A tribute to Italy
Great Italian Inventions
 
Countless studies of ancient times reveal an incredible number of technological
achievements developed centuries and even milleniums ago that are still used in our everyday’s life.
One civilisation which contributed more than it’s fair share of innovations was that of Ancient Romans.
You may not realize it but many of the things we all take for granted in everyday’s life have their roots in Rome.
Here are just a few examples.

Roads

CENTRAL HEATING SYSTEM

Roads

Central Heating System

A few well chosen accessories can make all the difference.Winters would be all but unbearable for many of us if we did not have our hard-working boilers and radiators. Would you imagine central heating was already used by the Romans over 2,000 years ago ? The Roman central heating surely worked differently, but the result was the same. A ground level furnace was used to create hot air which circulated beneath a thin floor raised up on pillars of tiles, it was underfloor heating!
Roads

Roads - Circa 500 BC


The old proverb “all roads are leading to Rome” stems from the fact that they originally sort of did, or rather they came from Rome. In Great Britain, there were no road prior to the Roman invasion who created a network of straight, solid highways built on foundations of clay, chalk and gravel with larger flat stones laid on top. Original Roman roads are still intact all around the Mediterranean Basin, and some are still being used.


Expresso Machine

AQUEDUCT

Expresso Machine

Aqueduct - 312 BC

Romans enjoyed public toilets, underground sewage systems, fountains and public baths. None of these innovations would have been possible without the aqueducts. First developed around 312 B.C., these engineering marvels used gravity to transport water along stone lead and concrete pipelines from rivers into city centers. Hundreds of aqueducts eventually sprang up throughout the empire, some of which transported water as far as 60 miles away from the collecting source.

Expresso Machine

Expresso Machine - 1884

Angelo Moriondo presented the first espresso machine, that he build and patented, at the Turin Exhibition in 1884. He was granted a patent in May 1884. His espresso machine was then called «new steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage». While Espresso can now be found around the world, we have no doubt the best ones are still being served in Italy and particularly in Rome.


Triumphal ARC

THE EYES GLASSES

Triumphal ARC

The Eye Glasses - 1280

Salvino D'Armato degli Armati, a native from Florence, is credited as being the inventor of the eyeglass even if it is said that it is actually Salvino D’Armati’s father, Armato who invented it. Either way, the invention now offers corrective benefits to millions of people all over the world. Today, the global leader in eyeglasses is Luxottica, an Italian company that manufactures, among other brands Ray-Ban, Persol, Oackley, Chanel, Ralph Lauren….

Triumphal ARC

Triumphal Arc - 200 BC

Triumphal arches are one of the most influential and distinctive types of architecture associated with ancient Rome. Thought to have been invented by the Romans, the triumphal arch was used to commemorate victories, the death of a member of the imperial family or the accession of a new emperor. Triumphal Arches can be found around the world from Paris to Moscow, Munich, Bucharest, Mexico, London, New York….


THE JEANS

The COMbustion ENGINE

THE JEANS

The Combustion Engine 1851-1852

Late 1851 or early 1852 Eugenio Barsanti, a mathematician and Felice Matteucci, an engineer and mechanic and hydraulics expert partenered on a project to exploit the explosion and expansion of a gaseous mix of hydrogen and atmospheric air to transform part of the energy of such explosions into mechanical energy.

THE JEANS

The Jeans - Circa Late 1600's

The jean fabric was invented in the city of Genoa, Italy and soon appeared in Nimes, France. Gênes, the French word for Genoa, became "jeans". In Nimes, weavers tried to reproduce jean but instead developed a similar twill fabric that became known as denim, from de Nimes, meaning "from Nimes".


