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.
An Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, wanted to discover a direct water route from Europe to Asia. In his four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain, however, what he ended up discovering was not Asia, but America. Though he was not the first one to land in America, his historical journey began what eventually turned into Spanish colonization of America.
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.
Monica Bellucci is one of the most popular actresses from Italy. Her popularity in the West helped her become the oldest woman to play a Bond girl in the history of the James Bond film franchise. Known for her hourglass figure, she has been regarded as a sex symbol and has appeared in lists like 100 Hottest Women of All-Time.
Marco Polo was a Venetian explorer, writer, and merchant. He explored Asia along the Silk Road and is credited with providing the Europeans with descriptions of the culture of the Eastern world, which remained unknown until his exploration. Polo's travel book inspired other travelers like Christopher Columbus. His writings also influenced European cartography, which led to the Fra Mauro map.
Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet Michelangelo was a prominent figure of the High Renaissance. He is credited to have influenced the Western art in unprecedented ways. He is widely regarded as the greatest artist of his age and one of the greatest artists of all time. He was equally revered and respected as an architect.
Widely regarded as an opera singer with the most beautiful voice, Andrea Bocelli is an Italian record producer and singer-songwriter. He serves as an inspiration to many as he went on to become one of the most popular Italian singers of all time, despite losing his vision at age 12. He has sold more than 90 million records worldwide.
9 St Paul
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.
12 Sophia Loren
Known as the quintessential “femme fatale” of the "Golden Age of Hollywood," Sophia Loren rose from participating in a beauty pageant as a teenager, to being the first actor to win the Academy Award for a foreign-language movie. The Italian bombshell is also known for her affair with Cary Grant.
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who played a key role in the political affairs of France during the rule of her sons, a period which came to be known as the age of Catherine de' Medici. Catherine is credited with saving the monarchy from deposition during the French Wars of Religion.
Dante Alighieri was an Italian writer, poet, and philosopher. His work Divine Comedy is widely regarded as the greatest literary work ever produced in the Italian language and the most prominent poem of the Middle Ages. Often referred to as the father of the Italian language, Dante Alighieri played a crucial role in establishing the Italian literature.
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.
Luciano Pavarotti was an operatic tenor who went on to become one of the most loved and acclaimed tenors of all time. Nicknamed the King of the High Cs, Pavarotti is regarded as one of the best tenors of the 20th century. Also a well-known humanitarian, Luciano Pavarotti hosted annual charity concerts to raise money for various UN causes.
Italian painter and architect Raphael, along with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, formed the great trio who ushered in the High Renaissance. He is mostly known for his frescoes of the Vatican Palace and The School of Athens. He also designed the Chigi Chapel, among other structures in Rome.
20 Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi is an Indian politician and president of one of the most prominent Indian political parties, The Indian National Congress. As the president of Indian National Congress, which has been one of India's most successful political parties in the country's post-independence history, Sonia Gandhi remains one of the most powerful women in India.
Amerigo Vespucci was a merchant, navigator, and explorer. Credited with participating in two major voyages of the Age of Discovery, Vespucci's claim that the New World represented a new continent inspired cartographers to associate the name America (a Latinized form of his first name) to the newly discovered continents.
Italian footballer Francesco Totti is known for his 25-year stint with Roma. Nicknamed “The Golden Boy” and “The Gladiator,” he led Roma to win the Serie A and the Coppa Italia. He was also part of the 2006 FIFA World Cup-winning Italian team. He was named to Pele’s FIFA 100.
Regarded as one of the world’s greatest film composers, Ennio Morricone was an Italian composer, orchestrator and conductor who scored music for over 500 films in his career spanning seven decades. Morricone covered a wide range of music styles and is best known for scores in the Dollar Trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West.
Paolo Maldini is an Italian former professional footballer widely regarded as one of the greatest ever defenders. He played primarily as a left-back and central defender and was affiliated with Milan and the Italian national team. Currently, he is serving as the technical director for Milan. He is also the co-owner of the USL Championship club Miami FC.
Italian Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist, and teacher, Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, is regarded as one of the greatest Baroque composers. He was extremely popular during his lifetime and composed many instrumental concertos and operas. He was also a Roman Catholic priest and worked at a home for abandoned children. Even though he died in 1741, his music continues to be popular.
