Lucio Fulci was born in Trastevere, Rome, on 17 June 1927. His mother Lucia was from a poor but reputable Sicilian, politically anti-fascist family from Messina, Sicily. She had earlier eloped to Rome with a cousin of hers who later left her to raise their child (Lucio) alone. Lucio was raised Roman Catholic by his mother and a female housekeeper. He attended the Naval College in Venice, and near the end of World War II, completed his studies back in Rome at the Giulio Cesare State Classical School. He was interested in art, music, film, football, and had a love for sailing.
His mother encouraged him to be a lawyer, but he wound up going to medical school instead. After studying medicine for a time, he dropped out before completing his training, deciding there was more money to be made in the filmmaking industry He worked initially as an art critic, writing for Gazzetta delle Arti and Il Messaggero, and also joined the critical art group il Gruppo Arte Sociale. In the Fulci Talks interview filmed in Rome, Fulci mentions having in his youth met Truman Capote in Italy, whom he said was reading books and spoke good Italian.
His interest in the arts led him to apply to the film school in Rome named Centro Sperimentale where he apprenticed, after which he worked first as a director of documentaries, then an assistant director of motion pictures, then a screenwriter working mainly in the Italian comedy field in the early 1950s. The famed Italian director Steno took Fulci under his wing and allowed him to assist in the making of a number of comedies starring Totò. He also directed a number of comedies starring the actors Franco and Ciccio.