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Mondo Beat

In the Sixties, three major movements, inspired by the principles of nonviolence and ecology, pledged for the affirmation of universal human rights.

1- The "Free Speech Movement", of the University of Berkeley, California, which was characterized by forms of protest, particularly against authoritarianism in the system of education in the United States.
The Free Speech Movement has greatly influenced youth and intellectuals of the United States, consequently those of other developed countries.

2- The "Provobeweging" (Provo Movement), a Dutch movement, which was characterized by the provocation as its approach. Provocations reached a peak when smoke bombs were launched during the wedding of Crown Princess Beatrix with Claus von Amsberg, a German who had served in the Hitler Youth.
The Provo Movement exerted a very significant influence on European youth.

3- The "Movimento Mondo Beat", an Italian movement. Being a little younger than the Free Speech Movement and the Provo Movement, the Mondo Beat Movement took inspiration and guidance from them, consequently it walked deeper along the common road.
Mondo Beat was characterized by forms of contestation, that is, nonviolent actions aimed at awakening the masses for the affirmation of civil rights and for the protection of the environment. Indeed, the models of the American protest and the Dutch provocation had sensitized the categories of youths and intellectuals, the models of the contestation would have sensitized the masses, first in Italy, then in France and worldwide.

Such was the impact of the Contestation in Italy, that the power, for containing the masses, had to resort to explosion of bombs in banks, on trains, in railway stations, in public squares crowded with people.

Because of the Contestation, the nuclear polluter, General Charles de Gaulle, had to flee from the Élysée Palace and leave the country. After reaching a compromise with the Soviets, that is, bringing France out of NATO, he was able to return to power, but very precariously.

The Vatican has experienced an irreversible decline due to the Contestation, which can be understood if one considers that a female activist entered the Basilica of St. Peter with the signboard "The womb is mine and I manage it myself!" (L'utero é mio e me lo gestisco io!).

Finally, from the times of Mondo Beat to the present day, mass contestations have occurred in the world at large, most recently in the Islamic world, and it is evident how motivations, models and methods of the Contestation have been acquired by the common universal consciousness.

The founders of Mondo Beat

Caught in a raid of provos in Amsterdam and deported to Milan, Vittorio Di Russo landed at Linate Airport on October 12, 1966, and his picturesque image bounced from one newspaper to another.

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

The chronicler of Corriere della Sera wrote an imaginative account of the deportation of Vittorio Di Russo, that is, he has torn his passport onboard an airplane, inviting the fellow passengers to do the same with their passports. In fact, Vittorio Di Russo, arrested by the police in a provos raid in Amsterdam, had been ordered to leave Holland within 48 hours. At that, he had sought assistance from the Italian Consulate in Amsterdam and there, in a moment of frenzy, had torn his passport to pieces. Consequently, he had been deported.

Having read of his deportation in the Corriere della Sera, being myself in Milan, I tried to find him, and the day after his arrival I met him in the center of the city, in Piazza Duomo, where he was surrounded by those 20 longhairs (capelloni) who used to wander in the center of the city, which he had already catalyzed around himself.
Vittorio Di Russo and I were bound by a friendship dating back to the early 60s, when we frequented the same existentialist milieu at Gamla Stan, the Old Town of Stockholm.
When we met again in Milan, we looked each other in the eye and we exchanged a nod, and two days later we founded the Mondo Beat Movement.

In Milan, Vittorio Di Russo was quick to connect with Giuseppe Pinelli and the anarchists, Pietro Stoppani and the radicals, Carlo Masi and university students. Even more, he catalyzed more and more young people who had fled their homes and eccentric characters.

(AGI - Il Giorno)
Vittorio Di Russo, 1 of 3 founders of the Movimento Mondo Beat
Mondo Beat. Vittorio Di Russo

Vittorio Di Russo was born in Scauri di Minturno (Latium) on August 12, 1936.
He enlisted in the Navy at the age of 16, but two years later he left the Navy and went clandestinely to France. There, Vittorio Di Russo lived in rough mountains for several months, finally he got a regular passport and traveled to many European countries.
He spoke in a straight way, never using circumlocutions. In addition to Italian, he was fluent in French and German. He was a professional sculptor.


