Choose other country guides
Famous People from Italy
Leonardo da Vinci
(1452-04-15 - 1519-05-02 )
, Address in Milan: Via Brunelleschi 4
A master painter, sculptor, architect, inventor and engineer, Leonardo da Vinci is the embodiment of a Renaissance man and one of the most renowned representatives of the 15th-Century Italian art scene. Born in 1452 in Vinci, not far from the city of Florence, Leonardo had begun painting by his early childhood years. His talent was quickly recognised by his father, who sent the 14-year-old boy to Florence to become apprentice to the painter Andrea del Verrochio. Famously, when Verrochio asked Leonardo to paint one of the angels on the painting entitled 'Baptism of Christ' in 1477, he so obviously outdid his master that Verrochio swore never to touch his brushes again. In 1482, Leonardo moved to Milan, where under the patronage of the Duke of Milan (Ludovico Sforza) he produced some of his best works, notably 'The Last Supper' (1498) and 'Madonna and Child with St. Anne' (1499). Although da Vinci spent 17 years in Milan, he managed to finish only six paintings during that period. From 1499 until his death in 1516, Leonardo worked in Italy and France, producing such masterpieces as 'Mona Lisa' (1503-07), 'St. John the Baptist' (1514) and Bacchus (1515). Throughout his career, da Vinci also masterminded a number of inventions and engineering constructions far ahead of his time – a tank, helicopter and calculator being just a few of them. Additionally, the artist was interested in metallurgy, civil engineering and optics. He also made a huge contribution in the field of anatomy with his 'Vitruvian Man', a study of human symmetry.
(1919-01-26 - 1949-05-04 )
Born at Cassano d'Adda in the province of Milan, Valentino Mazzola is known as one of the legendary Milanese football players who died in the infamous disaster involving a Superga aircraft in the 1940s. Mazzola first became interested in pursuing a career as a football player when he noticed a team playing near the factory in which he was working. Although Mazzola applied to the team almost immediately, he was accepted just before the outbreak of World War II. In 1939 Mazzola had to quit the team in order to join the Italian Army. While stationed near Venice, he began attending the trainings of a local football team, Venezia AC, but his initial achievements were rather underwhelming. Mazzola's first break came in 1941, when he led the team to victory in the Coppa Italia Final. Soon, the young player caught the attention of a rival football team from Torino, who eventually bought Mazzola out of his team. With Torino, Mazzola enjoyed a string of successes, winning the League title in 1943, 1946 and 1948. In 1949, Mazzola's team won the last title they would get until the mid-1970s. During his eight-year career at Venezia and Torino, the celebrated player scored 109 goals. On May 4, 1949, when Mazzola and his team were flying back from a game in Lisbon, their Superga aircraft crashed, killing all but one man on board.
(1813-09-09 - 1901-01-27 )
, Address in Milan: The Grand Hotel et de Milan, 29 Via Manzoni
You may have the universe, if I may have Italy.
The renowned Italian composer, a master of 19th-Century opera, was born in the small village of Le Roncole in the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza. He discovered his musical talent when he attended a nearby cathedral in Busetto and a local Jesuit school. At the age of 20, Verdi went to Milan to continue his studies. He gave his first public performance in 1830 at the house of Barezzi, a wealthy merchant and music lover who supported the young composer financially. His first success was 'Nabucco', performed at La Scala in 1842. Another significant opera that he wrote was 'Macbeth' (1847), while in his later career he would create two more works based on Shakespeare, namely 'Othello' and 'Falstaff'. A decade after 'Nabucco', three great operas, 'Rigoletto' (1851), 'La Traviata' (1853) and 'Il Trovatore' (1853), made Verdi famous throughout Europe. In 1871, the opening of the Suez Canal in Cairo was celebrated with his opera 'Aida'. He died of a stroke in Milan.
