List of Italian inventions

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Italy has been the source of many significant inventions. The following inventions and discoveries were made by people that lived in the geographical region of Italy or were made by Italians.

An alphabetical list of Italian inventions[edit]







  • Film festival Founded as Esposizione d’Arte Cinematografica, the Venice Film Festival was established in 1932.[52]
  • Flywheel.A variant of the flywheel with variable moment of inertia was invented in the 1480s by Leonardo da Vinci






  • Knockout mice, genetically engineered mice which are used to study the function of genes, developed by Italian-born US Scientist Mario Capecchi in 1989. Prof Capecchi was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine for this innovation.[66]





  • Ocarina a musical instrument invented by Giuseppe Donati
  • Opera, the earliest opera composition was Dafne written around 1597 by Jacopo Peri[74]
  • Opera House, the first public opera house was the "Teatro San Cassiano" opened in Venice in 1637 and survived until 1800.[75]
  • Oxygen rebreather, a design for an ARO apparatus which was practical and reliable was developed in Italy by Dario Gonzatti-Emilio Cressi—Duilio Marcante in the 1930s. Emilio Cressi became the founder of the Italian company Cressi-Sub.[76]





  • San Marco 1 Italy was the third country to launch a satellite on December 15, 1964
  • Science academy The first scientific society was the Academia Secretorum Naturae founded in Naples in 1560 by the polymath Giambattista della Porta[4]
  • Scissors, pivoted version invented by Romans around 100 AD
  • Scuderi engine an engine invented by Italian-American engineer Carmelo Scuderi[89]
  • Shopping Center The earliest example of public shopping mall was the Trajan's Market in Ancient Rome built around 100-110 AD by Apollodorus of Damascus.
  • Spring powered cart A self-propelled mechanical cart, part of a larger robot, designed by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1480s[90]
  • Stem cells as vectors for Gene Therapy: In 1992 Doctor Claudio Bordignon working at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy performed the first procedure of gene therapy using hematopoietic stem cells as vectors to deliver genes intended to correct hereditary diseases[91]
  • Stem cell transplant to treat Systemic Lupus Erythematosus was first attempted by Alberto Marmont De Haut Champs in 1996.[92]
  • Star fort It was first seen in the mid-15th century in Italy
  • Stiletto, a type of narrow dagger which appeared in the Middle Ages




  • Vega (rocket) a rocket developed chiefly in Italy (65%) with the collaboration of other European Nations (Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden). First flight took place in 2012. The last stage of the rocket has the ability to use the propulsion system to adjust the orbit.
  • Vibram rubber soles, invented in 1937 by Vitale Bramani
  • Vibram FiveFingers a type of shoe invented in 1999 by Robert Fliri.
  • Violin, four stringed, the name of the inventor is unknown, but the instrument appeared in renaissance Italy.
  • Viterbi algorithm created by Andrew James Viterbi (Italian-American researcher) in 1967 and now used in cell phones
  • VVA-14 Wing-In-Ground/Aircraft Hybrid designed by Roberto Orso Di Bartini in 1972


  • Waterbed invented by Sanctorius in the early 1600s
  • Watermark This medieval innovation was first introduced in Fabriano, Italy, in 1282.
  • Water Walking Skis were first designed by Leonardo da Vinci[101]
  • Webmail invented by Luca Manunza in 1994-95
  • Welfare The earliest form of welfare was the lex frumentaria instituted by the tribune Gaius Gracchus dating back to 122 B.C., a law that ordered Rome’s government to supply its citizens with allotments of cheaply priced grain.
  • Wheel lock invented by Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century
  • Wind tunnel designed by Gaetano Lanza in 1909.
  • Wine dispenser invented in 2009 and now used in many restaurants around the world
  • Worm drive (Universal screw) invented by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1480s


Scientific discoveries and advances in medicine[edit]

