Spadolini studied law until 1949. At 25, he was professor of contemporary history at the University of Florence. He published many books political and historical content. In it, he often dealt with the Risorgimento.
From 1955 to 1968 he served as chief editor of the regional newspaper "Il Resto del Carlino " in Bologna, from where he moved to the " Corriere della Sera " in Milan from 1968 to 1972. He was chosen for his party in 1972, 1976 and 1979 in the Italian Senate. From 1974 to 1976 he was a member of the Cabinet as Minister for the Environment and Cultural Heritage. In 1979 he came again in the government as Minister of Public Education. As the leader of the Republicans, Ugo La Malfa, died in September 1979, Spadolini was his successor until 1988.
Following the resignation of Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani Spadolini was commissioned by President Alessandro Pertini in June 1981 to form a government, which he succeeds unexpectedly tough and stubborn negotiations: On June 28, 1981 Spadolini first head of government of a post-war Italian government does not belong to the Christian Democrats. As the only politicians of his party, he was Italian Prime Minister to November 1982.
Spadolini entered for the NATO double-track decision and continued the deployment of U.S. cruise missile on the American base at Comiso Ragusa on southern Sicily by. As in previous Spadolini newspaper " Corriere della Sera " after a change of ownership threatened a mass layoff of 1,230 employees, there was a crisis of the state in which Spadolini, the entrepreneur Olivetti and the media tycoon Rizzoli manipulation and violation was accused of anti-trust legislation.
Bettino Craxi, the head of coalition partner PSI, moved in August 1982 temporarily all ministers from the Cabinet, but Spadolini overcame this crisis until Craxi let him fail again owing to policy disagreements in November 1982. Meanwhile, the Cabinet was Spadolini since 14 August 1983 as Minister of Defence until 1985 to. 1988 Spadolini was elected to the Senate President, a position which he perceived to April 1994. After the election victory of Silvio Berlusconi's Polo per le Libertà he lacked a voice, so that he had to leave this function to Carlo Scognamiglio Pasini.