brought him 142 goals in 413 league appearances.

His peak seasons came in the eight years he spent with Torino, during which he scored 97 times in 221 Serie A matches, winning the scudetto as Serie A champions in 1975-76.

The Torino team that won the Serie A championship in 1975-76. Graziani is fourth from the left on the back row
The Torino team that won the Serie A championship in
1975-76. Graziani is fourth from the left on the back row
A strong, physical player, Graziani began his footballing career in Bettini Quadraro, an amateur team in Rome, before moving to Arezzo and then to Torino in 1973.

Graziani scored 122 goals in 289 games in all competitions for Torino, including eight goals in 23 matches in Europe. In addition to the Serie A title, he was a member of the team that reached the final of the Coppa Italia in 1980.

He was the top-scorer in Serie A with a tally of 21 goals in the 1976-77 season, part of a powerful forward line alongside Paolo Pulici and Claudio Sala.

Graziani left Torino in 1981 when he and teammate Eraldo Pecci were transferred to Fiorentina, where they missed winning the title by a single point in the 1981–82 season.

In 1983, he was signed by Roma, with whom he won the Coppa Italia twice, in 1984 and 1986.

Graziani is brought down by Juventus defender  Gaetano Scirea during a Turin derby in 1976-77
Graziani is brought down by Juventus defender
 Gaetano Scirea during a Turin derby in 1976-77
Known for his composure in front of goal, Graziani was capable of playing as a main striker, in a creative midfield role, or even on the wing. He worked hard to hone his technique and eventually his determination, ability in the air and a natural eye for goal enabled him to become the complete centre-forward.

Nonetheless, despite his excellent scoring record, Graziani twice missed penalties in shoot-outs, first in the one that decided the 1980 Coppa Italia final, when Torino lost out to Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, and then again in the 1984 European Cup final - in the same stadium - when Roma, his next club after Fiorentina, were beaten by Liverpool.

After two seasons with Udinese and a brief appearance in the Australian National Soccer League, Graziani called time on his his playing career in 1988. His Serie A record was 130 goals from 353 games.

Graziani made his debut for the Italy national team in April 1975, in a 0–0 home draw in Rome against Poland, and scored his first goal for Italy in April of the following year in a 3–1 home win against Portugal.

Francesco Graziani has been a coach and pundit since giving up playing
Francesco Graziani has been a coach
and pundit since giving up playing
As well as being a key member of the 1982 World Cup team, he also went to the 1978 finals in Argentina as understudy to Paolo Rossi and to the 1980 European Championship finals on home soil, where he made four appearances, scoring once, as Italy finished in fourth place.

His career as a coach has so far produced mixed results. As coach of Fiorentina he reached the 1990 UEFA Cup Final. Spells at Reggina and Avellino were unsuccessful but then led Catania to promotion from Serie C1 to Serie B in the 2001–02 season.

From 2004 to 2006, he coached Cervia, an amateur team of Emilia-Romagna from the Eccellenza league who were the subject of an Italian reality show, Campioni – Il Sogno. He led the team to an immediate promotion to Serie D.

More recently, Graziani has worked as a football pundit for the Mediaset TV channels.

The Rocca Abbazia castle that towers above the town of Subiaco remains largely intact
The Rocca Abbazia castle that towers above the town of
Subiaco remains largely intact
Travel tip:

Graziani’s home town, Subiaco, which is situated about 70km (43 miles) east of Rome and about 40km (25 miles) from Tivoli, is built close to a hill  topped by the Rocca Abbazia castle, and close to Monte Liviato – one of Lazio’s premier ski resorts. Originally built to provide accommodation for workmen on Nero’s grand villa, of which barely anything remains, Subiaco became well known for the fact that, in the fifth century, Saint Benedict lived as a hermit in a mountain cave nearby for three years, before leaving to found the monastery at Montecassino. Among a few things to see are the Ponte di San Francesco, a medieval segmental arch bridge over the Aniene constructed in 1358.

The Municipio - local authority building - in Cervia, the town on the Adriatic coast where Graziani coached
The Municipio - local authority building - in Cervia, the
town on the Adriatic coast where Graziani coached
Travel tip:

Cervia, whose football club Graziani coached to promotion in 2005, is a resort town in Emilia-Romagna, on Italy's Adriatic coast.  It was once an important medieval city with three fortified entrances, seven churches and a castle supposedly built by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.  Among things to see are an early 18th century cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and the Museum of Salt, which tells the story of the town’s prosperous past as major centre for the mining of salt.

