5 Italian icons in the world


Apart from gastronomy, tourism and landscape, Italy also boasts a wide range of internationally recognized geniuses. This Mediterranean country is very well-known for its famous artists, scientists, inventors, films and actors. Italian excellence is recognized worldwide and its international appreciation is in great part owed to these courageous men and women who have had this great ambition to pursued their dreams, people who moved by their ardent passion, unwittingly shaped the country’s history. “To reach your goal, think like a winner and act like a winner” was Enzo Ferrari’s motto, the founder of the famous car company that bears his name. What comes to mind when we mention Leonardo Da Vinci? Surely the Mona Lisa; but perhaps not everyone knows that Leonardo designed the first plane and the first parachute in history, or that Rita Levi Montalcini was the only Italian to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine. Take a look at our list of the top five Italian icons of all time, to learn all about the greatest and most famous Italian figures.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Da Vinci was undoubtedly one of the greatest geniuses of all time. This Italian polymath was a painter, inventor, observer of nature and expert in Renaissance technology. Born in Vinci in 1452, thanks to his father’s support from a young age, he began to study fine arts with Andrea Verrocchio, the mentor of many famous painters of the time. This connection managed to attract the attention of the Medici family, the political dynasty ruling the Republic of Florence at the same. After coming into contact with the Medici, he moved to Milan where he was appointed ambassador to the court of Ludovico Sforza (the Duke of Milan), then worked as a military engineer to the House of Borgia (a prominent family during the Renaissance) in Florence. His strong interest in science led him to write a an essay on flight, which included plans to build the first plane and the first parachute in history. His technical proficiency became so well-known and famous that the king of France wanted him as master scientist of his court. Among the many revolutionary innovations that he invented, we remember the mechanical tank, the first robot exemplary, cars, submarines, automatic iooms (fabric weaving machine), bridges, dams, and most famously the first visual anatomical atlas of the world. Leonardo revolutionized not only the visual arts, but the history of thought and science. (For more info, click here)

Enzo Ferrari

Think of an elegant sports car. You probably thought of a gleaming red Ferrari with its perfect mix of speed, state of the art high precision mechanics, and top class design. Enzo Ferrari, the founder of Ferrari was an entrepreneur, engineer, and race car driver. Born in Modena in 1898, the motorcar expert was also nicknamed “Drake” as a comparison of his determination to that of the great Sir Francis Drake (the second person to circum navigate the world). During his time working at a friend’s small engineering company, he was noticed by Alfa Romeo, for whom he proceeded to work for as a race car driver for eleven years. Alfa Romeo retired in 1937 due to the economic crisis during the time, and after the war, Ferrari founded Scuderia Ferrari, the sports section of the car manufacturer. Their first race in the World Championship was the Monaco Grand Prix, while the first formula one victory was at the Grand Prix of Great Britain in 1951. It was this last defeat that marked the decline of Alfa Romeo in the F1 world, while simultaneously marking the rise of Ferrari racing. (For more info, click here)

Rita Levi Montalcini

“The body does what it wants. I am not the body, I am the mind”, said Rita Levi Montalcini, one the greatest Italian scientists of the twentieth century. Both her national and international awards are countless, and she has over twenty honorary degrees at different universities. Just think that she is the only Italian to have ever been awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology, awarded to her in 1986, and also the first woman to be admitted to the Pontifical Academy. Rita Levi was born in Turin in 1909 to a Sephardic Jewish family. She enrolled in medicine at the University of Turin against her father’s wishes, where she graduated with a perfect grade point average. Due to the implementation of racial laws in 1938, she was forced to move but she never stopped doing research. In 1947 she was offered a teaching position at Washington University in St. Louis, where she made one of her most important discoveries in the 50s: the nerve growth factor (NGF), a study for which she was awarded a Nobel prize for almost thirty years later. In 2001 she served in the Italian Senate as senator for life for her high merits in both the scientific and social fields. (For more info, click here)

Giorgio Armani

The fifth richest man in Italy, Giorgio Armani is one of the most influential members of the fashion world both in Italy and abroad. An intelligent visionary, classic yet elegant, Armani was born in Piacenza in 1934 and worked as a designer until 1965. He moved from exceptional door designs to the establishment of his company in 1975, the year his first collection came out. His most iconic creation and the most emblematic element of his style has been the “structure-less jacket” one without pads or lining. Inspired by the black and white film and the American 1930s, his style follows clean cuts and colder colors: beige, gray and greige, a new tonality somewhere in between gray and earthy sand colors; but the iconic Armani blue is the most distinguishing factor in telling his collection apart from others. Even since its birth, the company has had endless success, which still continues today even as it branches out into various other fields. In addition the perfume collection (including Acqua di gioia and Black Code),which is a huge commercial success, the company also includes other famous sub-brands such as Emporio Armani and Armani Jeans. (For more info, click here)

Marcello Mastroianni

The golden age of Italian cinema was made up of many big names. However, Marcello Mastroianni definitely stands out among them, being one of the most famous Italian actors, well-known abroad in the 60s and 70s. The beautiful, cheeky, ironic and wise actor was notorious for his flexible acting skills, being about to switch back and forth perfectly and juggle both dramatic and comic roles proficiently. Born in the province of Frosinone in 1924, he made his cinematic debut in 1948 in Les Misérables, a film based on the novel by Victor Hugo. After this first role, thanks to Visconti, he is casted for the movies Rosalinda o come vi piace, Un tram Che Si Chiama Desiderio. His breakthrough came with Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958) and then Adua and her Friends (1960), but his real claim to fame came in his role in Fellini’s two greatest masterpieces La Dolce Vita and , which confirms his success internationally and his ‘playboy’ reputation, from which he later tries to defend himself from. His most famous films include: Divorce Italian Style, Ieri Oggi Domani, I girasoli, Spledor, Marrige Italian Style, and another film directed by Fellini, City of Women, Ginger and Fred and Intrevista. (For more info, click here)

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