Years Of Lead (Anni di Piombo)

The recent terrorist bombing in Brussels airport and metro station led me to review a bit of European history. I went down a rabbit hole of awful events throughout Europe, the UK  and Italy through the past 50 years or so.

This was how I came across the so called ‘Years of Lead’. From the late 1960s until the early 1980s Italy was terrorized by many devastating and horrifying happenings.The Years of Lead came about for very different reasons than recent attacks in Brussels and Paris. They were more to do with internal political clashes of interests and Mafia activity rather than external religious ideas although there was a mixed bag. The means, however, are disturbingly similar and all of it caused pain, fear, trauma and economic impacts.

The Italians endured bombs: in Milan near the Duomo (12.12.69) and Il Vittoriano and banks on the same day in Rome; on Trains while they were travelling (Rome to Messina (22.7.70), Italicus Express (4.8.74), the Naples to Milan (23.12.84),  and the train station in Bologna (2.8.80). There were shootings and a kidnapping or two. There is more. I won’t labor this.

However most poignantly for me in light of Brussels, the Fiumicino airport in Rome was bombed 2 days after Christmas in 1985 killing 16 people.


I am not posting this to compare or to somehow make less of any of this but simply to share. I am also not wanting to spread fear but just to look at history as it is. And of course, no country on Earth is immune from horrible happenings.

The recent events in Brussels and Paris may possibly still be highly traumatizing for Italians and indeed all Europeans as they relive the past shocks.

We choose whether to go on holiday to Europe and whether to cancel. Whether we will go and spend our money or not. We choose how we behave when we are in Europe and we choose how we treat local people. Europeans and especially in the context of this post, Italians have all this happening on their doorstep. They can’t choose whether to be impacted by all this or not. They simply are impacted. And some have lost loved ones along the way.



12 thoughts on “Years Of Lead (Anni di Piombo)

  1. Smartly written post. I went to Italy on an exchange program in the 80’s and I remember talk about the Anni di Piomba.

    A coworker of mine (a poised and curious young lady) was seriously injured in the Paris attacks. She still has another surgery scheduled, and she says that once she’s recovered she’s moving to Germany. I won’t deny I have fear, but if my co-worker can do it, I can keep travelling too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou for your comments. So sorry about what your friend has been through. These events have impacted so many people in so many ways but to still need further surgery from something that happened last November makes it still so current and traumatic. I wish you safe travels and hope the same for myself when I am in Europe again this year.


  2. The attacks in Brussels and Paris, as other terrorist attacks in other parts of the world, are bad, bad things, done by bad, bad people. But I don’t see them as a reason to be concerned for your safety when travelling to Europe.

    First of all, they are an exceptional event – numbers of casualties of terrorism in Western Europe have been extremely low for the past 2 decades. Secondly, in the EU, some 25 000 people lose their lives annually in traffic – over a 1000 times more than the number of people killed by terrorists in 2015! Finally, in the USA, over 33 000 people lose their lives annually in gun violence.

    These numbers dwarf any terrorism threat and frankly, I would be more concerned about these things than about the highly unlikely terrorist attack.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely agree! Thanks for your thoughts Michael. many people do feel compelled to act due to concern for safety. We all behave differently. My neighbour has now altered her plans to avoid Belgium while in Europe and another woman I know who takes a tour group to Belgium has had people withdraw from her tour…I imagine right now Brussells is probably one of the safest spots in Europe.


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