Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari (/ˈɑːn/ CHAH-noh, Italian: [ɡaleˈattso ˈtʃaːno]; 18 March 1903 – 11 January 1944), was an Italian diplomat and politician who served as Foreign Minister in the government of his father-in-law, Benito Mussolini, from 1936 until 1943. During this period, he was widely seen as Mussolini's most probable successor as head of government.[1][2]

Galeazzo Ciano
Ciano in 1936
Ambassador of Italy to Vatican City
In office
5 February 1943 – 25 July 1943
Preceded byRaffaele Guariglia
Succeeded byFrancesco Babuscio Rizzo
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
9 June 1936 – 6 February 1943
Prime MinisterBenito Mussolini
Preceded byBenito Mussolini
Succeeded byBenito Mussolini
Minister of Press and Propaganda
In office
23 June 1935 – 11 June 1936
Prime MinisterBenito Mussolini
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byDino Alfieri
Member of the Chamber of Fasces and Corporations
In office
23 March 1939 – 5 August 1943
Appointed byBenito Mussolini
Personal details
Gian Galeazzo Ciano

(1903-03-18)18 March 1903
Livorno, Tuscany, Kingdom of Italy
Died11 January 1944(1944-01-11) (aged 40)
Verona, Veneto, Italian Social Republic
Cause of deathExecution by firing squad
Political partyNational Fascist Party
Height1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)
(m. 1930)
Parent(s)Costanzo Ciano (father)
Carolina Pini (mother)
  • Diplomat
  • politician

He was the son of Admiral Costanzo Ciano, a founding member of the National Fascist Party; father and son both took part in Mussolini's March on Rome in 1922. Ciano saw action in the Italo-Ethiopian War (1935–36) and was appointed Foreign Minister on his return. Following a series of Axis defeats in the Second World War, Ciano began pushing for Italy's exit, and he was dismissed from his post as a result. He then served as ambassador to the Vatican.

In July 1943, Ciano was among the members of the Grand Council of Fascism that forced Mussolini's ousting and subsequent arrest. Ciano proceeded to flee to Germany but was arrested and handed over to Mussolini's new regime based in Salò, the Italian Social Republic. Mussolini ordered Ciano's death, and in January 1944 he was executed by firing squad.[3]

Ciano wrote and left behind a diary[4] that has been used as a source by several historians, including William Shirer in his The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960)[5] and in the four-hour HBO documentary-drama Mussolini and I (1985).[6]

Early life


Gian Galeazzo Ciano was born in Livorno, Italy, in 1903. He was the son of Costanzo Ciano and his wife Carolina Pini;[7] his father was an Admiral and World War I hero in the Royal Italian Navy (for which service he was given the aristocratic title of Count by Victor Emmanuel III).[8] The elder Ciano, nicknamed Ganascia ("The Jaw"), was a founding member of the National Fascist Party and re-organizer of the Italian merchant navy in the 1920s. Costanzo Ciano was not above extracting private profit from his public office. He would use his influence to depress the stock of a company, after which he would buy a controlling interest, then increase his wealth after its value rebounded. Among other holdings, Costanzo Ciano owned a newspaper, farmland in Tuscany and other properties worth huge sums of money. As a result, his son Galeazzo was accustomed to living a high-profile and glamorous lifestyle, which he maintained almost until the end of his life. Father and son both took part in Mussolini's 1922 March on Rome.[9]

After studying Philosophy of Law at the University of Rome, Galeazzo Ciano worked briefly as a journalist before choosing a diplomatic career; soon, he served as an attaché in Rio de Janeiro.[10] According Mrs. Milton E. Miles, in the 1920s in Beijing Ciano met Wallis Simpson, later the Duchess of Windsor, had an affair with her, and left her pregnant, leading to a botched abortion that left her infertile. The rumor was later widespread but never substantiated and Ciano's wife, Edda Mussolini, denied it.[11]

On 24 April 1930, when he was 27 years old, Ciano married Benito Mussolini's daughter Edda Mussolini,[3] and they had three children (Fabrizio, Raimonda and Marzio), though he was known to have had several affairs while married.[12] Soon after their marriage, Ciano left for Shanghai to serve as Italian consul,[13] where his wife had an affair with the Chinese warlord Zhang Xueliang.[14]

Political career


Minister of press and propaganda


On his return to Italy in 1935, Ciano became the minister of press and propaganda in the government of his father-in-law.[15][16] He volunteered for action in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia (1935–36) as a bomber squadron commander. He received two silver medals of valor and reached the rank of captain. His future opponent Alessandro Pavolini served in the same squadron as a lieutenant.

