He was born on August 22, 1750 in Catania (the same city where he died on February 4, 1821) from Giuseppe, a wood merchant, and Apollonia Arcidiacono. The third of seven children, he had been destined for priesthood and, to this end, entered the archbishop's seminary, which was at that time the most important school in the city.
He left that school at the age of 23, in 1773, and his father, given the failure of his son's priestly vocation, wanted to start him in the forensic profession, but also this attempt failed, because the young Domenico preferred to carry on the path of humanistic studies.
Known as Micio or Miciu, a dialectal version of his name, he was one of the greatest Sicilian poets of his time, straddling the late 1700s and early 1800s. He was welcomed into the Palladi Academy and the literary salon of patron Ignatius Paternò, Prince of Biscari. There are many legends, stories and curiosities related to this character. Domenico Tempio represents "modern catanesity", to such an extent that he has been defined as one of the singers of the city of the time. Micio Tempio was very often unjustly relegated to a particular field, that of erotic poetry, licentious, although he was an academic, an exceptionally fine intellectual, with a remarkably high cultural depth. In France he was known and loved because he translated directly from Greek to French.
His culture is rooted in classicism, to an extend that he is a poet of eros and satirical, such as Saffo, Catullus, Ovid, Martial. Tempio was praised for his harsh, pungent, irreverent satire. With his verses he denounced the injustices of the bullies on the people, the immobility of Catania, deploying a bitter and licentious hilarity. His poetry aimed to lash out, to shake consciences and incite action, showing his distrust to power. Micio Tempio was one of the most beloved characters of Catania. His Jacobin ideas cost him dearly, to the point that his myth gradually waned, suffering almost a kind of damnatio memoriae after his death. Tempio is a real Maudit poet. Among the curiosities concerning his life certainly stands out his being a lover of women, found in his work, we remember the names of Nice, Clori and Tudda. He assiduously hung around brothels and prostitutes.
Micio suffered mournings and sorrows, despite his skills, he almost always lived in poverty, helped by friends and supporters and thanks to a municipal subsidy. It is said that he spent hours and hours at the tables of don Ramunnu's tavern drinking wine and cheering patrons with his verses. From the prints, Domenico Tempio appears ugly, low, thin. Before he died, he is said to have gone to a prostitute, expressing a desire to die where he was born. From his wife Francesca Longo, who died of childbirth, he had a son who died shortly afterwards; later, his life partner was the servant of the tavern, Caterina, from whom he had his son Pasqualino. One of the metropolitan legends that revolve around the figure of Micio is linked to one of the historic palaces in the centre of Catania, Palazzo Bruca, along the central Vittorio Emanuele Street, inside which there is a fountain with a particular statue depicting the god Neptune.