Born at Vercelli in 1871, Garbasso studied in Turin and was awarded a degree in Experimental Physics in 1892. He conducted research in Berlin, Turin, Pisa and Genoa, until being called upon to teach at the Istituto di Studi Superiori di Firenze [Florence Institute of Higher Studies] in 1913. A promotor of the founding of the Istituto di Fisica di Arcetri [Arcetri Institute of Physics] and the Laboratorio di Ottica Pratica [Laboratory of Practical Optics], Garbasso was, along with Orso Maria Corbino, the leading physicist of his generation. Starting in 1918 he engaged mainly in political activity. In 1920 he was elected Mayor of Florence; he subsequently joined the Fascist Party and was confirmed in his position as Podestà, remaining in this office until 1928. A senator, a member of the CNR, the Accademia dei Lincei and the Accademia d'Italia, Garbasso urged increased financing for scientific research and promoted the institution of scholarships for young researchers. He died in Florence in 1933.