Think about the greatest 20th century authors, designers and photographers in Italy. Probably, some of the names that you just came up with, are featured in Bellezza d’Italia, the lifestyle magazine addressed to doctors that Franco Dompé had launched in 1947.
Among the journalists, for example, there’s Elsa Robiola with her fashion articles; Orio Vergani, who is considered the first photojournalist in Italy; Indro Montanelli, the founder of the newspapers Il Giornale and La Voce; Franciscan friar Agostino Gemelli, the first Rector of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.
If we move on to poets, Salvatore Quasimodo and Carlo Alberto Salustri, AKA Trilussa, particularly stand out. While the 1959 Nobel Prize in Literature needs no introduction, Trilussa made a name for himself especially in Rome, his home town, for his poems written in the local dialect. But what if the reader is more into prose rather than poetry? Bellezza d’Italia, later published with the acronym BDI, gets them covered too with the stories written, among others, by Dino Buzzati, Salvator Gotta and Fernando Palazzi, the author of the famous dictionary Il Piccolo Palazzi.
The magazine also features reportages by Lino Pellegrini, who becomes in 1955 BDI’s director, and Federico Patellani, a pioneer of Italian photojournalism. And how about the celebrities? Well, Bellezza d’Italia involves some of them too as contributors, such as the actress Elena Zareschi and the Austrian skier Leo Gasperl.
But the editorial project published by Dompé farmaceutici isn’t only focused on written content: it pays a lot of attention to its look too. This is supervised by the renowned architect and designer Franco Grignani, its art director for several years. Along with his clever and colourful ads of the pharmaceutical company’s products, Bellezza d’Italia includes, furthermore, illustrations by the original caricaturist Fulvio Bianconi, the expressionist painter Giuseppe Migneco, and the ironic artist Bruna Moretti, alias Brunetta.
Last but not least, some of the biggest names in international photography are also involved in BDI. Among these, there’s “The Eye of the Century” Henri Cartier Bresson, the Hungarian-born Robert Capa and the metaphysical photographer Herbert List, just to mention a few.
An ambitious cultural project which comes to an end in 1962, leaving us with a precious treasure: an in-depth insight into the Italian culture of the 1950s.