Until as recently as a quarter of a century ago the official political history of Italy’s First Republic (1945–93) did not mention the influence of the international society of the Freemasons on the country. Italy, to many, was a normal democracy in Western Europe, governed by the rule of law and a system of transparent checks and balances. This noble image changed abruptly in April 1981, when Milan magistrates investigating the crimes of US Italian Mafia banker Michele Sindona broke into the villa of a certain Licio Gelli near Arezzo in Italy’s Tuscany region. Gelli, until then, had been almost completely unknown to a larger public in Italy, let alone on the stage of world history. The people in his village Arezzo knew him as a friendly businessman and the owner of a company named Permaflex which produced mattresses. In Gelli’s villa, the Italian police came across documents which were to forever change the political history of Italy’s First Republic. Due to the extraordinary nature of these documents, historians are still struggling today to integrate them into a larger international interpretation of the Cold War. The documents confirmed the reality of an entire Italian parallel state named ‘P2’ and headed by Licio Gelli, revealing that 962 Italians belonged to Gelli’s secret P2 Lodge at the time of its discovery. The member list – and this was of particular political relevance – included some of the most powerful members of Italian society and read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Italy.