The Leicester City boss was speaking of his fellow Italian ahead of Tuesday night's EFLCup meeting with Chelsea when he said he tried to bring the former midfielder to Fiorentina from Juventus in the 1990s.
Ranieri said: "I have known him a long time.
"I then watched him when he was manager at Siena and together we were at national teams with Greece and Italy.
"We weren't too close (to signing Conte) but it wasn't possible. I tried and when you are in the market you try to find the right players and, for me, him and Di Livio were very good players for us but it wasn't possible.
"He is a nice boy, a hard worker, a good mentality, a strong mentality."