Category Archives: Italian History

Historical news, galleries and features from Italy.

Giovanni Leonardo Di Bona, the first International Master champion in the History of Chess

Giovanni Leonardo, known as Il Puttino (Small Child), was born in Cutro, Calabria. Giovanni Leonardo di Bona won the first known international master tournament in the history of chess becoming the strongest chess master of the time.

Giovanni Leonardo was studying law in Rome when he was defeated by the Spanish priest Ruy López. Ruy López de Segura was a Spanish priest and later bishop in Segura whose 1561 book Libro de la invención liberal y arte del juego del Axedrez was one of the first definitive books about modern chess in Europe. He moved to Naples, where he lived for a couple of years, as a guest of an uncle with whom he practiced. He had played many times against Paolo Boi in Paolo Boi, considered to have been one of the greatest chess players of the 16th century. They were regarded as being equal in strength.

Back in Cutro he freed his brother, who was kidnapped by the Saracens, defeating the leader of the pirates and winning 200 ducts.

Together with his servant Giulio Cesare Polerio he went to Madrid to challenge the Spanish priest Ruy López. He made a stop in Genoa, where he was a guest in a private home and engaged with the daughter of the owner.

In the summer of 1575 he arrived in Madrid, Leonardo played against Ruy López, Spanish Champion and King’s confessor. Philip II came to know of this young player able to fight with the Spanish champion: Philip made them play at his presence. Leonardo needed at least two wins over their final three games. Leonardo defeated the king’s confessor and Philip II filled him with gifts.

Upon hearing the news of the death of his girlfriend, he left for Portugal where he defeated the Moor, the eminent King Sebastian chess champion. King Sebastian nicknamed him “The wandering knight”.

He died at the court of the Prince of Bisignano, in Naples, poisoned by envy.

Sources: 1 ,2

Topic: Giovanni Leonardo Di Bona,International Master chess champion,Ruy López de Segura,chess,italian history,Philip II

Ancient Pagan Temple of Diana, Nemi

This Roman sanctuary and the Sacred Wood are located on the northern shore of Lake Nemi, just few kilometres outside Rome.

The temple of Diana Nemorensis was preceded by the sacred grove.  Diana of the Wood or Diana Nemorensis was a Roman goddess. Later was hellenised and conflated with Artemis. The temple of Diana Aricina or Nemorense was a huge complex located in Nemi. It covers an area of 45,000 square meters, supported by triangular substructures and by semicircular niches with statues and an upper terrace.

Weird Italy Niches-of-Temple-of-Diana-in-Nemi Ancient Pagan Temple of Diana, Nemi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  temple of diana roman history pagan temple nemi trip nemi travel nemi Lazio Diana Nemorensis
Niches of Temple of Diana in Nemi. Author: Livioandronico2013

The platform is composed by two Doric porticoes, one with columns plastered in red, the other with columns of dark gray lava stone; there were statues, rooms for priests, accommodation for pilgrims, cells, a temple, baths and even a theater.

Weird Italy Walls-of-Temple-of-Diana-in-Nemi Ancient Pagan Temple of Diana, Nemi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  temple of diana roman history pagan temple nemi trip nemi travel nemi Lazio Diana Nemorensis
Walls of Temple of Diana in Nemi. Author: Livioandronico2013

Today, a part of a portico, one votive altar and some columns are still visible. The rest of temple, that spreads over an area of over 5000 square meters, is still waiting to be excavated. The higher parts, such as niches, that emerge from the ground for several meters show the  size of the original temple.

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Rests of altar and temple of Temple of Diana in Nemi. Author: Livioandronico2013

The temple was abandoned with the advent of Christianity and partly robbed of marbles and decorations; the forest gradually covered it almost completely and it was forgotten for centuries.

