Alessandra Melucco Vaccaro was born in Rome to a middle-class family. She studied Greek and Roman archaeology at La Sapienza University under the direction of Ranccio Bianci Bandinelli. In 1962-1963, she participated in excavations at the Etruscan sanctuary at Pyrgi and at the Centro Sperimentale di Archeologia Sottomarina. In 1964, she won a scholarship to attend the Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene. In 1965, she married Gianfranco Melucco, a lawyer. She joined the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and worked at the Soprintendenza alle Antichità in Florence and in Ostia Antica. She directed a series of excavations including those at the Duomo Vecchio di Arezzo and the Longobardi necropolis of Chuisi-Arcisi. From there, she became curator at the Museo dell'Alto Medioevo in Rome. In 1971, she transferred to the l’Istituto Centrale del Restauro (ICR), overseeing numerous major projects, including the work on the Riace bronzes, the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius on the Capitoline Hill, the Arch of Constantine, and Trajan's Column. She wrote numerous scholarly articles on stone conservation, architectonic patinas, and paints used on ancient monuments, and a book, I Longobardi in Italia (1982), which is still considered to be a central resource text. In 1976, she entered politics as a member of the Communist party, and was elected a deputy to the Italian Parliament. She directed the restoration of numerous important monuments in Rome and throughout Italy, while teaching and holding seminars at various universities. She was appointed the archaeologist for the Italian Ministry of Culture and Environmental Affairs (MBCA), and in 1994 became the Archeological Director for the l’Ufficio Centrale per i Beni Ambientali e Paesaggistici (UCBAP), with responsibilities for technical decisions for monuments at risk and for international relations. In addition, she was actively involved in UNESCO’s worldwide list of sites with important archaeological patrimony. She died at age 60 in 2000, and received the Medaglia d'Oro for culture and art posthumously in 2001.