Ndrangheta Boss Killed in Riace Calabria ~ Romancing Italy

Sep 28, 2009

Ndrangheta Boss Killed in Riace Calabria

It was at the small village of Riace that presumed Calabrian mafia boss, Damiano Vallelunga, met his untimely end. The Ndrangheta is the Calabrian version of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and is comprised of a multitude of clans whose loyalties are secured through arranged marriages and blood relationships.

Family feuds and businesses gone wrong are still sometimes settled in blood. Well, not really settled as its just a matter of time before the vendettas continue.

If tragedies are immortalized with anniversaries, observed in remembrance of the lost and of lessons learned, the mafia know how to make an event twice as memorable. Holidays, or 'festas' are dangerous times, whether secular or religious.

One of the most widely publicized killings occurred in Germany in 2007, marking the first brazen murders outside of Italy. (Stories link below) The victims were celebrating the youngest man's birthday. He was only 16. It is believed that the murders were in retaliation for the shooting of the young wife of another Ndrangheta clan chief during the previous year, on Christmas Day.

The latest clash of clans occurred yesterday towards the end of the annual festival that celebrates Riace's patron saint. Devoted worshippers come from all over Calabria and Vallelunga, a regular attendant, came from nearby Serra San Bruno.

The crime could be a scene taken straight from The Godfather. It was pouring rain when Vallelunga exited the santuario SS Cosma e Damiano before the service was over, along with his wife and other family members. As soon as his wife got into their vehicle, two men approached Vallelunga with a rifle and pistol and gunned him down. The assassins escaped in a white Fiat, which was later discovered to have been stolen from Catanzaro.
Photo from La Locride, Riace

Which clan is responsible for Vallelunga's death? Don't yet know. Why was he killed? Not sure either. Why was he killed in Riace instead of his own village? Perhaps he was more vulnerable in Riace, out of his area of influence. He who really knows isn't telling.

I admit this side of Calabria is morbidly fascinating to me. I wanted to know who had been killed because stories abound of people who are connected to, or have been threatened by the Ndrangheta (See Stories and Images of Bivongi). I was curious if the man in the Bivongi picture ceased to be "a dead man walking".



  1. While fascinating, and shockingly unbelievable, these mafioso stories make me cringe a bit to mention my Calabrian roots. Nevertheless, their presence in the region is a fact, and my presence there is not. A German woman we met on a train from Pizzo to Tropea hinted at the closed world of landowners and landlords, etc. but we dismissed her as being paranoid. Blood lines and traditions clearly run deep in Italia; not all for the good.

    Recent blog:=- Big Pink

  2. It's so true. One minute I am commenting on how wonderfully close the family unit is in italy without realizing that at times that same characteristic has been the reason for some merciless killing. Your comment made me think too that this world has seen people, or groups, who have killed not in the name of family, but in the name of God. We are truly messed up.


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