|Born||10 September 1887 in Pontedera, Pisa (ITA)|
|Died||17 October 1979 in Roma, Roma (ITA)|
Giovanni Gronchi was an Italian politician who opened both the 1956 Winter Olympics and the 1960 Roma Olympics. He was a Christian Democrat who was the third President of Italy from 1955-62. Gronchi entered politics in 1919 as a founder of the Popular Party and later served as undersecretary for industry and commerce under Benito Mussolini.
During his seven-year term as President, Gronchi joined with the president of the National Hydrocarbons Authority, Enrico Mattei, and advocated an autonomous policy for Italy in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. In 1956 he pronounced himself in favor of admitting the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations and, unbeknownst to the Italian government, developed, and submitted to the Soviet Union a plan for the reunification and neutralization of Germany. On his many trips abroad, especially those to the United States (1956) and the Soviet Union (1960), his statements in favor of peaceful co-existence and balanced disarmament contrasted with the government’s increasingly truculent statements and fueled bitter controversies.
Gronchi lost re-election in 1962 but was made a life member of the Senate. He retired to the sidelines but maintained a cool relation with his former party. It was not until 1977, on the occasion of his 90th birthday, that he was acclaimed as a member of the Christian Democrat Party National Council.