Bacca was part of a world peace effort known as "Brides on Tour," for which she and fellow artist Silvia Moro had departed from Milan on 8 March 2008. The artists, wearing white wedding dresses, then travelled through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Bulgaria, and arrived in Turkey on 20 March 2008. They had planned to hitchhike to Syria and then Lebanon by 31 March, arriving in the Palestinian territories and Israel by mid-April, their final destination being Jerusalem. Concerning their attire, they reported on their website that "That's the only dress we'll carry along — with all stains accumulated during the journey."
On her sister's hitchhiking plans, and in light of the discovery of her body, her sibling Maria stated to Italian news agency ANSA that "Her travels were for an artistic performance and to give a message of peace and of trust, but not everyone deserves trust... We weren't particularly worried because she had been hitchhiking for a lot of time, and thus was capable of avoiding risky situations... She was a determined person when it had to do with working for art."
Bacca and her companion split up just prior to arriving in Istanbul, Turkey, the second Muslim majority country on their journey, planning to meet up again in Beirut. However, Bacca disappeared after 31 March. Her credit card was reportedly used at noon of that day. Bacca's naked, strangled and decomposing body was found near some bushes in the town of Tavşanlı in mid-April. However, both the BBC and The New York Times report it as being near Gebze, about 40 miles southeast of Istanbul.
The man who led the police to her body, Murat Karataş, was detained and arrested after reportedly confessing to raping and strangling Bacca on 31 March after taking her in his Jeep from a gas station. DNA testing suggests, however, that Bacca was raped by multiple people, and not just Karataş. The suspect said he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and could not remember what happened.
He had been traced after he inserted his own SIM card into the victim's mobile phone, which alerted police since he had a previous conviction for theft. Bacca's own information was wiped from the mobile device, implicating, according to the lawyer for Bacca's family, at least one other accomplice since Karataş could not speak English and left school after the third grade.
The Turkish president Abdullah Gül called the Italian president Giorgio Napolitano to express his grief. A commentary in Today's Zaman, while expressing sadness for the woman's death, criticised the supposed obsequiousness of Turkish politicians to "foreigners" in the Bacca case, writing: "Let's face it, if Pippa were a Turk, some people would feel free to say that a hitchhiking woman deserves to be raped." The columnist argued that local problems such as violence against women should be addressed regardless of Turkey's concern for being shamed before foreigners.
Hürriyet, a top selling Turkish newspaper, printed an article on the murder entitled "We are ashamed".
A documentary, La Mariée (The Bride), about the story of Bacca, was directed by the French filmmaker Joël Curtz in 2012. This documentary features video archives from her camera that the film team recovered during the shooting of the film.