Who is Clio Maria Bittoni, widow of the former President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano

Clio Maria Bittoni, now 89 years old, was married to Giorgio Napolitano for 64 years, until the death of the president emeritus last Friday: a life as a lawyer for laborers and as a first lady who did not like protocols.

Clio Maria Bittoni she was the wife of Giorgio Napolitano for 64 years, a union that lasted until her husband’s death. Now 89, the former first lady has dedicated her life as a lawyer to defending farmworkers. The President of the Republic Emeritus, speaking about his wife during an interview conducted by Maurizio Costanzo in 2016, defined himself as “an inveterate monogamist“. He also told the beginning of his story with Clio Maria Bittoni: “We saw each other in Naples and declared ourselves in Rome. We hung out a lot at the restaurant, so much so that she told me I was hungry”.

Who is Clio Maria Bittoni, laborers’ lawyer and wife of Giorgio Napolitano

After attending high school in Jesi, he studied law at the Federico II University of Naples, and then did her internship in Rome to become a lawyer. In carrying out her profession, she specialized in the application of the law on fair rent in agriculture, a training that led her to often work with labourers. An anecdote told by Bittoni about the time he accompanied Napolitano to a political event is now famous Acerra which was attended by many farmers with whom she had worked and who, seeing the then parliamentarian, said to each other: “You see, that’s our lawyer’s husband”.

He worked for many years at League of Cooperativesin the legislative office, but in 1992 – when Napolitano was elected to the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies – he gave the resignation because the “it seemed inappropriate to stay“, later admitting that “perhaps in this sense Giorgio influenced the creation of a professional path“.

Clio Maria Bittoni and Giorgio Napolitano together with film director Ettore Scola during the Venice Film Festival (2013)

Because her parents named her Clio

Clio Maria Bittoni was born on 10 November 1934 in Chiaravalle, in the province of Ancona, but was conceived on the island of Ponza, where her mother Diva and her father Amleto had been sent into exile as socialist militants and, therefore, anti-fascists. Her first name was given to her in honor of his parents’ friendship with a Greek “fellow”., also exiled in the Tyrrhenian Sea, who had named his daughter Clio. Instead, her name Maria di lei – as the former first lady of Italy said – was entrusted to her by her grandparents when they baptized her in secret.

The long love story with Giorgio Napolitano and his children

University was where he first met Napolitano, despite being ten years younger. They then met again a few years later in Rome: he was already a parliamentarian (elected for the first time in 1953), she was doing her internship to become a lawyer. The secular weddingas per the tradition of the members of the Italian Communist Party, united them in 1959 at the Campidoglio, a union that lasted 64 years and from whom his sons Giovanni (1961) and Giulio (1969) were born.

The President’s wife who hated customs

Clio Bittoni he never liked protocols. In 2006, with the election of Napolitano as President of the Republic, she officially became the first lady of Italy, a role she held by often accompanying her husband on institutional trips. However, her search for normality is told by several episodes, such as the time she lined up – together with all the other “ordinary” citizens – to see an art exhibition in the Quirinale stables and also claimed to pay the ticket.

Clio Maria Bittoni and Giorgio Napolitano guests of Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace (2011)

Clio Maria Bittoni and Giorgio Napolitano guests of Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace (2011)

Furthermore, halfway through her husband’s first term as president, she decided to abandon the apartment inside the Quirinale palace to go and live in the house of via della Panetteria – which in any case is in a side street of the President’s palace – in order to feel freer from institutional habits. Since Napolitano had resigned, she had returned to live with her husband in the apartment in Via dei Serpenti, where they had already lived before the Quirinale election.

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