OSTIA, Italy — When a candidate for a neo-fascist party, CasaPound, won
a seat this month on the municipal council of the Roman suburb of
Ostia, many Italians were startled.
But they really took notice days later when a television reporter
arrived to interview a CasaPound supporter — a supporter who happened
to belong to one of the area’s most feared crime families — and
received a vicious, nationally broadcast head butt that broke his nose.
Last week, Italian journalists trekked to Ostia to solemnly protest at
the scene of the assault. Around the corner, residents were still
celebrating, shrugging off the party’s claims to be the direct
descendant of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Party.
“Look at what I’ll show you,” said one, Gianluca Antonucci, as he
unzipped his jacket to reveal a black shirt featuring Mussolini’s
granite face. “Il Duce.”
For a while, this country seemed an outlier as nationalist and
xenophobic forces made gains across Europe. But now some fear that
Italy, the birthplace of fascism, is catching up with its neighbors.