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The founders of Mondo Beat

Captured in Amsterdam in a police raid against the Provos and deported to Milan, Vittorio Di Russo landed at Linate airport on 12 October 1966 and his picturesque image bounced from one newspaper to another.

(Corriere della Sera - 13 October 1966)
Vittorio Di Russo was an activist of the Provo Movement in the Netherlands
Mondo Beat. Vittorio Di Russo deported from Amsterdam to Milan

The journalist of the Corriere della Sera assigned to the Milan police headquarters, where they brought Vittorio Di Russo after his arrival from Amsterdam, wrote an imaginative report on the arrival of Vittorio Di Russo, in particular that he had torn the passport on board of the plane, and that he had declared that he had torn his passport because he was a "citizen of the world", and he had instigated his travel companions to do the same with their passports.
Actually, Vittorio Di Russo, who was a Provo near Bernhard De Vries, had been captured by police in a raid in Amsterdam and ordered to leave the Netherlands within 48 hours. At that, he had gone to the Italian consulate to ask for help and there, in a moment of frenzy, he had ripped out his passport, consequently he had been deported under military escort.
After reading in the Corriere della Sera of his arrival, being myself in Milan, I tried to find him, and the day after his arrival I met him in the city center, Piazza Duomo, where he was surrounded by those twenty longhairs that always wandered in the center of the city, which Vittorio had already catalyzed around his person.
Vittorio Di Russo and I were bound by a friendship which dated back to the early Sixties, when we attended the same existentialist milieu in Gamla Stan, the Old Town of Stockholm.
When we met again in Milan, we looked each other in the eyes and exchanged a nod, and two days later we founded the Mondo Beat Movement.
In a very short time, Vittorio Di Russo was able to connect with Giuseppe Pinelli and the anarchists, with Pietro Stoppani and the radicals, with Carlo Masi and the university students, while attracting around himself young people who had fled their homes.

(AGI - Il Giorno)
Vittorio Di Russo catalyzed dispersed youths in a historical movement
Mondo Beat. Vittorio Di Russo

Vittorio Di Russo was born in Scauri di Minturno (Lazio) on 12 August 1936.
He had enlisted in the Navy at the age of 16, but two years later he deserted and entered Corsica clandestinely, where he lived in rugged mountains for several months. He finally obtained a regular Italian passport and traveled to many European countries.
He spoke in a linear fashion, without using circumlocutions. In addition to Italian, he spoke fluently French and German. He was a professional sculptor.


Umberto Tiboni, one of the 3 founders of Mondo Beat, has been underestimated by many who have written about the history of the Movement. This underestimation is due to the fact that he avoided being photographed and did not write articles for Mondo Beat magazine. But ignoring Umberto Tiboni, or marginalizing him, is a serious mistake, since Mondo Beat would not have existed without him.
He was in charge of finding a suitable place for Mondo Beat and he located that famous seat which was nicknamed "La Cava". Thanks to La Cava (which from now on I will call The Cave) the Mondo Beat Movement was characterized by those subterranean connotations that made it so appealing.
Attending The Cave and participating in the initiatives that were taken there, with the risks that this entailed, gave charisma to those who did it. They would have written a page of history, and would have realized it by leafing through newspapers and magazines. The Cave has exercised an irresistible call and young Italians, both male and female, have heard it even in the most remote suburbs.
Legally and in fact, Umberto Tiboni was responsible for The Cave and his direction has been as discreet as it was impeccable.

(Agenzia Franco Sapi)
Umberto Tiboni directed the premises of Mondo Beat, The Cave, which was the heart of the Movement
Mondo Beat. Umberto Tiboni

Umberto Tiboni was born in Sesto San Giovanni (Lombardy) on 19 February 1941. He was a graduate industrial expert. He dressed casual. At the time of Mondo Beat he had not yet undertaken long journeys and spoke only Italian fluently, but he understood enough English and French.


