Antagonistic martyrdom: memory of the 1973 Rogo di Primavalle

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Memory of the period of political violence known as the anni di piombo continues to form part of the neofascist-antifascist antagonism in contemporary Italy. One of the most notable tragedies from that time occurred in Rome on 16 April 1973, when Stefano and Virgilio Mattei (sons of a local leader of the Movimento Sociale Italiano, MSI) died in an arson attack on the family home. In the wake of the attack, a campaign of misinformation and a failed judicial process created an incorrect but dominant narrative that implicated the MSI in the fire that killed Stefano and Virgilio. This article examines the subsequent construction of a counter-memory by the MSI leadership, who immediately cast the attack as a party tragedy and the deaths as martyrdom. It also considers the subsequent antagonistic approach to remembering adopted by neofascist groups in commemoration of the Mattei brothers following the dissolution of the MSI in 1995, and the ongoing incorporation of the brothers’ memory into fascist martyrology dating back to Mussolini's regime.
Original languageEnglish
JournalModern Italy
Early online date6 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

The acceptance date for this record is provisional and based upon the month of publication for the article.


  • martyrdom
  • commemoration ceremonies
  • sites of memory
  • years of lead
  • movimento sociale italiano
  • neofascism
  • fascism


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