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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Neo-fascism comes to picturesque small-town Italy

 

Men outside Caffè Europa in the Roman hill town of Rocca di Papa.

We've always enjoyed watching the men (it's always men) in local bars, sitting around, playing cards, talking. It seems very communal, a good place for these apparently retired Italians. We were consequently horrified to see the small town where the photo above was taken, our favorite small town in the Alban Hills outside of Rome, identified by the New York Times this past week as a hot bed of neo-Fascism.

We had become inured to the fact that Giorgia Meloni, head of the Fratelli d'Italia party ("Brothers of Italy"), would become prime minister. For months the polls had shown her leading, even if her party received only about one-quarter of the vote. She made a pact with some other devils, including Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini, on her way to the top post in Italy. Salvini was rewarded with the position of Deputy Prime Minister and - get this and don't choke - Minister of Infrastructure and Sustainable Mobility (no wonder Italian Facebook went nuts over this Brave-New-World-speak).

We've also been keenly aware of the posters and graffiti around Rome that even decades ago promoted neo-Fascism. We wrote about some of these in our posts on posters and right-wing "heroes." (See here and here.)

What appalled us (and we can hear all our Roman friends going, "DUH!") was that our charming, special, sweet town voted 38% for Meloni's party, knowing they were reviving Fascism.

Are those men above likely Fascists? The New York Times featured the bar across the way, Bar Centrale. But my guess is, yes, you're looking at the right-wing there playing cards.

We had noted in a 2014 post a building we thought likely had been Fascist headquarters until after World War II. It's got the bulky look of buildings of that era, it's now a municipal building, and the date is obvious:  "A.D. 1935." One of our loyal readers, Marco, questioned that interpretation, saying: 


"I find it unlikely that the building in the photo may have been once the Party's HQ - not only the style is not Fascist in appearance, but the Fascist Era (Anno XIII E.F.) mark is nowhere to be seen on the building's façade, as are any remnants of chipped-away fasces one'd expect to find on such buildings."

He makes some good points, and perhaps we were wrong about the past (if there were some other factors we had taken into account there, I don't recall them), but there's no question about the present for Rocca di Papa.




One reason we favor the town is that it's the starting point for one of our best hikes, up Monte Cavo. In fact the photo we took, right, of Monte Cavo from the town, was taken from the now infamous (to us) Bar Centrale.

It's not hard to find men hanging out outside the bars or in the very large square that dominates the lower part of the town. (See photo below.)

From now on, we will have to listen more carefully to their conversations, though maybe we won't like what we hear.





Caffè Europa  is dear to our hearts because it's not only where we've always started (coffee) our hikes, it's also where we've ended (beer) them, and parked our scooter. The photo below was taken with our 2nd of three scooters (historically, not all at once), the foregrounded Malaguti, while the guys play cards, per usual.

That the town is picturesque is an understatement, and it's beautifully sited below Monte Cavo (see photo at end of this post). Its "shield" features the "rocca" or fortress - on the fountain that graces the top of the large square in the photo below. And the "Papa" is for a 12th century Pope who lived there (Eugenio III).

Another view below is from the cemetery, and in the distance the ruins of ancient Tusculum, a Roman town. Everything in Rocca di Papa, including the cemetery (and that 1935 building above) is on a slant, given its position on the steeply sloping hillside.

More in a later post on Mussolini and the rise of neo-Fascism.

Dianne





The town of Rocca di Papa, seen from the main piazza. The first phase of the hike to Monte
Cavo is getting to the top of Rocca di Papa via picturesque city streets. The mountain itself is straight ahead but is not visible in the photo. 



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