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Italy is renowned for many aspects of its cuisine and culture, but UFO activity does not immediately spring to mind as being one of the peculiarities of the peninsula. However, according to the experts, it should. Edoardo Russo, secretary general of CISU, or the Centro Italiano Studi Ufologici — the Italian Center for Ufology, stated in 2011 that for the number of UFO sightings and reports, “Italy is one of the most active countries in Europe, more than France, Germany, and Spain.” While this could simply mean that Italians have more active imaginations and are more prone to believing in extraterrestrial life, the history of Italy and alien visitors is quite fascinating nonetheless. As far-fetched as it might seem, the Italian narrative of flying saucers involves Benito Mussolini, soccer, and Elon Musk’s Starlink program.  

In 1933, as he strengthened his grip over Italy, the last thing on Benito Mussolini’s mind was little green men from Mars. Yet according to documents unearthed in the late 1990s, Mussolini was concerned enough about an unidentified flying object that crash landed in Lombardy to establish a secret working group known as Cabinet RS/33. Demonstrating the paranoia common among the dictator set, Mussolini suppressed all evidence of the spacecraft and had his security forces monitor the skies for similar intrusions. Despite his best efforts, another UFO sighting occurred in 1936, when Venice was buzzed both by a large metal disc and a slate-colored tube within the same night. Mussolini enlisted the help of radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi to investigate the happenings, and the Cabinet RS/33 shared many of their findings with Nazi Germany. While there is little other information about what happened to the crashed UFO and the tests performed by the fascist scientists, it is notable that these otherworldly encounters predated the sightings in the United States, which began in the early 1940s. 

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