Famous Italian Intellectuals & Academics

If you thought Italy was all about Venice’s heavenly scenery, Milan’s state-of-art fashion, Florence’s Renaissance treasure or Rome’s historic landmark and art, think more. For those who have figured out, good, but for the rest, here we spill the beans – Italy is home to some of the world’s greatest intellectuals and academicians who, through their body of work, have greatly influenced the life of many across the globe. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Dante Alighieri, Petrarca, Galileo Galilee, Saint Francesco of Assisi and Marco Polo are some of the most renowned Italian names while talking about intellectuals and academicians. Italian intellectuals and academicians have made important contribution to mankind, most notably in the field of literature, architecture, science, technology, philosophy, engineering, politics, medicine, mathematics, visual art and music. Through their exemplary work, they have created a niche for Italy and helped it stand-out from other European nations. Also, they have played a critical role in the development of their country and the world. Read this section and absorb some quick facts about the life and works of famous Italian intellectuals and academics.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccolò Machiavelli
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Famous As: Political Philosopher
Birthdate: May 3, 1469
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Italian
Died: June 21, 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. 

 2 Cicero

Cicero
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Famous As: Philosopher, Political Theorist
Birthdate: January 3, 0106
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: Italian, Ancient Roman
Died: December 7, 0043
Roman statesman, lawyer, and scholar Cicero was one of the greatest 1st-century BC prose writers and orators. He influenced Latin literature immensely and introduced Greek philosophy to the Romans. He was declared an enemy of the state, following his opposition to Mark Antony after Julius Caesar’s death, and was executed.
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 3 Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas
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Famous As: Philosophers, Theologian
Birthdate: January 28, 1225
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Italian
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.

 4 Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco
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Famous As: Italian Semiotician, Philosopher
Birthdate: January 5, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: Italian
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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 5 Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1548 AD
Nationality: Italian
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.

 6 Antonio Gramsci

Antonio Gramsci
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Famous As: Politician, Philosopher
Birthdate: January 22, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Italian
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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 7 Julius Evola

Julius Evola
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: May 19, 1898
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Italian
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.

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 8 Girolamo Savonarola

Girolamo Savonarola
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Famous As: Monk
Birthdate: September 21, 1452
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Italian
Died: May 23, 1498

 9 Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: February 15, 1564
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Italian
Died: January 8, 1642

An Italian astronomer, engineer, and physicist, Galileo Galilei is widely regarded as the father of observational astronomy, the father of the scientific method, the father of modern physics, and the father of modern science. He is credited with popularizing the telescope, which changed the course of history.

 10 Mario Draghi

Mario Draghi
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Famous As: Economist, Banker, University teacher
Birthdate: September 3, 1947
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Italian

 11 Pierluigi Collina

Pierluigi Collina
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Famous As: Association football referee, Writer, Economist
Birthdate: February 13, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Italian

 12 Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm of Canterbury
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Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: 1033 AD
Nationality: Italian
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.

 13 Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
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Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian, Statesman
Birthdate: 0480 AD
Nationality: Italian
Died: 0524 AD

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.  

 14 Boethius

Boethius
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 0477 AD
Nationality: Italian
Died: 0524 AD

 15 Lord Acton

Lord Acton
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Birthdate: January 10, 1834
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: German, Italian, British
Died: June 19, 1902

 16 Suetonius

Suetonius
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Famous As: Secretary, historian
Birthdate: 0069 AD
Nationality: Italian
Died: 0122 AD

 17 Cesare Lombroso

Cesare Lombroso
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Famous As: Criminologist
Birthdate: November 6, 1835
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: Italian
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.

 18 Zeno of Elea

Zeno of Elea
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Famous As: Greek philosopher
Birthdate: 0490 BC
Nationality: Italian
Died: 0425 BC

 19 Giorgio Agamben

Giorgio Agamben
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Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Poet lawyer
Birthdate: April 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Italian

 20 Cesare Beccaria

Cesare Beccaria
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Famous As: Jurist
Birthdate: March 15, 1738
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Italian
Died: November 28, 1794

 21 Elena Cornaro Piscopia

Elena Cornaro Piscopia
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 5, 1646
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Italian
Died: July 26, 1684

 22 Leon Battista Alberti

Leon Battista Alberti
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Famous As: Architect, Linguist
Birthdate: February 18, 1404
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Italian
Died: April 20, 1472
Born into an affluent banker family of Florence, Leon Battista Alberti was rumored to be an illegitimate son of his father and a Bolognese widow. The ideal Renaissance man, he later applied mathematical precision to his paintings and architectural work. His written work on art remains invaluable.