Foreign minister


Upon his highly trumpeted return from the war as a "hero" in 1936, he was appointed by Mussolini as replacement Foreign Minister. Ciano began to keep a diary a short time after his appointment and kept it active up to his 1943 dismissal as foreign minister. In 1937, he was allegedly involved in planning the murder of the brothers Carlo and Nello Rosselli, two exiled anti-fascist activists killed in the French spa town of Bagnoles-de-l'Orne on 9 June. Also in 1937, prior to the Italian annexation in 1939, Gian Galeazzo Ciano was named an Honorary Citizen of Tirana, Albania.[17]

Ciano arriving in Albania in April 1939.

Before World War II, Mussolini may have been preparing Ciano to succeed him as Duce.[18] At the start of the war in 1939, Ciano did not agree with Mussolini's plans and knew that Italy's armed forces were ill-prepared for a major war. When Mussolini formally declared war on France in 1940, he wrote in his diary, "I am sad, very sad. The adventure begins. May God help Italy!"[19][20] Ciano became increasingly disenchanted with Nazi Germany and the course of World War II, although when the Italian regime embarked on an ill-advised "parallel war" alongside Germany, he went along, despite the terribly-executed Italian invasion of Greece and its subsequent setbacks. Prior to the German campaign in France in 1940, Ciano leaked a warning of imminent invasion to neutral Belgium.[21]

Throughout 1941 and thereafter, Ciano made derogatory and sarcastic comments about Mussolini behind his back and was surprised that these comments were reported to the Duce, who did not take them lightly; for his part, Ciano ignored well-meaning friends who advised moderation.[16] On top of that, friends and acquaintances sought his protection and aid on various matters not having to do with his official position, which in turn resulted in further caustic remarks. In addition, two relatively minor incidents wounded his overblown self-importance and vanity. One was his being excluded from a projected meeting between Mussolini and Franco. The other involved him being reprimanded for a rowdy celebration of an aviator in Bari; he wrote a letter to Mussolini stating that the Duce had "opened a wound in him which can never be closed." His own self-worth seemed to cloud his judgement, forgetting that he had acquired his position by marrying Mussolini's daughter.[22]

In late 1942 and early 1943, following the Axis defeat in North Africa, other major setbacks on the Eastern Front, and with an Anglo-American assault on Sicily looming, Ciano turned against the doomed war and actively pushed for Italy's exit from the conflict. He was silenced by being removed from his post as foreign minister. The rest of the cabinet was removed as well on 5 February 1943.[23]

Ambassador to the Holy See


Ciano was offered the post of ambassador to the Holy See, and presented his credentials to Pope Pius XII on 1 March.[23] In this role he remained in Rome, watched closely by Mussolini. The regime's position had become even more unstable by the coming summer, however, and court circles were already probing the Allied commands for some sort of agreement.[20][24]

Ciano (far right) standing alongside (right to left) Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Édouard Daladier, and Neville Chamberlain prior to the signing of the Munich Agreement.

On the afternoon of 24 July 1943, Mussolini summoned the Fascist Grand Council to its first meeting since 1939, prompted by the Allied invasion of Sicily. At that meeting, Mussolini announced that the Germans were thinking of evacuating the south. This led Dino Grandi to launch a blistering attack on his longtime comrade. Grandi put on the table a resolution asking King Victor Emmanuel III to resume his full constitutional powers – in effect, a vote leading to Mussolini's ousting from leadership. The motion won by an unexpectedly large margin, 19–8, with Ciano voting in favor. Mussolini's replacement was Pietro Badoglio, an Italian general in both World Wars.[25] Mussolini did not expect the vote to have substantive effect, and showed up for work the next morning as usual. That afternoon, the king summoned him to Villa Savoia and dismissed him from office. Upon leaving the villa, Mussolini was arrested.[26]

Exile, trial and death

Ciano trial in Verona, 1944.

