Republican politician [Marco] Aurelio Saffi was born on 13 August 1819 in Forli then part of the Papal States (now: Emilia Romagna). He received an education in jurisprudence in Ferrara, but began political activity in his native city, protesting against the bad administration of the Papal legates. Saffi became an important figure in the radical republican current within the Risorgimento movement and was close to its leader, Giuseppe Mazzini. In 1849 he took part in the short-lived Roman Republic, before the revolutionaries were crushed (June 1849) by French troops. Saffi retired to Liguria as an exile. From there he joined Mazzini in Switzerland and moved with him to London. In February 1851 they shared a four-room flat at no. 15 Radnor Street, Chelsea.
Saffi returned to Italy in 1852 to plan a series of risings in Milan. After the failure of the project in 1853, he fled to England again and was condemned in absentia to twenty years in prison. He was appointed the first teacher of Italian at the Taylor Institute, Oxford, in 1856. While in England he married feminist Georgiana Janet Craufurd. She was of Scottish descent and born in Florence. Mazzini was a friend of the family. In 1860, Saffi moved to Naples. The following year he was elected a deputy in the Parliament of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. Some years later he returned to London, where he remained until 1867. He died in April 1890 at his residence, Villa Saffi, which is now turned into a museum. There is a statue of Saffi in the central square of his native Forlì.