 23 Bonaventure

Bonaventure
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Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: 1221 AD
Nationality: Italian
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.

 24 Diodorus Siculus

Diodorus Siculus
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: 0090 BC
Nationality: Italian
Died: 0030 BC

 25 Giovanni Gentile

Giovanni Gentile
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: May 30, 1875
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Italian
Died: April 15, 1944

 26 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 24, 1463
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Italian
Died: November 17, 1494

 27 Francesco Redi

Francesco Redi
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Famous As: Physician, Naturalist, Poet, Writer, Painter, Entomologist, Parasitologist
Birthdate: February 18, 1626
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Italian
Died: April 22, 1698

 28 Mario Monti

Mario Monti
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Famous As: Economist, Politician, University teacher
Birthdate: March 19, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Italian

 29 Giacomo Leopardi

Giacomo Leopardi
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Famous As: Writer, Poet, Philosopher, Philologist
Birthdate: June 29, 1798
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Italian
Died: June 14, 1837

 30 Romano Prodi

Romano Prodi
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Famous As: Economist, Politician, University teacher
Birthdate: August 9, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: Italian

 31 Giambattista Vico

Giambattista Vico
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 23, 1668
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Italian
Died: January 23, 1744

 32 Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti
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Famous As: political scientist, historian, journalist
Birthdate: 1933 AD
Nationality: Italian

 33 Hippolytus of Rome

Hippolytus of Rome
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Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: 0170 AD
Nationality: Italian
Died: 0235 AD

 34 Robert Bellarmine

Robert Bellarmine
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Famous As: Theologian, Writer, Librarian, University teacher, Catholic priest
Birthdate: October 4, 1542
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: Italian
Died: September 17, 1621

 35 Gabriele Amorth

Gabriele Amorth
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Famous As: Catholic priest, Writer, Theologian
Birthdate: May 1, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Italian
Died: September 16, 2016

 36 Marsilio Ficino

Marsilio Ficino
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Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, Cleric, Astrologer, Poet
Birthdate: October 19, 1433
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: Italian
Died: October 1, 1499

 37 Carlo Rovelli

Carlo Rovelli
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Famous As: Physicist, Writer
Birthdate: May 3, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Italian

 38 Antonio Negri

Antonio Negri
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Famous As: Philosopher, Politician, Professor, Economist
Birthdate: August 1, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: Italian

 39 Benedetto Croce

Benedetto Croce
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Famous As: Philosopher, Politician, Art historian, Writer, Literary critic
Birthdate: February 25, 1866
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Italian
Died: November 20, 1952

 40 Maria Gaetana Agnesi

Maria Gaetana Agnesi
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Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher, Theologian
Birthdate: May 16, 1718
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Italian
Died: January 9, 1799

 41 Lazzaro Spallanzani

Lazzaro Spallanzani
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Famous As: Biologist, Zoologist, Scientist, Naturalist, University teacher, Entomologist
Birthdate: January 10, 1729
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: Italian
Died: February 12, 1799

 42 Carlo Azeglio Ciampi

Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
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Famous As: Economist, Politician, Banker
Birthdate: December 9, 1920
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Italian
Died: September 16, 2016

 43 Giovanni Battista Belzoni

Giovanni Battista Belzoni
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Famous As: Explorer, Antiquarian, Egyptologist, Archaeologist, Novelist, Travel writer
Birthdate: November 5, 1778
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: Italian
Died: December 3, 1823

 44 Hippasus

Hippasus
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 0500 BC
Nationality: Italian
Died: 0450 BC

 45 Franco Modigliani

Franco Modigliani
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Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: June 10, 1918
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Italian
Died: September 25, 2003

 46 Alphonsus Liguori

Alphonsus Liguori
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Famous As: Philisopher, Spiritual Writer, Theologian
Birthdate: September 27, 1696
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: Italian
Died: August 1, 1787

 47 Giuseppe Peano

Giuseppe Peano
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Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher, University teacher
Birthdate: August 27, 1858
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Italian
Died: April 20, 1932

 48 Angelo Sodano

Angelo Sodano
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Famous As: Diplomat, Theologian, Catholic priest
Birthdate: November 23, 1927
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Italian

 49 Giambattista della Porta

Giambattista della Porta
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Famous As: Scholar, Polymath
Birthdate: November 1, 1535
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: Italian
Died: February 4, 1615

 50 Giovanni Schiaparelli

Giovanni Schiaparelli
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: March 14, 1835
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Italian
Died: July 4, 1910