Pier Giorgio attended the Royal Polytechnic Institute of Turin where he was pursuing a degree in mining engineering, so that he could "serve Christ better among the miners." At that time, those who worked in the mines were among the poorest and subject to some of the worst working conditions. This attracted Pier Giorgio's missionary spirit. His father, however, had already marked out a different career path for Pier Giorgio to work at the family-owned newspaper, "La Stampa." Pier Giorgio's sister, Luciana, although one year younger than Pier Giorgio, had already earned her doctor of jurisprudence degree (following in her father's footsteps) by July of 1923 at the age of 21.
"On Monday my sister got her law degree, her thesis being on public water legislation and she graduated with distinction and full honors." (Excerpt from his letter to Antonio Villani, July 19, 1923)
Pier Giorgio was proud of Luciana's accomplishments but continued to struggle with his studies. He kept a list of all of the exams needed to complete his degree and was determined t
o finish in the Holy Year of 1925.
"I plan to begin the thesis at the beginning of May and in the meantime prepare the Mining Technology exam for the first of June leaving me only that disagreeable subject which is Practical Geometry. I’ll finish my exams with a boring subject, never mind, on the other hand it’s not possible to do differently now it’s not possible to change the order of the exams." (Excerpt from his letter to Isidoro Bonini, April 15, 1925)
Despite his best efforts, Pier Giorgio remained two exams short of his degree when he died in 1925. At the time, the law in Italy did not allow the university to award him his degree posthumously. This was eventually changed. On the 100th anniversary of his birth, April 6, 2001, the Royal Polytechnic Institute of Turin passed a special resolution posthumously granting Pier Giorgio his beloved degree in mining engineering.