Primavalle fire

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The Mattei's apartment after the arson attack

The Primavalle Fire (Rogo di Primavalle in Italian) was an arson which occurred in Rome on 16 April 1973, and which caused the death of two youngsters, children of neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) member Mario Mattei.

The fire was caused by the far left autonomist group Potere Operaio, who, during the night, threw an inflammable substance on the door of the house of Mattei, in the quarter of Primavalle. Mattei was the local leader of the MSI, the Italian post-Fascist party. When the fire broke out, Mattei and part of his family managed to escape, but his sons, Virgilio, aged 22, and Stefano, aged 8, burnt to death. Virgilio was a member of Volontari Nazionali, the militant branch of the MSI.

In the aftermath of the fire, some prominent Italian intellectuals (e.g. Norberto Bobbio) mobilized in favor of the left-wing activists accused of committing these murders, and tried to attribute the attack to internal dissensions among MSI members.

Activists of Potere Operaio Achille Lollo, Marino Clavo, Manlio Grillo were eventually convicted and condemned to 18 years in a second degree sentence. However, while on bail, Lollo fled to Brazil, where his crime was declared prescribed. Grillo fled to Nicaragua, helped by Oreste Scalzone, who had also assisted Lollo. As of 2007, Marino Clavo is in hiding.

In two interviews released in 2005, both Lollo and Grillo admitted for the first time their responsibility in the act. Grillo also declared that Potere Operaio had connections with the Red Brigades. Franco Piperno, national secretary of Potere Operaio in 1973, also confirmed that the leaders of the organization were informed of the fire facts some days after it, and kept all members' responsibilities hidden.

See also[edit]


  • AA.VV. (1974). Primavalle - Incendio a porte chiuse. Savelli. 
  • Morucci, Valerio (1999). Ritratto di un terrorista da giovane. EAN 9788838444623. 
  • Telese, Luca (2006). Cuori Neri. Dal rogo di Primavalle alla morte di Ramelli. ISBN 8820036150. 

Coordinates: 41°54′54″N 12°24′49″E / 41.91500°N 12.41361°E / 41.91500; 12.41361