To confuse and disperse the memory of the Mondo Beat Movement, writings and videos of impostors, shameless characters such as Fernanda Pivano, Andrea Valcarenghi, Gianni De Martino, Matteo Guarnaccia, Silvia Casilio, Walter Pagliero, Felice Pesoli... have been constantly promoted, from the time of Mondo Beat to the present day. This, because the Vatican doesn't want the new Italian generations be aware of what really happened in Italy in the Sixties, as it fears that today youths can be inspired by it and rise a new wave of Contestation.
Concerning Melchiorre Gerbino, to ridicule him, who was the leader of the Mondo Beat Movement, was produced a film, "Il Profeta" (The Prophet), directed by Dino Risi and played by Vittorio Gassmann as Melchiorre Gerbino, and was published a book, "I Viaggi di Mel" (Mel's Trips), by Marco Philopat, Shake Editions.
Moreover the Vatican, many times and in different ways, has tried to have Melchiorre Gerbino killed (having entrusted the dirty work to the Italian secret services, to the CIA, to the Mossad, to the Polish secret services...). It is said that Fidel Castro is the one who has escaped the greatest number of murder attempts against a personality, honestly, I do not know if this record should not be attributed to me.

(Agenzia Franco Sapi)
Melchiorre Gerbino formulated the models of the Contestation and tested them in the squares of Milan
Mondo Beat. Melchiorre Paolo Gerbino

Melchiorre Gerbino was born in Calatafimi (Sicily) on 30 August 1939.
Before the foundation of Mondo Beat, I had been on the road for more than 5 years.
When in Sweden, the first girl I made love with, called me by the name of another, "Paolo". In those days (1961) I was an existentialist, so I kept the name Paolo for myself. Vittorio Di Russo knew me by this name in Stockholm. When we met later in Milan, the first thing Vittorio said was "Paolo!", as a result, I was called Paolo also in Milan. In those days, I was fluent in Italian, French and Swedish, I spoke also a little English and Spanish. At school, I had studied Latin for 8 years and Ancient Greek for 5, but reluctantly, because I hated the Italian school teaching system and I contestated it (ante litteram). This cost me 10 electroshock, when I was 16. When I recovered from the electroshock, I increased my contestation, in the last year of high school going to class without textbooks but with newspapers. Appropriately, I gave good advice to the principal, while I had forbidden the lady professor of Italian literature to ask me questions, as I was irritated by the way she did. They did not expel me from all the schools of the Republic, because they understood that this was my goal. At a certain point, having realized that they would not expel me from school, I left it discreetly. But then the principal, the teachers, the students, insistently sent messages, asking me to return, but in vain.


Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino met the first time in a club in Gamla Stan, the Old Town of Stockholm, on the day she turned 18; he was 23 and had already spent two years in Stockholm.
In Gamla Stan they used to attend clubs that were cellars which, in the Middle Ages, had been barns of aristocratic people and in fact those clubs were located very near the Royal Palace. There they danced jazz, often live, when African American musicians came to play for the sake of the acoustics of those cellars. Those musicians played for free. Some were famous. Those were the days when African Americans in Sweden alone did not find racial opposition if they were in the company of white women.
Those clubs were frequented by young people from different countries and among them were the first globetrotters who tried to make a whole tour of the world. The Swedish girls who attended these clubs have spoken at least three languages fluently. To enter this type of cellars, you had to pay very little money and, to drink a coke, you had to go out and look for a vending machine. The milieu was original. Ordinarily it happened that two girls were sitting, one on one of your legs and the other on the other, and while you kissed the one and the other, you also talked to an Australian, a young professor of philosophy, who came to Stockholm from Singapore, by hitchhiking, who gave you information about a part of the world that you had not yet visited... Such was the cultural background of Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino before the time of Mondo Beat.

Due to the Provo imprinting that Vittorio Di Russo gave to it, Mondo Beat was kept under pressure by secret services, police and carabinieri (Italian federal police) from the very beginning. Police and carabinieri often raked up boys and girls who used to meet in Piazza Duomo and in the underpasses of Cordusio metro station. Youths arrested in the raids, if they had not their residence in Milan, were subject to a mandatory expulsion order (foglio di via obbligatorio) and forced to stay away from Milan for 5 years. Those who did not comply with the injunction, if arrested again, were sentenced by the court to one month in prison; if repeat offenders, sentenced to three months; then to six months... This situation created a state of tension in the group, from which we were released during the nights, when we used to meet people who had large houses. In one of those night parties, one of the first, Gunilla Unger was sitting on one leg of Melchiorre Gerbino and Carmen Russo on the other. It suddenly happened that all the boys and girls undressed and participated in a sort of group sex, which was neither ostentatious nor vulgar, which Carmen Russo, Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino observed with due detachment.
Surely, if Gunilla Unger, who was the wife of Melchiorre Gerbino, had been jealous of Carmen Russo and angrily had left his leg, Melchiorre Gerbino would not have written the history of Mondo Beat, because the Movement would not have existed, since Mondo Beat would have been characterized by that sexual spontaneity that characterizes true revolutions. In a time when machismo raged in Italy, at Mondo Beat there would not have been a single episode of jealousy, which seems incredible, considering the intertwining of thousands of human situations and the fact that never people were asked to identify themselves. What is certain is that without Gunilla Unger, who was the reference for the first girls who joined Mondo Beat, the Movement would not have been featured by the kind of Scandinavian fair play that has characterized it. Nor, without the sexual brotherhood they shared, would the youth of Mondo Beat be able to participate in public events that paralyzed the heart of Milan, during which one could end up in a stretcher with two ribs broken by the police.
Gunilla Unger was not one of the founders of Mondo Beat, since she was not at the Taverna Crota Piemunteisa on 15 October 1966, with Vittorio Di Russo, Umberto Tiboni, Melchiorre Gerbino, on the occasion of the foundation of the Movement, but her personality was so fundamental in the history of Mondo Beat that inevitably she has to be counted among the founders.

