Born in Carrara, Italy, he fought as a soldier during World War I and later emigrated to France, returning to attempt to assassinate Benito Mussolini on September 11, 1926, in Rome's Porta Pia square. Lucetti was tried in June 1927 and condemned to 30 years in prison as was the politician Vincenzo Baldazzi, condemned for helping him prepare the attempt. In 1943 Lucetti escaped from prison but was killed shortly afterwards during a German bombing raid on Ischia.
Gino Lucetti and the attempt on Mussolini's life by Pietro de Piero
Anybody who maintains that wherever in Italy there are anarchists there are republicans as well (on account of their common individualist, libertarian roots) has a telling example in Avenza. Although very different from Menconi, his countryman, contemporary and friend, the anarchist Gino Lucetti, with his individualistic outlook is the other outstanding figure of local antifascism, and not just local.
Many of those who knew him remember him, always deep in thought, with a book under his arm, strolling along the riverbank. From a working-class background, he was virtually self-taught and took part in the political struggles of the 1920’s, confronting the fascists on many occasions.
In one particularly rough skirmish in the popular ‘Napoleon Cafe’ he was shot in the neck during a gunfight with a fascist by the name of Perfetti, who was shot in the ear. Lucetti went to ground near Montignoso, unable to find a doctor prepared to remove the bullet. After a few days he was smuggled aboarda ship for France where he finally received medical treatment.
It was while he was recuperating in France he planned the attempt on Mussolini’s life. Hard up (an unsuspecting countryman of his, Lina Squassoni, who lived in Aubagne near Marseilles, loaned him the money for the trip to Italy and Rome where he made his attempt on the Duce’s life on 11 September 1926.
Loitering near the Porta Pia he waited for the Duce to pass by and, when the famous Lancia carrying Benito Mussolini drew near, Lucetti hurled a bomb which hit the windscreen, but failed to explode and bounced onto the running board and only exploded when it was some metres away on the pavement.
In the ensuing confusion, Lucetti hid in the doorway at No. 13, Via Nomentana, but Mussolini's bodyguards caught him, kicking and punching him: they found him in possession of a second bomb of the same make, a handgun with six dumdum bullets poisoned with muriatic acid, and a dagger.
At police headquarters, under ferocious questioning, he let it be known that his name was Ermete Giovanni, from Castelnuovo Garfagnana, a phoney story that led the regime a merry dance, as a result of which their enquiries focused solely upon uncovering the leaders of the conspiracy of which he was allegedly a part, in Garfagnana and nowhere else! Road blocks were thrown up and dozens of people arrested: when Lucetti at last gave his true particulars the whole investigation was shown up as ridiculous.
At the end of his trial in 1927, he was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment. Two others, held to have been his accomplices, Leandro Sorio and his countryman Stefano Vatteroni were sentenced to 20 years and 19 years 9 months respectively.
Lucetti was held in the Santo Stefano prison where he spent nearly 17 years before being moved to Ischia where he died on 15 September 1943, according to some sources in a US air raid. Others claim (and among them was Mauro Cacurna who went to recover the body and picked up information on the spot) that the shells that killed him had been fired by the Germans who were still in occupation of nearby Procida.
Pietro de Piero, Umanita Nova (26.10.1986) Translated by: Paul Sharkey