Showing posts with label Propaganda Due. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Propaganda Due. Show all posts

25 March 2019

Tina Anselmi - ground-breaking politician

Former partisan became Italy’s first female cabinet minister


Tina Anselmi was the first Italian woman to hold a position inside an Italian cabinet
Tina Anselmi was the first Italian woman to
hold a position inside an Italian cabinet
The politician Tina Anselmi, who made history in 1976 as the first woman to hold a ministerial position in an Italian government and later broke new ground again when she was appointed to chair the public inquiry into the infamous Propaganda Due masonic lodge, was born on this day in 1927 in Castelfranco Veneto.

Anselmi was chosen as Minister for Labour and Social Security and then Minister for Health in the government led by Giulio Andreotti from 1976 to 1979.

In 1981, she became the first woman to lead a public inquiry in Italy when she was asked to head the commission looking into the clandestine and illegal P2 masonic lodge, which had among its members prominent journalists, members of parliament, industrialists, and military leaders and was suspected of involvement in many scandals in pursuit of an ultra-right agenda.

Anselmi’s political views were heavily influenced by her upbringing in the Veneto during the years of Mussolini and war. She was from a comfortable background - her father was a pharmacist in Castelfranco Veneto, while her mother ran an osteria with her grandmother - but became aware of the threat to freedom posed by the Fascist system when he father was persecuted by Mussolini’s supporters for expressing socialist views.

The Via dei Martiri in Bassano del Grappa celebrates the memory of the massacred partisans
The Via dei Martiri in Bassano del Grappa
celebrates the memory of the massacred partisans
The defining moment came in 1944, by which time she had finished high school in Castelfranco and was attending a Teaching Institute in nearby Bassano del Grappa. On September 26 of that year, aged 17, she and her fellow pupils were summoned to the town’s main square to witness the hanging of 31 young partisans, many of them not much older than her, by soldiers of the occupying German army.

The executions were intended to strike fear into anyone thinking of joining the growing resistance movement. On Anselmi, it had the opposite effect.

Under the nom de guerre Gabriella, she became a courier for the partisans, making journeys by bicycle of up to 70 miles (113km) a day on behalf of the Cesare Battisti brigade - named after the Italian patriot hanged by the Austrians in 1916 - smuggling weapons and ammunition and delivering messages.

It was extremely dangerous work. Her commander had told her that if she were caught, the best she could hope for was that she would be killed at once.

The experience made her understand what democracy meant and she resolved to spend her life defending the values it enshrined and the rights of the individual, especially those of women.

When the Second World War had ended, she studied literature at the Catholic University of Milan and became a primary school teacher. She held positions in Christian trade unions, including the primary teachers' union from 1948-55.

Anselmi chaired the inquiry into the illegal P2 masonic lodge
Anselmi chaired the inquiry into
the illegal P2 masonic lodge
Her career in politics began in earnest in 1959. Unlike other partisans drawn towards communism, Anselmi had joined the Christian Democracy Party at the end of the war and in 1959 she became a member of the party’s national council as head of youth programmes.

Re-elected five times as a deputy for the Venice-Treviso district, Anselmi served three times as under-secretary to the Department of Work and Social Services, and in 1976 she became the first woman to be a member of an Italian cabinet.

She is best known for having been the main proposer of Italian laws on equal opportunities. She passed a bill which recognised fathers as primary caregivers for their children and supported legislation on gender parity in employment conditions. She played a significant role in the introduction of Italy's National Health Service.

Throughout her career, Anselmi earned respect as a straight-talking campaigner, but also as a politician whose first thought was for her responsibility to the public, rather than the direction of her career.

When she was appointed to lead the P2 enquiry, it soon became clear that she had every intention of disturbing the established order and with so many high-profile and well-connected individuals under suspicion she found herself variously followed, threatened - dynamite was found at her house in Rome - and spied on as part of several attempts to warn her off.

