Sergio Mattarella, the first Sicilian to hold this office, is a jurist who has served as a high-court justice for years. Born in 1941, he is a father and a widower. His brother, also a lawyer and public servant, was assassinated by the Mafia in 1980. His father, a vocal anti-Fascist, was one of the founders of the Christian Democratic party and a strong opponent of organized crime and his party's involvement with it.
Unlike most of his predecessors, Mr Mattarella is not actually a lifelong politician, although he has served in parliament. He was formerly a Christian Democrat (until that party was dissolved), but his political positions and views are fairly centrist and quite consistent. More recently, he has enjoyed the support of the center-left.
It's nice to see that Italy's political establishment gets it right, every once in a while. Ogni tanto This was one of those very rare occasions.