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  • Episode 5: Guglielmo Marconi

    The subject of Episode 5 is Guglielmo Marconi, Italian inventor and electrical engineer who is credited as the inventor of the radio. The episode focuses on the path from the bold dreams of an Italian scientist to global broadcasting. Below I have provided additional content to help you dive deeper into Episode 5 and help with your "homework" assigned at the end of the episode! MARCONI & VILLA GRIFFONE Marconi’s house (Villa Griffone) is located a few miles south of Bologna in a city that is now named Sasso Marconi (Marconi Rock) in his honor. Italian drivers often refer to Sasso Marconi as the beginning of the highway trait connecting Bologna and Florence, across the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano (the Apennines in between Emilia Romagna and Tuscany). Villa Griffone was the place of Marconi’s first radio transmission in 1895 and is now the site of the Marconi Museum and the Marconi Mausoleum, built in 1941, after the glorious state funeral organized by the Fascist regime at his death in 1937. If you are planning a trip to Sasso Marconi, add a stop to the nearby town of Marzabotto, site of an old Etruscan city and of the bloodiest Nazi massacre of Italian civilians during WWII. The SS exterminated the entire population of the village (located on the Gothic line) in the fall of 1944, before the 6th Armored Division from South Africa freed it. YOUR NEXT TRIP TO CAPE COD Midway through the Cape Cod National Seashore, you will be able to visit Marconi beach, where Marconi sent his first transatlantic radio signal in 1903. Pictured below is how the beach looked in Marconi’s time (top photo) versus how it looks today (bottom photo). Sea erosion has reduced the Wellfleet radio transmitting station into ruins. In a small booth near the beach dunes (pictured below), you can see what the station looked like back in the day, find a commemorative plaque of the event, and read the text of the radio exchange between U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and King Edward VII of England. If you are in the area, you might also want to visit the nearby studio of American painter Edward Hopper. The site (near Truro) is a true pleasure for the eyes! ITALIAN RADIO IN THE 1930s A complete history of radio broadcasting would require books upon books. If you are interested, you can find some useful material in English at this link. If you read Italian you can consult the webpages Museo della Radio e della Televisione or Storia della radio. Radio transmissions arrived late in Italy, and radio diffusion found legitimacy in the early 1930s, after the foundation of EIAR (Ente Italiano Audizioni Radiofoniche), and the merger (mirroring the British fusion of HMV and Columbia into EMI) between Italy’s two gramophone houses (Societá Italiana di Fonotipia and Societá nazionale del grammofono) and Marconi’s company into VCM (Voce del Padrone; Columbia; Marconiphone). By 1931, radio acquired a broadcasting structure, and first introduced reproduced music as a part of programming. As contents became more and more educational—radiophonic “reductions” of literary masterpieces, theatrical radio-dramas, Futuristic sintesi radiofoniche, or reproduced concerts—and devices acquired a cultural reference (in their naming of radiophonographers after Petrarca or Ariosto), some intellectuals started to investigate the possibilities offered by the new technology for the development of a new aesthetic language. In 1931, the director of the journal Il convegno, Enzo Ferrieri published an essay entitled “La radio come forza creativa” (“Radio as a Creative Force”), which launched the debate on the new language of spectacle and mass-communication. Against the critics of radio diffusion (Guido Piovene, Emilio Cecchi, and Anton Giulio Bragaglia), Marinetti participated in the debate, by co-authoring with Pino Masnata the manifesto “La radia,” published for La gazzetta di Torino on September 22, 1933. In his reflection, Marinetti envisioned radio as an experimental space of interaction across different arts and the development platform of a new abstract language of entertainment/communication, not only abolishing any unity of action or rootedness in tradition, but also inventing a new ubiquitous poetics of “synthesis of infinite simultaneous actions,” “immensification of space,” and “amplification and transfiguration of vibrations.” Inspired by “La radia” and his own broadcasting experience, the Futurist painter Fortunato Depero published in 1934 the poetic collection Liriche radiofoniche (Radiophonic Lyrics). In his vision, radio expressed not just a unique continuum of words and sounds (or “onomalingua”), but rather an experimental poetic form, representing the modern capacity of registration, transmission, and displacement of sound from its contingent location to a multitude of simultaneous spaces/atmospheres. In his words, radio embodied the ultimate experience of a “dinamondo,” (“dyna-world”), that is, of simultaneity in perennial movement. RADIO CLIPS As promised, here are some audio clips for your homework. Click on the links to hear these historic pieces, and imagine listening to them via radio, without correlated images. For radio lovers, listening is still nowadays an act of imaginative thinking! Audio of the first official Italian broadcast on October 6, 1924. Audio of F.D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address on March 4, 1933 “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and the moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days, my friends, will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.” Audio of Mussolini’s announcement of the Italian Empire after the conquest of Ethiopia on May 9, 1936 Audio of W. Churchill’s first entrance as British Prime Minister to the House of Commons on May 13, 1940 “We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory; victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” Video about the Cuneo-Pinerolo stage of the 1949 Giro d’Italia (June 10, 1949). The expression of the radio commentator, Mario Ferretti, referring to Fausto Coppi as “un uomo solo al comando,” is now proverbial in Italian.