Yet after four years and almost 500 sessions, the inquiry reported in 1984 and concluded that P2’s network of power represented a clear threat to democracy. It was a triumph for Anselmi, although much to her frustration and disappointment, her proposed reforms were left to gather dust.

In the broader picture, however, the work of Anselmi’s commission was an important part of the process of exposing corruption in the Italian political system, which would reach a conclusion a decade later with the dismantling of both the Christian Democrats and the Italian Socialist Party, along with the Social Democrats and the Liberals, with new groups emerging in their place.

After her retirement, Anselmi was mooted as a potential candidate for the presidency of Italy, although ill health counted against her. She died in Castelfranco in 2016 at the age of 89.

Travel tip:

Bassano del Grappa is an historic town at the foot of Monte Grappa in the Vicenza province of the Veneto, famous for inventing grappa, a spirit made from the grape skins and stalks left over from wine production, which is popular with Italians as an after dinner drink to aid digestion. The town’s main attraction is the Ponte degli Alpini, also known as the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge across the Brenta river designed in 1569 by Andrea Palladio. It has been rebuilt several times after being damaged or destroyed by wars but always to the original design. The painter Jacopo Bassano was born in Bassano del Grappa and took his name from the town.

Hotels in Bassano del Grappa by Booking.com

The walls of Castelfranco Veneto have been providing protection for the old city since 1211
The walls of Castelfranco Veneto have been providing
protection for the old city since 1211
Travel tip:

Castelfranco Veneto, a small town midway between Treviso and Vicenza in the Veneto region, is notable for its fortified old city, which lies at the centre of the town surrounded by high walls and a moat. Inside are a number of streets and the old city’s Duomo, which contains an altarpiece by the town’s most famous son, the High Renaissance artist Giorgione, thought to have been painted between 1503 and 1504. Next to the Duomo is the Casa Giorgione, thought to have been the artist’s home, which is now a museum.

8 December 2018

Arnaldo Forlani - politician

Oldest surviving former prime minister


Arnaldo Forlani was prime minister of Italy for just eight months
Arnaldo Forlani was prime minister
of Italy for just eight months
Italy’s oldest surviving prime minister, Arnaldo Forlani, was born on this day in 1925 in Pesaro.

A Christian Democrat for the whole of his active political career, Forlani was President of the Council of Ministers - the official title of the Italian prime minister - for just over eight months, between October 1980 and June 1981.

He later served as deputy prime minister (1983-87) in a coalition led by the Italian Socialist Party leader Bettino Craxi, having previously been defence minister under Aldo Moro (1974-76) and foreign affairs minister under Giulio Andreotti (1976-79).

Forlani represented Ancona in the Chamber of Deputies from his election in 1958 until the party collapsed in 1994 in the wake of the mani pulite corruption investigations.

He was premier during a difficult period for Italy, which was still reeling from the terrorist attack on Bologna railway station and the decade or so of social and political turmoil known as the Years of Lead.

Barely a month into his term, Forlani was confronted with the devastation of the Irpinia earthquake in Campania, which left almost 2,500 people dead, a further 7,700 injured and 250,000 homeless.

Forlani had been in office only a month when he had to deal with the aftermath of the devastating Irpinia earthquake
Forlani had been in office only a month when he had to deal
with the aftermath of the devastating Irpinia earthquake
Forlani committed 59 trillion lire to reconstruction, with many millions contributed by other countries, notably West Germany and the United States, although in the event, as was uncovered more than a decade later, much of the money was siphoned off by corrupt officials, paid out in bribes, or ended up in the hands of the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia.

His short-lived period in office ended when the publication of the names of the alleged members of the secret masonic lodge Propaganda Due prompted members of his coalition government to resign en masse. His minister of justice, Adolfo Sarti, was among those named, which included two other ministers among 44 members of parliament, as well as scores of bankers, industrialists, journalists, police, military officers and the heads of all three of Italy’s secret services.

It was alleged that P2, as it was usually known, was operating as “a state within a state” in trying to clandestinely control the running of the country. Forlani himself was not involved, although he was criticised for allegedly delaying the publication of the names.