Search for hotels in Cervia on Tripadvisor

More reading:

How Paolo Rossi's hat-trick sank Brazil at the 1982 World Cup

Enzo Bearzot, the pipe-smoking maestro who plotted Italy's 1982 victory

Marco Tardelli: That goal, and that celebration

Also on this day:

1944: The birth of businessman Sandro Versace

1945: The death of Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli

1954: The birth of pop star Ivana Spagna


26 January 2017

Hebrew Bible in print for first time

Bologna printer makes history

The early printed editions of the Torah  were presented in the form of a scroll
The early printed editions of the Torah
were presented in the form of a scroll
The first printed edition of the Hebrew Bible was completed in Bologna on this day in 1482.

Specifically, the edition was the Pentateuch, or Torah, which consists of the first five books of the Christian and Jewish Bibles - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Torah, in Hebrew, means 'instruction'.  The book was given that name because the stories within it, which essentially form the opening narrative of the history of the Jewish people, and the interpretations offered of them, were intended to set out the moral and religious obligations fundamental to the Jewish way of life.

The book was the work of the Italian-Jewish printer Abraham ben Hayyim dei Tintori, from Pesaro.

The text consisted of large, clear square letters, accompanied by a translation in the Jewish biblical language Aramaic and a commentary by Rashi, who had been the foremost biblical commentator of the Middle Ages.

It was published and financed by Joseph ben Abraham, a member of the Caravita banking family in Bologna. The editor was the Hebrew scholar Yosef Hayyim ben Aaron, of Strasbourg.

The printing press had been invented in Germany in 1439 by Johannes Gutenburg and presses were soon set up across Europe as news of the phenomenon - as revolutionary at the time as the word processor more than five centuries later - spread.

The technology reached Italy in 1464, when the German monks Arnold Pannartz and Konrad Sweinheim set up the Subiaco Press in the Abbey of Santa Scolastica at Subiaco, about 70km (43 miles) to the east of Rome.

The Abbey of Santa Scolastica at Subiaco, which saw Italy's first printing press set up by German monks in 1464
The Abbey of Santa Scolastica at Subiaco, which saw Italy's
first printing press set up by German monks in 1464
It is thought that Abraham ben Hayyim probably started as a textile printer and bookbinder at Pesaro. In 1477 he printed two Hebrew books at Ferrara.

In Bologna, where he was employed as master printer for the wealthy Soncino family from just outside Milan, he became the first printer to find a solution for the difficult technical problem of adding vowels and cantillation signs to the previously vocalised biblical text.

How many copies were printed is not known. Some 27 are known to exist in public collections, of which only 10 are complete. One of them, auctioned at Christie's in Paris in 2014, printed on vellum in an 18th century binding, achieved a price of €2.785 million ($3,866,578).

Six years later, ben Hayyim completed the first printed edition of the whole of the Hebrew Bible, comprising the Neviim and Ketuvim as well as the Torah, at the Soncino press in the town of the same name, near Milan.

The Basilica of San Petronio towers over the  Piazza Maggiore in Bologna
The Basilica of San Petronio towers over the
Piazza Maggiore in Bologna
Travel tip:

The origins of Bologna, one of Italy's most historic cities, can be traced back to 1,000BC or possibly earlier, with a settlement that was developed into an urban area by the Etruscans, the Celts and the Romans.  The University of Bologna, the oldest in the world, was founded in 1088.  Bologna's city centre, which has undergone substantial restoration since the 1970s, is one of the largest and best preserved historical centres in Italy, characterised by 38km (24 miles) of walkways protected by porticoes.  At the heart of the city is the beautiful Piazza Maggiore, dominated by the Gothic Basilica of San Petronio, which at 132m long, 66m wide and with a facade that touches 51m at its tallest, is the 10th largest church in the world and the largest built in brick.

Travel tip:

Subiaco, a town on the eastern fringe of the Lazio region near the border with Abruzzo, is notable for its two abbeys, the Abbey of Santa Scolastica, and St Benedict's, where the Benedictine Order originated in the sixth century, the first of 12 monasteries built by St Benedict, who from the age of 14 lived for three years in a cave above the nearby Anio river.  Over the centuries, many monks came to Subiaco from Germany, hence the presence of Pennartz and Sweinheim in 1464.  Notable people born in Subiaco include Lucrezia Borgia and the actress, Gina Lollobrigida.

