Dead anarchist becomes cause celebre in Italy

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ROME -- The anarchist Giovanni Passannante is becoming a cause célèbre 97 years after his death.

Until this week, Passannante's skull and brain -- preserved in formaldehyde -- were on display at a criminology museum in Rome in what ranked as one of Italy's more macabre showcases. It was a strange punishment in a museum-loving society for someone who tried to kill the king of Italy 120 years ago. [That attempt on Umberto I was in 1878. The king was killed by another anarchist in 1900.]...

For the last 70 years the brain and skull have been in a neon-light display case, framed by old anarchist manifestos on the second floor of the Criminology Museum, just off the Via Giulia.

But this week the skull and brain were to leave the museum in front of reporters and photographers, for burial with the body, under pressure brought by an eclectic group of hundreds of petition signers. Instead, on Thursday, under a cloak of secrecy, the remnants were whisked away and buried in his hometown in the Basilicata region of southern Italy.

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