  • Atherosclerosis was first described by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1500s
  • Bioelectromagnetics was a field pioneered by Italian scientists Luigi Galvani in 1780 and Carlo Matteucci in 1830.
  • Cardiac Stem Cell therapy for heart failure was developed by Dr Piero Anversa and Dr Roberto Bolli[104]
  • Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency a condition linked to Multiple Sclerosis was first described by Doctor Paolo Zamboni in 2008
  • Cloning (the first horse) accomplished by Cesare Galli in 2003[105]
  • Cloning (endangered species of wildlife) first Gaur cloned by Philip Damiani in 2001 (Damiani is an Italian-American scientist).[106]
  • Digestive Processes were first described by Lazzaro Spallanzani
  • Stem cells responsible for causing Colon Cancer were isolated and described by Ruggero DeMaria and his team in 2007[107]
  • Cosmic X-Rays were discovered by Riccardo Giacconi
  • Fibonacci’s Series were created by mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci in 1202
  • Golgi Apparatus was first described by Camillo Golgi
  • Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis was found to have an association with diabetes type 1 and Multiple Sclerosis in Sardinia. The research team was led by professor Leonardo Sechi[108]
  • Nerve Growth Factor was discovered by Italian biochemist Rita Levi-Montalcini
  • Oncoviruses or viruses capable of causing cancers were first isolated and described by biologist Renato Dulbecco
  • Reverse transcriptase a viral enzyme discovered by biologist Renato Dulbecco
  • SARS virus was discovered by Carlo Urbani in 2003, the discovery cost him his life
  • The Space Tether Experiment in 1996 was a collaboration between NASA and Italy and called for a scientific payload--a large, spherical satellite--to be deployed from the US space shuttle at the end of a conducting cable (tether) 20 km (12.5 miles) long. The idea was to let the shuttle drag the tether across the Earth's magnetic field, producing one part of a dynamo circuit. The experiment worked, proving that large amounts of electricity were produced, so much so that the tether itself was melted[109]
  • Venturi effect a phenomenon named after its discoverer, Italian physicist Giovanni Battista Venturi

Other Significant Italian Innovations[edit]

  • Comau an Italian company who is a leader in industrial automation and developed many innovations in this field. In particular the Smart5 line of industrial robots. Today all major automotive manufacturers use Comau machines.
  • Latin alphabet derived from the Greek alphabets became the foundation of many languages worldwide.
  • Runic alphabet: the runic alphabet was based on Old Italic script.
  • Stock Exchange: the first such institution was started in Bruges by members of the Della Borsa family (Van der Bourse in Flemish). The Della Borsas were Venetian merchants.

Italian Military Innovations[edit]

