On the morning of July 14th 1948, a young Sicilian by the name of Antonio Pallante shot Palmiro Togliatti, leader of the Communist Party, when he was leaving Parliament. As the news of the attack spread, workers across the peninsula occupied the factories and communists took to the streets. In a few hours, the unions called for a general strike and protests took the form of insurrection. Meanwhile, with Italy at the brink of a civil war, the cyclist Gino Bartali was about to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Tour de France. How would the Italian people, in the midst of a national crisis, react to Bartali's spectacular triumph?
This lecture will explore the significance of the 1948 attempted assassination of Togliatti in postwar Italy. It will also explore how the main ingredients of this episode — street violence, mass demonstrations, the looming risk of a new civil war, and the political use of sports — resonate with our current political climate in 2020.