He was born at Maglie on 23 September 1916, and died on 9 May 1978.
He graduated in Law and was a university lecturer.
President of the Catholic University Federation (FUCI) from 1939 to 1942 and subsequently of the Catholic Graduates' Movement, combining his Party work with governmental responsibilities: in 1948 he was appointed Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the 5th De Gasperi Government. In 1955 he was Minister for Justice in the 1st Segni Government, and Minister for Education in the Zoli, and 2nd Fanfani Governments.
In 1959 he was elected Political Secretary of the Christian Democrat Party, and re-elected in 1962.
In 1963 he was asked to form the first centre-left organic government and remained Prime Minister until 1968, heading three successive coalition Governments.
In the 2nd Government he was briefly Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs after the resignation of Saragat.
From 1969 to 1974 he was Minister for Foreign Affairs in the 2nd and 3rd Rumor Governments, in the Colombo Government, the 1st Andreotti and 4th and 5th Rumor Governments, and was outstanding not only because of the way he settled the international disputes that were still outstanding between Italy and such countries as Yugoslavia and Ethiopia, but also for his commitment to European integration.
He was once again Prime Minister on 23 November 1974 with his 4th Government, and as Prime Minister and Rotating President of the European Community he signed the Helsinki Final Act.
On 12 February 1976 he formed his 5th Government.
In 1976 he was elected the President of the National DC Party Council.
On 16 March 1978, the day Andreotti presented his 4th Government to both Houses of Parliament, he was kidnapped by the Red Brigades.
On 9 May he was assassinated. His body was found in the boot of a car parked in Via Caetani in Rome.