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UNH Professor Lists Top 10 Italians in History

Release Date:
9/24/2013 9:00 AM
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Stephen Spignesi, features Stephen Spignesi

Sept. 24, 2013

WEST HAVEN, CONN. -- If Columbus Day has you thinking about Italians, consider this: the top 10 Italians in history have made contributions to science, the arts, mathematics, meteorology,  human rights, and maybe even discovered America.

Stephen J. Spignesi, a practitioner in residence in English at the University of New Haven and author of more than 55 books, including “The Italian 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Cultural, Scientific, and Political Figures Past and Present,” says some of the 100 are not as well-known as the Sopranos, the Goodfellas and the Godfather, but their contributions to humankind have been critically important – and lasting. 

Spignesi will speak about his book at UNH’s Marvin K. Peterson Library on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m.  The talk is free and open to the public. 

Among the topics Spignesi will discuss is his list of the top 10 Italians of all time, as follows: 

  1. Galileo Galilei, physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher;
  2. Christopher  Columbus, maritime explorer who discovered or rediscovered America;
  3. Guglielmo Marconi, inventor, known for his pioneering work on long distance radio transmission;
  4. Enrico Fermi, physicist, best known for his work on  nuclear power and nuclear fission;
  5. Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta, invention of the battery;
  6. Leonardo Pisano Bigollo Fibonacci, mathematician best known to the modern world for [ the spreading of the Hindu–Arabic numeral system in Europe;
  7. Evangelista Torricelli, physicist and mathematician who invented the barometer;
  8. Filippo Mazzei, a physician and a promoter of the idea that “all men are created equal”;
  9. Michelangelo di Lodovico, sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer and the man responsible for the Sistine Chapel;
  10. Leonardo di da Vinci, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer, and the defining man of the Renaissance.

And in case you’re wondering, Rudolph Guiliani, attorney and former New York City mayor, ranks as number 100.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University operates a satellite campus in Tuscany, Italy, and offers programs at several locations throughout Connecticut and in New Mexico. UNH provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. The University enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide, and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.