Ciano was dismissed from his post by the new government of Italy put in place after his father-in-law was overthrown. Ciano, Edda and their three children fled to Germany on 28 August 1943 in fear of being arrested by the new Italian government. The Germans turned him over to Mussolini's new government, the Italian Social Republic. He was then formally arrested on charges of treason. Under German and Fascist pressure, Mussolini had Ciano imprisoned before he was tried and found guilty.[26] After the Verona trial and sentence, on 11 January 1944, Ciano was executed by a firing squad along with 4 others (Emilio De Bono, Luciano Gottardi, Giovanni Marinelli and Carlo Pareschi) who had voted for Mussolini's ousting. As a further humiliation, the condemned men were tied to chairs and shot in the back, though Ciano managed to twist his chair around at the last minute to face the firing squad before uttering his final words, "Long live Italy!"[27]

Ciano is remembered for his Diaries 1937–1943,[28] a revealing daily record of his meetings with Mussolini, Hitler, Ribbentrop, foreign ambassadors and other political figures. Edda tried to barter his papers to the Germans in return for his life; Gestapo agents helped her confidant Emilio Pucci rescue some of them from Rome. Pucci was then a lieutenant in the Italian Air Force, but would find fame after the war as a fashion designer. When Hitler vetoed the plan, she hid the bulk of the papers at a clinic in Ramiola, near Medesano and on 9 January 1944, Pucci helped Edda escape to Switzerland with five diaries covering the war years which were then buried beneath a rose garden.[29] The diary was first published in English in London in 1946, edited by Malcolm Muggeridge, covering 1939 to 1943.[30] The complete English version was published in 2002.[4]



Gian Galeazzo and Edda Ciano had three children:

  • Fabrizio Ciano, 3rd Conte di Cortellazzo e Buccari (Shanghai, 1 October 1931 – San José, Costa Rica, 8 April 2008), married to Beatriz Uzcategui Jahn, without issue. Wrote a personal memoir entitled Quando il nonno fece fucilare papà (When Grandpa Had Daddy Shot).
  • Raimonda Ciano (Rome, 12 December 1933 – Rome, 24 May 1998), married to Nobile Alessandro Giunta (born 1929), son of Nobile Francesco Giunta (Piero, 1887–1971) and wife (m. Rome, 1924) Zenaida del Gallo Marchesa di Roccagiovine (Rome, 1902 – São Paulo, Brazil, 1988)
  • Marzio Ciano, 4th Conte di Cortellazzo e Buccari (Rome, 18 December 1937 – 11 April 1974), married Gloria Lucchesi
  • A number of films have depicted Ciano's life, including The Verona Trial (1962) by Carlo Lizzani, where he is played by Frank Wolff and Mussolini and I (1985) in which he was played by Anthony Hopkins.
  • One of the most recognisable voices in German radio and television, Sky du Mont, played Ciano in the 1983 mini-series The Winds of War, whereas in the 1989 sequel, War and Remembrance he played a different Count, Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, of the bomb plot fame.
  • Raul Julia played Ciano in the 1985 television mini-series, Mussolini: The Untold Story.
  • In Serbia there is a proverb: "Living like Count Ciano" – describing a flamboyant and luxurious life (Živi k'o grof Ćano/Живи к'о гроф Ћано).
  • Ciano's diaries were published in 1946 and were used by the prosecution against Hitler's Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, during the post-war Nuremberg Trials.
  • Curzio Malaparte - Kaputt: After he wrote Coup d'État: The Technique of Revolution, Malaparte was jailed by the Fascist regime. He was freed on the personal intervention of Count Galeazzo Ciano. In Kaputt, Malaparte refers to Count Ciano and his wife Edda. Like Edda Ciano, Malaparte spent time in forced exile on the island of Lipari.
  • Count Ciano was mentioned by name in Sofia Vembo's song about Mussolini, his father in law.