Corpus Juris Civilis

CONCRETE

Corpus Juris Civilis

The Concrete - Circa 25 BC

Opus caementicium (Roman concrete) was made from quicklime, pozzolana and an aggregate of pumice. Its widespread use in many Roman structures was a key part of what is now known as the Roman Architectural Revolution. One of the most impressive applications was the construction of the 4535 metric ton, 6.4 meter thick dome at the Pantheon in Rome, which can still be visited. The recent discoveries in Cesaera, Israel, of a Roman port proved that the Romans where also mastering Hydraulic Concrete.
Corpus Juris Civilis

Corpus Juris Civilis - 450 BC


Subpoena, habeas corpus, pro bono, affidavit - all these terms derive from the Roman legal system, which dominated Western law and government for centuries. The basis for early Roman law code that formed an essential part of the constitution during the Republican era. First adopted around 450 B.C, Roman law remains hugely influential and still reflected in the civil laws of several world's nations.


The LATIN ALPHABET

THE ANEMOMETER

The LATIN ALPHABET

The Anemometer - 1450

The Anemometer was developped by Leon Battista Alberti in 1450. The anemometer has changed a little since its development in the 15th century. The same invention is still being used today in the maritime, weather forecast and aviation worlds to measure the strength of the wind, even if it is not much of a concern when onboard a Canados !
The LATIN ALPHABET

The Latin Alphabet - Circa 700 BC


The Latin alphabet, also known as the Roman alphabet, is an evolution from the visually similar version of the Greek Alphabet. The Etruscans adopted and modified the Cumaean Greek alphabet.The Etruscans adopted and modified by the ancient romans to write the latin language becoming the foundation of many languages worldwide.


THE CARBURETOR

THE HELICOPTER

THE CARBURETOR

TheHelicopter - 1930


Even if the original vision of the helicopter is to be credited to Leonardo da Vinci's 15th Century Aerial Screw, and despite claims from Russians and Americans, they did not invent this flying machine. It is Corradino D'Ascanio's bladed rotating flying machine called the D'AT3 that set the standard for helicopters to come. He also created the first moped engine for Ferdinando Innocenti, and then went on to help Enrico Piaggio produce the original Vespa in 1946.
THE CARBURETOR

The Carburetor - 1876


The carburetor was invented by Luigi De Cristoforis, in 1876. The first carburetor was then developed by another Italian, Enrico Bernardi at the University of Padova in 1882, for his Motrice Pia, the first petrol combustion one cylinder engine. Carburators are still being used in lots of 2 and 4 strokes engines your tender is powered with...


TOILETS

MOPEDS

TOILETS

The Moped - 1946

It is in 1946 that the central office for inventions, models and makes of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Florence, delivered Piaggio with a patent for a "motocycle of a rational complexity of organs and elements combined with a frame with mudguards and a casing covering the whole mechanical part". This design became the Vespa, one of the most popular mopped ever.
TOILETS

Toilets - Circa 200 BC


In Rome, street corners were equipped with large pots for people to urinate into so that liquid could be collected. In some multi-story buildings, which we still call condominium, a system of pipes was channelled down to ground level where excrements were collected to be used as fertiliser. Ancient Roman public bathrooms consisted of long stone benches with holes every few feet for people to seat. Beneath the toilets flowed water flushing away the waste into a sewage system called the Cloaca Maxima. Some part of the antique Roman sewage system is still being used today in some areas of the city.


THE BANKING SYSTEM

THE CARDAN SHAFT

THE BANKING SYSTEM

The Cardan Shaft - Circa 1560

Gerolamo Cardano was considered the greatest mathematician of the Renaissance. He was one of the foundation of probability and invented several devices including the combination lock, the gimbal and the Cardan shaft, which is still used today in the engine room of your yacht...

THE BANKING SYSTEM

The Banking System - 1149

The banking system and organization we are using today was created with the bank of San Giorgio opened for business in Genoa, Italy, in 1149. Genoa was at that time one of the world's wealthiest city due to it's intense maritime trade developments. The world's oldest bank still in activity is also Italian. It is the Monte Paschi di Siena, Toscana.