Umberto Tiboni has been underestimated by many who have written about the history of Mondo Beat. This is because he did not write articles for Mondo Beat magazine and he avoided being photographed, being very reserved. But ignoring Umberto Tiboni, or marginalizing his importance in the history of Mondo Beat, is a gap, since Mondo Beat would not have existed without him.
He was in charge of finding a suitable place for Mondo Beat and he has located and directed the famous La Cava. Thanks to The Cave, the Mondo Beat Movement became characterized by those underground connotations that made it very appealing.
To support Mondo Beat in its beginnings, he has spent money that he would never have recovered, as well as Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino.
He left a good job to devote himself entirely to Mondo Beat, even though he did not make any money with it.
He ended up in jail because of his devotion to Mondo Beat.
Moreover, his share was decisive in all decisions that have marked the path of the Movement.
The fact that Umberto Tiboni was more reserved than Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino, or, say, less exhibitionist, does not mean that he was less important in the history of the Movement.

(Agency Franco Sapi)
Umberto Tiboni, 1 of 3 founders of the Movimento Mondo Beat
Mondo Beat. Umberto Tiboni

Umberto Tiboni was born in Sesto San Giovanni (Lombardy) on February 19, 1941. He was a graduate industrial expert. He dressed casual. He spoke only Italian.


To confuse and disperse the memory of Mondo Beat, they have constantly promoted writings and videos of impostors, shameless scoundrels as Fernanda Pivano, Gianni De Martino, Silvia Casilio, Walter Pagliero, Felice Pesoli...
In an attempt to ridicule Melchiorre Gerbino, they produced a movie, "The Prophet" (Il Profeta) directed by Dino Risi, starring Vittorio Gassman, and they published a book, "I Viaggi di Mel" (Mel's Trips) by Marco Philopat Galliani, Shake Edizioni.
Behind this, and much more, there has always been the Vatican. Moreover, the Vatican, many times and in different ways, has tried to get Melchiorre Gerbino killed. It is said that Fidel Castro is the one that has eluded more assassination attempts, sincerely, I don't know if this record shouldn't be attributed to me.

(Agency Franco Sapi)
Melchiorre 'Paolo' Gerbino, 1 of 3 founders of the Movimento Mondo Beat
Mondo Beat. Melchiorre Paolo Gerbino

Melchiorre Gerbino was born in Calatafimi (Sicily) on August 30, 1939.
The first Swedish girl with whom I made love, called me by the name of another, Paolo. In those days, I was an existentialist and I kept for myself the name Paolo. Vittorio Di Russo knew me by this name in Stockholm. When we met in Milan, the first thing that Vittorio said was "Paolo!", consequently, I was called Paolo at the times of Mondo Beat.
In those days, besides Italian, I spoke fluent French and Swedish, and a little English and Spanish. At school, I had studied Latin and classical Greek, but reluctantly, because I hated the teaching system of the Italian school and I contested it (ante litteram). This has cost me 10 electroshocks, when I was 16. When I recovered from the electroshocks, I increased my contestation, so that in the last year of high school I went to class without textbooks but with newspapers. Appropriately, I gave good advices to the dean, while I had forbidden the lady professor of Italian literature to ask me questions, irritated as I was by her manners. They didn't expel me from all schools of the Republic, because they had understood that this was my purpose. At one point, I parted the school unilaterally, despite dean, teachers, students, sent messages asking me to come back! However, I have learned some Latin and classical Greek.


Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino met for the first time in Gamla Stan, Stockholm's Old Town, three years before the foundation of Mondo Beat. That day Gunilla Unger turned 18. Melchiorre Gerbino was 23 years old and had lived two years in Stockholm.
In Gamla Stan, Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino frequented cellars, which were located a few hundred meters from the Royal Palace, which in the Middle Ages had been barns and storerooms. There they danced jazz, often live, when African-American musicians came to play, as they often did, for the pleasure of the acoustics of those cellars. The milieu was that of young people of many countries and among them there were the first travelers who were doing a tour of the entire world, the Swedish girls who attended those cellars have spoken at least three languages fluently. To get into this kind of clubs, 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 so original that it could happen that you had two girls sitting on your legs and, while kissing the one and the other, you talked with a young philosophy professor, an Australian, who had arrived in Stockholm hitchhiking all the way from Singapore...

