In May of 1993, I was in the middle of the fallout from a terrorist attack in Florence, Italy. Our tour group was sleeping in a hotel adjacent to the Piazza Della Signoria, near the Uffizi Gallery,  where valuable renaissance era paintings and also a beautiful replica of Michaelangelo’s David is displayed.  At 1AM, a bomb blast ripped through the museum and several of the adjacent buildings, killing six people and injuring 27others that were nearby, including a family of four-with 9 month old and 8 year old girls. Their bodies were hurled down to the ground level with the rubble of the tower where they resided, collapse. It was horrifying and tragic. I was 26 years old. I had never head the word, “terrorist”, in my life.

The NY Times article below, states, “The gallery’s priceless collection of Botticellis, Caravaggios, Michelangelos and Leonardos apparently escaped serious damage. But, Mr. Ronchey said, the documents that comprise a 10-year effort to catalogue the collection fully were completely destroyed.”  But, I can tell you the tragedy in that square was overwhelmingly about the loss of the Italian families and the innocence of Florence and Italy in general.  Italy had not seen violence such as this since the 1970s and the people had felt rather safe and secure, something that had always been important in Italian culture.

Contrary to what you will read about the initial reports of a gas leak, I can tell you everyone knew the moment it happened that it was a ” terrorist attack” and we (Americans) were immediately packed up and escorted out of Florence, because of it, and for our own safety. We were out of Florence by 4am. The story told to the public then shifted to an attack by the Red Brigade (reminiscent of the 1970s) to the story that it was the Italian Mafia, using coercive efforts to convince local authorities to drop charges against leadership that had been under investigation at the time.

While that explanation is what the government and media cling to, I find that most reports show that the style of bombing was more in line with the Red Guerrilla activity and consistent with multiple bombs (vs single car bomb).In any event, coercion displayed by either group and the results of the coercion are yet unknown.