Rapido 904

Martino Lombezzi

2014 - 2016


The 1984 December 23rd massacre on the 904 express train, one of the worst terrorist attacks in Italian history, is almost a forgotten story. A bomb placed in a second class train car was remotely detonated when the train was running through a twenty kilometres long tunnel: sixteen people died and hundreds were wounded. It is considered the first of the Mafia’s massacres, indicating a change in the organization strategy and a prelude to the attacks that would take place in the 1990s. Some of the men responsible for the bombing received life sentences: Mafia boss Pippo Calò, his aides Guido Cercola and Franco Di Agostino, and the German bomb disposal expert, Friederich Schaudinn. According to the Prosecutor’s Office of Florence, Mafia boss Totò Riina, ordered, planned and instigated the massacre. On 25 November 2014, thirty years after the massacre, the trial against the Mafia boss for the bombing began. I am interested in building a relationship between the private memories of the survivors and the public domain where the process takes place.

I decided to combine photographs I made with images from two different archives: the Italian Railway society photographic archive and L'Unità archive. The first contains pictures taken inside the tunnel immediately after the bomb, when the rescuers came in. The second contains news pictures of the arrest of Pippo Calò, considered the main responsible for this event.

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  • December 2014, Firenze Tribunal. A screen broadcasts the image of Mafia boss Totò Riina, accused of instigating the attack. Riina never spoke during the process.

  • July 2014, Volla (Napoli). The power of the explosion made all the glass blow, and the splinters hit all the train passengers, remaining sometimes for years in their flesh. Lina L., one of the passengers, kept all the splinters that hit her body until today, as a remembrance.

  • Garbagnate Milanese (Milano), December 2014. Loretta Pappagallo, survivor. "I could feel the smoke, the smell of burnt, I could feel... I was terrified, I was... In that moment, my life flashed before my eyes. I wanted to get out of there, to run away. Since then, I decided that I didn't want to hear about this anymore."

  • FS Italian railway archives. December 23rd, 1984. Railway workers examine the tracks after the explosion took place.

  • Napoli, July 2014. A photograph portraying Cinzia D'Esposito wounded in her face days after the explosion.

  • Napoli, July 2014. Cinzia D'Esposito, survivor.

  • FS Italian railway archives. December 24th, 1984. The destroyed train car the day after the explosion.

  • Napoli, July 2014. The front page of the March 25th, 1989 verdict condemning Giuseppe “Pippo” Calò to life sentence

  • “L'Unità” archive. A portrait of Giuseppe “Pippo” Calò found among the objects confiscated in his house in Rome in July 1985 after his arrest.

  • Napoli, July 2014. Mariano Pappalardo, survivor, was not severely wounded but the trauma prevents him to travel and stay in crowded places

  • FS Italian railway archives. December 23th, 1984. Rescuers around the destroyed train car inside the tunnel.

  • Napoli, October 2014. One of the ear rings that Enza Napoletano, wounded, was wearing the evening of the massacre. The other one was lost in the explosion.

  • Bologna, March 2015. Rocco Di Napoli, engine driver: "I saw the air being sucked away, I heard a blast coming from the high voltage cabin: stop everything, switch off the power, I want to go there to find out what happened”

  • Napoli, July 2014. Train tickets belonging to the Calabrò family, wounded in the attack.

  • Napoli, July 2014. A medal given by the municipality of Naples to Giovanni Manzo, engine aid, for his behavior during the emergency.

  • Volla (Napoli), July 2014. Rosa Fico, survivor

  • Volla (Napoli), July 2014. The skirt given to Rosa Fico by the rescuers after she came out form the debris with her clothes tattered by the explosion.

  • San Benedetto Val di Sambro (Bologna), December 2014. Paolo Vandelli, railway worker and rescuer, was one of the first to enter the tunnel after the explosion

  • Firenze Tribunal, March 2015. A screen broadcasts the image of Mafia boss Giuseppe “Pippo” Calò from the Milano prison where he is serving life sentence during his hearing in the Riina process.

  • San Benedetto Val di Sambro (Bologna) August 2nd 2016. Local people commemorate the massacre.