Famous Italian Scientists

Italy has a rich tradition in science and technology with Italians advancing the scientific community through the past several centuries. Italian inventors, discoverers and scientists have enriched the world’s understanding and knowledge in varied scientific fields like biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy and the other sciences. Italy has produced some of the most brilliant minds since the Renaissance and the Roman era. Italian Galileo Galilei was called not only the "father of observational astronomy", but also the "father of modern physics", and the "father of science”. He was one of the major figures who played a significant role in the scientific revolution during the Renaissance. Polymath Leonardo da Vinci was another genius who epitomized the Renaissance ideal. Astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, physicist Alessandro Volta, the mathematicians Giuseppe Peano, Lagrange, Fibonacci worked in Italy in the early modern era. Even though science and technology in Italy has predominantly been a male arena, women like Giuseppa Eleonora Barbapiccola, Maria Magdalena Petraccin, Caterina Scarpellini, and Anna Morandi Manzolini prove that Italian women have never been far behind men in terms of scientific accomplishments. This section provides you information about the life and works of famous Italian scientists.

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 Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: February 15, 1564
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pisa, Italy
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.

 2 Enrico Fermi

Enrico Fermi
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: September 29, 1901
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: November 28, 1954
Italian physicist Enrico Fermi created the Chicago Pile-1, the world's first nuclear reactor. Known widely as the "architect of the atomic bomb," he was equally proficient in theoretical and experimental physics, and won the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on radioactivity and for discovering transuranium elements.

 3 Leonardo Fibonacci

Leonardo Fibonacci
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: 1170 AD
Birthplace: Pisa, Italy
Died: 1250 AD
Medieval Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci is remembered for introducing the Hindu–Arabic numeral system to Europe through his book Liber abaci. Son of an Italian trader, he interacted with merchants along the Mediterranean coast to learn about their system of calculations. The Fibonacci sequence, too, was invented by him. 
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 4 Count Alessandro Volta

Count Alessandro Volta
Famous As: Physicist, Chemist
Birthdate: February 18, 1745
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Como, Duchy of Milan, Italy
Died: March 5, 1827
While Alessandro Volta was a count by birth and was supposed to become a lawyer or a priest, he became a scientist instead. His invention of the battery led to the SI unit of electric potential being named volt. He was also the first to isolate methane gas.
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 5 Amedeo Avogadro

Amedeo Avogadro
Famous As: Chemist and Physicist
Birthdate: August 9, 1776
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: July 9, 1856

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.

 6 Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi
Famous As: Inventor & Physicist
Birthdate: April 25, 1874
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bologna, Italy
Died: July 20, 1937

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. 

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 7 Joseph Louis Lagrange

Joseph Louis Lagrange
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: January 25, 1736
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: April 10, 1813

Joseph Louis Lagrange was an Italian mathematician and astronomer who made significant contributions to the fields of number theory, analysis, and both classical and celestial mechanics. He served as the director of mathematics at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin for over 20 years. He later moved to France and became a member of the French Academy of Sciences. 

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 8 Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1548 AD
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.

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 9 Evangelista Torricelli

Evangelista Torricelli
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 15, 1608
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Faenza
Died: October 25, 1647

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.

 10 Jim Cantore

Jim Cantore
Famous As: Meteorologists
Birthdate: February 16, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beacon Falls, Connecticut, USA
Best known for his long stint on The Weather Channel, meteorologist Jim Cantore has gained fame for making his weather reports interesting to even a lay person. He has hosted weather segments for the 2012 Summer Olympics and is also known for his authentic storm reports, which have often become viral.

 11 Gerolamo Cardano

Gerolamo Cardano
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: September 24, 1501
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pavia, Italy
Died: September 21, 1576

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.

 12 Pietro Boselli

Pietro Boselli
Famous As: Model
Birthdate: December 3, 1988
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Negrar, Italy

While he had been an Armani Junior model at 6, Pietro Boselli later earned a mechanical engineering degree, completed his PhD, and taught math. After a student posted a photo of him on Facebook and it went viral, Boselli became a sensation, gaining fame as the world's hottest math teacher.

 13 Giovanni Domenico Cassini

Giovanni Domenico Cassini
Famous As: Astronomer and Mathematician
Birthdate: June 8, 1625
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Perinaldo, Italy
Died: September 14, 1712
Italian-French mathematician and astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini is best remembered for his discovery of four moons of Saturn, the computation of Jupiter’s rotational period, and the observation of the Cassini Division, or the gap between Saturn’s rings. King Louis XIV made him a member of the Académie des Sciences

 14 Rita Levi-Montalcini

Rita Levi-Montalcini
Famous As: Neurologist
Birthdate: April 22, 1909
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: December 30, 2012

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.

 15 Vilfredo Pareto

Vilfredo Pareto
Famous As: Economist, Writer, Philosopher, Sociologist, University teacher
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.

 16 Luigi Galvani

Luigi Galvani
Famous As: Anatomist, Physicist, Physician, University teacher
Birthdate: September 9, 1737
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bologna
Died: December 4, 1798

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.  

 17 Carlo Urbani

Carlo Urbani
Famous As: Epidemiologist
Birthdate: October 19, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Castelplanio
Died: March 29, 2003
Microbiologist Carlo Urbani, a parasitic infections expert, was working at the WHO Hanoi office when the deadly and contagious disease SARS had started to spread across the world in 2003. He alerted the WHO headquarters in Geneva about the disease, thus saving many lives, though he eventually succumbed to it.

 18 Carlo Rovelli

Carlo Rovelli
Famous As: Physicist, Writer
Birthdate: May 3, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Verona

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. 

