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Antonio Smareglia was born in Pola (in the Istrian peninsula, under the Austria-Hungarian Empire, currently in Croatia). In the house where he was born in Via Nettuno there is now a small museum of his life and work.
His father Francesco Smareglia from Pola was Italian, his mother Giulia Stiglich from Lovran was Croatian.
Smareglia married Maria Jetti Polla, and they had five children. He became blind at the age of 46. Since then he composed his music dictating to his sons, Ariberto and Mario, and to his students and friends including Primo dalla Zonca, Gastone Zuccoli, and Vito Levi.