Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone was born in Rome into a large family composed almost entirely by manufacturers. His grandfather constructed the first buildings in Palermo in the last decades of the 1800s.
In 1984 he took over Vianini Lavori S.p.A. - now part of the Caltagirone Group - which operates worldwide in the field of large infrastructure projects, and he became President of the company. After a complete industrial restructuring, he carried out the listing of the two subsidiaries Vianini Lavori S.p.A Industry and Vianini Industria S.p.A.
In 1992 he took over Cementir S.p.A, the fourth biggest Italian company in the cement industry, acquired by IRI (Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale) through a public auction. In a few years, under the guidance of his son Francesco Caltagirone Jr., Cementir S.p.A became a multinational company with significant presence in Scandinavia, Turkey and the Far East. About 80% of the turnover is produced outside Italy.
In 1996 he acquired the Roman newspaper Il Messaggero from the Montedison Group, and the following year two local newspapers from private investors: Il Mattino based in Naples and Il Corriere Adriatico based in Ancona.
Since 2000 all publishing and new media have been clustered in the Caltagirone Editore publishing group – the fifth biggest group in Italy. In 2006 he acquired the majority stake in the newspaper Il Gazzettino based in Venice.
In 2006 he was appointed Knight of the Order of Merit for Labour. In the same year he became vice-president of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena. Until early 2012, when he liquidated his share completely, he was the second largest shareholder and the most important private individual shareholder. In 2007 he was appointed Director of Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A of which he was appointed Vice President in April 2010.
As of 2015, Caltagirone was ranked number #894 on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire list and #19 in Italy, with estimated net worth of $2.1 billion