(AGI - Il Giorno)
Gunilla Unger gave a touch of Scandinavian style to the Mondo Beat Movement
Mondo Beat. Gunilla Unger

Gunilla Unger was born in Solna (Stockholm) on 10 March 1945.
Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino were married in Stockholm City Hall in April 1965, when their son Nino was 4 months old. They married because they had decided to go to Italy, where the Vatican had imposed a law that prohibited unmarried couples from sharing hotel rooms.
At the time of Mondo Beat, Gunilla Unger spoke Swedish, Italian, English, French, German. Graduated from Swedish high school, classical course, she also knew Latin.

The Foundation of Mondo Beat

On the afternoon of 15 October 1966, six of us met at Crota Piemunteisa, a tavern located in the center of Milan, a short walk from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts.
Crota Piemunteisa was a popular tavern, as there were many in those days in Milan, with an entrance as wide as the premises. But this tavern was original, since it had, in addition to the rooms on the ground floor, also a loft that created the theatrical atmosphere of a stage for those who sat there. We sat there, Melchiorre Gerbino, Vittorio Di Russo and four others who had come with Vittorio. We ordered hard-boiled eggs and red wine Oltrepò Pavese.
When Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino started talking about young anarchists whose actions would have shaken Milan and the all of Italy, events that had never occurred in history, three of the four, who had come with Vittorio, left, and only Umberto Tiboni stayed with us.
Umberto Tiboni had a weakness for boys and girls who had fled their homes and housed them, as many as possible, in his small apartment in Cinisello Balsamo, on the outskirts of Milan.
In the Crota Piemunteisa, while Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino were making prophecies, Umberto Tiboni was careful to listen. At our request, he intervened, always offering good sense judgments, which confirmed our prophecies. And so Umberto Tiboni would always have been. In the evolution of Mondo Beat's history, also when adventurous actions were conceived, he would never have disagreed, but he would have revised the matter to present it in terms of good sense...
At some point, there were discussions about the name and structures to be assigned to the Movement. Finding the name was laborious. The term "Provo", which we would have liked to adopt, could not be taken by us, since it was already taken by a dozen students associated with the anarchist section "Sacco e Vanzetti". Vittorio Di Russo insisted on the term "Beat", of which Melchiorre Gerbino was not enthusiastic, since it would have reminded the term "Beatnik" and the Beat Generation, a generation which was older than our.
Melchiorre Gerbino had Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement as American reference. But Vittorio Di Russo was adamant in imposing the term "Beat". At one point, Melchiorre Gerbino had the inspiration of putting the term "Mondo" (world) before "Beat" and all three of us have liked the formula, so the Movement was named "Mondo Beat".
Then we considered how to structure the Mondo Beat Movement and we agreed to create a magazine and have an editorial seat. We easily agreed to name the magazine "Mondo Beat", as the Movement, and we decided that, before having our own premises, we would have found support in the anarchist section "Sacco e Vanzetti".
In conclusion, we decided that Vittorio Di Russo would lead the Movement in public events and maintain contact between Mondo Beat and other extra-parliamentary groups; Melchiorre Gerbino would be the director of the Magazine and the ideologue of the Movement; Umberto Tiboni the administrator and treasurer.
When we got up from the table, Melchiorre Gerbino was sure something historical would happen. In fact, if two anarchists meet, both seem visibly perplexed when they separate. If three anarchists seem firmly convinced of what they have decided to do and ready for action, then something historical has to happen.

History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 2