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.
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.
11 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.
Daniel Ricciardo is an Italian-Australian racing driver. He currently competes in Formula One for McLaren. Over the years, Ricciardo has had eight Grand Prix victories, including a win at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, in Formula One. He has also received several awards like BRDC The Bruce McLaren Trophy. In 2014, he was named GQ Australia Sportsman of the Year.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
24 Guccio Gucci
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.
26 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.
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.
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.
30 Khabane Lame
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.
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 John Cabot
Bruno Sammartino was an Italian-American wrestler. He was one of the most popular wrestlers to participate in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) during the 1960s and 1970s. Nicknamed The Strongest Man in the World, Sammartino is often considered one of the greatest wrestlers ever. In 2013, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
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.
38 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.
40 Umberto Eco
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.
The patron saint of lovers, beekeepers, and epileptics, Saint Valentine was a 3rd-century Roman saint from Terni. One legend describes how he cured a jailer’s daughter of blindness. He was martyred during the persecution of Christians by Claudius II Gothicus. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in his honor on February 14.
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.
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.
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.
45 Asia Argento
Legendary Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi is best remembered for his masterpieces such as Requiem, Rigoletto, Falstaff, and Otello. He was also briefly associated with the Risorgimento movement meant to unify Italy and thus composed many choruses reflecting the spirit. He was inspired by composers such as Bellini and Donizetti.
Italian film director and screenwriter, Federico Fellini, is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time. He was nominated for the Academy Awards 12 times and won four in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. His distinctive style of film-making has inspired generations of directors in both Italy and Hollywood.
48 Joel McHale
Actor, comedian, and producer Joel McHale is best known for hosting the television series The Soup. He was interested in sports as a young boy but shifted his focus to acting while in college and earned his master's degree in acting. Even though he is more popular as a television actor, he has appeared in many films too.
Donatello was an Italian sculptor best remembered for his most famous work, David, which is often viewed as the first major work of Renaissance sculpture. Donatello is one of the most popular Italian sculptors of all time. He was played by English actor Ben Starr in a historical drama TV series titled Medici: Masters of Florence.
Lorenzo de' Medici was an Italian statesman. Nicknamed Lorenzo the Magnificent, de' Medici was the most enthusiastic and powerful patron of Renaissance culture in Italy. He is credited with providing sponsorships to artists like Michelangelo and Botticelli, thereby contributing indirectly to the development of art in the Republic of Florence. His life and work inspired a couple of TV series.