Italy's previous president, Giorgio Napolitano, died in hospital in Rome on Friday, DW
Condolences poured in from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's office, other politicians and the Vatican.
"I gratefully recall the personal meetings I had with him, during which I appreciated his humanity and foresight in making important choices with rectitude, especially at delicate times for the life of the country," Pope Francis wrote in a telegram of condolences to Napolitano's wife Clio Bittoni.
Napolitano, who served as president from 2006-2015, is the only person to be re-elected to the post.
His time in office coincided with the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, which hit Italy particularly hard. He worked with no fewer than five different prime ministers during less than a decade as president.
The change of governments that Napolitano was best known for, though, was when Silvio Berlusconi resigned late in 2011 after explicit encouragement from the president. Napolitano then established a technocrat government led by former European Commissioner Mario Monti.
The change, at the height of the debt crisis and amid severe pressure from the EU and countries like Germany, put the ceremonial role of the Italian presidency into some question. He earned the nickname "King Giorgio," spoken fondly in some circles and in others less so.
One biography with a comparatively kind view of the actions he took to try to stabilize both Italy's economy and possibly Europe's as a whole dubbed Napolitano "the Communist who saved Italy."
Berlusconi, who initially accepted the play, later accused Napolitano of orchestrating a "soft coup d'etat."