At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Oscar Luigi Scalfaro – President of Italy

Devout lawyer served the Republic all his life


Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, who was the ninth President of the Italian Republic
Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, who was the ninth
President of the Italian Republic
The ninth President of the Italian Republic, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, was born on this day in 1918 in Novara.

After studying law and entering the magistrature he became a public prosecutor and is the last Italian attorney to have obtained a death sentence.

In 1945 he prosecuted the former Novara prefect Enrico Vezzalini and five servicemen, who were accused of collaborating with the Germans. All six were condemned to death and the sentence was carried out a few months later.

Subsequently Scalfaro obtained another death sentence, but the accused was pardoned before the execution could take place.

Scalfaro was brought up to be a devout Catholic and studied law at Milan’s Università Cattolica.

Before the war ended he lost his wife, Maria Inzitari, who died a few weeks after giving birth to their daughter. He never remarried.

In 1948, as a member of Democrazia Cristiana, Scalfaro became a deputy representing Turin and was to keep the seat for more than 40 years, during which he held a number of leadership positions within the Christian Democrat party and in the Chamber of Deputies.

The cloister at the Università Cattolica in Milan, the largest private university in Europe
The cloister at the Università Cattolica in Milan, the
largest private university in Europe
At various times Scalfaro was the minister in charge of transport, civil aviation, education and the interior and, in 1987, he tried unsuccessfully to form a Government himself.

He was elected President of the Republic in 1992 and served till 1999. He then became a Senator for life.

He campaigned for the ‘No’ side in the 2006 referendum on constitutional reform and also served briefly as President of the Senate, despite by then being in his late eighties.

Scalfaro died in Rome in 2012 at the age of 93.


The 121m cupola of the Basilica of San Gaudenzio dominates the Novara skyline
The 121m cupola of the Basilica of San
Gaudenzio dominates the Novara skyline
Travel tip:

Novara, where Oscar Luigi Scalfaro was born, is in the Piedmont region to the west of Milan. In the historic centre you can still see part of the ancient Roman walls. The most imposing monument, which has become the symbol of Novara, is the Basilica of San Gaudenzio with its 121-metre high cupola designed by Alessandro Antonelli.

Travel tip:

The seat of the Italian Senate is Palazzo Madama in Rome, which was built on top of the ancient baths of Nero close to Piazza Navona at the end of the 15th century for the Medici family. The Palazzo takes its name from Madama Margherita of Austria, the illegitimate daughter of the Emperor Charles V, who married Alessandro dè Medici. In 1871 after the conquest of Rome by Victor Emmanuel’s troops, Palazzo Madama became the seat of the Senate of the newly-formed Kingdom of Italy.

More reading:


How Moro tragedy blighted career of President Cossiga

(Photo of Universita Cattolica by Scruch CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of Novara cupola by Guido06 CC BY-SA 3.0)


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