Arnaldo Forlani pictured with his political ally, the  four-times prime minister Giulio Andreotti
Arnaldo Forlani pictured with his political ally, the
four-times prime minister Giulio Andreotti
Forlani, who graduated in law from the University of Urbino, became provincial secretary of Christian Democracy for Pesaro in 1948, joining the central committee of the party in 1954.

He twice served as the party’s national secretary, from 1969-73 and 1989-92 and continued to be an important politician after his period as prime minister, helping to forge closer ties between the Christian Democrats and the parties of the left and centre-left in the hope of ensuring that the Communists were never again as close to power as they had been during the turmoil of the 1970s.

Forlani was put forward as a candidate for President of the Republic in 1992, only six months before he was forced to resign as party secretary in the wake of the mani pulite scandal, in which he was charged with having received illegal funds.  He effectively retired from politics at that moment.

The Piazza del Popolo is a popular meeting place where friends gather in Pesaro
The Piazza del Popolo is a popular meeting place where
friends gather in Pesaro
Travel tip:

Pesaro, where Arnaldo Forlani was born, is a coastal city in Le Marche that has become known as ‘the city of music’ because the opera composer Gioachino Rossini was born there in 1792. The Rossini Opera Festival has taken place in Pesaro every summer since 1980 and the town is home to the Conservatorio Statale di Musica Gioachino Rossini, which was founded from a legacy left by the composer. Pesaro also has a 15th century Ducal Palace, commissioned by Alessandro Sforza.  It is popular with Italian holidaymakers for its sandy beaches, as well as its many cycle paths, because of which Pesaro is also known as the ‘city of bicycles.’


The coastal city of Ancona is home to about 120,000 people and has some interesting historical monuments
The coastal city of Ancona is home to about 120,000
people and has some interesting historical monuments
Travel tip:

The coastal city of Ancona, which Forlani represented in the Chamber of Deputies, is a bustling port of almost 102,000 inhabitants. Although the area around the port has an industrial feel, there are some notable beaches nearby and a good deal of history in the older part of the city, bearing witness to its Greek and Roman past. The 18m-high Arch of Trajan, built in honour of the emperor who built the city’s harbour, is regarded as one of the finest Roman monuments in the Marche region. In Ancona’s harbour, the Lazzaretto, the pentagonal building constructed on an artificial island in the 18th century, used to be a quarantine station designed to protect Ancona from diseases carried by infected travellers.


More reading:

The tragedy of Aldo Moro

What made Giulio Andreotti the great political survivor

Propaganda Due suspects revealed

Also on this day:

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

1685: The birth of perfumier Johann Maria Farina

1881: The birth of 'Fascist' architect Marcello Piacentini


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2 August 2018

Bologna railway station bombed

Biggest terrorist atrocity in Italy's history killed 85


The scene outside Bologna Railway Station in the aftermath of the explosion on August 2, 1980
The scene outside Bologna railway station in the aftermath
of the explosion on August 2, 1980
Italy suffered the most devastating terrorist outrage in its history on this day in 1980 with the bombing of Bologna's main railway station.

A massive 23kg (51lbs) of explosive packed into a suitcase left in a crowded waiting room was detonated at 10.25am, creating a blast that destroyed much of the main building of the station and badly damaged a train on one of the platforms.

Many people, locals and tourists, Italians and foreign nationals, were caught up in the explosion. Some were killed instantly, others died as a result of the roof of the waiting room collapsing on to the victims. There were 85 deaths and more than 200 other people were wounded.

The bomb was clearly placed to cause mass casualties. It was the first Saturday in the traditional August holiday period, one of the busiest days of the year for rail travel, and the explosive-laden suitcase was left in a room with air conditioning, then still relatively rare in Italy. On a hot day, the room was naturally full of people.

