Written and directed by Renato De Maria, ‘Robbing Mussolini’ (also known as ‘Rapiniamo il Duce’) is a crime comedy film about Pietro Lamberti, aka Isola, a Milanese entrepreneur. Isola gathers a band of rag-tag misfits and resistance fighters to steal Benito Mussolini’s treasure. The Netflix Italian movie mixes comedy and heist genre elements with the backdrop of the Second World War to tell a compelling story. Given the narrative’s connection to historical events, viewers must be wondering if Pietro Lamberti, aka Isola, is based on a real person. In that case, allow us to share everything we know about the character in ‘Robbing Mussolini.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!
Is Pietro Lamberti, aka Isola, Based on a Real Theif?
In ‘Robbing Mussolini,’ Isola is introduced as a local thug who poses as a businessman. He deals in selling arms and ammunition to the resistance forces. In the film, actor Pietro Castellitto essays the role of Isola. However, Isola is merely a street name adopted by Pietro Lamberti. While the reason behind Piero hiding his real name is not detailed in the film, it is likely related to his father’s demise. The film sees Pietro learning about a fortune stored inside the Fascist Government’s Milan headquarters that will be transported to Switzerland with Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. As a result, Pietro plans to steal the treasure with the help of a newly assembled crew.
The film is set during the final days of the Second World War, and the plot revolves around Mussolini’s treasure, also known as the Dongo treasure. While the narrative references real-world figures and events, its protagonist Pietro Lamberti, aka Isola, does not appear to be directly based on an actual person. In reality, Benito Mussolini’s convoy was intercepted by Italian communist partisans near Lake Como. There are no reports of a group of resistance fighters mounting a heist plan and attempting to steal the valuable items being smuggled crossed the border to Switzerland by Mussolini and his men. Therefore, it is safe to say that Pietro Lamberti is a fictional character and not based on a real thief.
In the film, Italy sees the last days of the Second World War as Mussolini and his forces are losing the war. Meanwhile, the citizens face the brunt of the war, and the streets become anarchic, with resistance fighters rising to oppose the Fascist Government. Asa result, we can see Pietro Lamberti as a representation of the reaction of ordinary people to the war and its aftereffects. The character also echoes the rebellious streak among citizens through his desire to loot the treasure, which comprises the wealth amassed from those like himself.
Meanwhile, Pietro is forced to choose between the treasure and the love of his life. The dilemma paints Pietro in a human light and makes his journey emotionally resonant. His father’s death and his mother’s hardships also allow viewers to empathize with his cause. However, the film never pushes Pietro into the Robin Hood territory and keeps his flaws intact. Ultimately, Pietro Lamberti, aka Isola in ‘Robbing Mussolini,’ is a fictional character. Despite not being based on a real thief, the character has very human and relatable motivations behind his heist plan, giving the film a semblance of realism.