Famous Italian Intellectuals & Academics

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 1 
Marcus Aurelius
(Philosopher)
Marcus Aurelius
6
Birthdate: April 26, 0121
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: March 17, 0180

Marcus Aurelius played an important role in the Roman Empire. A Stoic philosopher, Marcus was part of the Five Good Emperors and the last emperor of the Pax Romana—a 200-year-long period of relative peace in the Roman Empire. Also a writer, his work Meditations is regarded by many as one of the greatest works of philosophy.

 2 
Niccolò Machiavelli
(Diplomat & Philosopher Best Known for His Political Treatise 'The Prince')
Niccolò Machiavelli
20
Birthdate: May 3, 1469
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: June 22, 1527
Italian Renaissance philosopher, diplomat, and author Niccolò Machiavelli is remembered for his work The Prince. He believed that the end or the intention behind any action justifies the action. He gave rise to the term Machiavellianism, which signifies the use of deceit and treachery to achieve one’s goals. 
 3 
Umberto Eco
(Medievalist, Philosopher and Author of 'The Name of the Rose' and 'Foucault's Pendulum')
Umberto Eco
9
Birthdate: January 5, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Alessandria, Italy
Died: February 19, 2016

Italian novelist Umberto Eco is best remembered for his novels The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum. He also taught at the University of Bologna and had released quite a few children’s books and translations. He was also known for his work on semiotics and medieval studies.

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 4 
Antonio Gramsci
(Italian Philosopher Best Known for His Theory of 'Cultural Hegemony')
Antonio Gramsci
7
Birthdate: January 22, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ales, Italy
Died: April 27, 1937

Antonio Gramsci was an Italian politician, journalist, philosopher, linguist, and writer. A founding member of the Communist Party of Italy, Gramsci went on to serve as the leader of the party before he was arrested by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime. Since his death, Antonio Gramsci has been the subject of several plays and films.

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 5 
Vilfredo Pareto
(Economist, Writer, Philosopher, Sociologist, University teacher)
Vilfredo Pareto
4
Birthdate: July 15, 1848
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris
Died: August 19, 1923

A qualified civil engineer, Vilfredo Pareto had initially worked for the railways and the ironworks. However, he gradually deviated to philosophy, sociology, and politics and gained fame for his application of math to economic issues and his introduction of Pareto efficiency. Mind and Society remains his best-known work.

 6 
Mario Draghi
(Economist, Banker, University teacher)
Mario Draghi
6
Birthdate: September 3, 1947
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rome

The son of a banker father, Italian economist Mario Draghi initially served as the president of the European Central Bank and the Bank of Italy governor, and is the current prime minister of Italy. The media named him Super Mario for efficiently handling the Eurozone debt crisis.

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 7 
Giordano Bruno
(Philosopher & Mathematician Known For His Cosmological Theories)
Giordano Bruno
4
Birthdate: 1548
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nola, Italy
Died: February 17, 1600

Giordano Bruno was an Italian philosopher, friar, mathematician, cosmological theorist, poet, and Hermetic occultist. Best remembered for his cosmological theories, Bruno insisted that the universe could have no center as it is infinite. In 2004, Herbert Steffen founded the Giordano Bruno Foundation in Bruno's honor.

 8 
Anselm of Canterbury
(Benedictine Monk, Philosopher and Archbishop of Canterbury (1093 - 1109))
Anselm of Canterbury
6
Birthdate: 1033 AD
Birthplace: Aosta, Italy
Died: April 21, 1109

Owing to his quality classical education, Anselm of Canterbury became one of the finest Latinists of his time. As Archbishop of Canterbury, he resisted the English kings and was exiled. He is now remembered as a significant figure in the Investiture Controversy, which pitted the king against the pope.

 9 
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
(Roman Senator, Magister Officiorum, Historian and Philosopher)
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
4
Birthdate: 0477 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: October 23, 0524

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius was a Roman senator, consul, and philosopher of the early 6th century. He worked under the Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great, who later imprisoned and killed him. In jail, Boethius wrote his Consolation of Philosophy, which is considered a seminal treatise on death, fortune, and other issues. He also translated the works of Plato and Aristotle.  

 10 
Suetonius
(Historian)
Suetonius
5
Birthdate: 0069 AD
Birthplace: Rome
Died: 0122 AD

Suetonius was a Roman historian who lived and worked during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire. Many of his works have been lost, and the most important of his surviving works is a set of biographies of 12 successive Roman rulers, from Julius Caesar to Domitian. He was a close friend of senator Pliny the Younger.

 11 
Gregory of Nazianzus
(Theologian and the Most Accomplished Rhetorical Stylist of the Patristic Age)
Gregory of Nazianzus
3
Birthdate: 0329 AD
Birthplace: Nazianzus, Cappadocia, Turkey
Died: January 24, 0390

Gregory of Nazianzus was a theologian and Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely regarded as the most renowned and talented rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. Much of Gregory of Nazianzus' theological work continues to have a significant impact on modern theologians. 

 12 
Giorgio Agamben
(Philosopher)
Giorgio Agamben
8
Birthdate: April 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
 13 
St Francis of Assisi
(Founder of the Franciscans and One of the Most Venerated Figures in Christianity)
St Francis of Assisi
5
Birthdate: 1181 AD
Birthplace: Assisi, Italy
Died: October 3, 1226

An Italian Catholic friar, deacon, mystic, and preacher, St Francis of Assisi was the founder of the men's Order of Friars Minor and the women's Order of Saint Clare. He arranged for the first Christmas live nativity scene in 1223. Also known as Francesco, he is one of the most venerated religious figures in Christianity.

 14 
Diodorus Siculus
(Historian)
Diodorus Siculus
3
Birthdate: 0090 BC
Birthplace: Agira
Died: 0030 BC

Diodorus Siculus was an ancient Greek historian known for writing the monumental universal history, Bibliotheca Historica. The original series consisted of 40 books, out of which 15 survive intact. In his own work, it is mentioned that he was born in Agyrium in Sicily. Exact details about his personal life are not available.  

 15 
Cesare Lombroso
(Criminologist, Phrenologist, Physician)
Cesare Lombroso
4
Birthdate: November 6, 1835
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Verona, Italy
Died: October 19, 1909

Cesare Lombroso was an Italian criminologist, phrenologist, and physician. He founded the Italian School of Positivist Criminology at the end of the 19th century. Initially an army surgeon, he later became a professor of forensic medicine and hygiene. His works drew from the concepts of physiognomy, degeneration theory, and psychiatry. Later in life, be became interested in spirituality.

 16 
Thomas Aquinas
(Italian Theologian & Philosopher)
Thomas Aquinas
4
Birthdate: January 25, 1225
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Roccasecca, Italy
Died: March 7, 1274
Dominican friar and Catholic priest Thomas Aquinas was also a Doctor of the Church. He tried to mingle Aristotelian philosophy and Christianity. His works, including Summa Theologica and Disputed Questions on Truth, and his views on the Scriptures have been studied as prominent texts on theology, philosophy, and canon law.
 17 
Zeno of Elea
(Philosopher)
Zeno of Elea
4
Birthdate: 0495 BC
Birthplace: Velia, Italy
Died: 0430 BC
 18 
Cesare Beccaria
(One of the Greatest Thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment Known for His Treatise 'On Crimes and Punishments')
Cesare Beccaria
4
Birthdate: March 15, 1738
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: November 28, 1794

Cesare Beccaria was an 18th-century Italian criminologist, philosopher, jurist, and politician. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment. He is still remembered for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764), a pioneering work in the field of penology. He is considered the father of modern criminal law. 

 19 
Giambattista Vico
(Italian Philosopher Best Known for His 'Verum Factum' Principle)
Giambattista Vico
3
Birthdate: June 23, 1668
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Naples, Italy
Died: January 23, 1744

Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico is regarded as a pioneer of what is now known as cultural anthropology, or ethnology. He brought together history and the social sciences in his work Scienza nuova. A poor bookseller’s son, he studied by candlelight but grew up to be a major Counter-Enlightenment figure.

