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Italian Sketches

ART + CULTURE

ART + CULTURE

Roberto Bolle

Watching dancers on television as a small boy in his hometown of Casale Monferrato in Piedmont, where he was born on March 26, 1975, Bolle decided that dance would be his future. At age 11, he won a place at the prestigious La Scala Theatre Ballet School and went to

ART + CULTURE

Renato Vallanzasca

The recent release of director Michele Placido’s film Vallanzasca: Gli Angeli Del Male, based on the 2009 autobiography by the same name, written by one of Italy’s most notorious criminals ...

ART + CULTURE

Renato Zero

  Singer-songwriter, actor and showman, Renato Zero, turned 60 on September 30, 2010. He celebrated his birthday by giving six unique concerts entitled Sei Zero in Rome’s piazza di Siena. ...

ART + CULTURE

Pietro Valpreda

December 12, 1969 is a date indelibly printed on the pages of recent Italian history. On that cold winter's day, at 4:37 in the afternoon, a bomb exploded inside the crowded Banca Nazionale dell‘Agricoltura situated in piazza Fontana in downtown Milan. In the carnage that resulted,

ART + CULTURE

John Paul I

His bestselling books and the films that followed have made Dan Brown famous around the world. But this American is not the only author to be fascinated by conspiracies involving the catholic church and the Holy See.   For centuries, the high walls surrounding the Vatican have inspired stories of

ART + CULTURE

Ferdinando Innocenti

No doubt, many of us have walked past buildings being constructed, restored or painted all over Italy without giving a minute's thought to the intricate cage of tubular steel scaffolding encapsulating them. The man who invented the labyrinthine system of vertical and horizontal tubes and fixtures was, in fact,

ART + CULTURE

Giovanni Michelucci

Living two days short of 100 years is a feat in itself, but occupying the main part of those years, as the architect Giovanni Michelucci did, by designing some of the most significant buildings constructed in Italy during the twentieth century has left us with an enduring record of his

ART + CULTURE

Sandro Pertini

In 1978, Giovanni Leone, a Christian Democrat senator and president of the republic resigned after a smear campaign claimed he and his family had been involved in corruption related to the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation bribery scandal. Although these allegations were never proved true, the prestige of the high office that

ART + CULTURE

Roberto Cavalli

With luck, you might see his bright purple helicopter flying over the Tuscan skies. Or one of his Ferraris whizzing down via Tornabuoni, home of his elegant store and funky café. Or glimpse a limousine with dark tinted windows taking one of his celebrity guests, Sharon Stone, perhaps, or

ART + CULTURE

Giorgio La Pira

It is indeed a rare occurrence that the mayor of any city be considered a saint. But, in 1986, Pope John Paul II began the process of beatification, the third of four steps in the process towards sainthood, for Giorgio La Pira, twice mayor of Florence, first from 1951 to

ART + CULTURE

Grazia Deledda

In early December 1927, a very small, reserved, middle-aged and somewhat overwhelmed Grazia Deledda made the gruelling journey by train from Rome to Stockholm. She was the first female Italian writer and only the second woman author (after the Swedish writer, Selma Lagerlòf) to be awarded the

ART + CULTURE

Battista Pininfarina

Two men with difficult characters formed one of the most significant design teams in the history of the Italian automobile industry. Enzo Ferrari built the motors and chassis of his legendary cars, and Battista Pininfarina often styled their classy and revolutionary bodies.   Battista Farina was born in Cortanza d'

ART + CULTURE

Teresa Mattei

Thanks to Teresa Mattei, Italian women now exchange or are given sprigs of this bright yellow flower to celebrate their day every March 8.

ART + CULTURE

Raoul Gardini

Just after 8 o'clock on the morning of July 23, 1993, an ambulance was called to the elegant eighteenth-century Palazzo Belgioioso, just behind the Scala Opera House in Milan. A man had shot himself in the head. That man was Raoul Gardini, the charismatic entrepreneur who had dreamed

ART + CULTURE

Carlo Bugatti

The name Bugatti conjures up images of Gatsby-type roadsters of the 1930s. Indeed, these magnificent cars were designed and built by Ettore Bugatti, one of Carlo Bugatti's two immensely talented sons. But their father was also a design genius. In fact, at the end of the nineteenth and

ART + CULTURE

Ernesto Teodoro Moneta

Every December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death in San Remo, Italy, the Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway. This year, U.S. president Barack Obama will receive the prize for his efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.   To date, only one Italian

ART + CULTURE

Amedeo Modigliani

In the summer of 1984, Livorno, the port town on the Tuscan coast, was the site of one of the biggest hoaxes in the history of Italian art.   The Museo Progressivo di Arte Moderna was planning to celebrate the centenary of the birth of one of the city's

ART + CULTURE

Felice Ippolito

In the aftermath of the devastating 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), many European countries restricted or banned nuclear energy plants. France, which did not, today produces almost 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, making it the world'

ART + CULTURE

Elsa Schiaparelli

How many fashion designers can boast collaborators like writer and artist Jean Cocteau, surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and sculptor Alberto Giacometti? Clients like the Duchess of Windsor, Mae West, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn? None, except Elsa Schiaparelli, affectionately known to all as ‘Schiap.' Between the late 1920s

ART + CULTURE

Cesare Lombroso

A century ago, on October 19, 1909 Cesare Lombroso, physician, psychiatrist and the founder of the Italian school of criminology or, as we know it today, criminal anthropology, died at age 74 of angina pectoris at his home in Turin.   In his trailblazing works, especially the five editions of

ART + CULTURE

Fausto Coppi

A game-shooting safari at Ouagadougou in Upper Volta (today Burkina Faso) proved fatal for Fausto Coppi, one of Italy's greatest and most idolized cyclists who, in the 1940s and 50s, was acclaimed by his fans as the Campionissimo or the Airone (Heron), like the bird. When he returned

ART + CULTURE

Giovanni Spadolini

The Italian political cartoonist Giorgio Forattini always depicted Giovanni Spadolini, the first non-Christian Democrat prime minister in the history of the Italian Republic, as an impish, corpulent cupid, gradually making him more and more naked as his political powers increased. But Spadolini was not just a politician. He was

ART + CULTURE

Guccio Gucci

Family, fame, feuding, passion, litigation and homicide. All the ingredients of a successful Hollywood soapie like are, instead, the backdrop to the story of one of Italy's best known luxury label clans: the Gucci family. The patriarch of this dynasty was Guccio Gucci. A native of Florence, Guccio was

ART + CULTURE

Franco Basaglia

Feigning madness in Milos Foreman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won Jack Nicholson an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1976.  Based on a novel of the same name written in 1962 by Ken Kesey, who had worked as an aide on the night

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