THE PIZZERIA

Milestones

THE PIZZERIA

Milestones - Circa 300 BC

Milestones were originally made from granite, marble, or whatever local stone was available. They were widely used by Roman Empire road builders. The first Roman milestones appeared on the Appian way. At the centre of Rome, the <> was erected to mark the presumed centre of the empire. Romans came up with this invention to measure the distances of the roads. The Golden Milestone inspired the <> in Washington, D.C., intended as the point from which all road distances in the United States should be reckoned.
THE PIZZERIA

The Pizzeria - 1738


Established in 1738 as a stand for peddlers, Antica Pizzeria in Naples is considered the world's first pizzeria when it was opened as a restaurant in 1830. They would make pizzas in wood-fire ovens and bring it onto the street. The pizzas were generally simple, with toppings such as oil and garlic.


THE PIANO

THE GALLEONS

THE PIANO

The Galleons - Circa 1500


Originally, this new type of sailing ship were built at the beginning of the 16th century. It was called Gallioni and used to protect Venice against pirates. By the second half of the century Galleons were already seen around the Mediterranean. Their architecture gave unprecedented level of stability in the water, making them faster and more maneuverable.

THE PIANO

The Piano - 1698


Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the modern piano. He was employed by Ferdinando de Medici, Grand Prince of Tuscany, as the Keeper of the Instruments. He was an expert harpsichord maker, and was well acquainted with body of knowledge on stringed keyboard instruments.


THE MP3

THE DESKTOP COMPUTER

THE MP3

The Desktop Computer - 1964


It is good to remind neither IBM nor Apple invented the desktop computer. It was invented by Pier Giorgo Perroto and produced by Italian manufacturer Olivetti. The Programma 101 was the first commercial <> and was presented to the public at the 1964 New York World's Fair while production started in 1965. The Programma 101 was priced at $3,200. About 44,000 units were sold, primarily int the US.

THE MP3

The mp3/mpeg - 1988


Leonardo Chiariglione and his team at the Moving Picture Expert Group is the inventor of the MP3 format. Originally called MPEG and later known as MP3, both of which are things we couldn't have DVD and satellite television without.


THE BAROMETER

Bound BOOKS

THE BAROMETER

Bound Books - Circa 50 BC


For most of human history, literature took the form of unwieldy clay tablets and scrolls. The Romans streamlined the medium by creating the codex, a stack of bound pages that is recognized as the earliest incarnation of the book. The first codices were made of bound wax tablets, bit these were later replaced by animal skin parchment that more clearly resembled pages.

THE BAROMETER

The Barometer - 1643


Evangelista Torricelli credited with the inventing the barometer in 1643, but historical documentation also suggest Gasparo Berti, an italian mathematician and astronomer, unintentionally built a water barometer sometimes between 1640 and 1643. This invention was, and still is widely used int the maritime world.


The Shopping Mall

THE RADIO

The Shopping Mall

The Shopping Mall - Circa 100/110 BC

Believe it or not, the concept of the world's first Shopping Center is not American! It appeared in ancient Rome. The earliest example of public shopping mall was the Trajan's Market built by Apollodorus off Damascus. Thi semi-circular building can be visited today and visitors can clearly see the line up of shops in this multiple story building located in the center of Rome.
The Shopping Mall

The Radio

Even if James Clerk Maxwell showed mathematically that electromagnetic waves could propagate through free space and the effects of electromagnetic waves were observed before and after Maxwell's work by many inventors, it is Guglielmo Marconi, who in late 1894 began pursuing the idea of building a wireless system based on Hertzian waves. Marconi gained a patent on the system in 1896 and developed it into a commercial communication system.

Typewriter - 1575

In 1575 printmaker, Francesco Rampazzetto, invented the «scrittura tattile», a machine to impress letters on papers. In 1802 Italian Agostino Fantoni developed a particular typewriter to enable his blind sister to write while it is in 1808 that the typewriter as we were to know it was invented by Pellegrino Turri.

The Calendar – 46 BC

Without the Romans we would not even know today’s date...or, maybe we would but it would be called something different. The Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC splited the year for the first time into 365 days, divided into 12 months, with a leap day added to February every four years. As at Canados, sticking to our contractual delivery dates is a principle, we know exactly the number of days in a month…

Electrochemical Battery - 1800

Alessandro Volta build and described the first electrochemical battery, also known as the Voltaic pile, in 1800. It was made of a stack of copper and zinc plates, separated by brine-soaked paper disks, that could produce a steady current for a considerable length of time.

