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Friday, January 13th, 2017
Marie Taglioni
Marie Taglioni in Zephire   She taught Queen Mary of England how to curtsy. Victor Hugo dedicated a book to 'her feet, to her wings.' Yet her French ballet teacher complained: "Will that little hunchback ever learn to dance?" He also called her an 'ugly duckling' and rejected her at the age of six. Certainly Marie Taglioni was not a beauty - she was very plain - yet she became one of the most famous Italian ballerinas. She did have a head start, however. The Taglioni family
Thursday, December 29th, 2016
pope alexander vi
Rodrigo Borgia - Pope Alexander VI   Rodrigo de Borja was born in Xàtiva, near Valencia, in Spain on January 1, 1431. In Italian, he is known as Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia; or more commonly as Pope Alexander VI, the successor to Innocent VIII. Rodrigo's mother was Isabella Borja and his father was Joffre Llançol. Rodrigo chose to take his mother's surname in honor of his maternal uncle, Cardinal Alfonso Borja (or de Borya) (Pope Callixtus III).   When Callixtus became pope
Thursday, December 1st, 2016
    Giuseppe Balsamo, alias Alessandro Cagliostro   Sitting on top of a stupendous crag, few people can fail to notice the mighty Rocca hanging precariously above the village of San Leo in northern Marche. According to popular belief San Leo was once the mightiest and most powerful stronghold in Europe; perched on rocky outcrops all fortifications in the Montefeltro were virtually unassailable. But not only is the Rocca di San Leo the most impressive looking, it is
Thursday, December 1st, 2016
cesare borgia
  Cesare Borgia was born in 1475. He was the son of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who would become Pope Alexander VI, and his mistress Vannozza de Cattani. He was also the older brother of Lucrezia Borgia. However, Cesare was probably the most infamous of all the Borgia's. He is remembered for great cruelty and murderous tactics. He was even rumored to have killed his own brother.   A portrait of Cesare Borgia (wikimedia)   Being illegitimate – a fact which
Friday, July 22nd, 2016
lucrezia borgia
Lucrezia Borgia Painting   Born on April 18 1480, Lucrezia Borgia was the daugher of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia and his mistress, Vannozza (Giovanna) dei Cattani. Lucrezia had two older brothers, Giovanni (Juan) and Cesare. She also had a younger brother, Goffredo. Her father doted on his children but had a special bond with his only daughter. This bond would be seen by critics of the Borgia family, of which there were many, as unnatural - even incestuous; although there has
Sunday, May 1st, 2016
Niccolo Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli in a painting by Tito di Santi   "They were freer than their forefathers in dress and living, and spent more in other kinds of excesses, consuming their time and money in idleness, gaming, and women; their chief aim was to appear well dressed and to speak with wit and acuteness, whilst he who could wound others the most cleverly was thought the wisest." Niccolò Machiavelli   Niccolò Machiavelli (May 3, 1469 - June 21, 1527) was a statesman, philosopher
Friday, April 29th, 2016
Michelangelo Buonarroti   Was Michelangelo really the grumpy, taciturn artist portrayed by Charlton Heston in The Agony and the Ecstasy or was he a much nicer person? Who was the real Michelangelo? We have many perceptions about the great artist who created the statue of David, the sculpture of the Pieta and painted the Sistine Chapel. He is often written about as a tortured and bad-tempered man, troubled by his homosexuality, a starving artist, and a recluse with no
Tuesday, March 8th, 2016
successful Italian women
The 2015 Forbes list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World shows a new entry: Federica Mogherini, high representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Mogherini, who was not in the list last year, joins (at number 36) two icons of Made in Italy intelligence and talent,  Miuccia Prada, leader of the iconic Italian fashion house bearing her own name (at number 79, loosing 4 positions since last year), and Fabiola Gianotti (number 83),
Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
giacomo casanova
The legend of Giacomo Casanova was large in his own time and has only grown in the past two-hundred years. A mere mention of Casanova brings to mind images of adventure, intrigue and of course, seduction. Even a recent Hollywood movie (starring the late Heath Ledger) that did little justice to his real life couldn't tarnish Casanova's legend. Intelligent, charming and cunning, Casanova could survive on his wits or his money (when he had any) with equal success. The beautiful women of Europe
Saturday, September 26th, 2015
italian explorers
It is a small world, but it was not always that way. In no small part thanks to the Italian sense of adventure and profit, men and ships began setting sail and heading out over the far horizon. That great time period for Europe, known as the Age of Discovery would never have reached the heights it did without these master mariners. With sea routes to the Indies established around Africa, the ports of Italy had lost their firm grip on trade, so it was time for these merchant sailors
