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History & Culture

History & Culture
of the city of Pisa
Traditions, famous people, curiosities

Famous people

Antonio Pacinotti

antonio pacinottiAntonio Pacinotti (June 1841 - May 1912) from Pisa, was an Italian physicist and Professor of Physics at the University of Pisa.
He remained known to the world thanks to the invention and improving of the form of direct-current electrical generator, or dynamo.
Pacinotti was also one of the independent discoverers of the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle.
The Lungarno Pacinotti in Pisa is named in his honor.

Andrea Bocelli

Andrea BocelliAndrea Bocelli (September 22nd, 1958), Italian singer, producer, songwriter famous world wide, was born in Lajatico, the province of Pisa.
His music range is very wide. It goes from classical, over easy listening, Latin, to opera and pop.
Bocelli is a five-time Classical Brit winner and three-time Grammy-nominated Italian tenor. He's also Grande Ufficiale OMRI - Italian order of merit.
As very young, Bocelli was diagnosed with glaucoma, and after an accident during a football game he completely lost his sight.
His talent for singing and music was shown in his early childhood, and he was encouraged to follow his passion.
His debut album is called "Il mare calmo della sera" released in 1994.
Andrea Bocelli has sold over 70 million albums over the world.


Carlo Rubbia

Carlo RubbiaCarlo Rubbia (March 1934) is another famous Italian physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 for his work regarding discovery of the W and Z particles at CERN ( European Organization for Nuclear Research).
Though he was born in Gorizia, he was another very important student of the Scuola Normale in Pisa. There he received a PhD doing cosmic ray experiments.
Rubbia is still active scientist and his present researches concern the problem of energy supply for the future.

Enrico Fermi

Enrico FermiEnrico Fermi (September 1901 - November 1954), the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity, remained remembered for his achievements on the development of the first nuclear rector, and contributions to the development of quantum theory and statistical mechanics.
He is considered one of the most important and successful scientists of the XX century.
Enrico Fermi was born in Rome, and he showed his particular interest for physics and mathematics as a young boy.
Very important for his further development was his education at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. He enrolled at the school at the age of 17, and there he received his undergraduate and doctoral degree. During his studies at the Pisan university, Enrico published his first important works.
After he graduated, Fermi took a professorship at the University of Rome, where he spent many important years.
After he won the Nobel Prize in 1938, he was forced to emigrate to New York, mostly because of the fascist regime which was getting stronger in Italy and affected his wife, who was Jewish.
When he arrived to New York, he started working at the Columbia University. Soon after, at the beginning of the World War II, Enrico Fermi got involved in a Manhattan Project, the project that was working on developing the first atomic bomb.
Enrico Fermi died of stomach cancer, at the age of 53. He was aware of the risks that his work on the nuclear pile carried, but he continued working on it, believing in the importance of its results.


Leonardo Fibonacci

Leonardo FibonacciLaonardo Bonacci, (1170 - 1250) also known as Fibonacci, was one of the most talented Italian mathematicians born in Pisa.
Fibonacci became known to the world as a man who introduced and spread the Hindu-Arabic numeral system in Europe through his book Liber Abaci.
A number sequence in which each number is the sum of the previous two, starting with 0 and 1 is called the Fibonacci sequence, though he didn't discover it, but used it in his book Liber Abaci.
The Fibonacci example of the Fibonacci sequence is: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,...and so on.

Galileo Galilei

Galileo GalileiGalileo Galilei ( February 1564 - January 1642) , known as "the father of Modern Science", Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, was born in Pisa.
His contributions include the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter, that were named Galilean moons in his honor, the observation and analysis of sunspots, the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the improving of the compass design.
Galileo was famous for the support for Copernicanism ( the heliocentric cosmology which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe), but it made him very controversial at his time, because the majority of philosophers and astronomers still supported the geocentric cosmology which retained that the Earth was at the center of the universe.
Galileo was denounced to the Roman Inquisition and the Catholic Church condemned heliocentrism as false. After he continued supporting his ideas, Galileo was forced to spend the rest of his life under house arrest.

Giosuè Carducci

Giosuè CarducciGiosuè Carducci (July 1835 - February 1907) was the first Italian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, a year before his death.
Though he wasn't born in Pisa, but in a little town Valdicastello di Pietrasanta nearby, he's important figure of this region and worth to be mentioned here. Carducci graduated in 1856 from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa.
He was a great poet, translator and a teacher. His style was similar to Greek and Roman antiquity, and he often used classical meters such as Horace or Virgil, for example.
His political views, clearly opposite to Christianity and secular power of the Catholic Church were very visible in his poems, such as the controversial "Hymn to Satan".
His later work was very appreciated and awarded with the Nobel Prize.

Keith Haring

WholeWorld in Pisa

Photo credits

Keith Haring (1958-1990) was a young American artist who became famous all over the world with his "Radiant baby", the symbol he used in all his works. In June 1989, a few months before his premature death (at 31), he painted the mural "TuttoMondo" (WholeWorld) in Pisa, on the rear of the Church of S. Antonio, that is his last public work. The Mural, painted on a surface of 180 square meters, represents with its thirty characters peace and harmony in the world.

Keith Haring mural in Pisa