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.
43
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.
4
Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Physics
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.
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 3 Leonardo Fibonacci

Leonardo Fibonacci.
9
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. 

 4 Count Alessandro Volta

Count Alessandro Volta.
6
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 Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci.
6
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: April 15, 1452
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Anchiano, Italy
Died: May 2, 1519

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.

 6 Amedeo Avogadro

Amedeo Avogadro.
6
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.

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 7 Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori.
4
Famous As: Physician and Educator
Birthdate: August 31, 1870
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chiaravalle (Ancona), Italy
Died: May 6, 1952

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.

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 8 Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi.
10
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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 9 Evangelista Torricelli

Evangelista Torricelli.
3
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 Gerolamo Cardano

Gerolamo Cardano
4
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.

 11 Jim Cantore

Jim Cantore
5
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.

 12 Rita Levi-Montalcini

Rita Levi-Montalcini.
4
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.

 13 Luigi Galvani

Luigi Galvani
4
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.  

 14 Luca Pacioli

Luca Pacioli.
9
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.  

 15 Carlo Urbani

Carlo Urbani.
6
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.

 16 Piero della Francesca

Piero della Francesca
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: 1415 AD
Birthplace: Tuscany
Died: October 12, 1492

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.

 17 Francesco Redi

Francesco Redi
4
Famous As: Physician, Naturalist, Poet, Writer, Painter, Entomologist, Parasitologist
Birthdate: February 18, 1626
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Arezzo, Italy
Died: April 22, 1698

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.   

 18 Carlo Rovelli

Carlo Rovelli
3
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 Marcello Malpighi

Marcello Malpighi.
3
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.

 20 Ettore Majorana

Ettore Majorana
3
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.

 21 Laura Bassi

Laura Bassi
3
Famous As: Italian physicist, Academic
Birthdate: October 31, 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.
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher, Theologian
Birthdate: May 16, 1718
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milan
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 Andrew Viterbi

Andrew Viterbi
3
Famous As: Engineer, Entrepreneur, Computer scientist
Birthdate: March 9, 1935
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bergamo

 24 Paolo Uccello

Paolo Uccello
3
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. 

 25 Lazzaro Spallanzani

Lazzaro Spallanzani
3
Famous As: Biologist, Zoologist, Scientist, Naturalist, University teacher, Entomologist
Birthdate: January 10, 1729
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Scandiano
Died: February 12, 1799

 26 Carlo Azeglio Ciampi

Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
3
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.

 27 Giovanni Battista Belzoni

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

 28 Franco Modigliani

Franco Modigliani.
3
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: June 10, 1918
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rome
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.

 29 Camillo Golgi

Camillo Golgi.
8
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.

 30 Federico Faggin

Federico Faggin
3
Famous As: Physicist, Inventor, Computer scientist, Engineer, Businessperson
Birthdate: December 1, 1941
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vicenza

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. 

 31 Fabiola Gianotti

Fabiola Gianotti
3
Famous As: physicist
Birthdate: October 29, 1962
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rome

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.

 32 Giuseppe Peano

Giuseppe Peano
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher, University teacher
Birthdate: August 27, 1858
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cuneo
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.

 33 Marcella Hazan

Marcella Hazan
3
Famous As: Writer, Biologist
Birthdate: April 15, 1924
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cesenatico, Italy
Died: September 29, 2013

 34 Margherita Hack

Margherita Hack
4
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: June 12, 1922
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: June 29, 2013

 35 Alfonso Bialetti

Alfonso Bialetti
3
Famous As: inventor, entrepreneur, engineer
Birthdate: 1888 AD
Birthplace: Omegna
Died: December 31, 1970

 36 Mario Capecchi

Mario Capecchi
3
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.

 37 Giovanni Schiaparelli

Giovanni Schiaparelli
3
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.

 38 Giulio Natta

Giulio Natta.
2
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.

 39 Carlo Masi

Carlo Masi
3
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: October 6, 1976
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rome, Italy

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.   

 40 Stanislao Cannizzaro

Stanislao Cannizzaro
2
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 13, 1826
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Palermo, Italy
Died: May 10, 1910

 41 Salvador Luria

Salvador Luria.
3
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 Girolamo Fracastoro

Girolamo Fracastoro.
3
Famous As: Physician, scholar, poet
Birthdate: 1478 AD
Birthplace: Verona
Died: August 8, 1553

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.
3
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.

 44 Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia

Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia
3
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.

 45 Carlo Rubbia

Carlo Rubbia.
3
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: March 31, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

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
3
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. 

 47 Riccardo Giacconi

Riccardo Giacconi
2
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.

 48 Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza
2
Famous As: Geneticist
Birthdate: January 25, 1922
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Genoa, Italy
Died: August 31, 2018

 49 Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro

Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro
2
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 Galileo Ferraris

Galileo Ferraris
2
Famous As: physicist, engineer, inventor
Birthdate: October 30, 1847
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Livorno Ferraris
Died: February 7, 1897

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.