  • Aermacchi MB-326 a very successful trainer jet, used by many air forces.
  • Aermacchi MB-339 another successful trainer jet.
  • Aermacchi M-346 One of the most advanced jet trainers, the result of a joint Italian and Russian project.
  • AgustaWestland AW109 an helicopter that first flew in 1971 but is still in production.
  • Agusta A129 Mangusta a combat helicopter which first flew in 1983 but is still in production.
  • Airpower, strategic doctrine first formulated by Giulio Douhet[110]
  • Aerial warfare, airstrike, aerial resupply and aerial reconnaissance. The first use of airplanes in an actual war occurred in the 1911 Italo-Turkish War with the Italian Army Air Corps conducting reconnaissance missions by airplane and bombing a Turkish camp at Ain Zara, Libya[111]
  • Aeritalia G.222 a successful transport aircraft, adopted by the US Air Force as the C-27 Spartan.
  • Alpini, first unit of mountain troops, created in 1872[112]
  • Ariete one of the most modern main battle tanks.
  • Aspide missile, which was an improvement over the AIM-7 Sparrow missile, containing many original innovations and improving on the meagre 10% kill rate of the Sparrow missile.
  • Aster (missile family) an innovative family of ground to air missiles developed jointly by Italy and France.
  • Battledress The first mass-produced military camouflage was the Italian telo mimetico ("mimetic cloth") pattern of 1929, used to cover a shelter-half (telo tenda).[113][114]
  • Beretta 92 one of the most successful sidearms ever produced.
  • Beretta AR70/90 one of the best and most reliable assault rifles ever produced. The Alpini nicknamed it "Excalibur".
  • Beretta ARX 160 an extremely reliable assault rifle.
  • Centauro a modern wheeled tank destroyer
  • Dardo IFV a modern infantry fighting vehicle
  • Eurofighter Typhoon. Italy is one of the members of the multinational consortium that builds the Typhoon. The aircraft is innovative because the goal of its designers was extreme agility at high speeds, unlike aircraft such as the Sukhoi 27 and the F-22, which opted for agility at slow speed. To this, one must add the ability to supercruise, sustain very high G turns thanks to a special suit worn by its pilots and the ability to engage off-boresight targets. The aircraft is low-observable and is hard to spot with the naked eye, while its IRST sensor allows it to detect "stealth" aircraft at great range. Armed with the new IRIS-T missile, it becomes a formidable dogfighter.
  • Fabian strategy. A guerrilla-warfare strategy first impelemented by Quintus Fabius Maximus "Cunctator" in 217 BC[115]
  • Fiat G.91a very successful attack plane which served in many NATO air forces.
  • Fiat 6614 a wheeled armoured personnel carrier
  • Franchi SPAS-15 A legendary automatic shotgun which earned the nickname of the "Key of the Commando". It was featured in the 2002 action movie Showtime, but its Italian origin was not revealed and it was characterized as a "custom job, probably from Eastern Europe".
  • Girandoni Air Rifle, first repeating rifle used in combat, 50 years before the Henry repeating rifle[116][117]
  • Human torpedo the first example of a swimmer delivery vehicle used in combat
  • IRIS-T a missile developed by a German-led consortium, in which Italy holds a 19% stake. The missile was developed after the Luftwaffe realized that the AA-11 Archer missile was far more advanced than first thought. As of 2014 IRIS-T is one of the most capable and most agile air-to-air missiles and vastly outclasses both the Sidewinder and the Archer.
  • Frogmen. Known as Incursori in Italy. Their record can be traced back to World War I and the operation against the Austrian-Hungarian Battleship Viribus Unitis in Pola Harbour in 1918.[118]
  • Iveco LMV a 4WD tactical vehicle developed by Iveco and adopted by the Italian army, the British Army, Russia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Norway, Ukraine and Spain.
  • Military academy The world's first institution devoted to military education was founded in Turin (1677)[119]
  • MAS (boat) one of the first examples of fast attack craft which demonstrated its effectiveness in the sinking of the Austrian battleship SMS Szent István in 1918 at the closing of the First World War.
  • MEADS an air and missile defense system co-developed by the USA, Germany and Italy
  • Meteor (missile) a modern beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile developed with a substantial Italian contribution in its design.
  • Mountain paratroopers. created in the 1950s with the Alpini Paracadutisti platoons that later formed the Monte Cervino Battalion
  • OTO Melara Mod 56 One of few howitzers designed specifically for mountain warfare.
  • OTO Melara 76 mm, a naval artillery piece adopted by many navies.
  • Otomat A long range antiship missile which served in many navies
  • Palmaria (artillery) a self-propelled 155 mm howitzer, exported to Libya, Argentina and Nigeria.
  • Panavia Tornado an attack aircraft designed for the interdiction role by a consortium formed by the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy
  • PIRATE, The Passive Infra-Red Airborne Track Equipment system is an infrared search and track (IRST) system mounted on the Eurofighter Typhoon. SELEX Galileo is an Italian company which is the leading contractor on the project. PIRATE is capable of detecting stealth aircraft at surprising ranges, thus effectively negating the advantage of stealth.
  • Puma (AFV) a family of wheeled armoured fighting vehicles
  • Paratroopers, first drop carried out in 1927[citation needed]
  • SIDAM 25 a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system
  • Spectre M4 a submachine gun, made famous by Sylvester Stallone's movie "Cobra"

Italian contributions to music[edit]

Culinary innovations[edit]

External links[edit]


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  122. ^ it:Pane casareccio di Genzano
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  124. ^ it:Pane di Lariano
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  126. ^