Weird Italy Rests-of-Temple-of-Diana-in-Nemi Ancient Pagan Temple of Diana, Nemi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  temple of diana roman history pagan temple nemi trip nemi travel nemi Lazio Diana Nemorensis
Rests of Temple of Diana in Nemi. Author: Livioandronico2013

Archaeological excavations began in the seventeenth century by mostly amateurs and foreign scholars, and for this reason statues and relics are scattered in many different museums.

Weird Italy Diana Ancient Pagan Temple of Diana, Nemi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  temple of diana roman history pagan temple nemi trip nemi travel nemi Lazio Diana Nemorensis
Diana of the Wood or Diana Nemorensis was a Roman goddess. Later was hellenised and conflated with Artemis.

Source: temple of diana,pagan temple,roman history,nemi,nemi travel,nemi trip,lazio,Diana Nemorensis

Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone pose together in the primary school year book

The Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone never forgot his friend Sergio Leone, the father of the spaghetti western. Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone attended primary school together in 1937, in Rome.

Over the years they lost each other’s contact information until 1964 when Sergio Leone hired Ennio to write “For a fistful of dollars” soundtrack. Ennio Morricone wrote the music for all the films directed by Sergio Leone until 1984, year of “Once Upon a Time in America”. In the picture, published on a Facebook fan page dedicated to Sergio Leone, Sergio and Ennio in third grade: starting from the left, Sergio Leone is the second, Ennio Morricone the fourth.

Source

The weirdest, hallucinated Fellini’s movie: Satyricon

Satyricon, loosely based on the Roman homonymous book by Petronius, is a beautiful example of Roman novel. The surviving portions are an account of Encolpius and his lover misadventures.

Continue reading The weirdest, hallucinated Fellini’s movie: Satyricon

20 stunning images of Pantalica Necropolis

Pantalica, Syracuse, Sicily, is located on a limestone promontory and is best known for its rock-cut tombs (13th to 7th centuries BC.).

Surrounded by a deep gorge formed by Calcinara and Anapo rivers, is also an important nature reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata Pantalica): bat caves, flora and fauna. The area is crossed by a disused railway track, dismantled in 1956. [Wikipedia]

Check Pantalica local map at the bottom

 

Weird Italy pantalica-001 20 stunning images of Pantalica Necropolis Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  tombs Syracuse sicily railway track pantalica necropolis nature reserve Magna Graecia history Calcinara archeology anapo

Who built the tombs?

In the 13th century BC, some coastal settlements were abandoned, possibly due to the arrival of the Sicels in the island and the onset of more unsettled conditions. The Sicels were an Italic tribe who inhabited eastern Sicily during the Iron Age. Their neighbours to the west were the Sicani. [Wikipedia]

The Sicels gave Sicily the name it has held since antiquity, but they rapidly fused into the culture of Magna Graecia.

New large sites, like Pantalica, appeared in the hilly coastal hinterlands, probably chosen for defensive reasons.
Pantalica evidently flourished for about 600 years, from about 1250 to 650 BC. The current name of the site probably dates from the Early Middle Ages or Arab period. The ancient name of the site is uncertain, but is associated by some archaeologists with Hybla, after a Sicel king named Hyblon, who is mentioned by Thucydides in connection with the foundation of the early Greek colony at Megara Hyblaea in the year 728 BC. For several centuries before Greek colonization, Pantalica was undoubtedly one of the main sites of eastern Sicily, dominating the surrounding territory, including subsidiary settlements. By about 650 BC, however, it seems to have been a victim of the expansion of the city of Syracuse, which established an outpost at Akrai (Palazzolo Acreide) at this time. Nevertheless, it was still occupied during classical antiquity, since finds of the 4th-3rd centuries BC (Hellenistic period) are attested, as well as during the late antique or Byzantine periods. After the 12th century it was probably largely deserted, and overshadowed by Sortino.

