Chilling Video Shows Hundreds of Far-Right Activists Giving Fascist Salute

The sight of ranks of men performing a Nazi-style salute at a far right commemoration ceremony in Rome on Sunday has drawn condemnation.
Videos promoting Sunday’s memorial circulated on social media prior to the event featured ranks of shaven-headed men giving fascist salutes. 

Hundreds of far-right activists were seen giving a fascist salute at a ceremony in Rome on Sunday to commemorate the deaths of three teenagers nearly 50 years ago.

Footage showed the crowd raising their arms in a stiff-armed, Nazi-style salute and chanting “present!” in front of the former headquarters of the defunct neo-fascist Italian Social Movement party (MSI). A Celtic cross, a symbol of white supremacy, was also on display.


The scenes took place as part of an annual commemoration of the victims of the 1978 Acca Larentia killings, in which three teenage MSI supporters were killed. Two of the teens - 13-year-old Franco Bigonzetti and 17-year-old Francesco Ciavatta, both members of the MSI’s youth wing - were shot to death in an ambush by far-left militants as they left the party’s headquarters. A third, Stefano Recchioni, 19, was killed by a stray bullet during subsequent clashes with police.

No one has been convicted for the killings, which occurred during a high point in Italy’s so-called Years of Lead, a decades-long period of unrest which saw terrorism and political violence carried out by the far-right and the far-left.

An official wreath-laying ceremony to the victims, hours before the fascist salutes were performed, was attended by numerous senior politicians, including members of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her far-right Brothers of Italy party. The Acca Larentia killings have special significance to the Brothers of Italy as many of the party are former members of the MSI; Meloni herself began her career in far-right activism as a member of the Youth Front, the MSI’s youth wing to which the slain activists belonged.

The scenes from the memorial, supported by neofascist groups like CasaPound, drew condemnation from opposition politicians. Elly Schlein, a member of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies and secretary of the centre-left Democratic Party, said she would raise questions about the incident in parliament.


“Rome, January 7, 2024. And it seems like 1924,” she wrote on Facebook, referring to Italy’s fascist past, which began with the seizing of power by Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party in 1922.

“Neofascist organisations must be dissolved, as stated by the constitution.”

Videos promoting Sunday’s memorial circulated on social media prior to the event featured fascist imagery of Roman centurions and Celtic crosses, flowers for the victims, and ranks of shaven-headed men giving fascist salutes, with the slogan: “For all the fallen comrades.”

Schlein called on Meloni and the Brothers of Italy - an heir to the MSI - to condemn the salutes, widely known as the Roman salute in Italy. 

“Meloni has nothing to say?” tweeted Schlein.

Despite such calls, neither Meloni nor any Brothers of Italy MPs had condemned the salutes at the time of publication, with the only criticism from a government figure coming from Deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani, of the Forza Italia party. “Anyone who engaged in such behaviour must certainly be condemned by everyone,” he said.

Numerous politicians, including Francesco Rocca, the Meloni-appointed president of the Lazio region, and Fabio Rampelli, vice president of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies and a member of the Brothers of Italy, were present at an official wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the victims earlier on Sunday. The Brothers of Italy said none of its members had been at the subsequent event were the fascist salutes were made.


Emanuela Droghei, a regional councillor from the centre-left Democratic Party, criticised Rocca for his presence at the earlier wreath-laying event.

“Commemorating the dead is one thing, giving institutional cover to fascist rallies is another,” wrote Droghei on social media.

In response, Rocca threatened to sue Droghei, calling her accusations “false, surreal and defamatory” and saying there had been no fascist salutes made at the official ceremony at which he had been present.

“If there had been Roman salutes, I would not have hesitated to condemn them and distance myself from them,” he said.

At Sunday’s wreath-laying ceremony, Rocca told reporters that it was “right” to commemorate the young victims, “who died from the ideological hatred that poisoned the Years of Lead.” 

“We therefore commemorate these boys killed in the name of their ideas and political beliefs, so that this never happens again.”

Many members of the Brothers of Italy are former members of MSI, including Rampelli, who acted as a mentor to Meloni in her days as a young activist, after joining the MSI’s Youth Front in 1992. Meloni herself has previously attended official tributes commemorating the victims, giving a speech at a similar memorial ceremony in 2021

“It is a wound that has never healed because … there was no justice,” she said at the 2021 memorial. Hours later, large crowds of far-right sympathisers also performed the fascist salute.

Police said Monday they were looking into the matter and would prepare a report for prosecutors. Italy has laws against “apology” for fascism, but they are rarely enforced.