Economic historian Gianni Toniolo dies aged 80

Economic historian Gianni Toniolo has passed away at the age of 80.

He was a research professor emeritus at Duke University, and his work focused on European economic history in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Toniolo joined Duke in 1996, and over the course of his career held appointments at institutions including Hitotsubashi University in Japan and Tor Vergata University of Rome.

He published widely on topics including Italy’s economic growth, the Central Bank of Italy and the global economy.

In his home country, Toniolo worked with Duke to establish the Venice International University, where he was the first director. In this capacity he led the renovation of San Servolo island and its transformation into a thriving economic community.

Former Duke Economics Colleague Roy Weintraub said: “Gianni Toniolo was Italy’s preeminent economic historian.”

He added: “His legacy as a remarkably knowledgeable and decent man whose passion for connecting scholars in different fields, and different countries, makes his too early passing a major loss for his many friends at Duke and his colleagues around the world.” 

In a statement commemorating Toniolo, the Italian association for economic history said: “Gianni’s death is a real blow for economic historians, not just in Italy, and in particular for the community of ASE, of which he was a founding member and inspirational force. Our thoughts are with his family and close friends with whom we share the memory of an exceptional scholar and a lovely man. We will miss him terribly.”

Toniolo’s funeral was held on Nov. 17 in the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome.  He is survived by Francesca Sanna Randaccio and his son Paolo Toniolo.