Thursday, September 24th, 2015
  Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was born on August 31, 12 AD. He was the third of the six children that were born to Caesar Augustus' adopted grandson, Germanicus, and his granddaughter, Agrippina. He was born in the ancient town of Antium (modern Anzio), which was located in Central Italy, near the Tyrrhenian Sea. Nero, another of Rome's infamous emperors, was also born in this resort town with a strong fishing tradition.   Caligula's bust, detail (Jorge
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Mario R. Capecchi In 2007 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three researchers for their discoveries using embryonic stem cells for gene modifications. One of these men is an Italian-born scientist by the name of Mario R. Capecchi, whose struggle for survival early in life is as amazing as his work with genes. Doctor Capecchi's life story would be equally as fascinating, regardless of his contributions to science, due to the extraordinary hardships he faced as a young boy
Friday, June 1st, 2012
  Before the twentieth century, one of the ways women could become independent and wealthy was to become a high-class courtesan. However, this was far more difficult than it might at first appear. Class distinction reigned even in the realm of prostitution, and only the most beautiful and the most clever, or the most unscrupulous, managed to use their bodies to form financially advantageous relationships with men so that they themselves could become rich. Two of the most famous courtesans in
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Pauline Borghese Bonaparte Beautiful and immoral, Napoleon's sister, Pauline broke hearts all over Europe. It was said of her that she and Napoleon were both going to conquer Europe, but Pauline was going to do it one man at a time! There are many legends about the behavior of this scandalous woman. Napoleon found his flirtatious young sister difficult to control and managed to marry her to the much older General Leclerc, who was the opposite of Pauline. Wealthy, serious and sickly, he was
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Italian Luminaries - Heroes & Villains Sometimes, the paintbrush of history colors individuals who've helped shape her too strongly. Historical figures are either seen as heroes or villains. Very rarely, they are depicted in moderate tones, at least by those who write history for the popular public. Italy has given the world some of its greatest heroes and most infamous villains. This section is dedicated to over 3000 years of Italian Heroes and Villains. However this will not be just
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Setting the Standard for Fraud... There are few fraudulent financial schemes out there today that reverberate through history quite like the infamous Ponzi Scheme. Although this term has made recent headlines, this con is not new and stirs up so many emotions due to the fact the scheme only works with a very charismatic con-man. The trickster that would set the standard for this kind of fraud was an Italian immigrant that went by the name of Charles Ponzi.   Carlo Pietro Giovanni
Friday, June 1st, 2012
  Tazio Nuvolari - Photo courtesy of Everywhere West/Wikimedia   Tazio Nuvalori, or the Flying Mantuan as he became known, was a famous Italian racecar and motorcycle driver. The European Champion in Grand Prix motor racing in 1932, Nuvalori won dozens of races and was known as one of the greatest drivers of all time.   Motorcycle Racing Career Nuvolari first obtained his license in 1915 when he was 23. His career was delayed due to the First World War, during which the young man served
Friday, June 1st, 2012
American children are taught without question that Alexander Graham Bell, a Scottish immigrant invented the Telephone. However as they progress in school it is often learned that this invention was hotly contested between two rival inventors: the eventual winner Bell, and another man named Elisha Gray. Both men filed for patents on a telephone device on the same day, but while Gray filed a patent caveat (an intention to file a real patent), Bell filed for a full patent. In the end Bell won the
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Fibonacci Statue The Middle Ages were generally a dark time for most cultural endeavors, but especially for mathematics. Fortunately, around the beginning of the 1200's an Italian by the name of Leonardo Pisano came along to advanced mathematics significantly - he wrote many books on numerical topics that included his own insightful contributions. For someone to come out of the Middle Ages and accomplish this when no other scholar was doing so adequately demonstrates the genius of Leonardo
Friday, June 1st, 2012
leonardo da vinci
Many readers of the best selling – yet awfully written! – Da Vinci Code got intrigued by the figure of Leonardo da Vinci and would love to know all they can about this true Renaissance man. What many have discovered is that even a superficial view of Leonardo's works and ideas would bear results nothing short of amazing. Many liberal-minded researchers have credited Leonardo with everything, from creating the Shroud of Turin, to being a Grand Master of