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.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest painters ever, Leonardo da Vinci was an extremely talented polymath. While his work The Mona Lisa became the most famous portrait, his drawing The Vitruvian Man became a cultural icon. A man well ahead of his time, Leonardo is also known for his notes on science and invention.
Son of a reputed senator and lawyer in Italy, Amedeo Avogadro was himself a qualified lawyer. However, he later delved into research as a mathematical physicist and is best remembered for laying down the Avogadro’s law, contributing to the molecular theory of gases. The Avogadro constant is named after him.
Maria Montessori was an Italian educator and physician best known for developing the Montessori method of education, a student-friendly method, which is being used in several public and private schools around the world. In 2020, she was nominated by Time magazine as one of their Top 100 Women of the year.
Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian electrical engineer and inventor best remembered for his work on long-distance radio transmission. Marconi, who is credited with inventing the radio, was honored with the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in the field of wireless telegraphy. Also a businessman, Marconi founded the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in 1897.
Evangelista Torricelli, a student of Galileo, later made a name for himself as a physicist and a mathematician with his invention of the barometer. He also laid down the Torricelli’s theorem and discovered the Torricellian vacuum. The torr, a unit of pressure, bears his name.
Italian polymath Gerolamo Cardano is best known for his iconic work Ars magna, or The Great Art, which contributed immensely to the field of algebra. Throughout his illustrious life, he had been a physician, a math lecturer, and an astrologer. He was also the first to describe typhus fever clinically.
11 Jim Cantore
Rita Levi-Montalcini was an Italian neurologist whose discovery of nerve growth factor earned her the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Throughout her life, Levi-Montalcini's work in neurobiology earned her several other honors and awards, including the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement and the European Academy of Sciences' Leonardo da Vinci Award.
Luigi Galvani was an Italian physician, biologist, physicist, and philosopher. He is credited with the discovery of animal electricity and is considered a pioneer of bioelectromagnetics. He and his wife made one of the first forays into the study of bioelectricity when they discovered that the muscles of dead frogs' legs twitched when struck by an electrical spark.
14 Luca Pacioli
Luca Pacioli was an Italian Franciscan friar and mathematician. He worked closely with Leonardo da Vinci and produced works, such as Divina proportione, a book on mathematics. Luca Pacioli was an early contributor to the field which came to be known as accounting. Pacioli is widely regarded as The Father of Accounting and Bookkeeping.
15 Carlo Urbani
Early Renaissance Italian painter Piero della Francesca was probably the son of a tanner or a shoemaker and was well-versed in Latin. His frescoes, such as The Legend of the True Cross, exhibited perspective with simplicity. He also applied his knowledge of geometry to his art.
Called the founder of experimental biology and father of modern parasitology, Italian physician, biologist, naturalist and poet Francesco Redi did the first major experiment to challenge spontaneous generation. His book Esperienze intorno alla generazione degl'insetti includes most of his famous experiments, while his poem book Bacco in Toscana is counted among the finest works of 17th-century Italian poetry.
Carlo Rovelli is an Italian theoretical physicist and writer. He is active mainly in the field of quantum gravity and is a founder of loop quantum gravity theory. He also has experience working in the history and philosophy of science. His popular science book, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, has sold over a million copies worldwide.
Marcello Malpighi was forced to take up grammatical studies by his father but later earned doctorates in philosophy and medicine. Malpighi revolutionized medical science by discovering things such as taste buds, red blood cells, and the pulmonary and capillary network connecting veins and arteries. Many physiological features bear his name.
Ettore Majorana was immensely talented in math and grew up to be a theoretical physics professor. He also worked on neutrino masses but abruptly disappeared while on a ship from Palermo to Naples. People have come up with theories such as suicide and murder to explain his disappearance.
21 Laura Bassi
Known as Bolognese Minerva, Laura Bassi became the first woman physics professor to have taught at a European university, when she started teaching at the University of Bologna. A child prodigy, she excelled in Latin and math at age 5. She was also the first lady with a doctorate in science.
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.
Paolo Uccello was a 15th-century Florentine painter and mathematician. He worked in the Late Gothic tradition and had a style best described as idiosyncratic. As a young man, he was apprenticed to the famous sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti, with whom he collaborated on his later works. His paintings representing the battle of San Romano are considered his best.
