Civil protection throughout history: from 1861 to 1982

From the Unification of Italy to the birth of the Civil Protection Department


  • Past event
  • Event in progress
  • Future event
Evento trascorso
January 1900

United Italy: the first laws

Immagine da una stampa dell'epoca di Piazza del Popolo a Roma in seguito all'inondazione del 1870

In the newborn Kingdom of Italy, the relief of populations affected by an emergency is not a priority task of the State: the interventions are mainly entrusted to the military and considered works of charity. 


Evento trascorso
December 1908

The earthquake in Messina and Reggio Calabria

I devastanti effetti del terremoto del 28 dicembre 1908 sulla città di Messina (Underwood&Underwood, numero di catalogo 10.495, di pubblico dominio su

December 28, 1908. A violent earthquake hits eastern Sicily and southern Calabria. Ten minutes later a devastating tsunami sweeps both coasts of the Strait.

Evento trascorso
January 1915

Marsica earthquake

Gli effetti su Avezzano del terremoto della Marsica del 13 gennaio 1915 (Foto di Lansing Callan in Pubblico Dominio su Wikimedia Commons)

January 13, 1915. One of the most violent earthquakes in the history of Italy, in terms of size of the affected area, number of victims, injured and homeless.

Evento trascorso
September 1919

The evolution of rescue legislation

The first regulatory framework for earthquake relief was established by Decree no. 1915 of 2 September 1919, which identified the Ministry of Public Works as the authority responsible for management and coordination.

Evento trascorso
July 1930

Irpinia and Vulture earthquake

I crolli causati dal terremoto del 23 luglio 1930 in un paese del Vulture, nel nord della Basilicata (Bundesarchiv, numero di catalogo 102-10192, pubblicata su con licenza CC BY-SA 3.0)

On 23 July a earthquake of magnitude 6.7 strikes a vast area of southern Italy between the upper Irpinia and the Vulture area.

Evento trascorso
November 1966

The flood of Florence

L’alluvione di Firenze del 4 novembre 1966 (Foto del Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco)

The Florence flood of 1966, the first emergency covered by the world's media, highlighted the lack of a central relief structure. In the first days, aid and relief arrived almost exclusively from the "angels of the mud" and from the troops stationed in the city.

Evento trascorso
January 1968

Belice earthquake

In 1968 an earthquake destroyed the Belice Valley in Sicily. The management of the emergency turns out to be unsuccessful for the lack of coordination between different forces. During the reconstruction, the population is encouraged to leave the historical centers struck by the earthquake while new settlements were set up far from local traditions.

Evento trascorso
December 1970

The first law on civil protection interventions

The law n. 996 of 1970 defines the concept of "civil protection" focusing on the moment of the emergency, that is, the relief operations to implement in the very first moment of the event. The law attributes a central role to the Ministry of the Interior which, in the event of a disaster, is responsible for the coordination of interventions.

Evento trascorso
May 1976

Friuli earthquake

Squadre di soccorritori all’opera in seguito al terremoto in Friuli del 6 maggio 1976 (Foto del Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco)

In 1976 an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 hits Friuli hard and in particular the middle valley of the Tagliamento River. In the hours following the earthquake, the Government entrusts the direction of rescue operations to Special Commissioner Giuseppe Zamberletti.

Evento trascorso
November 1980

Irpinia earthquake

Squadre al lavoro dopo terremoto dell’Irpinia del 23 novembre 1980 (Foto del Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco)

In 1980 an earthquake struck a wide area of Campania, Basilicata and, marginally, Puglia. President Pertini denounced the delay in relief efforts and the serious failings of the State.

Evento trascorso
June 1981

The tragedy of Vermicino

Le operazioni di soccorso del piccolo Alfredino Rampi a Vermicino, nelle vicinanze di Roma, il 10 giugno 1981 (Foto del Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco)

On June 10, 1981, the young Alfredo Rampi falls into an artesian well. The whole Italy stops to follow the very difficult rescue attempts.

Evento trascorso
April 1982

The institution of the Department of Civil Protection

On 29 April 1982, the Department of Civil Protection was instituted. In the same year, Law n. 996 formalizes the figure of the Minister for the Coordination of Civil Protection.