In 1836, he received his medical degree from the University of Pavia, where afterwards he worked as an assistant to the chair of zoology. From 1840 he worked at the museum of natural history in Milan. In 1848 he succeeded Giuseppe Gené as professor of zoology and comparative anatomy at the University of Turin.
He was the director of the scientific group affiliated with the first official mission sent to Persia in 1862, intended to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries.
While here, he maintained a diary that subsequently became an interesting travel book on the country. Upon his return to Italy, he wrote a number of articles on the botany and zoology of Persia.
Later made a senator of the Kingdom of Italy, De Filippi set out in 1866 on a government-sponsored scientific voyage to circumnavigate the globe. The ship, the Italian warship Magenta, sailed under the command of Vittorio Arminjon, departing Montevideo on February 2, 1866.
lieutenant reached Naples on March 28, 1868.
However, De Filippi himself died en route at Hong Kong, on February 9, 1867, from serious dysentery and liver problems. He was 52 years old. The scientific report was completed by his assistant, Professor Enrico Hillyer Giglioli, who returned to Italy in 1868. His name is associated with the following species:
De Filippi"s petrel (Pterodroma defilippiana)
Causus defilippii (January, 1862), also known as the snouted night adder.
Darevskia defilippii (Camerano, 1877), also known as the Elburs lizard.