Italian "wedding dress" performance artist for peace raped, murdered

Pippa Bacca, a performance artist from Italy who hitchhiked throughout Europe wearing a wedding dress to spread a message of peace and "marriage between different peoples and nations" was found dead in Turkey, raped and murdered by a mentally ill man who offered her a ride:

Her naked body was found on April 11 in some bushes near a Turkish village after a suspect led investigators to the site. Although an official cause of death has not been given, local Turkish authorities said Ms. Bacca had been raped and strangled.

The killing has stirred broad public anger and grief in Turkey and Italy. Still, what Ms. Bacca would have wanted, her family and friends said, was her message of peace to live on.

“She thought that in the world there were more positive than negative people, and that it was right to be trusting,” said Rosalia Pasqualino, a sister of Ms. Bacca, whose real name was Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo. “Trust is a very human factor, and she believed that to understand people, you had to get to know them.”

Link to New York Times story, and Link to video shot in Italy on the inauguration of her performance project. (thanks, Reverse Cowgirl)


  1. This news is so horrible. I need to get away from this fucking machine. It delivers too much sorrow today.

  2. She is, despite her death, still right. It’s still right to be trusting, and there’s more good than evil people in the world. Death being final and irreversible, it only took one man to put an end to her journey, but how many unremarked and unlauded people did it take to get her where she was?

    Plus, if the guy was really mentally ill, he wasn’t even evil or “negative”, the killing an act of a disorder, not malice forethought. It might as well have been a rockslide or a wreck.

  3. This is a very sad story. :(

    Just curious – where does it say that the murderer was mentally ill? I did a quick read up of news articles on Google News, as well as the linked to NYTimes article, and couldn’t see any mention of this.

    Stating he was mentally ill when there is no evidence for this seems to me to be quite problematic as it leads people to think that this horrendous crime is almost an unfortunate accident. Sadly there are so many of these violent crimes against women all over the world by (mostly) men who aren’t mentally ill at all, just vicious. You hear of more and more such stories every day and it’s quite depressing. One might almost say there’s a pattern, given the many examples…

  4. How terribly unfortunate and sobering. Once upon a time I used to hitchhike. I would not be able to bring myself to do it now, though I can and do occasionally offer rides to persons in need of them. I guess I just don’t believe in my own immortality any longer, as I did when I was 16.

  5. It’s nice to read of a message of peace, but horrible for it to come in this context…I wish I’d read of her sooner. May she rest in the peace she loved.

  6. As sad as the news is, and even sadder, being that she was friends with a friend’s sister (Italy is incredibly small), pictures from her funeral, which was held in Milan today, are somehow consolatory: a feast, with music, people singing and dancing and drinking, hundreds of green balloons set free and the gasket draped in green.

    Similar, in a way, to the funeral another friend of mine devised for himself before leaving for Iraq as a journalist, whence he never came back.

  7. O3 said: “She is, despite her death, still right”
    She surely was stubborn, just as you are..

  8. Pls, f th gy ws rlly mntlly ll, h wsn’t vn vl r “ngtv”, th kllng n ct f dsrdr, nt mlc frthght. t mght s wll hv bn rcksld r wrck.

    H ws s crzy nd vd f vl tht h ftr rpng hr h chs t mrdr hr nd hd hr bdy.

    wld rg tht th rp ws th ct f th dsrdr. Mrdrng th vctm nd ttmptng t hd th bdy s n ct sggstng tht th ndvdl ws wr tht th rp ws wrng.

    Chkng prsn s nt qck dth. Mntlly ll s brd trm nd ds nt rmv mlc frm th ctn.

    thnk t’s dsgstng t cmpr ths prsn’s t rcksld r cr ccdnt.

  9. I must say, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    Not joking, I seriously believe she was an idiot. I also believe the world is a much better place with people like her in it.

  10. won·der Audio Help (wÅ­n’dÉ™r) Pronunciation Key

    1. One that arouses awe, astonishment, surprise, or admiration; a marvel: “The decision of one age or country is a wonder to another” (John Stuart Mill).
    2. The emotion aroused by something awe-inspiring, astounding, or marvelous: gazed with wonder at the northern lights.
    2. An event inexplicable by the laws of nature; a miracle.
    3. A feeling of puzzlement or doubt.
    4. often Wonder A monumental human creation regarded with awe, especially one of seven monuments of the ancient world that appeared on various lists of late antiquity.

  11. All Kneel!

    “Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
    Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
    Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
    Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
    Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
    Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
    The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
    No one ever said elves are nice.
    Elves are bad.”


  12. Antinous, maybe rape and murder are prima facie evidence of mental illness, but does that absolve the perpetrator of responsibility? I can’t help having feelings of extreme antipathy for the guy who did this.

  13. Mourn her, praise her, remember her but above all carry on her effort. That is the best way to honour her life. Justice does not have to be forgone, no one yet knows what form it will take anyway. There MUST be justice, she and we all deserve that. But I wouldn’t spend thought on the random force that ended her life- it just happened. His name can be forgotten. He doesn’t matter to what she meant and what we can make in meaning.