 19 Ettore Majorana

Ettore Majorana
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 5, 1906
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Catania

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.

 20 Marcello Malpighi

Marcello Malpighi
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 10, 1628
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Crevalcore
Died: September 30, 1694

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.

 21 Laura Bassi

Laura Bassi
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 29, 1711
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bologna, Italy
Died: February 20, 1778

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.

 22 Maria Gaetana Agnesi

Maria Gaetana Agnesi
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher, Theologian
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.

 23 Paolo Uccello

Paolo Uccello
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: January 5, 1397
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pratovecchio, Italy
Died: December 10, 1475

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. 

 24 Francesco Redi

Francesco Redi
Famous As: Physician, naturalist, biologist and poet
Birthdate: February 18, 1626
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Arezzo, Italy
Died: March 1, 1697

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.   

 25 Luca Pacioli

Luca Pacioli
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: 1447 AD
Birthplace: Sansepolcro, Republic of Florence
Died: June 19, 1517

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.  

 26 Giovanni Battista Belzoni

Giovanni Battista Belzoni
Famous As: Explorer, Antiquarian, Egyptologist, Archaeologist, Novelist, Travel writer
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. 

 27 Camillo Golgi

Camillo Golgi
Famous As: Physician, Pathologist, Biologist
Birthdate: July 7, 1843
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Corteno, Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, Italy
Died: January 21, 1926

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.

 28 Andrew Viterbi

Andrew Viterbi
Famous As: Engineer, Entrepreneur, Computer scientist
Birthdate: March 9, 1935
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bergamo

 29 Carlo Azeglio Ciampi

Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
Famous As: Economist, Politician, Banker
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.

 30 Lazzaro Spallanzani

Lazzaro Spallanzani
Famous As: Priest, Biologist
Birthdate: January 12, 1729
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Scandiano, Italy
Died: February 11, 1799

 31 Nicholas of Cusa

Nicholas of Cusa
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
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.

 32 Franco Modigliani

Franco Modigliani
Famous As: Italian-American economist and the recipient of the 1985 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.
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.

 33 Giuseppe Peano

Giuseppe Peano
Famous As: Mathematician
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.

 34 Roger Joseph Boscovich

Roger Joseph Boscovich
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 18, 1711
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Died: February 13, 1787

Italian astronomer and mathematician Roger Joseph Boscovich was one of the first European scientists to accept Newton’s gravitational theory. His contributions to astronomy include the application of geometry to compute the orbit of a planet and the equator of a rotating planet. He also laid the foundation of the atomic theory.

 35 Fabiola Gianotti

Fabiola Gianotti
Famous As: Physicist known for ATLAS experiment, First female CERN Director-General, Higgs boson discovery
Birthdate: October 29, 1960
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rome, Italy

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.

 36 Marcella Hazan

Marcella Hazan
Famous As: Writer, Biologist
Birthdate: April 15, 1924
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cesenatico, Italy
Died: September 29, 2013

 37 Margherita Hack

Margherita Hack
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: June 12, 1922
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: June 29, 2013

 38 Giovanni Schiaparelli

Giovanni Schiaparelli
Famous As: Astronomer
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.

 39 Mario Capecchi

Mario Capecchi
Famous As: Molecular Geneticist
Birthdate: October 6, 1937
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Verona, 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.

 40 Stanislao Cannizzaro

Stanislao Cannizzaro
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 13, 1826
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Palermo, Italy
Died: May 10, 1910

 41 Salvador Luria

Salvador Luria
Famous As: Microbiologist
Birthdate: August 13, 1912
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: February 6, 1991

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.

 42 Giulio Natta

Giulio Natta
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: February 25, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Imperia, Italy
Died: May 2, 1979

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.

 43 Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia

Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: 1499 AD
Birthplace: Brescia, Italy
Died: December 13, 1557

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.

 44 Chiara Nappi

Chiara Nappi
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Italy

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. 

 45 Emilio Segrè

Emilio Segrè
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: January 30, 1905
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tivoli, Italy
Died: April 22, 1989

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.

 46 Silvio Micali

Silvio Micali
Famous As: Computer scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: October 13, 1954
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Palermo, Italy

 47 Giovanni Alfonso Borelli

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli
Famous As: Physicist, Mathematician, Astronomer, Historian of mathematics, Entomologist
Birthdate: January 28, 1608
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Naples
Died: December 31, 1679

While he matriculated in math and taught the subject later, Giovanni Alfonso Borelli also made pioneering discoveries as a physicist and physiologist. With works such as De Motu Animalium, he revolutionized the field of biomechanics, explaining muscular movements with the help of statics and dynamics.

 48 Bruno Pontecorvo

Bruno Pontecorvo
Famous As: Physicist, Nuclear scientist
Birthdate: August 22, 1913
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pisa
Died: September 24, 1993

Bruno Pontecorvo was an Italian and Soviet nuclear physicist. He was an early assistant to the physicist Enrico Fermi. He studied physics at the University of Rome La Sapienza under Fermi and participated in Fermi's experiment showing the properties of slow neutrons. This experiment eventually led the way to the discovery of nuclear fission.  

 49 Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro

Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: January 12, 1853
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lugo
Died: August 6, 1925

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.

 50 Riccardo Giacconi

Riccardo Giacconi
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: October 6, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Genoa
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Riccardo Giacconi was a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy. Born in Italy, he later went to the U.S. to pursue his research as a Fulbright scholar. He was the man behind the launch of the Einstein Observatory and the Chandra X-ray Observatory.