Carlo Ciampi with George W. Bush - Photo: Eric Draper
He was born in Livorno, Tuscany, on 9th December 1920. After being rejected for a naval career through poor eyesight, he graduated from Pisa University in 1941 with a doctorate in ancient Greek literature and classical philology. He was immediately called up for military duties and posted to Albania. In 1943, when the armistice was signed with the allies, he refused to stay with the Fascist regime and joined the Italian resistance movement. After the war, he returned to the University of Pisa and took a second degree in law, before starting his career with the Bank of Italy.
In 1979, he was appointed Governor of the Bank of Italy where he remained until 1993. In his first few years as Governor, Ciampi was instrumental in establishing the independence of the Bank, which had previously been under the control of the Italian treasury. Although left-leaning by nature, Ciampi remaining politically neutral throughout his career at the Bank of Italy.
Ciampi's experiences in the war lead him to be an ardent supporter of the European Union. He claimed later that: "it is the only way to give a future to the younger generations."
In 1993, the results of a referendum indicated the public's desire for widespread changes in the system of government. Italian President, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, persuaded Ciampi to become the Prime Minister of a non-partisan government tasked with introducing a range of reforms including changes to the voting system.
Disillusionment with the political establishment led to newcomer, Silvio Berlusconi being swept to power for the first time in 1994. Two years later, Ciampi served as Treasury Minister in the governments of Romani Prodi and Massimo d'Alemma, and was responsible for overseeing Italy's entry into the Euro. He personally chose the Italian design for the one euro coin which featured Leonardo da Vinci's 'Vitruvian man', representing the notion that money served man and not the other way around!
Italian One Euro coin
He married Franca Pilla in 1946 and they had two children, Claudio who became a banker, and Gabriela, who became a university lecturer.
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi died on 16th September 2016 at the age of 95.