Showing posts with label TV Personalities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TV Personalities. Show all posts

10 October 2023

Nunzia De Girolamo - politician and television presenter

Lawyer who moved from debating to dancing

De Girolamo served in prime minister Enrico Letta's cabinet from 2013 to 2014
De Girolamo served in prime minister
Enrico Letta's cabinet from 2013 to 2014
Politician and lawyer Nunzia De Girolamo, who served as Minister of Agriculture in the government of Enrico Letta from 2013 to 2014, was born on this day in 1975 in Benevento in Campania.

Nunzia became a member of the Italian parliament, representing Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, in 2008, and she was re-elected to parliament in 2013. She went on to become the youngest member of the Letta cabinet and one of just seven female politicians appointed.

While growing up, Nunzia attended the Liceo Classico Pietro Giannone in Benevento and then entered the faculty of jurisprudence to study law at the University of Rome La Sapienza. After graduating, she went into the legal profession.

Nunzia worked in the fields of civil law, employment law, and commercial law before going into politics.

She became a member of Forza Italia, but left the party in 2009. Voters chose her as an individual member of the People of Freedom party, when she stood for parliament for the second time.

In 2011, she married Francesco Boccia, the Minister for Regional Affairs and Autonomy. They had a daughter, who they named Gea.

After leaving the People of Freedom party in November 2013, Nunzia joined Angelino Alfano’s New Centre Right party.

However, she resigned from office in 2014, after claims were made that she had conducted herself improperly. Nunzia denied any wrongdoing, saying she had left her ministerial post in order to defend herself against the allegations made against her. After Prime Minister Letta accepted her resignation, Nunzia became the second minister to resign from the cabinet in the nine months since the elections.

With dancer Raimondo Todaro, De Girolamo  reached the finals of Ballando con le Stelle
With dancer Raimondo Todaro, De Girolamo
 reached the finals of Ballando con le Stelle
She subsequently served as House whip for the New Centre Right party, but she failed to be re-elected to the Chamber in the 2018 elections.

In 2019, Nunzia took part in the 14th series of the programme, Ballando con le Stelle, Italy’s version of the BBC's popular programme, Strictly Come Dancing and America's Dancing with the Stars. 

She was partnered by professional dancer Raimondo Todaro and the couple enjoyed some lively exchanges with the programme’s panel of judges at the end of their dances each week, yet were popular enough with the public to be one of six couples voted through to the finals show. 

The former politician’s Ballando con le Stelle appearances have since been followed by regular television work presenting programmes for Rai Uno.

Benevento's Arch of Trajan echoes the city's Roman past
Benevento's Arch of Trajan
echoes the city's Roman past
Travel tip: 

Benevento, Nunzia De Girolamo's birthplace, is a city built on a hill some 50km (31 miles) northeast of Naples in Campania. As Beneventum, it was an important Roman trading station along the Via Appia route between Rome and Brindisi and its Roman remains are a particular attraction to visitors. An outdoor theatre built by Hadrian to seat 10,000 spectators has been preserved in relatively good condition, as has the city's marble Trajan's Arch, built during the second century to mark the opening of the Via Traiano trade route. The arch had ornate decorative carvings of exceptional detail, which celebrate the life and times of Emperor Trajan. Benevento suffered extensive damage from bombing in World War Two and several major buildings, including the city's Duomo - the Cattedrale di Santa Maria de Episcopio - had to undergo restoration or complete rebuilding work. The church of Saint Sophia, a circular building with Byzantine touches consecrated in around 760, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

The palace housing the Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza church, which was built from a tax on wine
The palace housing the Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza
church, which was bought with a tax on wine
Travel tip: 

The University of Rome - often referred to as the Sapienza University of Rome or simply La Sapienza, meaning 'knowledge' - was founded in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII, as a place for  ecclesiastical studies over which he could exert greater control than the already established universities of Bologna and Padua. The first pontifical university, it expanded in the 15th century to include schools of Law, Medicine, Philosophy and Theology. Money raised from a new tax on wine enabled the university to buy a palace, which later housed the Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza church. The university was closed during the sack of Rome in 1527 but reopened by Pope Paul III in 1534. In 1870, La Sapienza ceased to be the papal university and as the university of the capital of Italy became recognised as the country's most prestigious seat of learning. A new modern campus was built in 1935 under the guidance of the architect Marcello Piacentini. 

Also on this day:

1881: The death of missionary Saint Daniele Comboni

1891: The birth of Mafia boss Stefano Maggadino

1921: The birth of poet Andrea Zanzotto


19 April 2023

Lilli Gruber - groundbreaking TV journalist

Writer and broadcaster was first female to host prime time news bulletin

Lilli Gruber today conducts the current affairs talk show Otto e Mezzo on Italy's La7 channel
Lilli Gruber today conducts the current affairs
talk show Otto e Mezzo on Italy's La7 channel
The journalist Lilli Gruber, who in 1987 became the first woman to be appointed anchor of a prime time news show on Italian public television, was born on this day in 1957 in Bolzano.

In a distinguished career, as well as being the face of major news programmes for the national broadcaster Rai, Gruber has reported on many major international stories as a foreign correspondent, presented shows on German television, served as a Member of the European Parliament for five years, and written many books.

Since leaving politics in 2008, she has been the host of the long-running political talk show, Otto e Mezzo, on the Rome-based independent TV channel La7.

Nicknamed La Rossa both for her red hair and her political views, Gruber was born Dietlinde Gruber into a German-speaking family in Bolzano, the provincial capital of South Tyrol in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northeast Italy, which borders Austria and Switzerland.

It was her father, Alfred, an entrepreneur, who gave her the pet name Lilli, which stayed with her into adulthood.

