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On this day January 24, 41

Roman Emperor Caligula was murdered by Cassius Chaerea and the disgruntled Praetorian Guards. Caligula’s uncle Claudius was proclaimed emperor in his place.

gaius_caligula_headOn 24 January 41, Chaerea and other guardsmen accosted Caligula while he was addressing an acting troupe of young men during a series of games and dramatics held for the Divine Augustus.

Details on the events vary somewhat from source to source, but they agree that Chaerea was first to stab Caligula followed by a number of conspirators. Suetonius records that Caligula’s death was similar to that of Julius Caesar.

He states that both the elder Gaius Julius Caesar (Julius Caesar) and the younger Gaius Julius Caesar (Caligula) were stabbed 30 times by conspirators led by a man named Cassius (Cassius Longinus and Cassius Chaerea). Read More…


On this day January 7, 1610

Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei first observed three of Jupiter’s moons through his telescope: Io, Europa, and Callisto.

Io moon of Jupiter

Io moon of Jupiter

On 7 January 1610 Galileo observed with his telescope what he described at the time as “three fixed stars, totally invisible by their smallness”, all within a short distance of Jupiter, and lying on a straight line through it.

Observations on subsequent nights showed that the positions of these “stars” relative to Jupiter were changing in a way that would have been inexplicable if they had really been fixed stars.

On 10 January Galileo noted that one of them had disappeared, an observation which he attributed to its being hidden behind Jupiter. Within a few days he concluded that they were orbiting Jupiter. Read More…

On this day January 1, 2002

Euro banknotes and coins become legal tender in twelve of the European Union’s member states.

euro_banknotesThe euro (currency sign: ; currency code: EUR) is the official currency of fifteen member states of the European Union (EU).

The states, known collectively as the Eurozone are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain. Read More…

On this day December 25, 1223

After his return to Italy from a voyage to Egypt and Acre in 1220, St Francis of Assisi introduced three-dimensional nativity scenes.

Some accounts state he used statues or costumed people, but Thomas of Celano, the biographer of Francis tells how he only used a straw-filled manger (feeding trough) set between a real ox and donkey. Read More…

PM of Italy Silvio Berlusconi assaulted

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is in San Raffaele Hospital overnight in Milan following an assault during an autograph session at the end of a rally.

The 73 year-old media mogul received a replica of Milan’s famous Domo Cathedral in the face from an assailant who police named as 42 year-old Massimo Tartaglia, a local man who has been undergoing mental health treatment for ten years. Read More…

On this day October 23, 1911

An Italian pilot takes off from Libya to observe Turkish army lines during the Turco-Italian War setting the first use of aircraft in war.

Italian dirigibles over Libyan Territory

Italian dirigibles over Libyan Territory

The Italo-Turkish War saw numerous technological advances used in warfare; notably the plane and the first use of military radio telegraph communications.

As a result of this conflict, Italy was awarded the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica.

These provinces together formed what became known as Libya. During the conflict, Italian forces also occupied the Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean Sea.

Italy had agreed to return the Dodecanese Islands to the Ottoman Empire according to the Treaty of Ouchy in 1912 as it was signed at the Ouchy Castle in Lausanne, Switzerland); however the vagueness of the text allowed a provisional Italian administration of the islands, and Turkey eventually renounced all claims on these islands in the Article 15 of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. Read More…

On this day October 9, 1963

In northeast Italy, over 2,000 people are killed when a large landslide behind the Vajont Dam causes a giant wave of water to overtop it.

Vajont valley

Vajont valley

On 12 February 2008, while launching the International Year of Planet Earth, UNESCO cited the Vajont Dam tragedy as one of the five worst man-made disasters, caused by “the failure of engineers and geologists.”

On 9 October 1963 at approximately 10:35pm, the combination of ‘drawing-down the reservoir’ and heavy rains triggered a landslide of about 260 million cubic metres of forest, earth, and rock, which fell into the reservoir at up to 110 km per hour (68 mph).

The resulting displacement of water caused 50 million cubic metres of water to over-top the dam in a 250-metre high wave. Despite this, the dam’s structure was largely undamaged — the top metre or so of masonry was washed away, but the basic structure remained intact. Read More…