Il Ficcanaso” was a satirical, republican newspaper followere of Giuseppe Mazzini, the advocator of the Italian national unity, published in Turin between 1868 and 1876.

Unlike other aligned humourist publications of the same period (“Il Fischietto” and “Il Pasquino”) Il Ficcanaso‘s characteristic was the corrosive spirit. This caused many problems to the journal, especially during the first two years after its existence.

Indeed, the life of Il Ficcanaso was troubled by controversies, accusations, numerous and repeated seizures and trials. Often, it was teh object of intimidating actions.

The transfer of the headquarters to Florence did not served the purpose to preserve this critical and importuniste journal from Auhtorities’ attacks intended to protect the interests of politicians and the VIPs.

The founder of Il Ficcanaso was the lawyer Luigi Onetti, born in Lu Monferrato. The first issue, appeared in Turin on 17 June 1868. During the years of its publication, Turin and the rest of the fledgling Italian nation was the scene of economic crises and consequent criminal outbreaks.

Among the most important causes of this crisis was the institution of the ‘macinato’ tax, which triggered bloody riots and “the tobacco scandal.” In this case, the intention was to cede ownership and, therefore, the monopoly to affarists, by granting illicit advantages to politicians and speculators.

Those, were years when corrupt Justice had no qualms about hatching plots and plots to enslave real power. MP Cristiano Lobbia, who tried to expose the tobacco fraude, was attacked at night then accused of faking the attack. The mock trial ended with his absurd conviction.

There ano not many informations about “Il Ficcanaso“; what we know derives from biographies of those who gravitated around the magazine.

Luigi Onetti, the founder, was also the owner of the “Tipografia della Bandiera dello Studente“. This printing house site was in Borgo Nuovo (a distric in Turin), same place where the Onetti family lived for more than a century. The family gave birth to several panters; the most famouse was Luigi Onetti (1876-1968), homonymous of his uncle, professor at the Accademia Albertina.

The biography of the former editor and director of Il FiccanasoGiuseppe Beghelli (by Terenzio Grandi, 1970) describes Ometti as a wealthy young man, lover of the good life and a protester by temperament.

He called himself “Ficcanaso I: snooping, without reverent fear, into shady political and administrative affairs, with an openly anti-dynastic, anti-religious and pro-humble class point of view.

Sometimes the target were the turbulent alcoves of prominent people. The most popular was King Vittorio Emmanuel II and his love affairs. Related facts and misdeeds were snooped and exposed by Il Ficcanaso without discretion.

Unfortunate subjects were: the king’s then-Deputy Prosecutor, Michele Serra, the director of the Gazzetta del Popolo, Giovanni Battista Bottero, various ministers of the Interior, Count Rignon and other Turin Administrators.

A relatively famous subject of sarcasm was Natale Aghemo. He was a relative of Rosa Vercellana, the so-called ‘Bela Rosin’, the mistress and later the morganatic wife of the King.

Aghemo a “travèt” ( a scrupolous employee) in the Piedmontese bureaucracy, after marrying a cousin of Rosa’s, miracolously became His Majesty’s Particular Secretariat.

After the death (1867) of Count Francesco Verasis di Castiglione, Aghemo was in charge of the General Secretariat.

He kept this position until the King death.

iccanaso gave Aghemo the nickname ‘the milkman‘, perhaps because his father was a milkman and shared his work in his younger years.

An anecdote that we know occurred at the end of 1868 about the announced special issue Il Ficcanaso, called Strenna, first issue for the new year (1869). Its contents appeared to be particularly dangerous for influential people or enough to induce the Justice to order illegal measures. On 18 December, Il Ficcanaso were sized still in printing.

Other raids occured on 22nd and on 24th December: a large squad of “carabinieri” and policemen invaded the printing shop of the “Il Ficcanaso“, sized more than three thousand copies and arrested the Manager. Onetti, warned by a tip-off, escaped.

All of this based on mere suspicion as the content was still unknown.

After this dance of lawlessness, the water seemed to calm down: Onetti returned and published a new satirical edition of the Strenna.

Those who tried to discover more about Il Ficcanaso had only a few issues to study. A complete collection has been recently found in a library near Cuneo but, we doubt that it includes a copy of the famous 1869 Strenna. Luigi Onetti was not considered interesting enough for further studies. He was considered a somewhat awkward personality even by the Mazzinian circles.

Paride Rugafiori, professor in the Faculty of Political Science at the Torino University, and lecturer in Contemporary and Business History Department, described Luigi Onetti as a journalist:

“… not reluctant to mix glimpses of Turin’s private life with anti-dynastic, anticlerical and anti-business tones, with sometimes not even too covertly blackmailing aims…

…with the strong interweaving between political denunciation, often very aggressive, ruthless pursuit of not very clear advantages…” He also defined Il Ficcanaso: “a non authoritative newspaper…”


Time passes, history repeats itself and “Il Ficcanaso” is back again. Its digital version will be ever more fierce in its search for the inconvenient Truth, at the service of the Italian people and the whole World.

Fighting for Human Rights and Freedom

Il Ficcanaso II


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When injustice becomes law, to fight is a duty!