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The Massacre – Piazza Fontana 12.12.1969 – Fifty Years On

ISLG Italian Studies Library Group

2019 Annual Lecture

By Professor John Foot, University of Bristol

On 12th December 1969, a bomb exploded in the Banca Nazionale dell’Agricoltura headquarters building in Piazza Fontana, central Milan. It was a massacre. Sixteen people eventually lost their lives and more than ninety were injured. At around the same time, three further explosions injured at least fourteen people in Rome. Another device, planted near the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, failed to detonate. The Piazza Fontana massacre was soon described as a strage di Stato or a ‘State slaughter’, harbinger of the political violence that was to shake Italy for a decade to come. ‘I know, but have no proof’ wrote Pier Paolo Pasolini, pointing clear blame at the Italian military and intelligence services. The Piazza Fontana bombing marked the start of what became known as the ‘strategy of tension’, a plan of violent action aimed at imposing strict social and political control through an authoritarian shift. Fifty years on, many aspects of the Piazza Fontana bombing remain unexplained. Professor John Foot will discuss Italy’s divisive and troubled past which continues to cast a shadow on Italian history and Italy’s democratic institutions.

Kindly supported by The British Italian Society and CASALINI LIBRI

John Foot is Professor of Modern Italian History at the School of Modern Languages, University of Bristol. A renowned historian, Professor Foot spent twenty years in Milan in the 1980s and 1990s and specialises in twentieth century and contemporary Italian history on which he has published extensively. His publications include: Milan Since the Miracle; Calcio. A History of Italian Football; Italy ‘s Divided Memory; Pedalare! Pedalare!; The Man Who Closed the Asylums and, more recently, The Archipelago. Italy since 1945. Professor Foot is also a regular contributor to The Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement and History Today.


  • Organizzato da: ICI LONDON