Educated partly in Verona, where her father built up a business making machinery for the construction industry, and in the town of Egna, near Bolzano, where she attended a language school, Gruber graduated in foreign languages and literature from the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, before embarking on a journalistic career in her home region.

Alongside reporting for the regional newspapers L’Adige and Alto Adige, she gained some television experience with the local channel, Telebolzano, before landing a job on Rai Südtirol, also known as Sender Bozen, a German language channel for Trentino-Alto Adige, where despite being part of Italy, around a third of the population speak German.

Gruber made Italian TV history in 1987 as the first female journalist to host a prime time news show
Gruber made Italian TV history in 1987 as the first
female journalist to host a prime time news show
From there, she moved to the Bolzano office of TGR, the regional news arm of Rai, and in 1984 was recruited as a reporter for TG2, which was responsible for news programming on Rai Due.

Her career flourished under the guidance of Antonio Ghirelli, TG2’s editor and a major figure in Italian journalism. As a foreign correspondent, Gruber reported in 1989 on the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, an experience that would become the subject of her first book, Quei giorni a Berlin - Those Days in Berlin - which was published in 1990.

In the meantime, Ghirelli had enabled her to make history by handing her the job of anchoring TG2’s main evening news programme, which aired at 7.45pm each weekday evening. The move broke new ground, Gruber’s professionalism meaning that what had been a glass ceiling on the career progression of women in Italian TV news coverage was shattered.

Her career soon continued on its steep ascent with a move to Rai’s flagship channel, Rai Uno, where she again combined foreign assignments with hosting. She became anchor for TG1’s main eight o’clock evening news programme while also reporting on the conflicts in Yugoslavia and Iraq and the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in the United States.

It was while in Baghdad to report on the second Iraq war that she met Jacques Charmelot, a French journalist she would later marry.

Gruber was elected an MEP in the 2004 elections
Gruber was elected an MEP
in the 2004 elections
Gruber’s decision to pursue a career in politics was rooted in her opposition to the restrictions on freedom of information introduced by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi after his return to power in 2001.  By curbing their rights of access to information, Berlusconi made it more difficult for journalists to call out corruption and maladministration in government departments.

Gruber allied herself to the Uniti nell’Ulivo coalition, a centre-left alliance, and was elected as an MEP for central Italy in the July elections of 2004. She quickly became an effective politician, joining the parliamentary group of the European Socialist Party, becoming president of the delegation for relations with the Gulf States, a member of Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and of the delegation for relations with Iran. She also became a member of the EU’s Ethics Commission.

Yet she missed journalism and when an offer was made by the ambitious management of La7, which has become Italy’s largest TV company outside the auspices of Rai or Berlusconi’s Mediaset, to front their evening political debate, Otto e Mezzo, she felt she could not turn it down.

A versatile presenter fluent in four languages - Italian, German, French and English - she has also worked for a number of German TV companies and conducted an exclusive interview with the Italian actress, Sophia Loren, for the American network, CBS.

Famed for her dogged questioning in interviews with political figures, Gruber also became known as a stylish dresser, often presenting the news in tailored Armani suits. She became friends with Giorgio Armani, the designer who founded the brand in 1975 and who designed the honey-coloured gown she wore at her wedding to Charmelot in Montagna, a village near Bolzano, in 2000.

Gruber’s books have drawn on her experiences in journalism but also her passionate interest in women’s rights, particularly the rights of women in Islamic societies. Her book I miei giorni a Baghdad - My Days in Baghdad - sold more than 100,000 copies.

More recently, she has written a trilogy of novels about the history of her family and of South Tyrol between the 19th and 20th centuries, entitled Eredità (Inheritance), Inganno (Deceit) and Tempesta (Storm). 

The city of Bolzano sits in a wide valley in the
Alpine region of Trentino-Alto Adige (Südtirol)
Travel tip:

Gruber’s home city of Bolzano is the capital of the South Tyrol region of what is now northern Italy, also known as Alto Adige. Occupying a valley flanked by hills covered in lush vineyards, it has a population of 108,000, swelling to 250,000 with all the surrounding communities. One of the largest urban areas in the Alpine region, it has a medieval city centre famous for its wooden market stalls, selling among other things Alpine cheeses, hams and bread. Places of interest include the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, the imposing 13th-century Mareccio Castle, and the Duomo di Bolzano with its Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Three languages - Italian, German and a local language called Ladin - are spoken in the area, which consistently polls high among the Italian cities reckoned to have the best standard of living.  The nearest airport to Bolzano is at Verona, about 150km (93 miles) to the south and accessible in approximately an hour and a half by train, although some visitors arrive from Innsbruck in Austria, just over two hours by train in the opposite direction.

Verona is a beautiful city in northern Italy, flanking the Adige river
Verona is a beautiful city in northern Italy,
flanking the Adige river 
Travel tip:

Verona, where Gruber spent part of her upbringing, is the third largest city in the northeast of Italy, with a population across its whole urban area of more than 700,000. Among its wealth of tourist attractions is the Roman amphitheatre known as L’Arena di Verona, which dates back to AD30. With a seating capacity of 22,000, it is best known now as a venue for large-scale open air opera performances and other music concerts. Verona was chosen as the setting for three plays by William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew - although it is unknown whether the English playwright ever actually set foot in the city.  Each year, thousands of tourists visit a 13th century house in Verona where Juliet is said to have lived, even though there is no evidence that Juliet and Romeo actually existed and the balcony said to have inspired Shakespeare’s imagination was not added to the house until the early 20th century.

Also on this day:

1588: The death of Renaissance painter Paolo Veronese

1768: The death of painter Canaletto, known for views of Venice

1937: The birth of chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio

1953: The birth of Olympic high jumper Sara Simeoni