The Carbon Paper - 1801

It might sound like a strange thing to the young generations, but this invention has been used worldwide for almost two centuries. In 1801 Pellegrino Turri invented the carbon paper to provide the ink for his mechanical typing machine, one of the first typewriters.

The Jacuzzi - 1963

An Italian immigrant to the United States of America, Enzo Jacuzzi, invented the Jacuzzi whirlpool bath for his 15-month-old son who was born with rheumatoid arthritis. He developed a pump that enabled a whirlpool to be created in a bath as a hydrotherapeutic device for pain relief. The jacuzzi we will install on your boat did not change much in its conception since then.

The University - 1088

Almost 1000 years old, the University of Bologna is the world’s oldest university in the world. It is still open to these days and has been continuously since 1088. The university was made famous for its teaching of canon and civil law, and later became central in the development of medieval Roman law.

The Newspaper - 1556

It is in Venice that the government realised there was a need for accessible information that could be rotated around towns, cities and further afield. Thus, it started to put together a monthly publication called the Notizie Scritte, a handwritten newsletter that reported political, military and economic news.

The Casino - 1638

The first known gambling house, later called casino, that was comparable business as we know it today was the Ridotto, established in Venice, in 1638 by the Great Council of Venice to control gambling during the carnival. It was closed in 1770 as the city felt it was impoverishing the population.

Eau De Cologne - 1708

The first Eau de Cologne was a spirit-citrus perfume launched in Cologne in 1709 by Giovanni Maria Farina, an Italian perfume maker from Santa Maria Maggiore Valle Vigezzo. He wanted to invent a fragrance that reminded him of an «Italian spring morning after the rain». He named his fragrance Eau de Cologne, in honour of his new hometown.

The Denture - Circa 700 BC

It as early as the 7th century BC, that traces of the first denture were discovered. The Etruscans, the inhabitants of a region now called Toscany, made partial dentures out of human or other animal teeth and bones fastened together with gold bands.

The Opera - 1597

Rome born Jacopo Peri was a composer and singer whose carrier span between the Renaissance and Baroque epoca, and is the inventor of the Opera. He wrote the first opera, Dafne in 1597, and also Euridice in 1600 that is still played nowadays.

The Paddle Boat - Circa 1490

Centuries before Mark Twain wrote about paddleboats on the Mississippi River, Leonardo Da Vinci applied his knowledge of mechanical engineering to build a craft that was fast and easy to navigate. In this design, sailors worked the pedals to turn rotating paddles and move the boat rapidly over the water.
  Electroplating, a manufacturing technique invented by Luigi Brugnatelli in 1805.
Liposuction, medical procedure invented by DrGiorgio Fischer in 1974.
Medical Thermometer, invented by Sanctorius in the early 1600s.
Epidemiology, a discipline invented by Girolamo Fracastoro in the mid 16th C.
Montessori education developed by Maria Montessori in 1907.
Nitroglycerin, first synthesized by Ascanio Sobrero in 1847.
Parachute, Leonardo da Vinci - 1485.
Polypropylene was discovered by Giulio Natta and began to be manufactured in 1957.
Perspective Linear was first invented by Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi, in Florence.
Science academy, first scientific society was founded in Naples in 1560 by Giambattista della Porta.
Quick release skewer attaching a wheelto a bicycle was invented by Tullio Campagnolo in 1927.
Stem cells as vectors for Gene Therapy. In 1992 Doctor Claudio Bordignon performed the first procedure of gene therapy.
Tontine a form of life insurance developed by Lorenzo De Tonti in 1653.
Watermark. This medieval innovation was first introduced in Fabriano, Italy, in 1282.
Welfare. The earliest form of welfare, the lex frumentaria instituted dates back to 122 B.C., a law that ordered
Rome’s government to supply its citizens with allotments of cheaply priced grain.
 
Some Great Italian People
Italy and Rome in particular were the birth place of some of the world's most famous people.
Some of them shaped the world while some other defined theories or inventions that we are still using.

Leornardo da Vinci

Julius Caesar

Leornardo da Vinci

Julis Caesar

He was a remarquable politician and general. He was instrumental provoking a series of events that led to transform the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. In 60 BC, he led a political alliance that dominated the public life for several years. Caesar’s victories in the Gallic War completed by 51 BC, extended Rome's territory as far as England and Germany. In 49 BC he illegally entered Roman Italy under arms and Caesar’s victory in the civil war he ignited put him in an unrivaled position of power and influence. After assuming control, he began a program of social and governmental reforms, including the creation of the Julian calendar. In 44 BC, he was killed by a group of rebellious senators led by Marcus Junius Brutus.
Leornardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci


Born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci was the epitome of a “Renaissance man.” Possessor of a curious mind and keen intellect, da Vinci studied the laws of science and nature, which greatly influenced his work as a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, military engineer and draftsman. His ideas and body of work - which includes "Virgin of the Rocks," "The Last Supper" and "Mona Lisa" - have influenced countless artists and made da Vinci the greatest inventor and visionary of all times..


Christophorus Columbus

Galileo

Born February 15, 1564, in Pisa, Gelileo Galilei was a mathematics professor who made pioneering observations of nature with long-lasting implications for the study of physics. He also constructed a telescope and supported the Copernican theory, which supports a sun-centered solar system. Galileo was accused twice of heresy by the church for his beliefs, and wrote books on his ideas. He died in Arcetri, Italy, on January 8, 1642.
Christophorus Columbus

Christopher Columbus


Explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in the Republic of Genoa, Italy. His first voyage into the Atlantic Ocean in 1476 nearly cost him his life. Columbus participated in several other expeditions to Africa. In 1492, Columbus left Spain in the Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Niña along side. He has been credited for opening up the Americas to European colonization.


Guglielmo Marconi

Monica Bellucci

Guglielmo Marconi

Monica Bellucci

Born September 30, 1964, in Città di Castello, Monica Bellucci started modeling as a teenager. She soon moved on to acting, appearing in big-screen projects like Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Bellucci continued to demonstrate her talents with acclaimed roles in such films as L'Appartmente (1996) and Malèna (2000). In 2003, she appeared in the sci-fi hits Matrix. Bellucci has continued to land interesting roles, including James Bond movie Spectre.

Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi

Born in 1874, Guglielmo Marconi was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and inventor credited with the groundbreaking work necessary for all future radio technology. Through his experiments in wireless telegraphy, Marconi developed the first effective system of radio communication. In 1899, he founded the Marconi Telegraph Company. In 1901, he successfully sent wireless signals across the Atlantic. Marconi shared with Karl Braun the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics. He died in Rome in 1937.


Giuseppe Verdi

Marco Polo

Giuseppe Verdi

Marco Polo

Marco Polo was born in 1254, in Venice, Italy. He traveled extensively with his family, journeying from Europe to Asia from 1271 to 1295. He remained in China for 17 of those years. Around 1292, he left China, acting as consort along the way to a Mongol princess who was being sent to Persia. His book "Il Milione" describes his travels and experiences and influenced later adventurers and merchants.

Giuseppe Verdi

Guiseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi was born in Italy in 1813, prior to Italian unification. Verdi produced many successful operas, including La Traviata, Falstaff and Aida, and became known for his skill in creating melodies and his profound use of theatrical effect. Additionally, his rejection of the traditional Italian opera for integrated scenes and unified acts earned him fame. Verdi died on January 27, 1901, in Milan, Italy.


Amerigo Vespucci

Michelangelo

Amerigo Vespucci

Michelangelo

Michelangelo was born March 6, 1475, in Caprese. Born to a family of moderate means in the banking business, Michelangelo became an apprentice to a painter before studying sculpture. What followed was a remarkable career as an artist in the Italian Renaissance, recognized in his own time for his artistic virtuosity. His works include the "David" and "Pieta" statues and the ceiling paintings of Rome's Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo lived most of his life in Rome, where he died in 1564, at age 88.
Amerigo Vespucci

Amerigo Vespucci


Explorer Amerigo Vespucci was born March 9, 1451, (some scholars say 1454) in Florence. On May 10, 1497, he embarked on his first voyage. On his third and most successful voyage, he discovered present-day Rio de Janeiro and Rio de la Plata. Believing he had discovered a new continent, he called South America the New World. In 1507, America was named after him. He died of malaria in Seville, Spain, on February 22, 1512.


