H.E. Francesco Rutelli

Francesco Rutelli was born in Rome in 1954. He is married to Italian journalist and anchorwoman Barbara Palombelli. They have four children. He is co-President of the European Democratic Party, re-elected in December 2014. Rutelli has been elected 6 times, over a period of 30 years, to the Italian Parliament: he served in the Camera dei Deputati (1983, 1987, 1992, 2001, 2006), and in the Senate (2008-2013). He was a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004.

The first Mayor of Rome elected directly by its citizens (in 1993), he was re-elected in 1997, setting the record for the highest popular vote in the history of the Italian capital city (990.000 votes).

He served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture of Italy (2006-2008).

Today, he leads a series of international and national initiatives, consistent with his cultural and political background.


At the European level, Rutelli is the founder of the European Democratic Party, together with the French political leader Francois Bayrou. He has been unanimously voted co-President of the Party (2004-today) in Brussels. The members of the European Parliament belonging to EDP sit in the ALDE Group (Alliance of Democrats and Liberals).

At the end of the 1990s he was member of the Committee of Regions, where he chaired the Urban Policies Committee, and was an Advisor for Urban Development to the former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali.

He has been elected to the European Parliament (1999-2004), sitting in the ALDE Group, introducing Reports and many Parliamentary initiatives. He was a promoter of the Referendum supporting a stronger integration between Italy and the EU (held in 1989, with an overwhelming YES vote – 88%); he has been awarded the Crocodile Prize, as a pro-European personality.

In the Italian Parliament, he has been a long serving member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He also chaired for two terms the Human Rights Committee in the Camera dei Deputati.

Between 2008 and 2011 he has been the Chairman of COPASIR (the Parliamentary Committee of Overview on Intelligence). He has drafted and published reports on human trafficking as a strategic threat, and the first Report to the Parliament on Cyberspace and its implications for national security.

He has a Diploma in International Organizations from SIOI (the Italian Society for International Organization).

He has been the Honorary President (2013-2014) of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (Berlin).

He promoted the “Cultural and Creative Industries Italy-China “ Forums (Beijing, 2014; Milan, Venice, 2015). He co-chairs the Silk Road Cities Alliance (Beijing).

He is Honorary President of the Italy- United Arab Emirates Association.

He chairs the Associazione Incontro di Civiltà, devoted to the dialogue among the great Civilizations, and to the restoration and reconstruction of masterpieces damaged or destroyed in recent conflicts.

He is the founder and President of the Cultural Heritage Rescue Prize, to award the brave people who save the Culture in danger.

Today he contributes to several international think tanks, universities and foundations.


In 1975, Francesco Rutelli joined the Partito Radicale. Aged 26, in 1980, he was elected Secretary General of the Party, driving initiatives on human and civil rights, justice, environmental issues, nonviolent gandhian culture, the fight against global hunger and malnutrition. He was elected as a member of Camera dei Deputati (House of Representatives) in 1983, aged 29.

For his pro-environment record, he was elected Coordinator of the Italian Greens, then leader of the Parliamentary Group. A Green reformer, he was appointed Minister for the Environment and Urban Areas, but resigned after just two days (1993).

He was designated to lead the “Ulivo” (centre-left) coalition as candidate for Prime Minister in the 2001 general election, challenging Silvio Berlusconi. During the campaign, the coalition “L’Ulivo per Rutelli” recovered 10 percentage points in popular support and got 16,4 million votes, resulting nevertheless defeated by a 1,4% margin in the overall vote.

The newly established party “La Margherita – Democrazia è Libertà” received 5,4 million votes. Rutelli was elected President of La Margherita, then confirmed in 2004 and 2007.

In 2006 Rutelli was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture in the Prodi Government. He was also the delegate for Tourism, a strategic issue he frequently dealt with, especially in its implications for economic development and cultural promotion.

During his tenure – in a government that brought the public debt to its lowest in the past 25 years, and gave Italy a solid credibility in international markets – he promoted strategic social and economic policies, such as market liberalizations, mortgage portability, corporate tax relief, a bonus for low-wage pensioners. He was a firm supporter of Italy’s role in international engagements and peacekeeping operations.

La Margherita elected 120 members of the Parliament in the 2006 General election. It contributed to the birth of Partito Democratico (2008); Rutelli quit the party in 2009, due to a too much left-leaning position, yet maintaining good political and personal relations: he holds a liberal-democratic position.

Because of the disloyal behavior of La Margherita’s treasurer (then sentenced for embezzling) the history and achievements of the party were briefly overshadowed; but judges have ruled that Rutelli and the executive members of the party were victims, and as such they have led a vigorous prosecution, achieving the full recover of the stolen funds: together with the party’s budget surplus – a first in Italian political history – 6,5 million euros have already been bequeathed to the Italian Ministry of Economy.

Recently, La Margherita has been furthermore recognized as an excellent ‘political training school’ after the election of its members Matteo Renzi as Prime Minister, Sergio Mattarella as President of the Italian Republic, Paolo Gentiloni as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other relevant personalities.


