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Tito Livio Burattini developed an early system of measurement based on time, similar to today's International System of Units. He published his invention in his book Misura universale (lit. "universal measure") in 1675.

Notable are the several modern concepts and nomenclature that appeared for the first time in his book. The most relevant of them is the idea of relating different units via physical quantities in order to set up a complete system starting from the unit of time.

While originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole (at sea level), since 1983, the meter is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum in 1⁄299,792,458 of a second.


Italian Inventors
and their Inventions
(Inventions and Methods developed by Italians)
Eugenio Barsanti (1821-1864)
Eugenio Barsanti developed the first internal combustion engine driven by gas. He patented his invention together with Felice Matuecci (1808-1887) in 1854.

Eugenio Barsanti
Tito Livio Burattini (1617 - 1681)

Vermouth was made from white wine added to an infusion of over 50 different varieties of herbs and spices and sweetened with sugar but without the use of colorings. Vermouth became a huge success after it was adopted as favorite drink at the court ruling Vittorio Amedeo II. Since then this distinctive drink has been exported throughout the world and is now produced by the Cinzano, Martini & Rossi, Campari and Gancia companies. The Carpano brand still exists, producing two distinct qualities of vermouth: the so-called "Original Torino Vermouth" that is produced according to the original recipe, and the "Punt e Mes" quality, more aromatic and bitter.

Misura Universale by Burattini
Antonio Benedetto Carpano (1764 - 1815)
Antonio Benedetto Carpano (1764 - 1815) was an Italian distiller, famous for having invented Vermouth, and consequently of the concept of aperitif.

See: Italian aperitifs and cocktails.
Burattini was one of the first to define the meter not by measuring the earth, but by timing a pendulum. He noted that a weight swinging on a string the length of his proposed meter returned to its original position in two seconds. The amount of time the weight took to travel from one maximum elevation to the other was one second: a unit that corresponded with the approximate duration of a human heartbeat. His meter differs from the modern metre by half a centimetre. He is also considered the first to recommend the name 'metre' for a unit of length. He chose the word meter after metron, a Greek word for measure. He named this unit metro cattolico, which simply means universal measure.

Giovanni Caselli (1815-1891)
Giovanni Caselli invented the pantelegraph, an ancestor of the fax, based on a modification of Alexander Bain's Telegraph. Unlike what is written in some sources, the word does not stand for 'Universal Telegraph' or 'all-purpose-telegraph', but is a combination of "pantograph", a tool that copies drawing, and "telegraph", a machine that sends messages over a wire.

Caselli's invention was registered in 1861.
While the English physicist Frederick Bakewell was the first to demonstrate facsimile, Caselli was the first to obtain a perfect synchronisation  transmission between transmitting and receiving devices. His invention became the first commercial application of the fax when a circuit between Paris and Lyon, France, is established in 1865. However, even in France the pantelegraph was merely used for transmitting images and handwritten text and never completely replaced the ordinary telegraphic network which remained in place.

In 1863, the Chinese showed interest in the invention which could solve the tricky problem of the telegraphic transmission of ideograms. The initial experiments were not followed up by a widespread implementation. This particular use of Caselli's machine as taken up decades later by the Japanese who pioneered the use of public fax machines over the state telecom lines. With telephone lines already in place, Europeans could have implemented the technology for the fax one hundred years earlier !

Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco (1655 - 1731)
Bartolomeo Cristofori, an instrument maker from Padua, is considered the inventor of the piano.

Da Vinci, Leonardo (1452-1519)
A famous artist, scientist, creative engineer and inventor of the Italian Renaissance. He designed prototypes of a parachute and airplane. Some of his ideas about the Renaissance Church Plan were implemented by the architect Bramante when building the new St. Peter's in Rome. Despite his many contributions and illustrated notebooks, which deal with architecture, anatomy and the elementary theory of mechanics, Da Vinci remains most famous as an artist for his paintings The Last Supper and Mona Lisa (La Gioconda) and his drawing  the Vitruvian Man. The latter perfectly illustrates the blend between art and science during the Renaissance.

Statue of Leonardo da Vinci
Marconi, Guglielmo (1874-1937)
The Italian physicist Marconi contributed to the development of radio transmission and telegraph systems. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with K.F. Braun, in 1909. The Italian government at first was not interested in his developments that would lead to the wireless telegraph and Marconi travelled to London were he obtained a patent in June 1896. Marconi slowly increased the transmission distance and the first 'Marconigram' was sent by Lord Kelvin in 1889. The Wireless Telegraph Company was founded in London in 1897. It became the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. Ltd in 1900. Other of his developments or contributions include: the magnetic detector (1902), horizontal direction telegraphy (1905) and the continuous wave system (1912).
Guglielmo Marconi
inventor of wireless telegraphy
Salvino degli Armati
Salvino degli Armati is credited with the first reading glasses. The invention is also attributed to Alessandro della Spina. However, the first inventor was most probably was an anonymous Venetian glasmaker.