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.
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.
Nobel Prize-winning cytologist and physician Camillo Golgi is remembered for his contribution to the study of the central nervous system. He revolutionized medical science with his staining technique and discoveries such as the Golgi cell, the Golgi tendon organ, and the Golgi apparatus, apart from his research on malaria.
Federico Faggin is an Italian-American engineer, physicist, inventor, and entrepreneur. He designed the first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004. He is also the creator of the self-aligned MOS (metal–oxide–semiconductor) silicon-gate technology (SGT). As an entrepreneur, he co-founded Zilog, a company dedicated to microprocessors. He is the recipient of the 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
Fabiola Gianotti made headlines when she became the first woman director-general at CERN. The daughter of a geologist father, she gained an interest in science after reading about Marie Curie. The Italian particle physicist, who played a major role in the Higgs boson discovery, is also a trained ballerina.
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.
Mario Capecchi is a molecular geneticist who received the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Oliver Smithies and Martin Evans. They received the prize for discovering a method to create a knockout mouse, a genetically modified mouse in which a certain gene is turned off for experimental purposes. In 2001, Capecchi received the National Medal of Science.
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.
38 Giulio Natta
Giulio Natta was an Italian chemist whose work on high polymers alongside Karl Ziegler earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963. He is also credited with developing Ziegler-Natta catalyst, which is named after him and Karl Ziegler. During his illustrious career, Giulio Natta won many other prestigious awards, such as the Lomonosov Gold Medal in 1969.
39 Carlo Masi
Italian mathematics lecturer and award-winning former gay pornographic film actor Carlo Masi worked in the gay pornography industry with Colt Studio Group for six years before joining theatres. He later earned a B.SC degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in Mathematical Models for Engineering, Electromagnetism and Nanosciences from the Sapienza University of Rome where he also worked as a lecturer.
Nobel Prize-winning Italian microbiologist Salvador Luria is best remembered for his work on bacteriophages, or viruses that infect bacteria. He had also chaired Microbiology and later, the Center for Cancer Research at MIT. As a political activist, he was against nuclear weapon testing and was once banned from receiving funds.
Girolamo Fracastoro was an Italian poet, physician, and scholar in astronomy, geography and mathematics. He is credited with authoring a theory, which is regarded as a precursor to germ theory; his theory was influential for almost three centuries. He is also credited with inventing terms, such as syphilis.
43 Emilio Segrè
Emilio Segrè was an Italian-American physicist who is credited with discovering a subatomic antiparticle called antiproton, for which he received the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics in 1959. He is also credited with discovering the elements astatine and technetium. Also a prolific photographer, Emilio Segrè documented people and events which are preserved at the American Institute of Physics.
Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia was the first to apply math to the science of ballistics. During the French invasion of Brescia, his jaw was sliced by a sword, causing him a speech difficulty, and thus gaining him the nickname Tartaglia, or "Stammerer." His Nova Scientia remains a significant work on mechanics.
45 Carlo Rubbia
Carlo Rubbia is an Italian inventor and particle physicist who helped discover the W and Z particles. His work earned him the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physics, which he shared with Simon van der Meer. Rubbia has received many awards, including 27 honorary degrees. In 1984, he was honored by the American Academy of Achievement with the Golden Plate Award.
46 Chiara Nappi
Chiara Nappi is an Italian physicist with research experience in the areas of mathematical physics, particle physics, and string theory. After receiving a degree in physics from the University of Naples, she moved to US to carry out academic research. She has been a professor of physics in multiple institutions. Besides scientific research, she often writes on women in science.
Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro pioneered the study of absolute differential calculus, or Ricci calculus, which later came to be known as tensor analysis. His studies were later used by Albert Einstein in his discovery of the theory of relativity, which is why the Ricci tensor is also known as the Einstein tensor.
Galileo Ferraris was an Italian university professor, physicist, and electrical engineer. He was one of the pioneers of AC power system. He is also credited to be the inventor of the three-phase induction motor although he never patented his work. He worked at the Italian Industrial Institution and later at the Italian Electrotechnical Association.