(Some comments on this post by Yitzhak)
1 - A letter of R' Kook expressing a similar sentiment on the question of beard-wearing can be found in letter 466 of Igros HaReiyah in which he quotes a story about R' Chaim of Volozhin dismissing the kabbalistic importance of beards while at the same time "one must admit that 'the Jewish sense of beauty' is agreeable to waring a beard and it should be viewed as a nice custom in a place where the custom is to be stringent, and it can be called a Mitzvah Kallah like the wearing of black shoelaces."
2 -Much ink has been spilled on the difficult question of Rema M' Fano's beard. See Likutei He'aros on the Responsa of Chasam Sofer there for many sources on the question. It does appear that Chasam Sofer is incorrect and the passage in Eilim is referring to Yashar himself. See here for a "drawing" of Rema M'Fano and here for a drawing of Yashar both supporting beards (or in the case of Yashar at least a goatee). I have not been able to trace the background of the drawings and do not know if they are authentic (I see now that I missed the lengthy post on the subject here.)
3 - That many Italian Rabbis did forgo the beard is well-known. A great example is the photo of R' Moshe Chafetz in Dan's article here.
4 - Re: the question of Ramchal's beard, one of the complaints cited by his adversaries was that he shaved his beard, The apologetic on this point are most amusing. Either the Ramchal knew how to shave without upsetting any of the 13 middos etc., etc. or, "everyone knows that Italians grow their beards later then the rest of humankind (!?)".