  1. ^ d'Orsi, Angelo (10 April 2019). Flores d'Arcais, Paolo; Sciuto, Cinzia; Ruffolo, Giorgio (eds.). "Il genero del regime. Vita e morte di Galeazzo Ciano nel libro di Eugenio Di Rienzo". MicroMega (in Italian). Rome, Italy: Edito da Micromega Edizioni impresa sociale SRL (GEDI Gruppo Editoriale S.p.A.). ISSN 2282-121X. Archived from the original on 17 April 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  2. ^ Palla, Marco (10 January 1982). Rapone, Leonardo; Höbel, Alexander; Larussa, Alessandro (eds.). "Mussolini il fascista numero uno". Studi Storici (in Italian). 23 (1). Rome, Italy: Fondazione Istituto Gramsci: 23–49. ISSN 0039-3037. JSTOR 20565036. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  3. ^ a b Moseley, Ray (2004) [1932]. "7. Galeazzo Ciano and Edda". Mussolini: The last 600 of il Duce (5th ed.). Dallas, TX: Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 79. ISBN 9781589790957. LCCN 2003026579. OCLC 1036749435 – via Internet Archive.
  4. ^ a b Ciano 2002.
  5. ^ Shirer, William L. (17 October 1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. Vol. 2. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-72868-7. LCCN 60-6729. OCLC 22888118 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Negrin, Alberto (director); Gallo, Mario (producer); Gulllioli, Emzo (producer) Haskins, Bob (actor); Hopkins, Anthony (actor); Sarandon, Susan (actor) (15 April 1985). Perpignani, Roberto; Macchi, Egisto (eds.). Mussolini and I (Mussolini: The Decline and Fall of Il Duce). HBO (motion picture). Italy: Rai Uno/HBO Premier Films.
  7. ^ Hof 2021, p. 4, Introduction.
  8. ^ Hof 2021, p. 5, Introduction.
  9. ^ Hof 2021, p. 92, 2. The Politician.
  10. ^ Hof 2021, pp. 137–213, Chapter 3. The Diplomat.
  11. ^ Moseley, Ray (1999), Mussolini's Shadow: The Double Life of Count Galeazzo Ciano, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 9–10, ISBN 978-0-300-07917-3
  12. ^ Di Rienzo, Eugenio (29 November 2018). Grossi, Davide; Mazzuchi, Andrea; Malato, Enrico; Spadaro, Cetty (eds.). Ciano: Vita pubblica e privata del 'genero di regime' nell'Italia del Ventennio nero. Profili (Salerno editrice) (in Italian). Rome, Italy: Salerno Editrice. ISBN 9788869733420.
  13. ^ Coco, Orazio (14 February 2024). Sino-Italian Political and Economic Relations: From the Treaty of Friendship to the Second World War. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-003-14326-0.
  14. ^ Kristof, Nicholas D. (19 October 2001). Baquet, Dean; Louttit, Meghan; Corbett, Philip; Chang, Lian; Drake, Monica; Kahn, Joseph; Kingsbury, Kathleen; Sulzberger, A.G.; Levien, Meredith Kopit; Caputo, Roland A.; Bardeen, William; Dunbar-Johnson, Stephen; Brayton, Diane (eds.). "Zhang Xueliang, 100, Dies; Warlord and Hero of China". National news. The New York Times. Vol. CL, no. 210. p. C13. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Archived from the original on 24 October 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  15. ^ Hof 2021, pp. 214–267, Chapter 4. The Successor.
  16. ^ a b D'Annibale, Elisa; Di Rienzo, Eugenio (1 May 2017). Rinaldi, Marcello; D'Annibale, Elisa; Rudi, Fabrizio; Xoxa, Ida (eds.). "Gli appunti circa il Reichsministerium für volksaufklärung und propaganda di Galeazzo Ciano e la nascita del ministerio per la stapma e propaganda" [Notes about Galeazzo Ciano's Royal Italian Ministry for Public Education and Propaganda and the birth of the ministry for printing and propaganda]. Nuova Rivista Storica (in Italian). 101 (2). Rome, Italy: Societa Editrice Dante Alighieri s.r.l./Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche di Università degli Studi di Roma – La Sapienza: 619–638. ISSN 0469-2462. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  17. ^ Municipality of Tirana website Archived 12 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 5 January 2016.