His family has ancestral ties with culture and the arts, rooted in the regions of Marche, Emilia, Sicily and Rome. Mario Rutelli (his great-grandfather) was the author of the Najadi Fountain in Rome, the Anita Garibaldi’s Monument, and dozens of public and private sculptures; among them, some of the most important monuments in Palermo (Sicily).

Another great-grandfather, Felice Martini from Parma, was the Architect of the latest renovation (1873) of the historic Arsenale in Venice. Grandfather Ottavio Marini was the Director of Antiquities and Belle Arti of the Italian Government (1910-20’s). The Rutelli family, in Palermo, is associated to many relevant developments: the construction of Teatro Massimo, the buildings in via Roma and on the seaside, Mondello’s liberty buildings.

In the last two decades, as Mayor of Rome and, furtherly, as Minister of Culture, Francesco Rutelli has contributed to the creation and development of many crucial infrastructures, cultural institutions, museums and galleries in Italy.

Among them, the Auditorium-Città della Musica (an institution awaited in Rome for 60 years, designed by Renzo Piano), the MAXXI Museum, the new Ara Pacis shrine/museum, a vast restoration and archeological excavation program and the opening of over 20 museums and exhibition spaces in Rome, including the National Gallery of Ancient Art, the Civic Gallery of Modern Art (later renamed MACRO) and the Scuderie del Quirinale complex. He oversaw the restoration of San Carlo Theatre (Naples) and Petruzzelli Theatre (Bari), the construction of the new Maggio Fiorentino Auditorium (Florence) and the conclusion of the Reggia di Venaria (Torino) restoration.

He enacted a new Landscape Code and a new tax credit/tax shelter system that revitalized the movie industry. He established the Teatro Festival in Naples and re-launched the International Festival of Spoleto. He promoted the first White Book on Italian creative industries.

Francesco Rutelli has led a significant cultural diplomacy strategy for Italy, and through successful negotiations managed the recovery of priceless stolen crafts and historical masterpieces, in the UNESCO Conventions framework, in cooperation with international museums and cultural institutions, developing new agreements on lending policies and scientific cooperation.

Currently, he is the founder and President of Associazione Priorità Cultura, that gathers outstanding Italian personalities, engaged on Heritage conservation and promotion, contemporary arts, public-private partnership in the many fields of Culture.

Under the auspices of Pope Francis, he is the Coordinator of the Ancient Cultural and Religious Roads Group, a part of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Olivetti Company, created by Adriano Olivetti and owned by TIM-Telecom, recently appointed Francesco Rutelli as the Chairman of the Olivetti Design Contest, devoted to award young Italian designers.


In December 1993 Francesco Rutelli was elected Mayor of Rome. He was the youngest ever (39 years old) and the first to be elected directly by citizens; he was then confirmed in 1997 with 990.000 votes (the highest number ever reached in any election in the city). He was subsequently voted Chairman of the Council of the National Association of Italian Municipalities.

He promoted deep changes in the city, with the crucial support of a qualified and motivated team.

Alongside the main achievements in the Campidoglio (city hall) and in archeological areas (the return of Marco Aurelio’s statue, the Tabularium opening, the new Trajan’s Forum museum, new excavations in the Imperial Fora), hundreds of public infrastructure works were accomplished in the seven years he held office: the so-called “Hundred-Squares Program” (over 170 squares restored or newly built), the first new tramway line after decades, the inauguration and restoration of railways (among them, the La Storta-Saint Peter route, part of nearly 300 km of local and regional railroads that entered into service) and train stations, the third lane of the City Ring freeway (GRA) and Airport freeway, the new Wholesale Market facilities.

Private infrastructures were also encouraged and supported: the Cinemas modernization, the Ostia touristic harbor, a radical transformation in the hotel system.

A new City Plan was adopted, dedicating over 50% of land to green and agricultural areas and scrapping nearly 60 million cubic meters of existing building licenses. Several new works initiated under his tenure have been developed in the following years (the construction of new subway lines, the Monte Mario road tunnel, the new Convention Center in the EUR neighborhood).

Rutelli was appointed Special Commissioner for the Great Christian Jubilee of 2000. In 41 months (compared to a national average of 9 years) about 800 planned construction sites were completed (96% on schedule) – in a transparent way, without any wrongdoing allegations, and without a single casualty among workers. Maintenance works,

management and reception services allowed an attendance of 27 million pilgrims and visitors from all over the world during the year 2000. Just to list a few symbolic achievements: the creation of a complete walking promenade on the restored Appia Antica road, the renovation of all bridges on the Tiber river, the transformation of Piazza del Popolo into a pedestrian zone, new parks and recreational areas, the refurbishment of public spaces, the Principe Amedeo-Gregorio VII Underpass, Richard Meier’s church in Tor Tre Teste neighborhood.

