Carlo Caracciolo

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Don Carlo Caracciolo, 9th Prince of Castagneto, 4th Duke of Melito (Florence, 23 October 1925 – Rome, 15 December 2018) was an Italian publisher. He created Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso, one of Italy's leading publishing groups. He was known as "the editor prince," referring to his aristocratic birth and elegant manner.[1]


The oldest of three children, Caracciolo was born in Florence to Filippo Caracciolo, 8th Principe di Castagneto, 3rd Duca di Melito and American heiress Margaret Clarke. He was an older brother to Marella Agnelli, the wife of Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli and half-sibling of film producer Ettore Rosboch von Wolkenstein (whose daughter Bloomberg journalist Elisabetta "Lili", Carlo's goddaughter, married Prince Amedeo of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este). At 18, he fought in the Italian resistance in World War II. After the war he attended Harvard Law School and worked for a New York law firm that had as a partner Allen Dulles, future head of the CIA. In the United States he began to show a serious interest in publishing.[1][2]

In 1951, he moved into publishing in Milan, and in 1955 set up the N.E.R. (Nuove Edizioni Romane) publishing house with the progressive industrialist Adriano Olivetti, manufacturer of Olivetti typewriters. In October 1955 the company founded the news magazine L'Espresso with editors Arrigo Benedetti and Eugenio Scalfari.[2][3][4][5]

Caracciolo was a man of the liberal left. He disdained his aristocratic title, but betrayed it in his elegance of dress and manner. He believed that a modern postwar Italian republic should be run on lay rather than religious principles, and his news outlets campaigned for reform of the laws governing divorce and abortion.[2]

L'Espresso was characterized from the beginning by an aggressive investigative journalism strongly focussed on corruption and clientelism by the Christian Democrat party.[3] This made the main shareholder Olivetti unpopular with the ministries and large companies that were the primary customers of his main business. In 1956, with the magazine losing money, Olivetti made Caracciolo a present of the majority shareholding.[2][5]

In 1976 he and Eugenio Scalfari, with backing from the publisher Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, set up the daily newspaper La Repubblica. Founded in Rome as a national newspaper and published in the novel tabloid size.[2]

In 1984, shortly before it began to outsell the prestigious Corriere della Sera, Caracciolo took his publishing activities to the Italian stock exchange.[2][5] Four years later he sold his holdings in Editoriale L'Espresso to Mondadori. In 1990, however, he was shocked to learn that Mondadori's heirs had sold out to Silvio Berlusconi, whose politics he detested. After much in-fighting and litigation, the news publications were hived off into the Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso controlled by the CIR Group of entrepreneur Carlo De Benedetti, of which Caracciolo remained honorary president until 2006.[2][5]

In June 1989, he was awarded the Italian Order of Merit for Labour.

In 1991, Caracciolo and his wife Violante Visconti purchased the Torrecchia Vecchia estate, and subsequently developed its villa with architect Gae Aulenti, around which they created a notable, English-style garden to designs by Dan Pearson and others.

In 2007, a year after he retired from the Espresso Group to become its honorary chairman, he bought a 33 percent share in the French newspaper Libération.[1][6]

Personal life and family[edit]

He died in Rome, aged 83. According to his biographer and former co-editor of L'Espresso, Nello Ajello : "He set an example for free and independent editorial content that initially seemed marginal and exclusive and instead became a major force in Italian newspaper publishing".[1]

His adopted daughter and principal heir of his estate, Jacaranda Caracciolo di Melito Falck, married Prince Fabio Borghese, a member of the Borghese family whose grandfather Giangiacomo Borghese served as former Governor of Rome under Benito Mussolini and was a descendant of Marcantonio Borghese, 5th Prince of Sulmona.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b c d "Publisher C. Caracciolo, a Founder of La Repubblica, Dies at 83", The New York Times, December 16, 2008
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Carlo Caracciolo: newspaper publisher who set up La Repubblica, The Times, January 8, 2009
  3. ^ a b Encyclopedia of contemporary Italian culture, CRC Press, 2000, p. 290
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Italian literary studies, CRC Press, 2007, p. 980
  5. ^ a b c d History Archived November 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso (Retrieved January 30, 2010)
  6. ^ "Italian publisher Carlo Caracciolo dies". Herald Sun.
  7. ^ "A Home In Tuscany Undergoes A Magnificent Makeover". Architectural Digest. 2018-01-22. Retrieved 2022-02-05.
  8. ^ "The Mysterious Heirs of Italian Prince Carlo Caracciolo". Vanity Fair. 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2022-02-05.