(1785-03-07 - 1873-05-22 )
, Address in Milan: Piazza Belgioioso
Manzoni was a writer and poet, especially famous for his novel 'I Promesi Sposi' (The Bethrothed), claimed to be one of the best books written in Italian. He was born in Milan to a rich land owner, while his maternal grandfather was the famous jurist Cesare Beccaria. During his early education he was influenced by the anti-Catholic ideas of Voltarianism, however in his later works a support for democratic and Jacobean ideals is predominant. After the death of his father in 1805, Manzoni lived in Paris for several years, then returned to Italy and married Henriette Blondel. His first tragedy, 'Il Conte di Carmagnola', published in 1819, broke the classical conventions of its genre. He was the author of poems, critical and philosophical essays, but it wasn't until 'I Promesi Sposi' was published that he gained much acclaim. It is a romance placed at the time of the 17-Century plague in Milan. The author's monument is situated within the city. He was also honoured by Verdi's 'Requiem'.
(1207 - 1295-08-08 )
This archbishop of Milan came from the famous Visconti family and initiated their rule in this city. He spent his early years in Novara, Piedmont, where he was an assistant to Cardinal Ottaviano Ubaldini. In 1260, Ottone gained the title of podesta
of Novara, fulfilling the official function of a Chief Magistrate. Two years later, Pope Urban IV made him Archbishop of Milan. In 1277, opposition arose against him from the Della Torre family, especially from Napo della Torre, who had fought against his cousin Teobaldo Visconti’s army at Angera in 1276. However, Visconti managed to defeat him in the Battle of Desio, and soon he was recognised as lord of the city. This victory let him and his family hold power over Milan and Lombardy until 1450. Ottone, succeeded by his nephew Matteo, spent his last years in the Abbey of Clairvaux, where he died in 1295.
Francesco I Sforza
(1401-07-23 - 1466-03-08 )
, Address in Milan: castello Sforzesco at Piazza Castello
Known as the founder of the Sforza dynasty in Milan, Francesco was born in San Miniato, Tuscany. He fought alongside his father since he was 18, thus developing his strength and military skills. Later, he took part in battles for the Kingdom of Naples, the Papal States and the Duke of Milan, Filippo Visconti. In 1432, a year after Sforza led the Milanese army against Venice, Visconti's daughter Bianca was betrothed to him, and he married her in 1441. After several other battles, in turn for abandoning the Venetians he gained the title of the capitano generale
(commander-in-chief) of the Duchy of Milan. Eventually, in 1450 he became the Duke of Milan, though he was never officially investitured by the Holy Roman Emperor. All in all, Sforza was a successful ruler, a great diplomat, and a friend of Cosimo de Medici, who lived in Florence at the time. Interestingly, Machiavelli mentioned Francesco Sforza several times in his famous work 'The Price'.
(1936-09-29 - )
, Address in Milan: the suburb of Arcore
Berlusconi is an Italian politician who served as the Prime Minister between April 1994 and January 1995, and most notably between June 2001 and May 2006. He is also considered Italy's wealthiest man and media proprietor, as he founded and is the main shareholder of Fininvest, which controls the public television. Since 1986, he has also been the president of famous football team AC Milan. Born to an upper-middle-class family, he was raised in Milan, where he studied law at Università Statale, graduating with honours. He started his career in the 1960s as a businessman, developing Milano 2
, a residential complex in the suburbs. Entering politics in 1993, Berlusconi founded his centre-right party Forza Italia, and he remains its leader to this day. At the beginning of the 21st Century, his government passed many pieces of legislation, though he lost the 2006 election by a very narrow margin to Romano Prodi. Although Berlusconi is perceived as a controversial figure, he has played a central role in the last decade of his country's politics. In 2008 he won the general election once again, becoming Italian Prime Minister for the third time.
(1968-06-26 - )
Milan is my life and I would not play for Chelsea.
This famous Italian football player is a defender for AC Milan. The son of Cesare Maldini, the national football team member, Paolo followed in his father’s footstep and devoted his career entirely to the club of the city he was raised in. In 1985, he first appeared in the top division (Series A) and since then has gathered many trophies for the club and honours for himself. Though still in good shape, he announced his retirement at the end of the 2006/07 season, and on February 20th, 2007, Maldini played for the 100th time in a Champions League game. What's more, he’s renowned as the fastest in the Champion's League final ever to have scored a goal – only 51 seconds after the beginning of the game. Maldini has two sons, one of them already an AC Milan junior player.