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Celebrated people

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There are numerous celebrated “Udinesi” who, by birth or adoption, are tied to the city in various areas ranging from artistic and cultural fields to scientific ones, in particular we should remember:

Giovanni da Udine:

Giovanni Nani(Nanni), or Giovanni de’ Ricamatori, better known as Giovanni da Udine (Udine, 1487 - Rome, 1561), was an Italian painter, decorator and architect. An important protagonist of figurative culture in Rome, who at the beginning of the sixteenth century began studying in Raffaello’s workshop in 1514, being considered one of the master’s brightest students and collaborators, and according to Vasari, was behind the beautiful still life of musical instruments found at the base of Raffaello’s painting the “Ecstasy of St. Cecilia”. After the Sack of Rome in 1527, he returned to Udine where he also worked as an architect, designing the Clock Tower and working on a few works of monumental transformation of the city and the surrounding countryside. He brought the latest Roman figurative art to Friuli and in particular introduced the trend of "Roman" stucco to Friuli and Veneto. 

During his stay in Udine he directed the reconstruction work of Udine castle, which had been destroyed by the terrible earthquake of 1511. In 1547 he designed an external staircase on the north side of the courtyard which provided access to the central hall. He also designed other works, among which the fountain in front of the church of San Giacomo, in Piazza Matteotti.

Arturo Malignani:

Arturo Malignani (Udine, 4/3/1865 – 15/2/1939) was an Italian entrepreneur and inventor who distinguished himself particularly for his patents in electrical lighting.
Among the first in Italy he developed a production of incandescent lamps, recording a number of patents, including the system for creating a vacuum in the lightbulb and the fast (and less harmful to the workers) production in a series of lightbulbs. Malignani only patented this system in 1894. Italy’s Edison company acquired the patent from Malignani and acted as an intermediary with US-based Edison for patent assignment. When Malignani went to New York, even Thomas Edison himself was amazed by the quality of the young Friulian’s patent. Malignani was also a pioneer in the development of hydroelectric power, and began building thermoelectric and hydroelectric plants on the gaps of the town's canals.

Afro, Dino and Mirko Basaldella:

These three brothers were born in Udine, where Dino remained for almost all of his life. The other too chose to leave, finally reaching Rome where Afro remained until his death in 1976 in a hospital in Zurich, whereas in 1957 Mirko left for Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States, passing away in 1969. It is perhaps because of his being more rooted in his origins and not for the lower quality of his works that make Dino, who died in Udine in 1977, the lesser known of the three. The most celebrated, even at an international level, and the only one to choose the theme of colour, is the painter Afro. Mirko and Dino on the other hand set out along the path of matter and sculpture.

Their artistic conception is honoured by art criticism in the most important European and American collections.

Tina Modotti:

Tina Modotti, born Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti Mondini (Udine, 01/17/1896 - Mexico City, 05/01/1942), was an internationally renowned Italian photographer, activist and actress. She was also a friend of Frida KhaloWeston. Thanks to the opening of a portraiture art studio in Mexico City and a commission to travel to Mexico to take photographs that were to be published in the book, Idols Behind Altars, by Anita Brenner. During this period she was chosen as the "official photographer" of the Mexican muralist movement, immortalising the work of José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. Many of her photos dedicated to flowers were taken at that time. In December of 1929 one of her exhibitions was billed as "The first revolutionary photographic exhibition in Mexico" and was the pinnacle of her career as a photographer. About a year later, she was forced to leave her camera after being deported from Mexico and, with only a few exceptions, took no more photographs in the final twelve years of her life.

Raimondo D'Aronco:

He was an Italian architect, considered one of the most important architects in Italy representing the Liberty period. Whilst teaching, D'Aronco began his professional career as an architect and designed a number of works in Italy, whilst in 1893 he went to Turkey, where he worked and designed for many years. In fact, following the earthquake there in 1894, he was named as chief architect appointed by Abdul Hamid II for the reconstruction of Istanbul.

D’Aronco was also the architect behind the Town Hall in Udine, for which he had already made an initial draft in 1888. A second project was presented in 1909, and a further two solutions were proposed in 1910, from which one was chosen as the final design.