He run again for Mayor in 2008, but he was defeated, with 46,3% of the votes. In 2015-2016, he declined new offers to run for office after the resigning of the ex-Mayor, and launched a civic platform to support a program of city regeneration, with a qualified participation, named “La Prossima Roma” (the Next Rome).


For his environmental engagement he was elected Coordinator of the Green Party, member of the city council in Rome (1989) and again as a member of Camera dei Deputati. In 1989 he founded the “Centro per un Futuro Sostenibile” (CFS – Center for a Sustainable Future), which nowadays promotes a variety of initiatives on global environment and climate change. CFS brings prominent Italian economists, scientists, experts and multi-partisan politicians together.

He was a promoter of the Montreal Treaty Ratification bill in the Italian Parliament.

Appointed Minister of Environment and Urban Areas in the Ciampi Government (1993), he resigned after just two days; notwithstanding, he established the Valle Averto (Venice Lagoon) and the Valli di Comacchio (River Po Delta) natural reserves, and incentives for farmers in natural parks. Among his achievements, Law n. 113 of 1992 mandates to plant a tree for every child born. The law has been recently extended by the Italian Parliament; during Rutelli’s tenure as Mayor, 120.000 new trees were planted only in the city of Rome.

He was the promoter of important Conferences on Climate Change: the two most recent held in the Camera dei Deputati and in the French Senate (2015), “Turning Point in Paris”.

At Società Italiana per l’Organizzazione Internazionale (SIOI) he currently chairs (2016) the Master in Sustainable Development, Geopolitics of Resources and Arctic Studies.


Per il disarmo, Gammalibri, 1982.

Dieci anni al Duemila. Il buongoverno ecologico. Gruppo parlamentare Verdi Arcobaleno, 1989

Progetto per Roma, Theoria, 1993

Piazza della Libertà, Mondadori, 1996

Roma oggi e domani, Newton & Compton, 1997

Quindici Parole, Baldini Castoldi, 2001

Memoria, bellezza e futuro – Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali, 2008

La svolta. Lettera a un partito mai nato, Marsilio Editori, 2009

Cyber minacce e sicurezza, Camera dei Deputati, 2010

Non è vero, Rubbettino Editore, 2011

2013: l’inizio per la Green Economy Italiana?

Cultura, energia inesauribile, Priorità Cultura, 2015


BIT Award for Italian Tourism (2007). “Trofeo Latino” for promoting the Italian culture (2008).

“Arca Award” for contributing to the international recovery of stolen crafts (2009).

“Mayors who made history” Award, Barcelona (2010). Premio Letterario Capalbio (2012).

Premio Internazionale per l’Archeologia (Paestum, 2015).


Francesco Rutelli is a journalist (Giornalista Pubblicista), since 1982. He wrote hundreds of articles and essays on all the main Italian newspapers and magazines; he was Editor of Capitolium, the official magazine of the City of Rome.

He studied Architecture at Università La Sapienza. He is pursued a Degree in Landscape Planning.

He has received degrees honoris causa from John Cabot University (Doctor in International Affairs), Temple University (Doctor of Public Service), and American University of Rome (Doctor of Human Letters).

He was decorated Knight of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II and Grand Cross Knight by King Juan Carlos of Spain; he received decorations from several Countries.

Honorary member of 1st Special Regiment (Fort Bragg, USA).

Honorary member of the Italian National Partigiani Association.

Born in via Guattani, Rome, on June 14, 1954, he has lived with Barbara Palombelli since 1979 (they got married in a civil ceremony in 1982 and religiously in 1995). They have four children: Giorgio, Francisco, Serena and Monica.

He lives in his family’s property, a house designed and built in 1965 by his father Marcello (an architect) in EUR neighborhood.

His mother, Sandra Gentili, owned retail shops in Rome. She died at the age of 42, after a long illness, in 1973.

The Rutelli family has its roots in the Marche region and dates back to the XVI Century.

Francesco’s branch of the family tree emerges during the XVIII century in Sicily: Giovanni, his forebear, was an engineer and the constructor of the Massimo Theater.

Rutelli’s great-grandfather, Mario (1859-1943), was a renowned sculptor, the author in Rome of the Najadi Fountain in Piazza della Repubblica, the statues of Anita Garibaldi on the Gianicolo Hill (the model was Graziella Marini, Francesco’s grandmother), the Nicola Spedalieri monument in Piazza Sforza Cesarini, a Winged Victory adorning the Vittoriano monument, several works in the National Modern Art Gallery. In Palermo, he crafted the Teatro Politeama bronze horses, the Lyrics Lion at the entrance of Massimo Theatre, the“Irosi” of the Modern Art Gallery, the monument to Francesco Crispi. His sculptures can be found in the UK, and in museums, palaces and churches all over Italy. Mario Gentili was Sandra’s father and Francesco Rutelli’s grandfather. An accountant, born in Florence and recognized as “Righteous among the Nations” at Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, having protected a young Jew in 1943-44 during the Nazi occupation of Rome. He died in 1962.

Francesco Rutelli today serves, in his private capacity, in various cultural and entrepreneurial initiatives.