The station clock is now permanently set at the exact time the bomb exploded on that fateful Saturday morning
The station clock is now permanently set at the exact time
the bomb exploded on that fateful Saturday morning
The attack was the deadliest of several during a bleak period of 10-12 years in Italian history that became known as the Years of Lead, when the ideological struggle between the left and right in Italian politics was at its height.

It began with the killing of a Milan policeman in a far-left demonstration in November 1969 followed a few weeks later by a number of bomb attacks in Rome and Milan, the biggest of which killed 17 people in a bank in Piazza Fontana, not far from the Milan cathedral.

There were several more bombings in the years that followed and countless assassinations of policemen, military personnel, government officials and other prominent public figures, the most high profile of which was the kidnap and murder of former prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978. In all, it has been calculated that the Years of Lead claimed the lives of 428 people.

Although the killings continued after the Bologna Massacre, they happened with much less frequency after 1980 than in the three years leading up to the bombing, which has led some commentators to regard the August 2 attack as effectively bringing to an end the darkest period in Italian history since Fascism.

The tangled remains of the waiting room roof after the blast
The tangled remains of the waiting
room roof after the blast
As is almost always the case in Italy, the process of identifying the perpetrators and bringing justice was a long and torturous process.

Although the Ansa news agency received a call within minutes of the bomb going off, purporting to claim responsibility on behalf of a right-wing terrorist group known as Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari (Armed Revolutionary Corps), it was seven years before anyone was brought to trial and 10 more years before a series of trials, appeals, acquittals and retrials finally resulted in the confirmed conviction for murder of two NAR members, Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro.

Even now, conspiracy theories still persist over who else might have been involved with the planning and execution of the massacre.

In an era when the Italian Communists were as close to winning power, or a share of power, in the government of the country as they have been at any stage in their history, most of the outrages carried out during the Years of Lead were attributed either to extreme left-wing groups such as the Red Brigades and Prima Linea or to far-right organisations such as Ordine Nuovo, Terza Posizione and NAR.

The attack in Bologna was seen as symbolic because it targeted a city with a history of of left-wing politics along with a strong civic culture and a tradition of supporting the Partisans and rejecting Fascism.

Valerio Fioravanti, pictured in police custody, was one of two terrorists eventually jailed for carrying out the attack
Valerio Fioravanti, pictured in police custody, was one of two
terrorists eventually jailed for carrying out the attack
But many commentators have theorised that behind the NAR, darker forces many have been at work, possibly involving the Italian government and its secret services via the secret movement known as Operation Gladio, or even the subversive Masonic organisation labelled Propaganda Due, of which countless civil servants, military personnel, policemen and politicians were secretly members.

It was even suggested that the Israeli secret services might have supported the attack to punish Italy for a perceived sympathetic stance towards the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

The finger of suspicion was pointed at Gladio because of revelations years after the bombing that this was an organisation, in effect a shadow army, that had been put in place at the end of the Second World War, with the tacit backing of the United States, to act initially as a force primed to react to any invasion by forces from the Eastern Bloc, which Italy bordered, but later to prevent, by any means, the Italian Communist Party from forming a government, which it was feared would turn Italy into a de facto Soviet satellite.

None of these theories was ever proven, although three figures connected with Italy’s military intelligence service SISMI, along with P2 grand master Licio Gelli, were convicted during the course of the trials of supplying false information likely to mislead the investigation.

The memorial at Bologna Station to the victims of the 1980 bombing
The memorial at Bologna station to the
victims of the 1980 bombing
Travel tip:

Memorial services at which to remember the 85 victims of the Bologna Massacre are held each year, with a march and a concert in Piazza Maggiore, right at the centre of the city.  There is a plaque carrying the names of all the victims, who ranged from three years old to 86, while the clock inside the station has been stopped at 10.25am as a mark of respect for those killed. The reconstructed wall to which the plaque is attached has a jagged-edged gap left in it.

