Unsolved mysteries have always been a source of interest for people. They spend hours trying to figure out what happened and examining the theories of others. It’s in our nature to try and explain the unexplainable. Here are 5 unsolved mysteries that keep Italian sleuths awake at night.
1. The Ustica Massacre
June 27, 1980, started off just like any other day for Itavia Airlines Flight 870. They boarded all 77 passengers without issue and departed from Bologna to Palermo right on time. It wasn’t until an hour later that things went wrong. The flight suddenly vanished from all radar screens, and hours later crash debris was found near the island of Ustica.
To this day, nobody knows exactly what happened aboard Flight 870. Initially, the Parliamentary Commission on Terrorism said the plane had been shot down as an act of war but never identified who the responsible party was. Later in 2008, president Francesco Cossiga stated that a French Navy aircraft fired a missile at the plane. (The French have denied all allegations against them.) Additionally, A British investigation team believed there was a bomb on board.
The missile theory was upheld by Italy’s top criminal court, but no country or individual was ever identified as the perpetrator. The victims’ families were paid 100 million euros in civil damages, and several air force employees were charged with trying to cover up what had happened.
2. The Disappearance of Mauro De Mauro
In 1970, Mauro De Mauro was an investigative journalist who was hired to do research for Francesco Mattei’s upcoming movie The Mattei Case. The movie was about Enrico Mattei, an Italian politician who died in a mysterious plane crash. He apparently told his coworkers that he had uncovered something that was going to rock the country. On September 16, De Mauro was seen exiting his car in front of his house and talking to a pair of men. They all got into another car and that was the last time De Mauro was seen.
Over the years, people have suggested De Mauro discovered something related to Mattei’s death. Others say De Mauro discovered a coup plot by the Mafia and Italian fascists. One mob informant, Tommaso Buscetta, said De Mauro was murdered for knowing too much. Despite this alleged confession, De Mauro has never been found ,and no one has ever been convicted for his murder.
3. The Monster of Florence
Active through 1974 up until 1985, the Mostro di Firenze, terrorized the citizens of Florence. This individual, who is still unknown, would seek out couples parked in country areas during the night time. He would wait until they were distracted before he would attack, usually shooting his victims and then stabbing them. Afterward, he would disfigure the female victims. In total, The Monster of Florence killed 14 people. The last anyone heard from the killer was in 1985 when he sent a body part from his last victim to a female prosecutor.
A man named Pietro Pacciani was arrested and charged for the murders. He was later acquitted for lack of evidence. Following that, Norberto Galli and Giancarlo Lotti were arrested in relation to the murders. The two men were convicted based on a confession from Lotti, who has since been dubbed an unreliable witness.
In the public’s opinion, The Monster of Florence case is still unsolved.
4. The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi
On June 22, 1983, 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi vanished on her way to flute lessons. The family scoured the streets, put up posters, took out ads in the paper, and did TV interviews for years after her disappearance. Many believe her disappearance had something to do with the scandals around the Vatican Bank, as her father worked a clerk for the pontiff.
Emanuela’s brother, Pietro, has kept the case alive for the past 37 years, but every lead has been a dead end.
In 2019, an anonymous tip came to the Orlandi family. It was the photo of angel sculpture with a note that said, “look where the angel is pointing.” It led to two tombs in the Teutonic Cemetery, next to Saint Peter’s Basilica. After pleas from the family, The Vatican exhumed the remains inside the tombs and tested them to see if either one belonged to Emanuela. Pietro noted this was the first time throughout the investigation the Vatican collaborated with family and detectives.
Sadly, the remains were not a match and Emanuela’s case still remains open.
5. The Death of Enrico Mattei
Enrico Mattei was a controversial figure during his lifetime. He built up Italy’s energy sector, and negotiated trade agreements with the Middle East and the Soviet Union. These deals thus interfering with the power of oil companies like the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, Texaco, and Royal Dutch Shell (There were seven companies in total.) He also established a policy to fix prices to keep fuel cheap for Italians. In a word, he was bad for business.
On October 27, 1962, Mattei board his plane with his pilot Irnerio Bertuzzi and photographer William McHale. Supposedly, the plane was caught up in a storm and crashed near a village in Lombardy. However, many people weren’t convinced the crash was an accident. One thing in particular that unsettled people was the fact that Bertuzzi was a skilled pilot from World War II and led night raids throughout his service. People couldn’t believe this man would mistakenly fly into a storm.
Five months after the crash, a report was released stating that the aircraft had been destroyed by an explosion just short of the Linate Airport runway. Later in 1986, former Italian Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani said the plane had been shot down. In 1995, Mattei’s remains were exhumed, and the coroner found bits of shrapnel, which supports the explosion theory.
The CIA, France, and The Mafia have all been named as suspects in the crash. However, the case still has no definitive answer.
- Monster of Florence [Florence Web Guide]
- Ustica Massacre [Italy On This Day]
- Emanuela Orlandi [CNN]
- Unexplained Mysteries [Listverse]
- Enrico Mattei [Historic Wings]
- Feature Picture [Flickr]