St. Alban (3rd or 4th c.) Roman soldier and first British martyr, he was beheaded at Verulamium (now St. Albans), England, for sheltering the Christian priest who had converted him.

Antonioni, Michelangelo (1912-2007) Film director who began his career making documentaries, he is considered one of the best-known cinematists in Italian history. His films deal with the boredom, despair, and alienation of the upper-middle classes in Italy. He is best remembered for a trilogy of film consisting of La Notte (1960), L'Aventura (1960), and L'Eclisse (1961).

Apuleius, Lucius (2nd c. A.D.) The works of this Roman satirist are the only extant examples of Latin-Language prose fiction. His most famous work is The Golden Ass (also known as Metamorphoses).

Aretino, Pietro (1492-1556) Sponsored and supported by such royal patrons as Emperor Charles V and Francis I of France, he is one of the best-remembered political satirists of the Renaissance. Known as the "scourge of princes," he invariably fell into disgrace as his satirical arrow drove deep.

Augustus (originally Gaius Octavius, later Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus) (63 B.C.-A.D. 14) Grandnephew of Julius Caesar, who adopted him as his son and heir, he was considered the first Roman emperor, enjoying absolute control of most of the known world after 27 B.C. He defeated Brutus and Cassius, slayers of his mentor, and also Mark Anthony.

Bellini, Vincenzo (1801-35) During his short life, he elevated to a status never before heard the opera form of bel canto. Some of the pieces he wrote for coloratura soprano remain among the most sought-after by operatic divas the world over. His operas (Norma, La Sonnambula, and I Puritani) are noted for their beauty of melody rather than for the complexity of their harmonies, or the dramatic intensities of their plots.

Bernini, Giovanni Lorenzo (1598-1680) This Renaissance sculptor and architect changed forever the architecture of Rome, designing many of its fountains (including those within the Piazza Navona). Even more famous are his designs for the colonnade and piazza in front of St. Peter's, the Vatican, as well as the canopy whose corkscrew columns cover the landmark's principal altar.

Borgia, Cesare (1476-1507) The name of this Italian adventurer and churchman is synonymous with cruelty and treachery, thanks to his ruthlessness in organizing the cities of central Italy under his rule.

Caruso, Enrico (1873-1921) Born in Italy, the most famous operatic tenor of his era achieved his greatest success at New York's Metropolitan Opera. His interpretations of Rigoletto, Pagliacci, and La Bohème did more than any other singer to spread the allure of opera to the New World.

Cellini, Benvenuto (1500-71) The most famous goldsmith in history, and a notable sculptor (Perseus with the Head of Medusa) as well, he was the author of a famous Autobiography which, when first published in 1728, established him as one of the greatest rakes of the Renaissance.

Clement[s] Clement was the consistently most popular name of a series of Roman popes and anti-popes who ruled with interruptions -- usually more or less despotically -- from 88 A.D. (Clement I) to 1774 (Clement XIV). Among the most famous of these not-always-clement princes of the church were Clement V (dubbed the anti-pope by his legions of enemies) and Clement VII (Giulio de Medici).

Donizetti, Gaetano (1797-1848) He was an Italian composer of some of the most famous -- and singable -- operas anywhere, including Lucia di Lammermoor, L'Elisir d'Amore, and The Daughter of the Regiment.

Eustachi, Bartolommeo (1520-74) He was an Italian biologist whose painstaking dissections analyzed the ligaments, bones, tendons, nerves, and vessels that compose the human body. Named in his honor were the Eustachian tubes, whose pressure-regulating abilities are vital to the functioning of the human ear. One of his contemporaries and competitors was Gabrielo Fallopio (1523-62), who identified and named in his own honor the fallopian tubes.

Fellini, Federico (1920-93) This neorealist film director is known for his zany, visually striking, and sometimes grotesque interpretations of social and psychological dilemmas. Examples of his work include La Strada, La Dolce Vita (whose title was adopted by an entire generation of fun-loving Italians as their mode of living), 8 1/2, Juliet of the Spirits, and his ode to the debaucheries and insanities of Ancient Rome, Satirycon.

Fermi, Enrico (1901-54) Rome physicist, and resident of the U.S. from 1939, he postulated the existence of the atomic particle identified as the neutrino, and produced element 93, neptunium. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1938, and his work contributed heavily to the later development of the atomic bomb.

Gregory XIII (né Ugo Buoncampagni) (1502-85) Roman pope from 1572 until his death, he launched the Counter-Reformation and departed from the policies of earlier popes by maintaining an unassailable (or at least discreet) personal comportment. One of his accomplishments was to develop a modern calendar, which is today in common usage throughout the Western world.

Machiavelli, Niccoló (1469-1527) Political philosopher and Italian Statesman, he is probably the world's most visible and oft-quoted defender of political conduct with a cynical and deliberate disregard for the moral issues involved. He is best remembered for his treatise on the art of ruling, Il Principe (The Prince).

Malpighi, Marcello (1628-94) Personal physician to Pope Innocent XII, he is considered the founder of microscopic anatomy.

Matteotti, Giacomo (1885-1924) He was an Italian socialist whose murder by the Fascists is regarded as the removal of the final obstacle to Mussolini's complete control of Italy.

Menotti, Gian-Carlo (1911-2007) Italian-born, and resident of the U.S. from 1928, he is known as a composer of highly melodic and sometimes satirical operas in the Italian opera buffa tradition. These include The Medium, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and The Saint of Bleecker Street.

Montessori, Maria (1870-1952) Physician and educational theorist, she developed a method of education for young children that directs the child's energies into becoming the adult he or she wants to be within an environment of pedagogical freedom. In 1894, she became the first woman to receive an M.D. in Italy. Her most widely distributed work is Pedagogical Anthropology.

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