 

Weird Italy pantalica-002 20 stunning images of Pantalica Necropolis Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  tombs Syracuse sicily railway track pantalica necropolis nature reserve Magna Graecia history Calcinara archeology anapo

The remains visible today consist mainly of numerous prehistoric burial chambers cut into the limestone rock, sometimes provided with a porch or short entrance corridor in front of the burial chamber, originally sealed with stones or a slab.

There are also some larger rock-cut houses of uncertain date (often said to be Byzantine, but possibly of earlier origin). The so-called anaktoron, or princely palace, located near the top of the hill, is also controversial. Thought by some archaeologists originally to have been a Late Bronze Age building, inspired by palatial buildings of the Greek (Mycenaean) Bronze Age, it was more certainly occupied in the Byzantine period. The remains of a large defensive ditch, cut into the limestone, are clearly visible at Filiporto (on the western side of the promontory, nearest to Ferla). This probably dates to the 4th century BC and represents a defensive work of Greek military design, possibly in line with a policy of Dionysius of Syracuse, designed to secure allied sites in the hinterland. There are also three small Medieval rock-cut chapels popularly called the Grotta del Crocifisso (near the North cemetery), Grotta di San Nicolicchio (on the southern side) and Grotta di San Micidario (at Filiporto), which preserve very faint traces of frescoes and attest the presence of small monastic communities.

Weird Italy pantalica-003 20 stunning images of Pantalica Necropolis Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  tombs Syracuse sicily railway track pantalica necropolis nature reserve Magna Graecia history Calcinara archeology anapo

The site was mainly excavated between 1895 and 1910 by the distinguished Italian archaeologist, Paolo Orsi, although most of the tombs had already been rifled or emptied long before his time. The finds excavated by Orsi are on display in the Archaeological Museum in Syracuse. They include characteristic red-burnished pottery vessels and metal objects, including weaponry (small knives and daggers) and items of dress, such as bronze fibulae (brooches) and rings, which were placed with the deceased in the tombs. Most of the tombs contained between 1 and 7 individuals of all ages and both sexes. Many tombs were evidently re-opened periodically in order to admit more burials. The average human life span at this time was probably around 30 years of age. The size of the prehistoric population is hard to estimate from the available data, but might easily have been 1000 people or more. [Wikipedia]

 

Sources:

Wikipedia 1 , Wikipedia 2

Images:

http://commons.wikimedia.org

map

Beauty of Baroque Style: Villa Garzoni at Collodi

Villa Garzoni or Garzoni Garden was built before 1652 by the Garzoni family, near their old castle, which stands slightly apart and is a beautiful example of Baroque style.

Weird Italy toscana Beauty of Baroque Style: Villa Garzoni at Collodi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  villa garzoni tuscany pinocchio lucca garzoni garden Carlo Lorenzini carlo collodi baroque style Baroque   Villa Garzoni at Collodi, Lucca, Tuscany, features a garden with a number of pagan statues, fountains and watern garden (giochi d’acqua) at the foot of a series of terraces and symmetrical staicases connecting the lower water gardens at the base of the hill. The villa, which was thoroughly rebuilt in the eighteenth century, belonged to the Garzoni family until the beginning of the twentieth century. The garden has a bamboo wood, mythological statues, caves, greenhouses, bridges and a maze.

The father of Carlo Lorenzini (Carlo Collodi), the author of Pinocchio worked here as a gardener, while her mother was a waitress. Collodi spent most of his childhood at the Castle.

 

Weird Italy garzoni-garden-collodi-008 Beauty of Baroque Style: Villa Garzoni at Collodi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  villa garzoni tuscany pinocchio lucca garzoni garden Carlo Lorenzini carlo collodi baroque style Baroque

Weird Italy garzoni-garden-collodi-002 Beauty of Baroque Style: Villa Garzoni at Collodi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  villa garzoni tuscany pinocchio lucca garzoni garden Carlo Lorenzini carlo collodi baroque style Baroque

Weird Italy garzoni-garden-collodi-003 Beauty of Baroque Style: Villa Garzoni at Collodi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  villa garzoni tuscany pinocchio lucca garzoni garden Carlo Lorenzini carlo collodi baroque style Baroque

