Businessman and politician Count Giuseppe Volpi of Misurata was born on 19th November, 1877 in Venice. He brought electricity to Venice and founded the Venice Film Festival.
Volpi brought electricity to Venice and the north-east of Italy in 1903. He also had an influence on the development of Porto Marghera, the industrial complex across the lagoon from Venice.
It was in 1932, as president of the Venice Biennale, that Volpi arranged the first Venice Film Festival. It took place between 6 and 21 August on the terrace of the Hotel Excelsior at the Venice Lido.
The first film to be shown at the festival was Rouben Mamoulian’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Considered a success, the festival took place in August 1934 and took involved competition. In 1935, the Film Festival introduced the Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup), an award for actors, for the first time.
Walt Disney sent Volpi a personal letter, as president of the Biennale, in 1939 thanking him for the prize awarded to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the film festival. The letter is now in the historical archives of the Biennale.
From 1921 to 1925 Volpi was governor of the Italian colony of Tripolitania, a former province of Libya. As a result, he became Count of Misurata in 1925.
From 1925 to 1928 he served as Italy’s Finance Minister. He was a signatory in 1923 of the Treaty of Lausanne, which established the borders of the modern Turkey.
Volpi died in Rome in 1947. His son, Giovanni, was manager of the Scuderia Serenissima team. His granddaughter, the Countess Maria Cicogna, is a film producer, described by the New York Times as “the first major female Italian film producer” and “one of the most powerful women in European cinema”.
Volpi restored the Palladian Villa Barbaro, containing frescoes by Paolo Veronese and sculptures by Alessandro Vittoria.
Volpi was credited with restoring the Villa Barbaro in Maser in the Veneto, which was designed and built by Andrea Palladio and contains frescoes by Paolo Veronese and sculptures by Alessandro Vittoria.