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Famous People from Italy
St. Gregory I the Great
(540 AD - 604 AD )
, Address in Rome: Caelian Hill / the Palace of the Lateran on Piazza San Giovanni
A prominent figure in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, Gregory was the Pope from 590 until his death. Born to a wealthy family, Gregory’s father had a mansion on the Caelian Hill in Rome and he received a proper education and was raised in a religious atmosphere. For many years, he worked as the chief magistrate of the city. At the age of 35, he decided to become a monk under the patronage of St. Andrew. In 578, he was ordained by the Pope as one of the seven deacons of Rome. Soon thereafter, he was sent to the Court of Byzantium as an ambassador. Around the year 586, Gregory was called back to Rome. As a humble monk, at first he didn't accept the decision of being elected Pope, however he eventually accepted the office. He introduced several liturgical reforms and wrote sermons, dialogues, letters and treaties. Gregory was also famous for charity works, such as building a hospital next to his house. According to legend, he invented the Gregorian chant, a sacred musical form. By “popular acclamation”, Gregory the Great was declared a saint immediately after his death.
(1920 - 2003 )
, Address in Rome: the Trastevere district
The Italians are the greatest nation in the world.
Known as Albertone, this Rome-born actor and director became in the 20th Century an icon of the Italian cinema. He was brought up in a musical family and as a boy sang in a choir at the Sistine Chapel. After a short period of studying dramatic arts in Milan, he returned to Rome, where he began his career as a dubber, especially famous as Oliver Hardy's voice in Italian versions. Sordi's first notable role was in 'The Three Pilots' (1942), however it wasn't until he starred in Federico Fellini's films that his name became widely recognised. Such titles as, 'The Bachelor', 'The Seducer', 'The Husband', 'The Widower', 'The Moralist', and 'The Traffic Cop' indicate the types of characters that Sordi impersonated. The Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his performance in 'Il diavolo' (1963) earned him international acclaim. All in all, he stared in, about 190 directed and co-written films. On a day of his 80th birthday the city of Rome nominated Albertone honorary mayor. He died almost three years later from a heart attack.
(1966-06-04 - )
[...] I live part of the year in Rome and part in the German part of Switzerland.
Her incredible mezzo-soprano makes Cecilia Bartoli a star of the opera. The native of Rome, she was raised in a musical family, and her mother Silviana Bartoli was her first vocal instructor. She had her debut at the age of nine, while a decade later, she was already a TV celebrity, and got invited for an audition at La Scala. She studied at Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Bartoli was still in her twenties, when, asked by Herbert von Karajan, she performed at the Salzburg Easter Festival. She also cooperated with such conductors as Barenboim and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, concentrating on Mozart and Rossini roles that brought her international fame. It was in the summer of 1990 that Bartoli made her debut in New York at the Mostly Mozart Festival, and the next year Paris she gave her first performance in 'The Marriage of Figaro' in Paris. She visited New York again in 1996 to make her Metropolitan Opera debut in 'Cosi Fan Tutte'. Bartoli regularly tours as a solo performer. Her extensive discography includes 'Mozart Arias' (1991), Grammy-winning 'The Impatient Lover '(1993), 'Chant d'amour' (1996) and 'In Paradisium' (1999).
(1477 - 1576 )
, Address in Venice: Calle Larga dei Botteri no. 5182-3
Tiziano Vecelli, better known as Titian, was one of the prominent artists during the Renaissance and a renowned Venetian painter as well as a superb portraitist. Museum-goers never cease to admire his use of colour and astounding vibrations of light, for which his works have been treasured all around the world over the centuries. As a result of his first painting, ‘The Three Frescos in Padua’, Titian rose to the height of being appointed the official painter of the Republic of Italy. His most celebrated pieces of art include ‘The Holy Trinity’, ‘Emtombment‘, ‘Pope Paul III’, ‘Self Portrait’, ‘Man in the Red Cap’, ‘Pietro Aretino’, ‘Venus d'Urbino’, ‘King Francis’, ‘Charles V on Horseback’ and ‘Three Ages of Man’.
