Born in Ferrara on 20 February 1885, Vittorio Cini began his training in the ethics of labour and industry by working in his father's construction company, specialised in buildings and infrastructures. When he set up a similar business of his own, it grew to include navigation, shipping and insurance operations, taking on important enterprises during the 'Great War'.
With his move to Venice, he purchased a historic building on the Grand Canal at San Vio, establishing bonds with local citizenry, first and foremost Giuseppe Volpi, and further expanded his interests to include electrical companies (Società 'Cellina', SADE), quality tourism (CIGA), construction (the company responsible for the development of Marghera's infrastructures), communications and transport.
Vittorio Cini (second from left) Cavalry officer in 1917During the First World War he volunteered as a cavalry officer. On 19 June 1918 he married the great actress Lyda Borelli with whom he had four children: Giorgio born in 1918, Mynna in 1920 and the twins, Ylda and Yana in 1924.
Among other duties, he served as Commissioner then President of the ILVA iron and steel works (from 1921 to 1939), as a government appointed consultant for the reorganisation of Ferrara's agrarian system (1927), as Senator (from 1934) and as General Commissioner for the Universal Exposition in Rome 'E 42' (from 1936).
In June 1943 he dissociated himself from the Fascist regime after having served as Minister of Communications for about four months, therein anticipating the Great Council's pronouncement of 25 July. He was consequently arrested by the Germans after 8 September and interned in the concentration camp of Dachau, where he remained imprisoned for several months.
On 31 August 1949, Giorgio, then 30, died in an airplane accident near Cannes. The Giorgio Cini Foundation was created by Vittorio on 20 April 1951 in memory of his son. Its substantial legacy has permitted the restoration of the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore and its facilities, as well as the establishment and operation of the Foundation's cultural, social, educational and expositive endeavours.
Vittorio Cini died in Venice on 18 September 1977 and is buried in the Certosa of Ferrara.