Italy’s ambassador to Australia dead after falling from balcony

Francesca Tardioli was in her home city at the time of her fall

Sofia Barbarani
in Rome
Monday 21 February 2022 14:45
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Italian police are investigating the death of the country’s ambassador to Australia following her fatal fall from a building on Saturday.

Francesca Tardioli, 57, was visiting her home city of Foligno, central Italy, when she plunged to her death from the third floor of a residential building.

The incident is being referred to by local police as an accident, and the investigation is ongoing. Local media suggest her fall may have been due to a physical ailment, such as a stroke.

The medieval city of Foligno’s has a population of just over 57,000, and many residents had either heard of or personally met Tardioli, who had represented Italy in Canberra since 2019.

Those who had met her are in shock. “Pain and stupor for a death that seems absurd,” one resident of Foligno, who went to university with Tardioli in the late 1980s, told The Independent.

“Francesca was always very well-liked by everyone because of her intelligence, culture, but also because she was very open, available and generous,” said Tardioli’s former classmate, who asked that his name not be used. “We’re incredulous.”

Despite being posted to several places over the years, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Belgium, Tardioli frequently returned to Foligno to visit friends and family.

Messages of condolences have been pouring in from Italy as well as her adoptive Australia.

“Heartbreaking news on the passing of Ambassador Francesca Tardioli. Dear friend. Brilliant colleague. Greatly respected diplomat. Our thoughts are with her family, friends… one of Italy’s greatest gifts to Australia. Lost to us way too soon,” the Australian ambassador to Italy, Margaret Twomey, wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Twomey’s message was soon followed by Australia’s minister for foreign affairs, Marise Payne: “I am deeply saddened at the news of the passing of Italy’s ambassador to Australia, Francesca Tardioli – a greatly respected diplomat who will be dearly missed. My thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

However, some saw something more sinister in the news.

In a message on Telegram, Cesare Sacchetti, one of Italy’s top conspiracy theorists, floated the idea that Australia’s secret services had a hand in the incidents.

“It goes without saying that falls from balconies and windows are an old method used by the services to disguise the murders of uncomfortable characters as suicides,” Sacchetti wrote.

Tardioli, who graduated university in Umbria in 1989 and joined the Italian Diplomatic Service in 1991, leaves behind two sons aged 27 and 24.

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