 20 
Giacomo Leopardi
(One of the Most Radical and Challenging Thinkers of the 19th Century)
Giacomo Leopardi
3
Birthdate: June 29, 1798
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Recanati, Italy
Died: June 14, 1837

Giacomo Leopardi was one of the greatest lyric poets of the 19th century. Born into a noble family, he mastered several languages and wrote many works by 16, in spite of suffering from a cerebrospinal ailment. Remembered for his iconic works such as A Silvia, he died during a cholera epidemic.

 21 
Sallust
(Historian, Politician)
Sallust
3
Birthdate: 0086 BC
Birthplace: Amiternum, Italy
Died: 0035 BC

Sallust was a Roman historian and politician who hailed from an Italian plebeian family.  He was a popularis and a vehement opponent of the old Roman aristocracy. Later in his career, he became a partisan of Julius Caesar. He is considered the earliest known Latin-language Roman historian with surviving works to his name. 

 22 
Julius Evola
(Philosopher)
Julius Evola
5
Birthdate: May 19, 1898
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: June 11, 1974

Julius Evola was an Italian poet, philosopher, painter, esotericist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, and occultist. Evola is extremely popular in fringe circles due to his supernatural, magical, and metaphysical beliefs. Due to his traditionalist views on gender, which advocated a purely patriarchal society, Evola is regarded as one of Italy’s most influential fascist racists of all time.

 23 
Giovanni Gentile
(Philosopher)
Giovanni Gentile
3
Birthdate: May 30, 1875
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Castelvetrano, Italy
Died: April 15, 1944
 24 
Bonaventure
(Italian Catholic Franciscan, Bishop, Theologian and Philosopher)
Bonaventure
3
Birthdate: 1221 AD
Birthplace: Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy
Died: July 15, 1274

Bonaventure was an Italian philosopher, scholastic theologian, and Franciscan. A prominent philosopher, Bonaventure wrote on various subjects and his writings are considered substantial. Bonaventure, who served as the Cardinal Bishop of Albano, was canonized by Pope Sixtus IV on 14 April 1482.

 25 
Giovanni Battista Piranesi
(Italian Classical Archaeologist, Architect, and Artist)
Giovanni Battista Piranesi
3
Birthdate: October 4, 1720
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: November 9, 1778

Italian architect, artist, and archaeologist Giovanni Battista Piranesi is best known for his 16-print series name The Prisons. His remarkable etchings of the famous landmarks of Rome exhibited his unique etching technique, which involved contrasts of light and shade. He made about 2,000 plates throughout his life.

 26 
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
(Philosopher)
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
3
Birthdate: February 24, 1463
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Mirandola, Italy
Died: November 17, 1494
 27 
Romano Prodi
(Economist, Politician, University teacher)
Romano Prodi
3
Birthdate: August 9, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Scandiano

Former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi is also known as “The Professor,” having served as an economics professor at the University of Bologna. The Olive Tree Coalition leader has also previously worked with Goldman Sachs. He has also led the European Commission of the EU.

 28 
Hippolytus of Rome
(Theologian, Martyr and Bishop of Pontus)
Hippolytus of Rome
3
Birthdate: 0170 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: 0235 AD

Remembered as the first antipope, Hippolytus of Rome is believed to have gone against the Roman popes and led a group against the bishop of Rome. Before dying as a martyr, though, he reconciled with Pontian and called out to his supporters to reunite with Rome.

 29 
Mariana Mazzucato
(Economist)
Mariana Mazzucato
3
Birthdate: June 16, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rome, Italy

Award-winning economist and University College London professor Mariana Mazzucato was born to a physicist father in Italy. She has also held academic posts at institutes such as the University of Sussex. She is best known for her research on economic innovation and has penned books such as The Entrepreneurial State.

