Francesco Gabrieli was the son of Giuseppe Gabrieli, librarian to the Accademia dei Lincei. He learned Arabic with his father before studying classical Arabic literature at the University of Rome writing his degree thesis on the poet Al-Mutanabbi.
From 1928 to 1935 Gabrieli worked as an editor for Enciclopedia Italiana. From 1935 to 1938 he taught at the Naples Eastern University. In 1938 became professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Rome, staying there until his retirement in 1979. He focused on arabic studies. He died in Rome.