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Giuseppe Ungaretti’s archaic, primitive Brazil, Eugenio Montale’s gentle, cheerful Versilia, Salvatore Quasimodo’s Sicily drenched in pure white light: from 1949…
It was a significant literary phenomenon in the second half of the twentieth century. Through the words of the greatest writers and journalists of the time, and through the images created by the most famous illustrators and photographers, Pirelli opened itself up to the world, sparking a lively international cultural debate.
Pirelli magazine was not just a unique coming together of writers, journalists, poets, literati, scientists, designers, architects, and intellectuals of the time, for it was also an amazing hothouse of graphic artists, illustrators, photographers, and artists. Artistic research and experimentation went on for decades and can be seen in the covers of Pirelli magazine, which also reflect what was going on in the world of international graphics.
The first to appear in the colophon of the magazine (no. 1, 1955) was Ezio Bonini, a pupil of Albe Steiner, who worked with the Studio Boggeri for over twenty years. Pino Milas was called in to work on five issues in 1963. The sixth and last bore the signature of Massimo Vignelli, barely thirty-two years old. In 1964 the artistic direction was assigned first to Gerhard Forster and then to Pino Tovaglia and Teresita Hangeldian.
The Italian Constitution comes into force on 1 January.
Lucio Fontana launches the Second Spatialist Manifesto in March, while Mario Soldati and Bruno Munari start the Movimento Arte Concreta (MAC).
18 April 1948: the first general election in post-war Italy is won by the Christian Democrats and Italy becomes part of the Western bloc.
The Berlin blockade starts in June, and Italy joins the Marshall Plan.
Antonio Pallante shoots Palmiro Togliatti on 14 July: the country is on the brink of civil war.
October: the racing circuit in Monza, the third-oldest in the world, comes back to life.
November: Pirelli magazine is launched, with Arturo Tofanelli as editor-in-chief; 131 issues will be published in 24 years.
December: the member countries of the UN sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris.
Comecon, the pact of mutual economic assistance between eastern countries, is set up in January, after the creation of Cominform.
Western countries create NATO in March, with Italy as one of the signatories.
In June, an oil field is discovered in Cortemaggiore. Enrico Mattei begins his challenge to the “Seven Sisters”.
The People’s Republic of China is proclaimed in October. That same month sees the birth of the German Democratic Republic.
McCarthyism begins in the US.
In mid-February, Walt Disney’s cartoon Cinderella is released in cinemas.
In Italy, peasants start occupying the great landed estates in the Mezzogiorno; the protests extend to the industrial areas of Genoa and Venice.
In the spring, the single CGIL trade union splits, and CISL and UIL are formed.
On 13 May, the Formula 1 championship begins at Silverstone: it is the first ever and is won by Nino Farina in an Alfa Romeo.
The Cassa per il Mezzogiorno is set up.
The Korean War begins.
National production exceeds the level of 1938, and the post-war Reconstruction of Italy comes to an end.
The tax reform comes into force: tax returns become obligatory.
On 31 January, Nilla Pizzi wins the first Sanremo Music Festival: a huge popular success on the radio.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower is appointed as Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
Italy, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg sign the Treaty of Paris, setting up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
Flooding in the Polesine. 180,000 people are evacuated as the Po breaks its banks, leaving about 100 dead.
The Scelba Law: the formation and reorganisation of neo-Fascist parties and movements is prohibited.
In February the first telephone booth is installed in Piazza San Babila, in Milan.
On 10 April, Rai (Radio Televisione Italiana) makes its first experimental television broadcasts.
The European Defence Community (EDC) treaty, which provides for a single army, is signed by six countries, including Italy.
A US experiment detonates the first hydrogen bomb over Bikini, in the Pacific Ocean.
Parliament approves Law no. 136, which establishes the National Hydrocarbon Corporation (ENI).
On 31 March, amid intense controversy, Parliament approves the so-called “Legge truffa” (“fraud law”). Promoted by De Gasperi, it assigns 65% of seats in the lower house to the list or group of lists that win over 50% of votes. In the end, it is never applied and is later repealed.
James Watson and Francis Crick describe the double helix structure of DNA in the journal Nature.
In Cuba, Fidel Castro plans the assault on the Moncada barracks, marking the start of the Cuban Revolution.
