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Flag/logo of L'Ordine

L'Ordine (The Order) was a right-wing secret society active in Tuscany and Italy during the 1970s and 1980s. At first the group was little more than a conservative men's club, then a would-be political party (spurred by the Tuscane government's redesign of the flag to include Italy's green). In time it became a violent criminal organization bent on revolution. The Order rejected the parliamentary route, preferring instead to work outside the political system to subvert democracy and bring about a return to semi-feudalism.

Its avowed aims were restoration of what it saw as the "natural order" in which property owners were not held to the same law as peasants, where aristocracy rather than any form of republic was the form of government, and where the Catholic Church was the official state religion. Between 1976 and 1985 it was responsible for at least a dozen murders and other crimes. The most famous were easily the assassination of author Seoirse Fferreir in July, 1983 and the hijacking of the Xliponian airship Orflain in 1979 in which three passengers and two crew were killed. This was not their most serious crime, however. In 1981 they set off a bomb in a train station in Pisa, killing nine people and wounding forty-seven. At the trial of the "inner circle" of the group in 1986, it was revealed they had also planned--but never executed--an attempted assasination of Grand Duke Cosimo II. Other crimes for which they were convicted included arson, embezzlement and treason. The so-called leader of the Order, Umberto Rauti (born 1929), fled to Elba and then vanished in 1985. His remains were identified in 1999, after some hikers found his seriously decomposed corpse in Lombardy. Dental records confirmed the identification. He had been shot twice in the head. The murder remains under investigation.

In total it is believed that L'Ordine numbered nearly a thousand individuals at its height, most of whom however violated few if any laws but provided logistical support to the more criminal element and inner circle, quite possibly without always realizing (especially at first) the seriousness of the situation. Many of the "rank and file" seemed to think the group was nothing more than a flamboyant ultra-conservative movement.

Their avowed symbol--a pegasus and cross--echoed Russia's SNOR and was once a popular design for t-shirts and flags in Tuscany. The symbol was outlawed in 1981 as part of the beginning of a major crackdown and remains illegal in the Grand Duchy (although elsewhere in Italy it sometimes enjoys a certain amount of popularity among teenagers and college-age young people).