28 Cole Sprouse
American actor, Cole Sprouse, started acting as a child and a teenager. He is known for television series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Riverdale, and Friends. In the early days of his career, he mainly acted alongside his twin brother, Dylan Sprouse, in commercials, television shows and films. He has also acted in the film Five Feet Apart.
The dictator of Italy from 1925 to 1945, Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist Party in 1919. It opposed class discrimination and supported nationalism. But when in power, Mussolini crushed rival political parties, trade unions, free press and free speech. He was overthrown by his former colleagues in the Fascist government in July 1943 and ultimately shot dead in April 1945.
Nero was the fifth Roman emperor whose rule was associated with tyranny. Five years into his reign, he had his mother Agrippina killed. The Great Fire of Rome, which occurred during his reign, is believed to have been instigated by him for political reasons. He was also responsible for eliminating many Christians from the empire.
32 Rose McGowan
Rose McGowan is popular for being an actress and activist. She has always been vocal about various issues, especially sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. She also supported Tara Reade and criticized celebrities for supporting Joe Biden, who was accused of sexual assault by the former. In 2017, she was voted Time magazine's Person of the Year.
Rising to international fame following the success of his 2020 erotic romantic drama 365 Days, Italian actor and model, Michele Morrone, is a man who oozes sex appeal and charisma. Also a professional guitarist and singer, he has a channel on YouTube that has accumulated over one million subscribers. He runs a clothing line as well.
34 Paulo Dybala
Argentine professional footballer Paulo Dybala currently plays for football club Juventus and the Argentina national team. He plays as a forward and is known for his creative style of play, pace, talent, and technique. Revered for his playing skills, he is considered one of the world's most valuable players. He loves tattoos and has many on his body.
Michael Bublé is a Canadian record producer, singer, and songwriter. He gained international recognition after releasing his fourth studio album It's Time. Also known for his charity work, Michael Bublé was part of a charity concert where he pledged a donation of A$50,000 to those affected by the Black Saturday bushfires in Australia.
An Italian-born gangster, Lucky Luciano is regarded as the father of modern organized crime in the US; he served as the first boss of the Genovese crime family. He also played a key role in the rise of the National Crime Syndicate. His life and style inspired several films, television series, and books. His eponymous biopic was released in 1973.
40 Carla Bruni
Carla Bruni is an Italian-French fashion model and singer-songwriter. She gained international recognition after marrying the then president of France Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008. Also known for her political activities, philanthropy, and charity work, Bruni established the Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation in 2009; the foundation helps promote access to knowledge for all. She also supports organizations, such as PETA.
Alessandro Del Piero is an Italian former football player. Renowned for his creativity, he is often counted among the best players of his generation. He is also widely regarded as one of Italy's greatest players of all time. A prolific goal-scorer, Del Piero scored 346 goals during his playing career, making him the second-highest Italian goal-scorer of all time.
James Gandolfini was an American actor who achieved the rare feat of being identified more as the character he performed rather than as himself. Years of immaculately performing the role of a powerful crime boss for the TV series, The Sopranos, defined Gandolfini’s legacy forever as a character actor, a legacy he gracefully carried over to the big screen.
Italian general, patriot, and republican Giuseppe Garibaldi is remembered for the role he played in the Italian unification and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy. He is considered one of Italy's "fathers of the fatherland." A highly proficient military general, he also led the Expedition of the Thousand on behalf of Victor Emmanuel II. He died in 1882.
Charles V served as the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Italy, and King of Germany from 1519 to 1556. From 1516 to 1556, he ruled as the King of Spain. His personal union of the American and European territories was the first collection of kingdoms that were described the empire on which the Sun never sets.
Giada De Laurentiis is an Italian-American chef, restaurateur, television personality, and writer. She won the Gracie Award under the Best Television Host category for hosting Giada at Home. The founder of a catering business called GDL Foods, Giada De Laurentiis has been an influential figure in the American culinary business over the last few years.
Valentino Rossi is an Italian motorcycle road racer. Having won nine Grand Prix World Championships, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest motorcycle racers ever. Apart from being a famous racer, Valentino Rossi also owns the Sky Racing Team VR46, which competes in the Moto3 and Moto2 classes.
47 John Cabot
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.
Italian-American actress Isabella Rossellini has made an important contribution to the American and Italian film industry. She has also appeared on stage, including an Off-Broadway production of The Stendhal Syndrome. Also known for her involvement in conservation efforts, Rossellini serves as the director and president of the Howard Gilman Foundation, which focuses on the preservation of arts, photography, and wildlife.