  • Episode 7: Alfonso Bialetti

    The subject of Episode 7 is Alfonso Bialetti, the Italian engineer who fashioned and crafted the at-home Aluminum Stovetop espresso coffee maker, the Moka Express. The episode also focuses on Italy’s love affair with coffee, espresso making and creative thinking in Bialetti’s moka. Below I have provided additional content to help you dive deeper into Episode 7 and help with your "homework" assigned at the end of the episode! BIALETTI AND THE ITALIAN TECHNOLOGY OF ESPRESSO MAKING In the late 19th century, the home production of coffee was a very slow process. There were two main devices used to prepare coffee at home: La Napoletana, a stovetop pot to be flipped over, and La Milanese, where boiling water was dripped over a strainer of coffee grounds. The first single-serving espresso machine for public use was invented and patented in 1901 by the Italian entrepreneur Luigi Bezzera. His model, which combined the principles of La Napoletana and La Milanese, revolutionized the coffee-making process, in terms of both rapidity and technique. The word espresso (literally “pressed out”) referred to pressure (moving from the water-filled metal tank to the handle where finely ground coffee was packed tight). At the same time, the word espresso also indicated speed, since Bezzera’s machine could produce a concentrated coffee in a half-minute (against the previous five-minute process to produce small batches of boiled water with pulverized coffee grounds). In 1905, the Milanese businessman Desiderio Pavoni acquired the patent of Bezzera’s invention and started to produce the machine on an industrial scale, renaming it “La Pavoni” and launching the espresso culture in bars as a drink for public consumption. A few decades later, in 1948, the father of Italian design, Giò Ponti, would work on the famous project for Pavoni of “La cornuta” (pictured above), which would turn into one of the most renowned pieces of Italian industrial art. In parallel with Milan, also Turin was a prominent espresso city. In 1884, during the National Exposition of Turin, Angelo Moribondo had presented the first rudimental device to make pressed out coffee, and in 1895, the businessman Luigi Lavazza had established his first coffee-roasting firm. In 1905, the physicist Pier Teresio Arduino designed and installed in Turin his newly patented coffee machine “Victoria” (“Victory”), which guaranteed fast pouring and small size of coffee. The company, Victoria Arduino, became a pioneering brand in advertising and communication, and one of the leaders of the market. Here is the famous 1922 poster ad for Arduino by the Italian master illustrator Leonetto Cappiello, identifying coffee with modern life, and equating espresso making to the pressure and speed of a train in motion. Throughout the 20th century, the other Turin-based company, Lavazza, would dominate the coffee market, both in the production of ground coffee blends and in the manufacture of coffee machines. In 1989, the Italian master Sergio Pininfarina (who also extensively worked for Alfa Romeo and Ferrari) designed for Lavazza the first model of espresso machines (see picture to the left), which would become the prototype for the Firma series. Against this backdrop, Bialetti’s story lies in-between technology and coffee culture. The headquarters of the company, located in Omegna, in the North West part of the Piedmont region, are also in-between Milan and Turin. Bialetti’s main innovation consisted in creating a home-based machine, which could reproduce the quality of an espresso produced and consumed at the bar (including its intrinsic qualities of speed and energy), and at the same time empower individual artisanship and creativity (within the context of an intimate domestic space). Bialetti’s moka (pictured right) would symbolize the encounter of urban modernity and domesticity, mixing rapidity and slowness, industrial techniques and personalized traditions. His logo, the “omino coi baffi," would represent this message, as a character embodying technical skills yet also a long-grown wisdom. At this link you can find a TV commercial (“carosello”) from 1959 where the “omino coi baffi” educates the Bialetti spectators on the technology and culture of the product, by comparing the steps required to fix a leaking faucet to the process for preparing a coffee with the “moka." If you are wondering how to prepare coffee with the Bialetti moka, here is a brief set of instructions from the Omino coi Baffi:

  • Episode 3: Elsa Schiaparelli

    The subject of Episode 3 is fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and how she pioneered fashion design as an art and helped Italy make it into the fashion industry. Below I have provided additional content to help you dive deeper into Episode 3 and help with your "homework" assigned at the end of the episode! A FEW ADDITIONAL NOTES ABOUT 20TH CENTURY ITALIAN LITERATURE Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) is one of the most famous dramatists of the 20th century. Born in Sicily and educated in Germany, Pirandello lived and worked in Rome. His theatre plays were and are still performed all over the world. Among them, it is worth mentioning Six Characters in Search of an Author and Henry IV. Pirandello is also a novelist, a poet, and a short story writer. His collection of short stories Novelle per un anno (Short stories for a Year) is a masterpiece in the genre. In 1934 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Cesare Pavese (1908-1950) is an Italian poet, novelist, and translator. His novels describe the life of the Langhe district, in the region of Piedmont, the bourgeois life of Turin, and his experience as an anti-Fascist. Three times, he was the recipient of the most important Italian literary prize (“Premio Strega”). As a poet and a translator of Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Edgar Lee Masters, he contributed to making American literature known in Italy both during the years of Fascism and in the aftermath of war. Italo Calvino (1922-1985) is one of the most renowned Italian intellectuals of the 20th century. His narrative work ranges from war memoirs to fairy tales, from allegory to realism, from science to meta-fiction. His creative imagination and geometric thought profoundly impacted debates in literature, history, and cinema. His “Invisible Cities” (read the original New York Times review of the book) is still a cornerstone volume for contemporary architectural imagination, and his “Six Memos for the New Millennium” (a series of lectures he was supposed to deliver at Harvard) is a cornerstone of literary theory. ITALIAN FASHION & FEMININITY IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY Female fashion developed at the turn of the 20th century as a language of independence and creativity for women, in connection to the emancipation movement and the feminine quest for a less stereotypical role in Italian society. In the portraits of one of the most renowned painters of the fin de siècle, Giovanni Boldini, the representation of aristocratic and bourgeois women is related to experimental creation (as seen in the marvelous variety of their dresses) and to fashioning an alternative space of freedom and action (beyond their pre-established role). In addition, literary magazines like “Margherita” or “Lidel” helped configure a new imagination of femininity, in their explicit connection between fashion and literature. Lastly, in the experience of female designers like Maria Monaci Gallenga and Rosa Genoni, fashion, which was mainly associated to femininity and ephemerality, acquired a new status as art, in connection to the decorative repertoire and pictorial heritage of the Renaissance. Monaci Gallenga collected 16th century fabrics and decoration and developed a new printing technique for re-inventing them in a modern key. Genoni designed a gown based on Botticelli’s famous painting of La primavera, which is curiously held at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The link between fashion and the Renaissance will be later confirmed by the use of Palazzo Pitti for early and contemporary fashion shows. ABOUT THE “SHOCKER” Inspired by the 1925 Exposition of Decorative Arts in Paris (where she got in touch with the Futurist work of Fortunato Depero, and the Surrealist artists Joan Mirò, Salvador Dalì, and Jean Cocteau), Schiaparelli opened her Parisian shop “Schiap pour le sport” in 1927. Her first success was her signature trompe-l’oeil sweater, and she actually wore it as a model for her line. So both designer and model! Her later collaboration with Surrealist artists redefined her as a paradoxical fashion artist, adopting clothes as the canvases for her artwork. In partnership with Dalì, she designed the lobster telephone, the lobster dress (for Duchess Wallis Simpson), or the shoe hat. In partnership with Cocteau, she designed a famous coat, featuring trompe-l’oeil faces and roses, and invented her famous shocking pink. Her artistic talent was recognized by the American magazines Time and Newsweek, which dedicated covers to her in 1934 and 1949. Her fame continued after her retirement in 1954, also thanks to her own autobiography “A Shocking Life.” Her myth would be rekindled in 2012 with the re-opening of her Schiap Shop in the historical location of Place Vêndome in Paris. Today the Schiaparelli maison is one of the leading brands in Haute Couture.