The beautiful Piazza Maggiore in Bologna
The beautiful Piazza Maggiore in Bologna
Travel tip:

The history of Bologna, one of Italy's most historic cities, can be traced back to 1,000BC or possibly earlier, with a settlement that was developed into an urban area by the Etruscans, the Celts and the Romans.  The University of Bologna, the oldest in the world, was founded in 1088.  Bologna's city centre, which has undergone substantial restoration since the 1970s, is one of the largest and best preserved historical centres in Italy, characterised by 38km (24 miles) of walkways protected by porticoes.  At the heart of the city is the beautiful Piazza Maggiore, dominated by the Gothic Basilica of San Petronio, which at 132m long, 66m wide and with a facade that touches 51m at its tallest, is the 10th largest church in the world and the largest built in brick.

More reading:

December 12, 1969: The Piazza Fontana bombing

How magistrate Felice Casson revealed the existence of Operation Gladio

The kidnapping of ex-prime minister Aldo Moro

Also on this day:

1854: The birth of author Francis Marion Crawford

1945: The death of opera composer Pietro Mascagni

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21 May 2018

Propaganda Due suspects named

Italy horrified as list reveals alleged members of ‘secret state’ 


Licio Gelli's home was raided by investigators
Licio Gelli's home was raided
by investigators
Ordinary Italians were stunned and the country’s elite rocked to the core on this day in 1981 when a list was made public of alleged members of Propaganda Due, a secret Masonic lodge which sought to run the country as a ‘state within the state’.

A staggering 962 names were on the list, including 44 members of parliament, three of whom were cabinet ministers, 49 bankers, numerous industrialists, a number of newspaper editors and other high-profile journalists, the heads of all three of Italy’s secret services and more than 200 military and police officers, including 12 generals of the Carabinieri, five of the Guardia di Finanza, 22 of the army and four from the air force.

The existence of the illegal, underground lodge, known as P2 had been rumoured for several years but there had been little concrete evidence until magistrates investigating the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano in Milan raided the home in Tuscany of Licio Gelli, the former Fascist financier who turned out to be the Grandmaster.

The list of alleged members, which was made public by Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani on the advice of the prosecuting team, was found among paperwork seized in the raid.

Arnaldo Forlani's government collapsed in the wake of the P2 scandal
Arnaldo Forlani's government collapsed
in the wake of the P2 scandal
The names included Roberto Calvi, the former head of the Banco Ambrosiano who would be found dead in London the following year, Admiral Giovanni Torrisi, the Chief of the Defence Staff of Italy, and the future prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had yet to enter politics but was already on his way to becoming Italy’s most powerful media tycoon.

The lodge was headed by Gelli, who had the title "Maestro venerabile".

Another major name on the list was Adolfo Sarti, the Minister of Justice, who resigned a couple of days after the list was published, triggering the collapse of Forlani’s ruling coalition and their resignation en masse.

The prosecuting magistrates told Forlani there was evidence that Gelli had constructed “a very real state within the state,'' using blackmail, favours, promises of advancement and bribes.

Their report described P2 as “a secret sect that has combined business and politics with the intention of destroying the constitutional order of the country and of transforming the parliamentary system into a presidential system.”

Banker Roberto Calvi, a member of P2, was found hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London
Banker Roberto Calvi, a member of P2, was found
hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London
It added that Gelli's strategy had been “to bring under his control a large number of powerful and highly-placed persons and thus to break down, for the first time in Italian history, the separation between political, administrative, military and economic spheres.''

Exactly how much power P2 wielded has been debated in all the years since it was exposed, although one undeniable coup was achieved when Gelli took control of Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s leading newspapers.

The paper, edited by Piero Ottone, had run into financial trouble and was finding it difficult to obtain loans because the banks were not impressed by Ottone’s outspoken opposition to the powerful Christian Democratic Party, the dominant force in Italian politics. Gelli stepped in to arrange a cash injection from the Vatican Bank. Ottone was fired, P2 member Franco Di Bella was appointed in his place and the paper's editorial line shifted to the right.