 30 
Saints Methodius
(Byzantine Christian Theologians and Missionaries)
Saints Methodius
4
Birthdate: 0827 AD
Birthplace: Thessaloniki
Died: February 14, 0869
 31 
Benedetto Croce
(Philosopher, Politician, Art historian, Writer, Literary critic)
Benedetto Croce
3
Birthdate: February 25, 1866
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Pescasseroli
Died: November 20, 1952
 32 
Maria Gaetana Agnesi
(First Woman to Write a Mathematics Handbook and the First Woman Appointed as a University Mathematics Professor)
Maria Gaetana Agnesi
3
Birthdate: May 16, 1718
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: January 9, 1799

Italian mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi, daughter of an affluent silk trader, was well-versed in a number of languages as a child. Most of her work was regarding algebra, calculus, and the Witch of Agnesi. She was also the first female academic to write a math book and to teach math.

 33 
Antonio Negri
(Italian Spinozistic-Marxist, Sociologist and Political Philosopher)
Antonio Negri
3
Birthdate: August 1, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Padua, Italy

Italian philosopher Antonio Negri has donned many hats, from teaching law at the University of Padua to being part of the Italian parliament. An Autonomism leader, he was accused of being part of the left-wing militant organization Red Brigades and later fled to Paris. Empire is one of his best works.

 34 
Elena Cornaro Piscopia
(Philosopher)
Elena Cornaro Piscopia
4
Birthdate: June 5, 1646
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: July 26, 1684
 35 
Nicholas of Cusa
(German Mathematician and Philosopher)
Nicholas of Cusa
3
Birthdate: 1401 AD
Birthplace: Bernkastel-Kues, Germany
Died: August 11, 1464

Nicholas of Cusa was a German mathematician, astronomer, jurist, theologian, and philosopher. One of the first supporters of Renaissance humanism in Germany, Nicholas of Cusa made significant political and spiritual contributions in European history. He is remembered for his efforts to reform the universal and Roman Church.

 36 
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
(Economist, Politician, Banker)
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1920
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Livorno
Died: September 16, 2016

Former Italian president and prime minister Carlo Azeglio Ciampi had a major role in introducing Italy to the euro. He had been the governor of the Bank of Italy for 14 years and had held several portfolios, including the ministry of treasury. He was also a World War II veteran.

 37 
Giovanni Battista Belzoni
(Explorer, Antiquarian, Egyptologist, Archaeologist, Novelist, Travel writer)
Giovanni Battista Belzoni
3
Birthdate: November 5, 1778
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Padua
Died: December 3, 1823

Giovanni Battista Belzoni was an Italian explorer and archaeologist of Egyptian antiquities. A pioneer in the field of Egyptian archaeology, Belzoni was the first person to enter the famous Pyramid of Khafre. Belzoni is also credited with unblocking the entrance of the temple at Abu Simbel and discovering the tomb of Seti I, which is referred to as Belzoni's Tomb. 

 38 
Franco Modigliani
(Italian-American economist and the recipient of the 1985 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.)
Franco Modigliani
3
Birthdate: June 10, 1918
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: September 25, 2003

Best known for co-developing the Modigliani–Miller theorem, Nobel Prize-winning economist Franco Modigliani initially studied law. Son of a Jewish physician in Italy, he fled the fascist rule of his country and moved to the U.S., and later served MIT as a professor. He also laid down the life-cycle hypothesis.

 39 
Giuseppe Peano
(Italian Mathematician and Glottologist)
Giuseppe Peano
3
Birthdate: August 27, 1858
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cuneo, Italy
Died: April 20, 1932

Remembered as the founder of symbolic logic, Giuseppe Peano laid down the symbols of union and intersection of sets. He also worked on geometric calculus and taught at institutes such as the University of Turin. His works are written in a simplified version of Latin. He was knighted by Italy.

 40 
Pope Gregory I
(Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604)
Pope Gregory I
4
Birthdate: 0540 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: March 12, 0604

Pope Gregory I served as the bishop of Rome from 590 until his death in 604. He is best remembered for sending the Gregorian Mission to Britain, which was successful in converting the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. He is also credited with developing the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts and is widely regarded as its de facto author.

 41 
Joachim of Fiore
(Theologian)
Joachim of Fiore
3
Birthdate: 1135 AD
Birthplace: Celico, Italy
Died: March 30, 1202

Italian Christian theologian Joachim of Fiore is best remembered as the man behind the San Giovanni monastic order. His brand of philosophy of history mentioned the ages of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Initially a notary, he began his spiritual quest after a visit to the Holy Land.

