5 May 2019

5 May

Montagna Longa air disaster

Italy’s deadliest plane crash

Italy was in shock on this day in 1972 after an Alitalia Douglas DC-8 en route from Rome to Palermo crashed into a mountainside on its approach to the Sicilian airport.   Alitalia Flight 112, which was carrying 115 passengers and crew, was 5km (3 miles) from touching down at Palermo International Airport at around 10.24pm when it struck a 935m (1,980ft) crest of Montagna Longa, part of the Monti di Palermo range.  The aircraft slid along the ground for some distance but broke up after striking a series of rocks. Witnesses in the nearby town of Carini described seeing the aircraft on fire before it crashed.  The crash remains Italy’s deadliest accident involving a single aeroplane. Only the 2001 disaster at Milan’s second airport, Linate, when an airliner and a business jet collided on the ground, killing 114 passengers plus four people on the ground, claimed more casualties.  Read more...


Francesco Bussone da Carmagnola – Condottiero

Adventurous soldier lived on in literature

The soldier of fortune, Francesco Bussone da Carmagnola, who has been featured in poetry, books and an opera, was executed on this day in 1432 in Venice.  The military leader had been seized, imprisoned and brought to trial for treason against La Serenissima, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, and was beheaded between the columns of San Marco and San Todaro at the entrance to the Piazzetta.  Francesco Bussone had been born at Carmagnola near Turin into a peasant family. He began his military career at the age of 12, serving under the condottiero, Facino Cane, who was in the service of the Marquess of Monferrat at the time, but later fought for Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan.  He later switched sides and led armies into battle against the Milanese on behalf of Venice, but the Venetians never wholly trusted him and when he went against their orders they took the opportunity to charge him with treason. Read more…


The Expedition of the Thousand

Garibaldi's Spedizione dei Mille launched from Genoa

The Expedition of the Thousand, the military campaign to unite Italy led by the soldier and revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, was launched on this day in 1860.  The campaign, in some ways the climax of the Risorgimento movement, began in response to an uprising in Sicily, when Garibaldi set sail from Genoa, with a makeshift army of volunteers, hoping his support would enable the rebels to overthrow the Bourbon rulers of the island.  The greater purpose, though, was to achieve another step towards his ultimate goal, which he shared with his fellow nationalist revolutionary, Giuseppe Mazzini, and which was supported by King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia-Piedmont and his prime minister, Camillo Benso di Cavour, that of creating a united Italy.  Some accounts suggest Garibaldi had wanted to lead his followers into an attack on the French occupiers of Nice, his home city, but was persuaded by Cavour to turn his attention to Sicily.  Read more…


Mudslides in Campania

Towns and villages destroyed in natural disaster

Italy was stunned on this day in 1998 as a series of mudslides brought devastation in Campania, destroying or badly damaging more than 600 homes and killing 161 people.   Almost 2,000 people were left with nowhere to live.  The mudslides were set off by several days of torrential rain and blamed on the increasingly unstable landscape caused by the deforestation and unregulated construction of roads and buildings.  Torrents of mud coursed down mountainsides in several areas between Avellino and Salerno to the east of Naples.  The town of Sarno bore the brunt of the damage but the villages of Quindici, Siano and Bracigliano were also badly hit.  The accumulation of large quantities of volcanic ash deposited by historic eruptions of the nearby Mount Vesuvius is thought to have made the mudslides particularly fast moving.  Read more...


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