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  • @italyinphilly lectures | Italian Innovators

    Home About Innovators Interviews Lessons The Creator & Host The Project @italyinphilly lectures More Coming up on March 14, 2021 Lecture #3. Italy & the Simultaneous Age ACCESS THE PRESENTATION HERE

  • Home | Italian Innovators

    Home About Innovators Interviews Lessons The Creator & Host The Project @italyinphilly lectures More Release schedule: # Innovators (1st + podcast); # ItalianAges (7th); # Interviews (15th + podcast); # ItalianModernities (21st) NEW EPISODE Laura Biagiotti ​ The living spring of creativity #innovators ​ WATCH NOW ​ A YouTube show exploring the Italian way to innovation through presentations, interviews, and lessons. For academics, professionals, students, and lovers of Italian culture and industry. Trailer of the show A presentation of Italian Innovators (themes, audience, story) Lecture - April 14 @Italyinphilly lectures #Innovators Presentations of innovative figures in design, fashion, technology, music, food #Interviews Interviews to prominent academics, professionals or entrepreneurs #ItalianAges Lessons of Italian Cultural History from the Middle Ages to the present #ItalianModernities Lessons on the history of Italian modernity ©Italian Innovators 2018 SUBSCRIBE to the channel or JOIN the newsletter Join Please leave this field empty. CREATOR & HOST Luca Cottini CONTACT luca@italianinnovators.com Discover Italy's Contribution to Modern Arts, Fashion, Business, Design, and Technology

  • Lessons

    Home About Innovators Interviews Lessons The Creator & Host The Project @italyinphilly lectures More Italian Ages ​( new lesson every 7th of the month) From the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages Medieval Travels and the Pursuit of a New World From the Late Middle Ages to Humanism Italian Renaissance Courts A Century of Marvel. The Italian Baroque The Italian Settecento From Restoration to Risorgimento. The 19th Century A Culture of Time and Space (1880-1930) The Great War and the Advent of Fascism From Fascist Dictatorship to WWII (1925-1945) The Post-War Reconstruction and the Economic Boom Crisis and Excellence. Italy’s Present Lessons Course presentation ​ ​ Italian Beauties (​ new lessons July & August 2021) Savoir Faire/Vivre Creativity Diversity Heritage Italian Modernities ​(n ew lesson every 21st of the month) Italy & Food. Culture and Industry Italian Fashion. Origins, Evolution, and System A Cultural History of Italian Photography The Golden Age of Italian Silent Cinema Italian Times Bicycles and the Mechanic Industry. Sports, Tourism, and the National Imagination Italy and the Development of Modern Transportation The Simultaneous Age. The Broadcasting Age. The Network Age. The Shape of Knowledge. On Writing and Computing. The Design of Experience. Products, Objects, Spaces.

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