The Rivista Geografica Italiana was first published in Florence in 1894, the brainchild of the geographer Filippo Maria Pasanisi. A striking feature of the first number, which set out the journal’s programme for the years to come, was the intent to promote and spread reliable knowledge about Italy. One of the main tasks of the journal is, in fact, in the words of the editors Filippo Maria Pasanisi and Giovanni Marinelli, to undertake with scientific rigour “the task of collecting, ordering and slowly but effectively analysing some of the fundamental facts about our country”. It was not long before the Rivista became the organ of the Società di Studi Geografici e Coloniali, which was founded in Florence in 1895. In its first year the Rivista ran to over 650 pages. The contributors, in addition to the two editors, included some of the major Italian geographers of the time: Mario Baratta, Renato Biasutti, Giovanni De Agostini, Olinto Marinelli, Attilio Mori.
Looking at the material published in the Rivista from its earliest days, it becomes clear that the original aims and structure have remained essentially unchanged. The strictly scientific nature of its publications, which developed alongside a gradual broadening of the themes which were discussed, has remained a fundamental characteristic of the editorial approach.
A number of Supplements were published alongside the Rivista. Between 1907 and 1919 Giotto Dainelli oversaw the publication of Memorie geografiche, a collection of important studies divided into various series. From 1914 onwards the Rassegna della letteratura geografica, edited by Roberto Almagià, drew attention to the most significant publications on geography in Italy and abroad. In 1920 the Rassegna was combined with the Rivista, with Roberto Almagià as the third editor in chief.