Enrico Forlanini (1848 - 1930)
Enrico Forlanini invented the helicopter with steam engine.

Achille Gaggia
Achille Gaggia invented the first espresso machine in 1949.

Candido Jacuzzi (1903 - 1986)
Candido Jacuzzi invented a portable hydrotherapy pump which would later give rise to the development of the jacuzzi by a third generation family member, Roy Jacuzzi.

Aldus Manutius (1449 - 1515)
Aldus Manutius, an Italian printer, invented the italic typeface style.

Italo Marcioni
The Italo American Italo Marcioni invented the ice cream cone. He patented his invention in 1903.

Antonio Meucci (1808 - 1889)
Antonio Meucci is now considered the first inventor of the telephone, even though Graham Bell was the first to patent the invention. Antonio Meucci began developing the design of a telephone in 1849. In 1871, he filed a patent caveat  for his design of a talking telegraph (or telephone), which expired in 1874, because he lacked the funds to renew it. Soon after that, Graham Bell secured his own patent. Meucci's role in the invention of the telephone was overlooked until the United States House of Representatives passed a Resolution on June 11, 2002, honoring Meucci's contributions and work resolving that "the life and achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognized, and his work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged ."

Italy > Italian culture and history > Italian inventors
Maria Montessori
Montessori (1870-1952)
An Italian physician and educator known for her philosophy and educational method for children. The Montessori method is applied primarily in preschool settings and elementary schools, though some Montessori high schools exist. The method is characterized by an emphasis on self-directed activity on the part of the child and clinical observation on the part of the teacher. Montessori recognizes that children have a natural curiosity and desire to learn. The Montessori method uses materials that help children to understand what they learn by associating an abstract concept with a concrete sensorial experience; in this manner, the Montessori child is actually learning and not just memorizing.

The Montessori method stresses the importance of adapting the child's learning environment to his developmental level and not vice versa. It is important that children learn and progress at their own pace so that fast learners are not held back, and slow learners are not frustrated by their inability to keep up. The role of physical activity in absorbing academic concepts and practical skills is also an important characteristic of the Montessori method.

Famous people who were Montessori educated include: Sergey Brin & Larry Page, Founders of Google and Jeff Bezos, financial analyst, founder of; Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, recipient of a Nobel Prize for Literature.

Alessandro Volta (1745 - 1827)
Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta was an Italian physicist known for having invented the voltaic pile, an early electric battery. Volta first named his invention the "artificial electrical organ", because he had been trying to reproduce the action of the torpedo fish, based on the drawings by the British electrochemist William Nicholson, which Volt interpreted using his contact theory.

The unit of electromotive force, which Volta called "tension", was probably created by back formation from voltaic, in allusion to his name.
Giuseppe Zamboni (1776 - 1846)
Giuseppe Zamboni was a Veronese physicist who invented the Zamboni pile, an early electric battery similar to the Voltaic pile. The uniqueness of his invention was that he undertook a different way of research to manufacture "electrical dry piles", namely without the use of acids or other types of liquids. He aimed to improve the Voltaic piles that deteriorated rapidly because of the presence of a liquid acid that damaged the metals of the electromotive pairs. He called his invention "perpetual electromotors".

See also:
15 women who changed Italy
Italian archeologists
Italian mathematicians
Italian scientists
Italian Nobel prize laureates

Antonio Meucci
now considered the first inventor of the telephone
Franceso Peretti
Prince don Francesco Peretti, great grand son of Pope Sisto V, invented a type of velocipede, the ancestor of the bicycle, in 1610.

Ascanio Sobrero (1812-1888)
Ascanio Sobrero was cited by Alfred Nobel as the inventor of nitroglycerine. However, it was Nobel who received world-wide recognition for inventing dynamite, a stable application developed by Nobel to more easily handle and transport nitroglycerine.

Evangelista Torricelli (1608 - 1647)
Evangelista Torricelli  was an Italian physicist and mathematician, best known for his invention of the barometer.

Pellegrino Turri
Pellegrino Turri built the first typewriter proven to have worked in 1808 for his blind friend Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzono. He also invented carbon paper as we now it today.

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Montessori: The Science behind the Genius
The Science behind the Genius
by Angeline Stoll Lillard (Author),
Renilde Montessori (Foreword),
An Vu (Photographer)
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Montessori Today
Montessori Today:
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 Her Life and Work
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External links and further reading:
The Italian American experience: an encyclopedia by Salvatore John LaGumina
Tinazzi, Massimo. The Correspondence between Alessandro Volta and Giuseppe Zamboni about the Realization of the "Dry Pile".