Massacre in Bologna, living with terror since 1980

massacre strage bologna 1980

Image via Fotografando Emily.

My backlog of tasting notes, winemaker profiles, and food photography brims over from our recent trip to Italy.

But all I can think about this morning is Monday’s tragedy in Boston.

Maybe it’s because of the fact that, for the first time, I felt compelled to shield Georgia P from the news. She’s walking and talking up a storm these days. She certainly can’t understand what the newscasters say (and the media outlets have been conscientious about not showing graphic images from the tragedy; something, as parents of a toddler, we appreciate very much). But we felt compelled, nonetheless, to make sure that she wasn’t exposed to the reports.

I can’t help but be reminded of the 1980 Massacre in Bologna, when a terrorist attack killed “killed 85 people and wounded more than 200.” A bomb went off in the crowded Bologna train station, one of the busiest traffic hubs in Italy, and a new era of terror — one that came in the Years of Lead — had dawned.

In 1980, the year I was bar mitzvah, I was hardly aware of Italy or the Bologna Massacre. But when I traveled to Italy in 1987, the tragedy was still very fresh in the minds of the Italian students with whom I lived. The first time I took a train from Padua to Rome, my cohorts urged me to visit the station memorial when I changed trains: a part of the wall destroyed by the bomb is filled with glass instead of brick to remind travelers of how the explosion blast through the station.

The thing that set the event apart was that no one was certain who was behind the attack.

Note the subtitle in the headline above: due iptoesi: attentato o sciagura? (two hypotheses: attack or accident?).

Many in Italy remember the Bologna tragedy as the beginning of the so-called strategy of tension, whereby the anonymity of the architects of terror played into the hands of the terrorists. In other words, it didn’t matter who committed the act of terror. What mattered was that people were terrorized.

I wish speed upon the authorities as they try to uncover the authors of the despicable and cowardly attack of Monday. And may G-d bless the victims and their families. Our prayers and thoughts are with them.

In other news…

shawn amos

Above, from left: Friends Charlie George, Shawn Amos, and Shawn’s wife Marta in Luca’s vineyard a week ago Saturday.

One bright spot yesterday was my friend Shawn Amos’ Huffington Post article about our trip to Italy. I loved his notion of wine as content.

Wine is content. Glass is the vessel. And the message is in the bottle…

4 thoughts on “Massacre in Bologna, living with terror since 1980

  1. The date was also chosen carefully: August 2 meant more people than usual traveling to reach vacation destinations. Also, Italy was still recovering from the Ustica disaster, which had occurred only 35 days before.

  2. Sadly 1980 was not the beginning. Actually the 1960s and the 1970s were filled with terrorist activities in Italy, the anni di piombo, many of which went unsolved. Remember those were the years that Moro was kidnapped and murdered as well – 1978. This is not to say that the Bologna Massacre was any less devastating. I lived in Bologna in graduate school and the huge gash in the wall at the train station was quite a reminder of what they had experienced.

    • for sure, Susannah, but I do think that the Bologna bombing was a landmark event: it’s when the “strategy of tension” began… it may not have been the first such episode… but I believe that many Italian historians consider it the dawning of a new era in the wake of the years of lead… thanks for reading and being here…

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