To the Bolognesi, other Italians and tourists that go past, that old clock does not display the correct hour of the day.
That old clock is no longer the indicator of the minutes that pass by, but a symbol frozen in time and a reminder of the day that it stopped for eternity.
Its black numbers stand out on its white face, while its hands are motionless, suspended at 10:25 am.
Suspended at 10:25 am of August 2, 1980 - to be precise - at the exact moment in which a fatal explosion interrupted the course of time and the pace of life.
Time was not the only thing stolen that day, and eighty lives were swept away, along with the lives of the victims’ families and friends, and a whole nation which had been preparing for the holidays during a hot August.
It was the most severe massacre in Italy’s history, scarring the fibre of Italian society in an era of endless tragedies.
Whoever wanted to break the heart of an entire nation succeeded in the summer of 1980.
Just like the rubble covered a mass of innocent people who were lingering in a crowded waiting room, false leads blanketed the investigations that took place in response to the terrorist bombings that devastated the Central Station of Bologna.
On August 26, 1980, 28 arrest warrants were issued against far-right militants, and the trial began on January 19, 1987.
After a long process, on November 23, 1995, neo-fascists and members of the “Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari” (NAR), Giuseppe Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro, were definitively sentenced to life imprisonment for executing the attack.
The two terrorists always maintained their innocence, despite admitting to the execution of dozens of other murders.
Meanwhile, the former head of “Propaganda Due” (P2) Licio Gelli, former Military Intelligence and Security Service (SISMI) agent Francesco Pazienza, and officers of the Italian Military Secret Service - Pietro Musumeci and Giuseppe Belmonte - were sentenced for investigation diversion.
Five years later, on June 9, 2000, the Court of Assizes in Bologna issued a nine-year sentence for diversion to Massimo Carminati, a far-right extremist who was more recently under trial as a major component of the “Mafia Capitale” scandal.
Former director of SISMI in Florence, Federigo Mannucci Benincasa, was sentenced to four and a half years, along with Ivano Bongiovanni, a common thug who had ties to the movements of the extraparliamentary right.
Eventually, in 2007, a 33-year sentence was confirmed to Massimo Ciavardini, another member of NAR.
No further sentencing took place against the hidden instigators of the massacre.
In 1984, 35-year-old Sicilian and member of the neo-fascist group “Ordine Nuovo”, Vincenzo Vinciguerra, was held responsible for the bomb attack in Peteano.
When Vinciguerra was sentenced to life in prison, he refuted the appeal process, instead deciding to cooperate with the judges who were investigating the various murders and massacres that occurred during the “Years of Lead”.
Despite his contributions and revelations, Vinciguerra rejected the status “collaborator of justice”, and did not want any reduction in his sentence, because he didn’t quite feel repented for his crime.
In fact, in a statement, Vinciguerra described himself as a “soldato politico” (political soldier) who had committed an act of war against the State and against the far-right neofascists, who were both colluding with NATO and the CIA.
In 1984, when questioned about the Bologna attack, Vinciguerra asserted:
Con la strage di Peteano, e con tutte quelle che sono seguite, la conoscenza dei fatti potrebbe far risultare chiaro che esisteva una reale viva struttura, segreta, con le capacità di dare una direzione agli scandali... menzogne dentro gli stessi stati... esisteva in Italia una struttura parallela alle forze armate, composta da civili e militari, con una funzione anti-comunista che era organizzare una resistenza sul suolo italiano contro l'esercito russo... una organizzazione segreta, una sovra-organizzazione con un rete di comunicazioni, armi ed esplosivi, ed uomini addestrati all'utilizzo delle stesse... una sovra-organizzazione, la quale mancando una invasione militare sovietica, assunse il compito, per conto della NATO, di prevenire una deriva a sinistra della nazione. Questo hanno fatto, con l'assistenza di ufficiali dei servizi segreti e di forze politiche e militari”.
(With the massacre of Peteano, and with all those that have followed, the knowledge should by now be clear that there existed a real live structure, occult and hidden, with the capacity of giving a strategic direction to the outrages...[it] lies within the state itself...There exists in Italy a secret force parallel to the armed forces, composed of civilians and military men, in an anti-Soviet capacity that is, to organise a resistance on Italian soil against a Russian army...A secret organisation, a super-organisation with a network of communications, arms and explosives, and men trained to use them...A super-organisation which, lacking a Soviet military invasion which might not happen, took up the task, on NATO's behalf, of preventing a slip to the left in the political balance of the country. This they did, with the assistance of the official secret services and the political and military forces).
These were the first revelations of the parallel structure that was later uncovered as the “Operazione Gladio” (Operation Gladio).