Maria Anna Carolina Pia di Savoia was a Piedmontese princess and then, following her marriage to Ferdinand I of Austria, Empress of Austria. Daughter of Vittorio Emanuele I of Savoy, king of Sardinia and duke of Aosta, and Maria Teresa of Asburgo-Este, had a twin sister, Maria Teresa. Both girls were given the name Pia in honor of Pope Pius VII, who baptized them. When Maria Anna was born, in fact, the Savoys were the Pope's guests, fleeing from a Turin occupied by Napoleon's troops. His paternal uncle Charles Emmanuel IV of Savoy in 1802 had also been forced to abdicate.
When Maria Anna was a year old, the family was again forced to look for another shelter and went to Sardinia. In Cagliari the Savoy lived for eight years, in great economic hardship, until the fall of Napoleon. Maria Anna, next to her family, made her first entry in Turin in 1814. Her father was now king of Sardinia with the name of Vittorio Emanuele I.
In 1820 his twin sister was married to Carlo Ludovico di Borbone. The following year the Piedmontese people asked for the constitutional charter. Refused to give it to him, Vittorio Emanuele abdicated March 13, 1821 in favor of his brother Carlo Felice of Savoy.
Maria Anna, with her parents and brothers, began a series of trips: first to Racconigi, then to Moncalieri, where her father died in 1824. In 1830 Francesco I of Austria chose for his son Ferdinand I of Austria the twenty-seven-year-old Maria Anna. The wedding took place in Vienna on February 27, 1831 . Ferdinand had been crowned king of Hungary on October 28, 1830 and, as the first son, was destined to succeed his father.
In 1832 his mother Maria Teresa died and Maria Anna took care of arranging her younger sister Maria Cristina di Savoia, to whom she found a husband worthy of his rank in Ferdinando II di Borbone. The last king of the Two Sicilies Francesco II di Borbone was born from the union.
On 2 March 1835 Francesco I died, so that Maria Anna and her husband became emperors of Austria. The following year, on September 2, 1836, Queen of Bohemia was also crowned in Prague. At the Duomo of Milan on 6 September 1838 the couple was crowned king of Lombardy-Veneto.
Her husband Ferdinand, however, was by nature incapable of governing and the government of the empire was actually carried out by Metternich, in fact Ferdinand was mentally retarded.  The incapacity of government also stemmed from the insensitivity to grasp the social changes that led to the tumults of '48. Arrived, after the Five Days of Milan, also in Vienna, Ferdinand and Maria Anna fled with the court in Innsbruck.
In all that commotion Maria Anna, unable to give children to her husband (but this was perhaps unable to join his wife) and of Italian origin, rather related to that Charles Albert of Savoy who was reporting victory over the other on the Austrians, he was frowned at court. She was also not endowed with the political spirit of her sister-in-law, Sophia of Bavaria, a mother among other things of four sons. The empress was therefore in the condition of not being able to exercise any political influence on her husband and unable to give any advice.
On August 12, 1848, the Habsburg family returned to Vienna, but the revolts started again and had to flee a second time, this time in Olmutz. On December 2, Ferdinando's final decision came: abdicate. The imperial crown then passed to his nephew Franz Joseph of Austria, who kept the imperial crown for 68 years.
Maria Anna left the Viennese court and moved with her husband to Prague. They remained there for the rest of their lives while political and social upheavals continued in Europe. Ferdinando died on 29 June 1875. Maria Anna followed him nine years later on May 4, 1884. With Maria Anna, the main branch of the Savoy family died out.