On the one hand, Italy is well-known for its stunning landscapes, beautiful artwork, rich history, and outstanding cuisine. On the other hand, it is also known for being the home country of the Mafia and for issues such as corruption and political unrest. These are just some of Italy’s problems that have contributed to Italy having many ominous unsolved mysteries. One such mystery is that of the murder of Wilma Montesi.
After she had not been seen for two days, the half-naked body of 21-year-old Wilma Montesi was found on a beach in Ostia, a town near Rome, in April 1953. She was last seen on board a train to Ostia while she was eating dinner with her parents. Police investigating her death quickly eliminated both foul play and suicide as causes of the young woman’s death.
Instead, they concluded that her death was accidental after she had gone paddling in the sea. The reason they came to this conclusion was they couldn’t believe she was involved in anything untoward that could have led to her death. She was a normal, middle-class woman who was engaged to a policeman. Therefore, the case was closed after just five days.
Things were not so simple, however, and what became known as the ‘Montesi Affair’ soon shook the whole establishment and even led to the resignation of the foreign minister. A few months after the death of Wilma Montesi, a newspaper called ‘Attualita’ claimed that her death was non-accidental. The non-fascist publication made further claims that Montesi was not the innocent young woman that had been portrayed so far. They suggested she was involved in wild orgies and a narcotics ring at Capocatto, a nearby estate. Marquess Ugo Montagna, an elderly nobleman, was the owner of the estate. The newspaper suggested Montesi had passed out after taking an opium overdose and her body had then been dumped on the beach where she was left to die.
Silvano Muto, the editor of the paper was taken to court and charged with spreading false claims. In his defense, he had to prove his claims and brought in a Milanese aristocrat called Anna Maria Caglio who was a former mistress of Montagna. She alleged that Montagna ran a drugs ring with a musician friend called Piero Piccioni who was the son of the foreign minister. She made further claims that the pair were responsible for the disappearances of several more young women. Furthermore, she said that the local authorities had accepted bribes to keep these matters under wraps.
The testimony caused an uproar and led to the resignation of both the foreign minister and the chief of police, Saverio Polito. Public opinion regarding the case was polarized. Later, Montagna, the foreign minister and the chief of police were all tried for their alleged crimes but all three were later acquitted. Even now, the events that led to the death of Wilma Montesi are unknown.
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