More reading:

Giambattista Bodoni - printer patronised by Napoleon

Guglielmo Marconi - inventor from Bologna who created first radio

How Giovanni Riccioli had a moon crater named after him

Also on this day:

Saints day of friar Gabriela Allegra

(Picture credits: Bible scroll by HOWI; Abbey by Livioandronico2013; Basilica by Giovanni Dall'Orto; all via Wikimedia Commons)


4 July 2016

Gina Lollobrigida – actress

Movie star who became photo journalist

Gina Lollobrigida at the peak of her fame in the 1960s
Gina Lollobrigida at the peak of her
fame in the 1960s
Film star Gina Lollobrigida was born Luigina Lollobrigida on this day in 1927 in Subiaco in Lazio.

At the height of her popularity as an actress in the 1950s and early 1960s she was regarded as a sex symbol all over the world.

In later life she worked as a photo journalist and has supported Italian and American good causes. In 2013 she sold her jewellery collection and donated the money she raised, in the region of five million dollars, to fund stem cell therapy research.

One of four daughters of a furniture manufacturer and his wife, as a young girl, Lollobrigida did some modelling, entered beauty contests and had minor roles in Italian films. She studied painting and sculpture at school and claimed in later life that she became an actress "by mistake".

When she was 20 she entered the Miss Italia competition and came third. The publicity she received helped her get parts in European films but she turned down the chance to work in America after initially agreeing a seven-year contract with the American entrepreneur Howard Hughes. After she refused the terms of her contract, it took nine years for a legal dispute to be resolved.

She received a BAFTA nomination and won a Nastro d’Argento award for her performance in Bread, Love and Dreams (Pane, amore e fantasia), a comedy directed by Luigi Comencini, in 1953. She later starred in the English language film Beat the Devil, which was shot in Italy, and she also worked in the French film industry.

Lollobrigida's looks brought her much work  but she was also a talanted actress
Lollobrigida's looks brought her much work 
but she was also a talanted actress
Her appearance in The World’s Most Beautiful Woman (1955), a French-Italian comedy also known as Beautiful But Dangerous led to her receiving the David di Donatello - the award presented by the Academy of Italian Cinema - for Best Actress. She played the part of Italian soprano Lina Cavalieri and sang arias from Tosca herself.

In the 1950s and '60s, her talent and vivacious good looks put her in demand with the major studios and she was cast alongside many of the big box-offices names of the era, including Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Anthony Quinn, Yves Montand, Marcello Mastroianni, Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner, Sean Connery and Rock Hudson.

More awards came in the shape of a Golden Globe for the romantic comedy Come September (1961), a Nastro d'Argento and David di Donatello awards for the historical drama Venere Imperiale (1962), and a third David di Donatello for another comedy, Buona Sera, Mrs Campbell (1968), which also starred Shelley Winters, Phil Silvers, Peter Lawford and Telly Savalas. 

In the mid 1980s her role in the American television series Falcon Crest earned her a Golden Globe nomination. By then, she was making only occasional movie appearances, her last coming in 1997.

At the end of the 1970s Lollobrigida started working as a photojournalist as well as continuing with acting. She obtained an exclusive interview with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and also photographed many famous film stars, as well as publishing a number of books of her photographs.

Married twice, she has one son, Andrea Milko, by her first marriage to a Slovenian physician. In retirement, she divided her time between her country house in Sicily, her home in Via Appia in Rome and her villa in Monte Carlo.

UPDATE: Gina Lollobrigida died in Rome in January, 2023 at the age of 95.

The abbey of Santa Scolastica near Subiaco, Lazio, home town of actress Gina Lollobrigida
The Abbey of Santa Scolastica near Subiaco, Lazio,
home town of actress Gina Lollobrigida
Travel tip:

Subiaco, where Gina Lollobrigida was born, is a town in Lazio, about 40km (25 miles) to the east of Tivoli, alongside the Aniene river. It is famous for its two ancient abbeys, St Benedict’s and Santa Scolastica. The area has had a monastic community since the sixth century. The first printed books in Italy were produced on a printing press set up in the town in the 15th century.  Subiaco is also the birthplace of 16th century femme fatale Lucrezia Borgia.

