From Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo to Galileo and Leonardo da Vinci, Americans owe a lot to our Italian comrades. Italy has been home to many who have redefined culture, history, science and our perspective in both classic and contemporary times. During your travels to Italy, you are sure to run into relics of some of these famous Italians. Here are just a few to keep an eye out for:
Considered the founder of modern sculpture, Donato de Bardi was born in florence in 1386. His bronze David was the first nude statue of the Renaissance.
A friend of both Leonardo and Michelangelo, born in 1445 and renowned for religious and secular-themed masterpieces such as the Primavera, Birth of Venus and Adoration of the Magi.
Leonardo da Vinci
Born in Vinci, near Florence, in 1452. A Renaissance genius, world-renowned for his paintings, including the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. Leonardo was also a master architect, engineer, mathematician and philosopher.
Raffaello Sanzio was born in Urbino in 1493. His superb use of perspective, realism and animation is exemplified by the School of Athens adorning the walls of the Vatican.
St. Francis of Assisi
Giovanni Francesco Barnardone was born to a wealthy merchant family in Assisi around 1181. After taking a vow of poverty, he preached for simplicity and humility before God - to animals as well as to humans. The founder of the Franciscan order, he is also the patron saint of animals and of the environment.
Born in Genova in 1451, his home still stands today. Columbus guided his three-vessel expedition across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, aiming to reach the Far East through a westward course. Instead, he landed in the Caribbean and is credited with rediscovering America in modern times.
Born in Florence in 1454. Amerigo was a navigator and merchant who estimated the world's circumference within 50 miles. He concluded America was not the eastern part of Asia, as Columbus believed, but a new continent. It is duly names after him.
Born in Venice in 1454, Marco Polo's 24 year odyssey through Asia opened up the Orient to Europe. He traveled the ancient Silk Route, was a guest at the court of the emperor Kublai Khan, and his accounts became the greatest exotic travelogues of their day.
Born in Pisa in 1564, the inventor of the first astronomical telescope also presaged Newton's laways of motion and confirmed the Copernican theory of the solar system. Charged with heresy and forced to renounce his theories, his work was officially recognized by the Vatican in 1993.
Innovative fashion designed Valentino Garavani was born near Milan in 1932. His Collezione Bianca was the first to have the magic V label. Valentino also designed Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding dress for her marriage to Aristotle Onassis.
Born in Reggio Calabria in 1946, couture icon Versace is known for his striking colors, materials and cuts. He opened his first boutique in Milan's Via della Spiga in 1978.
Born on the outskirts of Modena in 1935 and arguably the most important tenor since Caruso, Pavarotti combines accuracy of pitch and quality of sound production with a natural musicality. He is widely acknowledged for having popularized opera.
Born in Modena in 1898, Ferrari's innovation, beauty and style in automotive design continues to make his vehicles the most sought after in the world.
These are just a few of the famous Italians who have changed our world. Start planning your Italy vacation with Celtic Tours World Vacations