  18. ^ Gunther, John (1940) [1919]. "XVI. Who Else in Italy?". Inside Europe (PDF) (8th ed.). New York: Harper & Brothers. pp. 257–258 – via Internet Archive.
  19. ^ Ciano 2002, pp. 308–408, Chapter 3. 1939.
  20. ^ a b Guida, Francesco (2016). Andreides, Gábor; Juhász, Balázs (eds.). "L'Ungheria, gli ungheresi e Galeazzo Ciano" [Hungary, the Hungarians and Galeazzo Ciano]. Öt Kontinens (in Italian). 13 (2). Budapest, Hungary: Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, Új-és Jelenkori Egyetemes Történeti Tanszék (Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Modern and Contemporary Universal History): 75–85. ISSN 1589-3839. Retrieved 27 July 2021 – via Central and Eastern European Online Library GmbH (CEEOL).
  21. ^ Danisi, Francisco (2018). La figura di Galeazzo Ciano e la politica estera del fascismo: Un bilancio storiografico [The figure of Galeazzo Ciano and the foreign policy of fascism: A historiographical balance] (Master's thesis) (in Italian). Rome, Italy: Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali "Guido Carli". Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  22. ^ Alfieri, Dino (1967) [1950]. de Caralt, Luis (ed.). Dos dictadores frente a frente (in Spanish). Barcelona: Librería Pérez Galdós - El Galeón.
  23. ^ a b Pope Pius XII (1 March 1943). Al nuovo Ambasciatore Straordinario e Plenipotenziario d'Italia, S.E. il Conte Galeazzo Ciano di Cortellazzo, in occasione della presentazione delle Lettere Credenziali (1° marzo 1943) [To the new Extraordinary Ambassador and Plenipotentiary of Italy His Excellence the Count Galeazzo Ciano di Cortellazzo in the occasion of his presentation of his diplomatic credentials (1° marzo 1943)] (Report). Discorsi e Radiomessaggi di Sua Santità Pio XII (Quarto anno di Pontificato, 2 marzo 1942 - 1° marzo 1943) (in Italian). Vol. IV. Vatican City: Vatican polyglot typography. pp. 405–406. Archived from the original on 6 December 2019. Retrieved 27 July 2021 – via Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
  24. ^ Caprioli 2012, pp. 5–6, Introduction.
  25. ^ Heberlein, Wolf (1936). Bach, Maurizio; Goldschmidt, Nils (eds.). "Graf Galeazzo Ciano" [Count Galeazzo Ciano]. Zeitschrift für Politik (in German). 26 (1). Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH: 649–651. ISSN 0044-3360. JSTOR 43527439. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  26. ^ a b Palla, Marco (10 January 1982). Rapone, Leonardo; Höbel, Alexander; Larussa, Alessandro (eds.). "Mussolini il fascista numero uno". Studi Storici (in Italian). 23 (1). Rome, Italy: Fondazione Istituto Gramsci: 23–49. ISSN 0039-3037. JSTOR 20565036. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  27. ^ Gallagher, Tony, ed. (17 April 2009). "Mussolini's daughter's affair with communist revealed in love letters". The Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group. Archived from the original on 22 April 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2021..
  28. ^ Durgin, Paige Y. (Spring 2012). Framed in Death: The Historical Memory of Galeazzo Ciano (PDF) (Bachelor of Arts thesis). Hartford, CT: Trinity College. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  29. ^ Smyth & Ciano 1993, pp. 1–50.
  30. ^ Ciano 1947.


Italian nobility
Preceded by Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by
Gaetano Polverelli
Head of the Government Press Office
Succeeded by
None (Office abolished)
Himself as
Undersecretary for Press and Propaganda
Preceded by
None (Office established)
Undersecretary for Press and Propaganda
Succeeded by
None (Office abolished)
Himself as
Minister for Press and Propaganda
Preceded by
None (Office established)
Minister of Press and Propaganda
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by