Stretches of the original Via Appia are preserved as the Via Appia Antica
Stretches of the original Via Appia are
preserved as the Via Appia Antica
Travel tip:

Gina Lollobrigida’s home in Rome is in Via Appia, the Appian Way, which is one of the earliest and most important of the Roman roads. It connects Rome to Brindisi in southern Italy. The road is named after Appius Claudius Caecus, who directed the construction of its first section in 312 BC after it was deemed that a road was needed to ease the movement of military supplies and troops to and from Rome. Stretching for approximately 400 miles (645km), it was the first long road made for this purpose. Today, following the route is an ideal way to see several major monuments of ancient Rome, including the Tomb of Priscilla, the Catacombs of Callixtus and St Sebastian, the Circus of Maxentius, the baths of Capo di Bove and the Villa dei Quintili. Today a modern road, the Villa Appia Nuova, runs close to the original route, while there are many stretches of the original route preserved, known ad the Villa Appia Antica.

Also on this day:

1914: The birth of car designer Giuseppe 'Nuccio' Bertone

(Photo of Gina Lollobrigida by Ivo Lollobrigida CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of the Abbey of Santa Scolastica by Livioandronico2013 CC BY-SA 4.0)

18 April 2016

Lucrezia Borgia – Pope’s daughter

Notorious blonde beauty inspired painters and poets

Bartolomeo Veneto's 1520 portrait of a courtesan is generally accepted as depicting Lucrezia Borgia
Bartolomeo Veneto's 1520 portrait of a courtesan is
generally accepted as depicting Lucrezia Borgia
Lucrezia Borgia, the illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, was born on this day in 1480 in Subiaco near Rome.

A reputedly beautiful woman, she entered into arranged marriages to important men to advance her family’s political position and rumours have abounded about the fate of her first two husbands.

Macchiavelli wrote about the Borgia family in his book, The Prince, depicting Lucrezia as some kind of femme fatale and this characterisation of her, whether just or unjust, has lasted over the years, being reproduced in many works of art, books and films.

Lucrezia was born to Vannozza dei Cattanei, one of Rodrigo Borgia’s mistresses, and had three brothers, Cesare, Giovanni and Gioffre.

When she was just ten years old the first matrimonial arrangement was made on her behalf but was annulled after a few weeks in favour of a better match, which was also later called off. But after Rodrigo became Pope Alexander VI, he arranged for Lucrezia to marry Giovanni Sforza.

When the Pope needed a new, more advantageous, political alliance it is thought he may have ordered the execution of Giovanni, but Lucrezia was able to warn her husband and he fled to Rome.

The marriage was eventually annulled and Lucrezia was then married to Alfonso of Aragon, who was murdered two years later.

The Castello Estense, where Lucrezia Borgia lived  is right at the centre of the town of Ferrara
The Castello Estense, where Lucrezia Borgia lived
 is right at the centre of the town of Ferrara
She was then married to Alfonso I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. They lived in Ferrara and had several children and she eventually earned the reputation of being a respectable and accomplished Duchess, despite her affairs with other men.

During her relationship with the poet, Pietro Bembo, they exchanged love letters, which are now in the collection of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. Byron called them ‘the prettiest love letters in the world’ when he saw them there in 1816 and also claimed to have managed to steal part of a lock of Lucrezia’s hair that was on display with them.

Lucrezia has been described as having heavy, long, blonde hair, a good complexion, hazel eyes and a graceful figure.

Rumours that she was involved in incest and possessed a hollow ring, which she used to poison men’s drinks, have never been substantiated.

After the birth of her last child to Alfonso I in 1519, Lucrezia became seriously ill and died at the age of 39 in Ferrara
Her surviving children went on to make good marriages and many royal and notable people today can claim Lucrezia Borgia as an ancestor.

Travel tip:

The Castello Estense in Ferrara, where Lucrezia Borgia lived after her marriage to Alfonso I d’Este, is a moated, brick-built castle in the centre of the city. It is open to the public every day from 9.30 till 5.30 pm, apart from certain times of the year when it is closed on Mondays. For more details and ticket prices visit

A lock of Lucrezia Borgia's hair is on display in a glass case at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana
A lock of Lucrezia Borgia's hair is on display
in a glass case at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana
Travel tip:

The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Piazza Pio XI in Milan was established in 1618 to house paintings, drawing and statues donated to the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, a library founded in the same building a few years before. In addition to the works of art, the museum keeps curiosities such as the gloves Napoleon wore at Waterloo and a lock of Lucrezia Borgia’s hair, in front of which famous poets, such as Lord Byron and Gabriele D’Annunzio are reputed to have spent a lot of time drawing inspiration. Visit for more information.