The celebration of International Women’s Day has gained significant traction in the US in the past 10 years or so, it has been a part of Italian culture for decades. It’s one of my favorite days.  There always seems to be a feeling of spring in the air: sunny skies, a crisp breeze and the beginnings of rebirth. In Italy, mimosa flowers are exchanged among women as a symbolic gesture of sisterhood and support.  These days it also involves chocolate and prosecco – it’s the ultimate Girls’ Night Out. In the end, it’s a celebration of equality for women and a day to acknowledge the wonderful contributions that women make to society.  The Emma Willard education in me can never ignore such a holiday.

Here are some notable Italian women (both contemporary and historic) to celebrate on this International Day of Women.

Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici – the last descendant of the Medici family. She was a great patron of the arts and when she died in the mid 18th century, she bequeathed the entire Medici art collection to the Tuscan state with the stipulation that no part of the collection could ever be removed from Florence.  It is thanks to Anna Maria Luisa dei Medici that we have the Uffizi Gallery, the Vasari Corridor, and the Pitti Palace to enjoy and delight in when we visit Florence.

Albiera, Allegra and Alessia Antinori – these sisters are running a centuries-old wine empire. They are the first women in 26 generations of the Antinori family to take a significant role in the family wine business.  And of course, they are doing it with great style and innovation all the while maintaining the traditions of their winemaking heritage.  The Antinoris have been in the winemaking business since 1385 and with these dynamic women at the helm, it is bound to succeed for generations to come.

Elena Cornaro Piscopia  – a Venetian mathematician, was the first woman in the world to earn a university degree when she graduated from Padua University in 1678.  Talk about a pioneer!

“Whether women are better than men I cannot say – but I can say that they are certainly no worse” – Golda Meir

Buona Festa a tutte le donne!

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