(1725 - 1798 )
, Address in Venice: Palazzo Malpiero
Although renowned chiefly for his innumerable erotic adventures, Giovanni Giacomo Casanova de Seingalt was more than just the world's most famous womaniser – he was also a soldier, spy, diplomat, writer, prisoner and a businessman. His foremost literary work is his autobiography simply titled ‘History of My Life’. Not only does it give a captivating, if not trustworthy account of his amorous affairs with as many as 122 ladies, but it also offers a thorough portrait of life and customs in the 18th Century. Casanova additionally wrote novels, such as the 5-volume ‘L'Icosameron’ , as well as ‘Ne Amori Ne Donne, Ovvero La Stalla Ripulita’, a satirical pamphlet on Venetian nobility. He also published poetry and translated the ‘Iliad’, but overall these efforts were not successful.
George Gordon Noel Byron
(1788 - 1824 )
, Address in Venice: Palazzo Mocenigo, San Marco Grand Canal
"My beautiful, my own
My only Venice - this is breath! Thy breeze
Thine Adrian sea-breeze, how it fans my face!
Thy very winds feel native to my veins,
And cool them into calmness!" – Byron, ‘The Two Foscari’
The great English Romantic poet, George Gordon Noel Byron (or Lord Byron) was born in London. As popular a figure as he was, his poetry seized the heart and imagination of Europe. Lord Byron gave literature a new “Byronic hero” – a rebellious youth who dwells on an unforgivable incident in the past. It was not until Byron wrote his poetic travelogue, ‘Childe Harold's Pilgrimage’ (1812 – 18), a collection of verses on his travels across Europe, that he experienced true success and appreciation. Throughout his career, he published many pieces of poetry that include ‘The First Kiss of Love’ (1806), ‘The Giaour’ (1813), ‘The Corsair’ (1814), ‘She Walks in Beauty’ (1814), ‘Prometheus’ (1816), ‘Manfred’ (1817), ‘Beppo’ (1818) and ‘Cain’ (1821). However, his magnum opus is considered to be a narrative poem entitled ‘Don Juan’ (1819 – 24).
(1895 - 1955 )
, Address in Venice: Grand Hotel des Bains, Lungomare Marconi 17
“This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty-this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.”
This Germany-born novelist, essayist and cultural critic is recognised as one of the great writers of the 20th Century. Thomas Mann’s fame is based on his two works, ‘Der Tod in Venedig’ (Death in Venice, 1912) filmed in 1971 by Luchino Visconti, and ‘Der Zauberberg’ (The Magic Mountain, 1924), for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1929. Mann wrote numerous notable works such as: ‘Buddenbrooks’ (1901), the novella ‘Tonio Kroger’ (1902), ‘Kongliche Hoheit’ (1909), ‘Von Deutscher Republik’ (1923), ‘Mario und der Zauberer’ (Mario and the Magician, 1930) as well as the colossal ‘Joseph und Seine Bruder’ (Joseph and his Brothers,1933 – 42). ‘Doktor Faustus’ (1947) was Mann's last distinguished novel.
(1813 - 1883 )
, Address in Venice: Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi on the Grand Canal
Wagner was a conductor, music theorist and essayist who was amazingly productive and consequential as a composer of symphonic-operas (or “music dramas”), in which he included striking chromaticism and atonality. His famous operatic work, ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ (Ring Cycle, 1876), is considered to be the most challenging artistic effort of all time. It took no less than 22 years to finish and consists of four pieces of music: ‘Das Rheingold’, ‘Die Walkure’, ‘Siegfried’ and ‘Die Gotterdammerung’. Wagner composed many outstanding operas such as ‘Der fliegende Holländer’ (The Flying Dutchman), ‘Tristan und Isolde’ (Tristan and Isolde) and the comedy ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’ (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg). His final piece is titled ‘Parsifal’.