Weird Italy garzoni-garden-collodi-005 Beauty of Baroque Style: Villa Garzoni at Collodi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  villa garzoni tuscany pinocchio lucca garzoni garden Carlo Lorenzini carlo collodi baroque style Baroque

Weird Italy garzoni-garden-collodi-004 Beauty of Baroque Style: Villa Garzoni at Collodi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  villa garzoni tuscany pinocchio lucca garzoni garden Carlo Lorenzini carlo collodi baroque style Baroque

Weird Italy garzoni-garden-collodi-007 Beauty of Baroque Style: Villa Garzoni at Collodi Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  villa garzoni tuscany pinocchio lucca garzoni garden Carlo Lorenzini carlo collodi baroque style Baroque

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Source:

Wikipedia 1,
Wikipedia 2,
Pinocchio.it

Images:

commons.wikimedia.org
Flickr

The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice

The Venetian Ghetto (ghèto) was an area of Venice where Jews were permitted to live under Venetian Republic.

The Ghetto is located in Cannareggio, not far from the train station.

English (and Italian) word “ghetto” derived from the Venetian language, ghèto. Beginning in 1516, Jews were restricted to living in the Venetian Ghetto.

The English term “ghetto” is an Italian loanword, which actually comes from the Venetian word “ghèto”, slag, and was used in this sense in a reference to a foundry where slag was stored located on the same island as the area of Jewish confinement. An alternative etymology is from Italian borghetto, diminutive of borgo ‘borough’. [Wikipedia]

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-001 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Though it was home to a large number of Jews, the population living in the Venetian Ghetto never assimilated to form a distinct, “Venetian Jewish” ethnicity. Four of the five synagogues were clearly divided according to ethnic identity: separate synagogues existed for the German (the Scuola Grande Tedesca), Italian (the Scuola Italiana), Spanish and Portuguese (the Scuola Spagnola), and Levantine Sephardi communities (The Scola Levantina). The fifth, the Scuola Canton, was a private synagogue for the 4 families who funded its construction. One was the Fano family. Today, there are also populations of Ashkenazic Jews in Venice, mainly Lubavitchers who operate one of two kosher foodstores, a yeshiva, and the aforementioned Chabad synagogue. [Wikipedia]

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-002 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Languages historically spoken in the confines of the Ghetto include Venetian, Italian, Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic, French, and German[citation needed]. In addition, Hebrew was traditionally (and still is) used on signage, inscriptions, and for official purposes such as wedding contracts (as well as, of course, in religious services). [Wikipedia]

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-003 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-004 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Today, the Ghetto is still a center of Jewish life in the city. The Jewish Community of Venice, that counts 500 people, is still culturally very active. [Wikipedia]

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-005 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-007 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Plaque in the Jewish ghetto in Venice bearing a law (September 20, 1704) forbidding severely any Jewish person converted to Christianity to enter the Jewish Ghetto and to meet any Jews, menacing harsh penalties. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, August 1st, 2008. [Wikimedia]

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-008 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-009 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-010 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-011 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Weird Italy ghetto-venice-012 The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

Weird Italy shylock The first ghetto in the world: The Ghetto of Venice Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  William Shakespeare venice venezia veneto Venetian Republic Venetian Ghetto The Merchant of Venice shylock jewish ghetto gheto cannareggio

William Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice features Shylock, a Venetian Jew, and his family.

Source Wikipedia 1 , Wikipedia 2
Images http://commons.wikimedia.org/

The sword in the stone: San Galgano Abbey in Tuscany

San Galgano is Cistercians abbey not far from Siena, in Chiusdino area. The site is composed by a big abbey, now in ruins, and by the Hermitage (Rotonda di Montesiepi), the religious retreat.

Continue reading The sword in the stone: San Galgano Abbey in Tuscany