After the death of Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev comes to power as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Trieste returns to Italy as the United States and United Kingdom end the Allied military government.
On 3 January, the TV announcer Fulvia Colombo starts RAI television broadcasts.
In Pittsburgh (USA), the first mass vaccination is carried out with Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is founded, with Italy as one of its members.
Based on an idea by Gio Ponti, the Compasso d’Oro award for industrial design is set up.
Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli reach the top of K2: the expedition is led by Ardito Desio and the summit is conquered with the help of Walter Bonatti.
In May, eight eastern European states set up the Warsaw Pact, a defensive military alliance opposed to NATO.
At the Messina Conference, the six countries that created the ECSC set out the path that will lead to the creation of the European Common Market (ECM) and the Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM).
After years of waiting, a motion by Canada is passed and Italy joins the United Nations.
Italy signs a bilateral agreement with Germany for recruiting Italian labour: the go-ahead is given for mass emigration to Germany.
The VII Olympic Winter Games are held in Cortina d’Ampezzo in January and February.
At the 20th Congress of the CPSU, Nikita Khrushchev denounces Stalin’s crimes.
In August, an accident in a coal mine in Marcinelle, Belgium, kills 262 miners, including 136 Italians.
On 23 October, an anti-Soviet insurgency begins in Hungary, but is repressed by the USSR a few weeks later.
Lascia o raddoppia, a television show hosted by Mike Bongiorno, is a hit.
The Treaty of Rome is signed, establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM), with Italy as a member of both.
Fiat launches the 500 on the auto market and it is an overnight success.
The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in history; two months later, NATO decides to install missile bases in Europe.
Explorer 1, the first US artificial satellite, is launched in January.
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s Il Gattopardo is published posthumously.
The Pirelli Tower, designed by Gio Ponti and Pier Luigi Nervi, is built in Milan. The Torre Velasca is constructed not far away: the city changes its look.
The Ministry of Health is set up in March. The creation of the Italian national health service is still many years away.
Pope Pius XII dies in Castel Gandolfo. Twenty days later, the Patriarch of Venice, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, is elected as Pope John XXIII.
In Cuba, Fulgencio Batista leaves Havana and Fidel Castro enters the capital.
The Barbie doll arrives on the market in February and March: it will be a worldwide success.
The first Italian nuclear reactor opens in Ispra, in the province of Varese.
In September, in the USA, the president of the United States and the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union meet for the first time since the end of the Second World War, giving rise to an initial period of détente in international relations.
The lira wins the prize as the world’s most stable currency.
Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is released and wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes in May.
A large number of African countries gain independence, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, and Somalia.
On 25 August, the XVII Summer Olympics open in Rome. A few days earlier, the new Leonardo da Vinci airport had opened in Fiumicino.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy wins the presidential election: he is the 35th president of the United States.
The US breaks diplomatic ties with Cuba. In April, an attempted invasion of the island by CIA-trained Cuban exiles is repulsed in the Bay of Pigs.
Bob Dylan makes his New York debut on 11 April.
On 12 April, Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to reach outer space. About a month later Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space, with the Mercury Program. Kennedy announces the Apollo Program for a moon landing.
The first article on “packet switching”, the technology that will underpin the Internet, is published by Leonard Kleinrock of MIT.
Kennedy and Khrushchev talk about Berlin and a ban on nuclear experiments.
In August, the Communist regime starts building the Berlin Wall.
In December the US carries out its first military operation in Vietnam.
On 18 March, an agreement is signed between France and the National Liberation Front recognising the independence of Algeria, which comes into effect with a new constitution on 8 September.
The Second Vatican Council begins in Rome on 11 October.
The Cuban missile crisis flares up in October: the world is on the brink of another world war.
The Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia is formed with Josip Broz Tito as president for life.
In the Vatican, Pope John XXIII publishes the encyclical Pacem in Terris. After five years of papacy, the Pope dies on 3 June, and on 21 June Giovanni Battista Montini is elected as Paul VI.
Towards the end of August, Martin Luther King stands at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington and pronounces the memorable “I have a dream” speech.
A landslide falls from Mount Toc into the artificial basin formed by the Vajont dam: it is a catastrophe, and the wave sweeps away Longarone, causing 1917 victims.