In 1980 the paper published a long interview with Gelli conducted by the television talk show host Maurizio Costanzo, another whose name was on the list.  Gelli told Costanzo he was in favour of rewriting the Italian constitution towards a Gaullist presidential system.

In the same year, there were suspicions that P2 members were involved in the bombing of Bologna railway station and the spreading of false stories seeking to undermine the Italian Communist Party in one of its biggest strongholds. In fact, Gelli and the deputy director of Italy's military intelligence service, SISMI, Pietro Musumeci were arrested for attempting to mislead the police investigation into the massacre, which killed 85 people, wounded more than 200 and was eventually blamed on a far-right terrorist group.

P2 members were certainly involved in the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, one of Milan's principal banks - owned in part by the Vatican Bank, and of the Franklin National Bank in New York, owned by a Calvi associate and P2 member, Michele Sindona, who was suspected of facilitating a Mafia money-laundering network involving the Banco Ambrosiano and the Vatican Bank.

Calvi, convicted of illegal money exports in 1980 but released from prison pending an appeal, was found hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982. Sindona, who was tried and found guilty of organising the murder of one of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal investigators, died in prison after being poisoned.

Arezzo's beautiful Piazza Grande is at the heart of the major Tuscan city
Arezzo's beautiful Piazza Grande is at the heart of the
major Tuscan city
Travel tip:

Arezzo, where Licio Gelli lived, is one of the wealthiest cities in Tuscany. Situated at the confluence of four valleys - Tiberina, Casentino, Valdarno and Valdichiana – its medieval centre suffered massive damage during the Second World War but still has enough monuments, churches and museums to be a worthwhile stopover on tourist itineraries. In addition to the Basilica di San Francesco and the Piero della Francesca fresco cycle, sights to take in include central square Piazza Grande, with its sloping pavement in red brick, the Medici Fortress, the Cathedral of San Donato and a Roman amphitheatre.

The neoclassical main grandstand at the Arena Civica sports stadium in central Milan
The neoclassical main grandstand at the Arena Civica
sports stadium in central Milan
Travel tip:

One of Milan’s often overlooked attractions is the Arena Civica, which was opened in 1807 in the city's Parco Sempione, behind the Castello Sforzesco. It is one of Milan's main examples of neoclassical architecture, an elliptical amphitheatre commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte soon after he became King of Italy in 1805.  Napoleon wanted it to be Milan's equivalent of the Colosseum in Rome, although there are Greek influences too. The first event to be staged there, fittingly, was a chariot race.  It was adapted for football in the early part of the 20th century and was the home of Internazionale until the move to San Siro in 1947. Nowadays it is renamed Arena Gianni Brera in honour of one of Italy's most influential sports journalists.

More reading:

How Roberto Calvi, the financier known as 'God's Banker', met a mysterious death

Michele Sindona - shady banker with links to Mafia and P2

Maurizio Costanzo - record-breaking broadcaster

Also on this day:

1910: The birth in Sicily of Philadelphia gang boss Angelo Bruno

1972: Attacker damages Michelangelo masterpiece


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28 August 2016

Maurizio Costanzo - talk show host

Journalist whose show is the longest running on Italian TV


Maurizio Costanza pictured early in his broadcasting career, as host of a 1972 radio show, Buon Pomeriggio
Maurizio Costanza pictured early in his broadcasting
career, as host of a 1972 radio show, Buon Pomeriggio
Veteran talk show host and writer Maurizio Costanzo celebrates his 78th birthday today.

Born on this day in 1938 in Rome, Costanzo has spent 40 years in television.  His eponymous programme, the Maurizio Costanzo Show, has broken all records for longevity in Italian television.

Launched on September 18, 1982, the current affairs programme continued for 27 years, alternating between Rete 4 and Canale 5, two of Italy's commercial television networks, part of the Mediaset group owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. 

Its run came to an end in 2009 but was relaunched on the satellite channel Mediaset Extra in 2014 and returned to terrestrial television in 2015, again on Rete 4.