    I devoutly hope someone picks up the torch. This is real and pure – not like the olympics business.

  14. I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to hitchhike, especially women. I also don’t pick them up.

    Once upon a time when it was more common, maybe, but the thing about fringe activities is that the people who take part in them thin out until there are only fringe people as well. Simple normal distribution.

    This was not a good idea.

  15. I often find myself yearning for evidence that supports the notion that there are more positive people than negative in the world.

  16. @24- There most certainly are. After all, of all the people you’ll meet in your life, at most one will kill you. Likely only a handful at the most will try.

    The trick is that it’s not useful to count all the good people. If only one person in a hundred was a murderer think how many you’d pass on the street in a given day.

  17. @23

    So you choose to ignore hitchhikers rather than pick them up and ensure they get safely to their destination? Maybe it is dangerous for them to be hitchhiking but better for you to give them a lift than someone who might be a crazy person. Giving them a ride gives you a perfect chance to talk to them about the dangers of hitchhiking in the process.

    I’d be genuinely curious as to whether hitchhiking is actually the most dangerous way to travel. Unlicensed minicabs in London were notorious for being a way for men to launch sexual assaults on women. I’d put more faith in a sober hitchhiker being able to look out for herself than a drunk woman in a taxi on her way home after a night out. Wonder if figures exist comparing the risks? Might have to look on the tubes later.

  18. Add one more hitchhiking horror story to the list.

    Funny how we only ever hear about the 1 in [huge number] of hitchhiking trips that end in violence, isn’t it? Considering how dangerous hitching is considered to be by most Americans, you’d think it’d be much bigger news if someone actually managed to do it safely – and yet that happens every day without notice.

    I think it may have something to do with a narrative that most people believe in. Even without any statistical proof, we believe it’s seriously dangerous to hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers – it’s a concept that recurs in all kinds of fiction and urban myths.

    So naturally, when a hitchhiker really does meet a grisly end, it’s a very highly publicized and attention-getting story, since it conforms to a narrative we already understand and believe in. And then it’s just even more proof of how dangerous trusting strangers is.

    Since all non-hitchhikers ever learn about the topic are sensational horror stories, it’s no surprise that over time the prospect of hitchhiking has become more and more terrifying, as it becomes more and more caricatured by selective storytelling.

  19. That is just terrible.

    Hitch-hikining is damn dangerous. For anyone. If you’re hitching a ride, you don’t know if the driver is dangerous. And if you’re a driver, you don’t know if the hitcher is dangerous. Back in the 70s, my father was robbed by a hitch-hiker he picked up. Luckily he only lost his watch and cash.

  20. @28:

    Bullshit hitching is dangerous. I’ve hitched from Nova Scotia to Victoria, from London to Alaska. If you’re not from North America, that’s damned far. And I did it for years.

    Not once did anyone ever try to harm me. Not once.

    On the contrary:
    • In Manitoba, I stayed with a family on the way home from their patriarch’s wake. They fed me steak and put me up for the night–the very same day they mourned their father.
    • In Alaska, I rode with Elvis–or a guy who thought he was Elvis.
    • In Burlington, I rode with a former assassin. Nice guy, too. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t putting me on.

    I’ve loved hitching. There’s no better way to travel–except maybe biking!


  21. Hitchhiking can be dangerous, of course, but as #27 pointed out, you never hear about the successful stories.

    I hitchhiked with two friends from a small town to a cabin where we were staying without coming to harm. The beat poets Ginsberg and Gary Snyder hitchhiked up the NW coast. There are probably more examples of successful rides than tragic ones.

    Just because we only hear about the times when trust was betrayed doesn’t mean that people never safely trusted others.

    It’s tragic that while so many people have unintentionally proved her right, when trying to make a point, she was killed.

    Also, the phrase ‘mentally ill’ seems often used to absolve people of their guilt because they didn’t know what they were doing. It doesn’t seem appropriate to use it here.

  22. The first time I ever hitchhiked, when my ride had flaked out on me and I had to get to class (I was a freshman in college), I was picked up by what proved to be a bunch of scofflaw illegal immigrants who were drinking while driving. They gave me a ride to class, and were very nice about it. I gave them better instructions on how to get where they were going than the previous person had, which was why they were driving around my neighborhood in the first place.

    Pocket Hell, please knock off the “this makes me sick / that thing’s disgusting” routine. You can make the same arguments without it.

  23. I give up. I’m handing in my membership card. If you humans get better any time soon, I applaud you, but this just isn’t working out. I need a new species. I should see if the dolphins are accepting new members.

  24. A sad and awful story.

    I usually say that hitchhiking is an indicator of the general level of trust within a society. For instance in smaller European countries hitchhiking is absolutely normal for many people including young women on their own. It goes on and nothing unfortunate like this has ever happened. Of course it is possible that the scales tip and something awful does happen, everyone will panic and the overall trust level drops. Once this happens the effects are irreversible. As hitchhiking was absolutely normal in the US up until, say, the late 1970s, we can see where the general level of trust is going.

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