Giambattista Tiepolo: 

He was an Italian painter and engraver, and citizen of the Republic of Venice. He was also one of the greatest painters of eighteenth century Venice. In 1726 it was in Udine that he painted his frescoes on the ceiling of the town’s chapel of the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral; He worked at the castle and at the Patriarchal Palace following a commission by Dionysus Dolfin, Patriarch of Aquileia: the decoration includes scenes from the Old Testament in the vault of the staircase with the Fall of the Rebel Angels surrounded by eight scenes in monochrome of episodes taken from Genesis; he decorated the walls in the long gallery with three episodes; in the Red Room he painted the Judgment of Solomon between figures of prophets, and finally in the Throne Room he carried out portraits of the ancient patriarchs.

Nico Pepe:

Nico Pepe (Udine 1907 - Udine 1987) was an Italian actor and theatre director. In the final part of his career he was also active in television. In addition he was a theatre critic and cinema voice over actor. An actor at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan, he starred in a career of about one hundred and thirty films and the "Nico Pepe" Civic Academy of Dramatic Arts in Udine was named after him. He began working with the Piccolo Teatro of Milan in 1953 where he played the role of Harlequin’s Pantalone, a Servant of Two Masters by Giorgio Strehler. Founder and director of the Teatro Stabile di Torino and among the leaders of the brief experiment of the Stabile Society of Palermo City, he also directed the University theatre in Rome.

Caterina Percoto: 

Catherine Percoto (1812-1887) is one of the fundamental writers of the history of nineteenth-century Italian literature; she is also cited in The Authors of Italian literature: being the first major prose writer of Friulian literature. With regard to her works in Italian, she reflects the works of Manzoni and was a forerunner of Verga, which she presented to the public with a preface to the ‘History of a capinera.’ She was referred to as "the Italian Sand"; Carducci judged her novels as being "pretty strong books that reflect the beauty and goodness of Friuli". Within the heart of Friuli’s countryside, overseeing the work in the fields and the cultivation of the silkworms, she portrayed the stagnant world of poverty of Friuli under Austrian rule in her works, being defined as a “teacher" by Matilde Serao, safeguarding the works of Verga. A writer of short stories, in which she had already imagined a cultural revolution in the field of literature and in women's lives in general at the end of the nineteenth century. " She translated Der Messias by F. Klopstock from the German. Her works include Selected Short Stories, Milano 1880; Published and unpublished Popular novels, Milano 1883; Writings from Friuli, Udine in 1928; Pre’ Poco, Udine 1958; Tales, Florence 1973; Novellas, Bologna 1974; Writings from Friuli, Udine 1988; Prosis Furlanis, Udin 1993.

Carlo Sgorlon:

(Cassacco, 26/7/1930– Udine, 25 /12/2009) He was an Italian writer and winner of over 40 prestigious literary awards, his novels have a recurrent theme of Friulian rural life with its myths, legends and its religiosity, the drama of the two world wars and of the foibe (Karst sinkholes), the stories of emigrants, the difficult cohabitation of different ethnic language groups; often just the past and the roots represent the only elements of the interior restorative world for Sgorlon. "I'll start by saying that I am one of those lucky writers, who according to Balzac’s famous saying, have a province to tell. Lucky because they have roots, culture, history, tradition and a people behind them, which they can recognise themselves in, and from which they can trace the features of their identity. Lucky because they know who they are, they have a habitat, a precise location in the infinite variety of the real world. "

Gaetano Perusini:

Born in Udine on February 24, 1879 from parents of noble origins and patriotic principles. Andrea's father was the Chief Consultant Doctor at Udine’s Civil Hospital and his mother was the daughter of an eminent surgeon from Trieste. He was an Italian doctor who had a major role in the definition of Alzheimer's disease. He attended the most renowned European institutions, including the neuro-pathological laboratory in Munich, at the psychiatric clinic directed by renowned clinical psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin, and while there, met the famous psychiatrists Carl Gustav Jung and Eugen Bleuler, who were affiliated to the Freudian psychoanalytic concept. Kraepelin entrusted the responsibility of the Neuropathology Laboratory to Alois Alzheimer who welcomed Perusini as his assistant. He worked hard, but at the outbreak of World War II, Perusini, following the patriotic spirit that had always dominated his family, enlisted as a volunteer without declaring his background: the army only found out later that he was a medical professor and he was sent to the army hospital in San Floriano del Collio, where on November 28th, 1915 he was hit by shrapnel while rescuing the wounded. Despite his untimely death at just 36 years of age, which made him unable to continue his research, his scientific contribution to the development of the clinical and neuropathological aspects of neurodegenerative dementia cannot be forgotten and he gained the same respect and consideration as his tutor for his work, and it is widely believed that his name has the right to be linked to that of Alzheimer's when defining Alzheimer-Perusini disease.