 42 
Giambattista della Porta
(Scholar, Polymath)
Giambattista della Porta
3
Birthdate: November 1, 1535
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vico Equense, Italy
Died: February 4, 1615

Giambattista della Porta was an Italian scholar, polymath, and playwright. He was active in Naples at the time of the Scientific Revolution and Reformation in the 16th century. He was knowledgeable in different fields, including occult philosophy, astrology, meteorology, alchemy, mathematics, and natural philosophy. In his later years, he collected rare specimens and grew exotic plants. 

 43 
Hippasus
(Philosopher)
Hippasus
3
Birthdate: 0500 BC
Birthplace: Metapontum, Italy
Died: 0450 BC
 44 
Jeanne Modigliani
(Historian)
Jeanne Modigliani
3
Birthdate: November 29, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nice, France
Died: July 27, 1984

Jeanne Modigliani was an Italian-French Jewish art historian. She was the daughter of artists Amedeo Modigliani and Jeanne Hébuterne. She lost both her parents as a small child and was adopted by her aunt. She conducted extensive biographical research on her father years after his death and published the book Modigliani: Man and Myth.   

 45 
Giovanni Schiaparelli
(Italian Astronomer and Science Historian)
Giovanni Schiaparelli
3
Birthdate: March 14, 1835
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Savigliano, Italy
Died: July 4, 1910

Giovanni Schiaparelli made headlines when he discovered the canals of Mars, suggesting the existence of intelligent life forms on the planet. He also discovered the asteroid named Hesperia and was associated with the Brera Observatory in Milan for more than 40 years. He had also been a senator of Italy.

 46 
Carlo Ginzburg
(Italian Historian and Writer)
Carlo Ginzburg
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Turin, Italy

A microhistory expert, Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg has had teaching stints at the University of Bologna and UCLA. He is best known for his work The Cheese and the Worms and holds 16 honorary degrees from various universities. He also won the Balzan Prize for the History of Europe in 2010.

 47 
Tommaso Campanella
(Philosopher Known for His Work 'la Città Del Sole' an Important Early Utopian Work)
Tommaso Campanella
3
Birthdate: September 5, 1568
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Stilo, Italy
Died: May 21, 1639

Tommaso Campanella was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, astrologer, and poet. His heterodox views often brought him into conflict with the authorities, and he was imprisoned for several years. In prison, he wrote The City of the Sun, a utopia describing an egalitarian theocratic society. He also defended astronomer Galileo Galilei in his first trial. 

 48 
Indro Montanelli
(Journalist)
Indro Montanelli
3
Birthdate: April 22, 1909
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fucecchio, Italy
Died: July 22, 2001

Italian journalist Indro Montanelli was named one of the International Press Institute’s World Press Freedom Heroes. Though he initially studied law and political science, he later drifted toward journalism, even working as a crime reporter. He had been arrested by the Nazis but luckily escaped the firing squad.

 49 
Eusebio Kino
(Italian Jesuit, Missionary, Explorer, Mathematician and Astronomer)
Eusebio Kino
3
Birthdate: August 10, 1645
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Predaia, Italy
Died: March 15, 1711

Eusebio Kino was a Tyrolean missionary, explorer, geographer, astronomer, and cartographer. Nicknamed Father Kino for his missionary work, Eusebio worked closely with the indigenous Native American people, including the Sobaipuri, Tohono O'Odham, and other Upper Piman populations, as part of his exploration. He also led an overland expedition in the Baja California Peninsula, proving that it is not an island.

 50 
Amintore Fanfani
(Politician, Diplomat, Economist, University teacher)
Amintore Fanfani
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1908
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tuscany
Died: November 20, 1999

Five-time Italian prime minister Amintore Fanfani had also served as the acting president of his country. Initially a Catholic Action leader, he later became a professor of economic history and eventually stepped into politics. His short stature had earned him the nickname Pony, though his admirers called him Purebred Horse.