Costanzo began his media career in print journalism with the Rome newspaper Paese Sera at just 18 years old and by the time he was 22 he was in charge of the Rome office of the mass circulation magazine Grazia.

After branching into radio, he switched to television in 1976, hosting the RAI programme BontĂ  loro, which is considered to be Italy's first TV talk show.  Others followed before the launch of the Maurizio Costanzo Show, which involved prominent politicians and others in the public eye, discussing major issues of the day.

Costanzo returned to print in 1978, while continuing his broadcasting career in parallel, when he was appointed editor of La Domenica del Corriere, the Sunday edition of the Milan newspaper, Corriere della Sera, a move that saw Costanzo caught up in scandal.

Maurizio Costanza as TV audiences know him today
Maurizio Costanza as TV audiences know him today
Corriere della Sera had in 1977 secretly fallen into the control of Propaganda Due, a clandestine network that evolved from a masonic lodge into an alliance of industrialists, members of parliament, military leaders, journalists and other influential figures who aimed to create a "state within a state" to control the direction of Italy's social and political future.

In 1980, Costanzo conducted a controversial interview with Licio Gelli, a former Fascist blackshirt who was head of Propaganda Due - already under scrutiny because of apparent links with the disgraced former banker, Michele Sindona - in which Gelli denied P2 had any malevolent agenda but spoke about his support for a rewriting of the Italian constitution along the lines of the Gaullist presidential system of France.

Less than a year later, police investigating Sindona raided Gelli's villa outside Arezzo in Tuscany and discovered a list of supposed subscribers to P2 that ran to almost 1,000 names.  As well as Berlusconi, 44 MPs, the heads of all four of Italy's secret services and 195 officers of the armed forces, the names included Costanzo himself.

Although at first he denied being a member, Costanzo later admitted his involvement but stressed his deep regret, insisting he was naive and acted only in the interests of safeguarding his career. He publicly distanced himself from the organisation and Gelli, who was subsequently jailed.

Costanzo rebuilt his reputation in the eyes of the public after shifting his political stance more towards the left and risking his own safety to campaign against the Mafia through his broadcasting. It is suspected that a car bomb that exploded in Rome in 1993 outside the Teatro Parioli, which was regularly used for the Maurizio Costanzo Show, was intended either to do him harm or at least frighten him.

A man of immense professional energy, Costanzo had a parallel career as a screenwriter both for television and the cinema, with a long list of credits from the 1960s until as recently as 2007.

He has been married four times and has two children by his second wife, journalist Flaminia Morando, of whom, Saverio, is a film director. He married his current wife, television host and producer Maria de Filippi, on his 57th birthday in 1995.

UPDATE: Maurizio Costanzo sadly passed away in Rome on February 24, 2023, at the age of 84. His funeral took place at the Church of Santa Maria in Montesanto, known as the Church of the Artists, in Piazza del Popolo, on Monday, February 27, 2023. His remains were buried at the Campo Verano cemetery.

Travel tip:

The Teatro Parioli - full name Teatro Parioli Peppino De Filippo - is situated in the Parioli district of Rome, about 20 minutes north of the city's historic centre. Opened in 1938 in the Via Giosuè Borsi, it takes its name from the Italian artist Peppino De Filippo.  Costanzo became artistic director in 1988 and remained in the position until 2011.

April in Rome: a view over St Peter's Square along  Via della Conciliazione towards the Tiber
April in Rome: a view over St Peter's Square along
Via della Conciliazione towards the Tiber
Travel tip:

Seasoned visitors to Rome consider the Eternal City to be at its best between October and April, when there are fewer tourists and hotel prices are generally cheaper than in the high season.  The early part of October can still feel like summer with temperatures in the low to mid-20s, although there is an increasing chance of rain.  April tends to be a little cooler but is often dry and with plenty of sunshine.

(Photo of Maurizio Costanzo today by Birillo253 CC BY-SA 4.0)
(Photo of St Peter's Square by Diliff CC BY-SA 3.0)

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