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Italy - Famous People

Famous People


The Medicis were a powerful family from Florence, who, with the hereditary ruling system in place, influenced Italy and Europe from the 13th to the 17th century. Popes Leo X, Clement VII, and Leo XI were of Medici descent. The family achieved power through The Medici Bank with Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, which was one of the most prosperous and respected banks in Europe. In 1434, the Medici family became unofficial head of the state of Florentine republic. The senior branch of the family ruled until 1537, when Alessandro de' Medici was assasinated, whereby the junior branch of the family took over.

Marco Polo

Marco Polo was a trader and explorer who was born on September 15, 1254 and died on January 8, 1324. He was one of the first to travel to China and visit Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan).


Durante degli Alighieri (known as Dante) was a poet from Florence, Italy. He was born June 1, 1265, and died September 13/14, 1321. He is known for his work, The Divine Comedy, of which the part Inferno is most widely known. It is considered Europe's greatest literary statement from the medieval period.

Gattamelata by Donatello, from "Donatello" by Wikipedia, 2006.


Donatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi) was born in 1386 and died on December 13, 1466. He was a famous sculptor and artist of Florence in the Early Renaissance. Famous statues include Gattamelata, and David.


Leone Battista Alberti was an Italian painter, poet, linguist, philosopher, cryptographer, musician, architect, and polymath during the Italian Renaissance. He was born February 14, 1404 and died April 25, 1472. He was educated at the University of Bologna in law, and toured Europe during his twenties. He is famous for the first study of scientific perspective, and for numerous architectural buildings.


Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi (otherwise known as Sandro Botticelli), was born on March 1, 1445 and died on May 17, 1510. He was a painter of the Florentine school during the Early Renaissance. He is most famous for his painting, The Birth of Venus.


Cristoforo Columbo (Christopher Columbus) was born in 1451 and died May 20, 1506. He was an explorer and trader who sailed to America, reaching it on October 12, 1492. His discovery initiated the colonization of the Americas.

Da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was born April 15, 1452 and died May 3, 1519. He was an Italian Renaissance architect, musician, anatomist, inventor, engineer, sculptor, geometer, and painter. He is well known for his paintings The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa, as well as his studies of anatomy.


Amerigo Vespucci is famous for voyaging to and writing about the Americas. He was born March 9, 1454 and died February 22, 1512. He was an Italian merchant and cartographer (map maker). He discovered the new continent of South America under disbelief from the general population that anything but East Asia would be reached by sailing West.


Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born March 6, 1475 and died February 18, 1564. He was a Renaissance sculptor, architect, painter and poet. He painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, sculpted the famous David and Pieta, and designed the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, from "The Sistine Chapel" by Wikipedia, 2006.


Raphael was born April 6, 1483 and died April 6, 1520. He was a master painter and architect in the Italian High Renaissance, of the Florentine school. He is reknowned for the perfection and softness of his paintings, which include Madonna and Child.


Galileo Galilei was an Italian astronomer, astrologer, physicist, and philospher closely associeted with the scientific revolution. He was born February 15, 1564 and died January 8, 1642. He improves the telescope, observed various aspects of astronomy, developed the first and second laws of motion, and found proof to support Copernicanism. The conflict Galileo experienced with the Roman Catholic Church is seen as an example of the freedom of though conflict.


Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was a baroque music composer and Italian priest. He was born on March 4, 1678 and died July 28, 1741. He is known for having composed over 500 concertos, 46 operas, 73 sonatas, as well as symphonies, chamber music, and sacred music. Mis most famous work is Gloria.


Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was born December 22, 1858 and died November 29, 1924. He composed Madame Butterfly and La Bohème and thus is regarded as a great operatic composer of the 19th and 20th centuries.


Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was born July 29, 1883 and died April 28, 1945. He was the politcal leader of Italy from 1922 to 1943. His charisma, total control of the media, and intimidation of rivals allowed him to disassemble the democratic system of government, whereby he used propaganda and state terror to create a fascist government. He joined sides with Germany and entered World War II, placing Italy under target by the Allies. This mistake led to his defeat and death.

Sergio Leone

Sergio Leone was an Italian film director, born on January 3, 1929 and died on April 30, 1989. He is well known for his Dollars Trilogy, which includes A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, which established Clint Eastwood as a star.

Luciano Pavarotti, from "Luciano Pavarotti" by Wikipedia, 2006.


Luciano Pavarotti is an Italian Tenor singer born on October 12, 1935. He is reknowned for his voice in opera. Pavarotti's became an internationally known celebrity when his rendition of "Nessun Dorma" by Giacomo Puccini became the theme song of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.


Valentino Gravani created the fashion house Valentino in the 1960s. He studied under Vogherese designer Ernestina Salvadeo, at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and at Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. The Valentino White Collection premiered in 1967, and became famous for its "V" logo. Valentino designed Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding dress for her marriage to Aristotle Onassis. Currently, Valentino offers menswear, womenswear, perfume, and makeup.

Outfits from the Versace runway, from Photobucket, 2006.


Gianni Versace created the Italian clothing business known as Versace in 1978. It is now headed by Donatella Versace, with Santo Versace as CEO. As one of the world's leading international fashion houses, Versace designs, markets and distributes luxury clothing, accessories, fragrances, makeup and home furnishings.

Some other famous people of Italian descent include Gwen Stefani, Mya, Alicia Keys, Mario Andretti, Martin Scorsese, Shakira, Madonna, Frank Sinatra, and Al Capone (to name just a few).

See Sources: Wikipedia; Ludoedka.

Last Updated Jan. 12, 2006