Luisa Banti was born in Florence, Italy, the eldest of six children. Her father Guido Banti was a professor of anatomy at the University of Florence and a highly-respected physician. As a child, she studied classical music and foreign languages. In her thirties, she defied the conventions of her bourgeois family and of the era for women, and enrolled at the University of Florence, where she studied philology and classical antiquity. She became an archaeologist and expert on the Etruscan and Minoan civilizations. In the 1930s, she spent summers on Crete with the Italian Archaeological Mission and organized and published works on artifacts discovered earlier at Festos and Hagia Triada. Her interest in Minoan religion resulted a faculty position in the History of Religions Department at the University of Rome. In 1948, she was appointed to the chair of Archaeology and History of Greek and Roman Art of the University of Pavia. A few years later, she was named Chair of Etruscan Studies and Italic Archaeology of the University of Florence. In 1960, she published her best-known book, Il mondo deli Etruschi (The Etruscan World).