Antonio Vivaldi

Marcus Aurelius

Antonio Vivaldi

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was born on April 26, 121 and was chosen by Emporer Hadrian to be his eventual successor. In 161, Aurelius took control of the Roman Empire along with his brother Verus. War and disease threatened Rome on all sides. Aurelius held his territory, but was weakened as a ruler after the death of his brother Verus. His son Commodus later became co-ruler in 177, only three years before Aurelius died on March 17, 180.
Antonio Vivaldi

Antonio Vivaldi


Born on March 4, 1678, in Venice, Italy, Antonio Vivaldi was ordained as a priest though he instead chose to follow his passion for music. A prolific composer who created hundreds of works, he became renowned for his concertos in Baroque style, becoming a highly influential innovator in form and pattern. He was also known for his operas, including Argippo and Bajazet. He died on July 28, 1741.


Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870, in Chiaravalle, Italy. In 1907 she was placed in charge of the Casa dei Bambini school. By 1925, more than 1,000 Montessori schools had opened in the United States. By 1940 the Montessori movement had faded, but it was revived in the 1960s. During World War II, Montessori developed Education for Peace in India, and earned two Nobel Peace Prize nominations. She died May 6, 1952, in Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands.

Giorgio Armani

Born on July 11, 1934, in Piacenza, Italy, Giorgio Armani is an iconic clothing designer who has expanded his empire to include restaurants and hotels. His popularity skyrocketed in America in the 1980s when his men's “power suits” appeared frequently on the television series Miami Vice and in the 1980 film American Gigolo, which starred Richard Gere in Armani's signature suit.

Luciano Pavarotti

Born on October 12, 1935, on the outskirts of Modena, tenor Luciano Pavarotti made his debut at the Teatro Reggio Emilia in 1961, performing as "Rodolfo" in La Boheme. He then made his international debut at the Royal Opera House in London in 1963. Pavarotti went on to become a hugely popular and internationally known opera star, achieving a large following due to his recordings and television appearances, and ultimately helping expand the popularity of opera worldwide. He passed away in Modena in 2007, at the age of 71.

Sophia Loren

Italian actress Sophia Loren was born in Rome September 20, 1934. Raised in poverty, she began her film career in 1951 and came to be regarded as one of the worlds most beautiful women. Loren won the Best Actress Academy Award for the film Two Women in 1961 and an Academy Honorary Award in 1991. Married to producer Carlo Ponti for 50 years until his death in 2007, Loren lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

Giovanni da Verrazzano

Giovanni da Verrazzano was born around 1485 near Florence. Around 1507, he began pursuing a maritime career, and in the 1520s, he was sent by King Francis I of France to explore the East Coast of North America to open a route to the Pacific. He made landfall near what would be Cape Fear, North Carolina. Verrazzano eventually discovered New York Harbor, which now has a bridge named after the explorer. After returning to Europe, Verrazzano made two more voyages to the Americas. On the second, in 1528, he was killed and eaten by the natives of one of the Lower Antilles, probably in Guadeloupe.

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari was born February 18, 1898 in Modena, Italy. At the age of 10 he witnessed Felice Nazzaro's win at the circuit of Bologna in 1908, an event that was to inspire him to become a race car driver. Ferrari started searching for a job in the car industry and started as test-driver for C.M.N. (Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali), a Milan-based car-maker. He was later promoted race car driver and made his competitive debut in the 1919. In 1920 Ferrari left C.M.N. to race for Alfa Romeo. In 1924 Ferrari won the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, a success that encouraged Alfa Romeo to offer him a chance to race in much more prestigious competitions. Ferrari continued racing until 1932, before he left Alfa Romeo to found Scuderia Ferrari.

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