Lee Harvey Oswald kills John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.
Giulio Natta receives the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
The Great St Bernard Tunnel opens to traffic, connecting Italy and Switzerland.
Umberto Eco publishes Apocalyse Postponed and Gillo Dorfles Nuovi riti, nuovi miti.
In April, the US and the USSR reach an agreement to cut the production of nuclear materials.
During the crisis of the Moro government, Giovanni De Lorenzo plans a military putsch, known as the Piano Solo.
The Gulf of Tonkin incident gives the US a pretext for the Vietnam War.
On 4 October the Autostrada del Sole is opened; a month after the first Metro line in Milan.
The first Italian satellite, the San Marco 1, is sent into space.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) is founded.
Mariner 4, an American space probe, is the first to reach Mars, from where it sends back 21 photos.
Saragat and De Gaulle open the Mont Blanc Tunnel between Italy and France.
The liners Michelangelo and Raffaello begin transatlantic passenger services: they are the last two great liners to be built in Italy.
Pope Paul VI makes a historic speech before the UN Assembly calling for peace in the world.
The Russian Space Agency launches Luna 9, the first mechanical object to land safely on the Moon.
The List of Prohibited Books promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1559 is abolished.
Fiat signs an agreement with the Soviet government to manufacture cars in Russia.?
In November, the Arno breaks its banks and Florence is flooded. Over the following days, young people from all over the world rush to the city to help salvage damaged works of art.
Pope Paul VI publishes the encyclical Populorum Progressio: “Development is much more than just economic growth”.
The Vietnam War continues, and the US launches the Mekong Delta offensive, which ultimately fails.
The Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The Israeli army occupies Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the Arab sector of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights in Syria.
The surgeon Christian Barnard performs the world’s first heart transplant in Cape Town.
On 5 January the “Prague Spring” begins: Alexander Dubcek comes to power and governs until 20 August, when Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague.
370 people die in an earthquake in Belice (Sicily); reconstruction will be slow.
The Tet Offensive in Vietnam is triggered by General Vo Nguyen Giap and the operation continues through January and February. In March, 450 civilians are killed by the US army at My Lai in Vietnam.
In the most dramatic event of the 1968 protests in Italy, students and police clash violently outside the university in Valle Giulia in Rome.
On 4 April, Martin Luther King is assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis (USA).
In May, serious incidents take place between the police and students in the Latin Quarter in Paris. On 13 May, 800,000 people take to the streets in the climax of the May 1968 events in France.
In June, Robert Kennedy, the brother of John, is assassinated in Los Angeles.
Richard Nixon becomes president of the USA.
Yasser Arafat is elected as leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Concorde takes off for the first time in Toulouse, France.
Italy introduces old-age pensions, paid by INPS to citizens with insufficient income.
On 21 July two men land on the Moon: they are Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of the Apollo 11 space mission.
Peace talks on the Vietnam War begin in August.
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi seizes power in Libya in a military coup.
ARPANET, the precursor of the Internet, is launched.
On 12 December, a bomb explodes in Piazza Fontana, Milan, killing 17 people, it is “the mother of all massacres”.
The Beatles come together to make their last record after ten years of hits.
In Italy, the workers’ statute establishes the rights of employees at work.
Law 898, the “Fortuna-Baslini”, is approved, introducing divorce to Italy.
Richard Nixon abolishes the convertibility of the dollar to gold, putting an end to the Bretton Woods agreements of 1944.
In May the chief prosecutor Pietro Scaglione and his driver Antonio Lo Russo are killed by the Corleonesi mafia of Totò Riina: this is the first of the massacres that will reach all the way to Capaci and Via D’Amelio.
In Italy, value added tax (IVA) replaces the general tax on revenue (IGE).
On 25 October the People’s Republic of China is admitted to the UN.
Intel creates the Intel 4004, the first-ever commercial microprocessor.
30 January is Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland. British paratroopers open fire on Catholic protesters in Derry: 13 people are killed.
The US President Richard Nixon goes on an official visit to China, paving the way for restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The direction of the Piccolo Teatro in Milan is entrusted to Giorgio Strehler.
The Watergate scandal breaks during the presidential election campaign; a political espionage plot against the Democratic Party is foiled.