The anarchist Giovanni Passann-ante is becoming a cause celebre 97 years after his death.
Until this week, Passannante's skull and brain, preserved in formaldehyde, were on display at a criminology museum in Rome in what ranked as one of Italy's more macabre showcases. In this museum-loving society, it was a strange fate for someone who tried to kill the king of Italy 120 years ago.
At Passannante's death, his head and brain were removed to be studied by sociologists, in keeping with the scientific eugenicist theory made popular at the time by a criminologist named Cesare Lombroso. He believed that criminality was inherited and could be identified by physical traits.
For the last 70 years, the brain and skull have been in a display case, framed by old anarchist manifestos on the second floor of the Criminology Museum, just off Via Giulia.
The skull and brain were to leave the museum on Friday, in front of reporters and photographers, for burial with the body after pressure from hundreds of petition signers. But instead, on Thursday, the remnants were whisked away secretly and buried in his hometown in the Basilicata region of southern Italy.
It was supposed to be the final chapter in a story lasting for decades, pitting leftist intellectuals against Italy's dwindling traditionalist monarchists. Instead, it added further intrigue to the pitiable legacy of Passannante.
"It's terrible," said Ulderico Pesce, an artist who had led the campaign to bury all of Passannante. Pesce was speaking by phone from the cemetery in Savoia Lucania, where the remains were buried on Thursday night and where, he said, a crowd of onlookers had formed on Friday morning.
Pesce was baffled and angered by the decision to bury Passannante a day earlier than had been announced. "He was buried like an empty bottle," he said. He is still seeking a proper, public burial for the skull and brain.
In a statement, the regional government said that the date was changed for security reasons and out of "feelings of human pity."
Passannante earned a place in Italian history in 1878 by trying to assassinate King Umberto I of Savoy. (Umberto was later assassinated by another anarchist.) Passannante was arrested, tortured, and given a death sentence that was later reduced to life in prison.
His family was jailed. His hometown, Salvia, changed its name to Savoia di Lucania.
As the tale goes, Passannante was jailed on the island of Elba. He remained in solitary confinement and went insane. In 1910, he was sent to an asylum and died shortly after.
In 1998, Oliviero Diliberto, the minister of justice at the time, wrote the decree allowing for the removal of Passannante's remains to his hometown.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown