The journalist and writer Tiziano Terzani was born in Florence.
He attended the University of Pisa as a law student and studied at the prestigious Collegio Medico-Giuridico of the Scuola Normale Superiore, which today is Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies. After graduating, he worked for Olivetti, the office equipment producer. In 1965 he went on a business trip to Japan.
In 1971 he moved to Singapore as the Asian correspondent for the German weekly Der Spiegel.
Terzani’s experiences in Asia are described in articles and essays and in the several books that he wrote. In his first book, “Pelle di leopardo”(Leopard Hide) (1973), he describes the last phases of the Vietnam War. The following recollection, “Giai Phong! The Fall and Liberation of Saigon”, recounts the takeover of Vietnam’s capital by the Vietcong and the scramble of the last Westerners to escape with American helicopters.
His stay in Beijing in the 1980s came to an end when he was arrested and expelled in 1984 from the country for “counter-revolutionary activities”. He stopped using his Chinese name after this incident. Based on his experiences in China, he wrote “La Porta Proibita” (Behind The Forbidden Door).
In what is perhaps his most well-known book, “Un indovino mi disse” (A Fortune-Teller Told Me), Terzani describes his travels across Asia by land and sea following the advice and warning from a fortune teller in Hong Kong that he must avoid airplanes for the whole year of 1993.
In his last book “Un altro giro di giostra” (One More Ride on the Merry-go-round), in 2001, Terzani deals with his illness, a bowel cancer which eventually led to his death in 2004, but not before he had travelled and searched through countries and civilizations, looking for a cure and for a new vision of life.
He spent the last months of his life with his wife and grown son in Orsigna, a little village in the Apennine Mountains in the province of Pistoia that he considered “his true, last love”.
Terzani died on 28 July 2004, aged 65.