• Stephen Gundle
  • Lucia Rinaldi
Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)


Contemporary Italian history has been marked by an extraordinary series of murders. The assassination of King Umberto in 1900 by an anarchist marked a murderous reaction against what was seen as a brutal and repressive state. Although no other head of state has been murdered, many political figures have been the victims of assassination or attempted assassination. Perhaps the most famous murder of a political figure has been the killing of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades in 1978. Opponents of the government have also been frequent victims, from Giacomo Matteotti and Carlo Rosselli under fascism to the student Carlo Giuliani, who was shot by a policeman during the G8 protests in Genoa in 2001. Few killings in Italy, especially political murders, are completely clear in their causes and motives. Debate and controversy usually ensue, and this is often followed by polemical or reflective novels, plays, and films. The Moro case has given rise to numerous investigations and a web of speculation, as well as a minor industry of memoirs, reconstructions, conspiracy theories, and films. Such a varied production is not exclusive to this case. The death of the anarchist Pinelli, who allegedly threw himself from a police station window in 1969 after being accused of placing a bomb in a bank in Milan’s Piazza Fontana, was blamed by the left on a police inspector, who was himself subsequently assassinated. The lack of clarity over Pinelli’s death, which occurred in the context of an official attempt to blame the anarchists for a bomb that was later found to have been placed by the neo-fascist right, was taken as a sign of the complicity of the state. It was memorably satirized in Nobel prize winner Dario Fo’s play Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Novels and films have been inspired by the execution of the anti-fascist Cervi brothers in 1944, the mafia murders of the magistrates Falcone and Borsellino, the killing of fashion designer Gianni Versace and other cases.


Nobel Prize Winner Murder Case Conspiracy Theory Political Figure Fashion Designer 
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© Stephen Gundle and Lucia Rinaldi 2007

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  • Stephen Gundle
  • Lucia Rinaldi

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