Because of the "provo" imprinting, that Vittorio Di Russo gave to it, Mondo Beat has been kept under pressure by secret services, police and carabinieri (Italian federal police) from the very beginning. Those military raked up boys and girls who used to meet in Piazza Duomo and in the basement of Cordusio metro station. Youths arrested in the raids, if they had their residence not registered in Milan, were served with 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 they were arrested again, were sentenced to one month in jail by the court; if recidivists, they were sentenced to three months, then to six months... This created a state of tension in the group, of which we were released during the night, when we were invited by people who had large houses. In one of those night parties, precisely the first, Gunilla Unger sat on one leg of Melchiorre Gerbino and Carmen Russo on the other, while Melchiorre Gerbino was talking with someone. Then it happened, at a certain point, that all the boys and girls got undressed and participated in a sort of group sex, which was neither ostentatious nor vulgar, that Carmen Russo, Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino observed with composure. Surely, if Gunilla Unger, who was my wife, had been jealous of Carmen Russo and had moved angrily from my leg, Melchiorre Gerbino would not have written the story of Mondo Beat, since the Movement would have been characterized by that kind of sexual spontaneity that characterizes true revolutions. In a period when machismo habits 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 nobody has ever been requested to identify. 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 characterized by the kind of Scandinavian fair play that so greatly attracted Italian youth. Nor, without the sexual brotherhood that they shared, the youths of Mondo Beat would have been able to organize public events that paralyzed the heart of Milan for hours, during which they could end up in a stretcher with two ribs broken by the police.
Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino got married in the Stockholm City Hall in April 1965, when their son Nino was 4 months old. They did so because they had decided to go to Italy, where the Vatican had imposed a law that forbade unmarried couples to share hotel rooms.
Gunilla Unger has not been one of the founders of Mondo Beat, since she was not physically in the Taverna Crota Piemunteisa on October 15, 1966, with Vittorio Di Russo, Umberto Tiboni, Melchiorre Gerbino, on the occasion of the foundation of the Movement, but, since her personality has been so fundamental in the history of Mondo Beat, inevitably she has to be counted among the founders.

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

Gunilla Unger was born in Solna (Stockholm) on March 10, 1945.
At the time of Mondo Beat, Gunilla Unger spoke Swedish, Italian, English, French, German and also knew Latin. She intended to be, and later became, a painter.

The Foundation of Mondo Beat

On the evening of October 15th 1966, six of us met in Crota Piemunteisa, a tavern located in the center of Milan, a few steps from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. Crota Piemunteisa was a popular tavern, as in those days there were in Milan, with an entrance the width of the premises, and two high steps to access a loft that created the theatrical atmosphere of a stage.
We sat at a table, Melchiorre Gerbino, Vittorio Di Russo and four others who had come with him. We ordered boiled eggs and red wine, Oltrepò Pavese.
When Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino began talking about young anarchists, whose actions would have shaken Milan and all Italy, events that had never occurred in history, three of the four, who had come with Vittorio, went away, and only Umberto Tiboni remained with us.
Umberto Tiboni had a weakness for the boys and girls who ran away from home and hosted as many as possible in his small apartment on the outskirts of Milan.
While Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino were making prophecies, Umberto Tiboni was careful to listen. On request, he intervened, always offering judgments of good sense that corroborated those prophecies. Such was Umberto Tiboni. In the evolving of the history of Mondo Beat, when temerarious actions were conceived, he would never dissent, but he would have revised the matter, presenting it in terms of good sense...
At one point, there were discussions about name, strategies and structures to give 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 enthused, since it would have reminded the term "beatnik" and the Beat Generation, which was older than our generation, moreover, as American reference Melchiorre Gerbino had Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement.
But Vittorio Di Russo was adamant.
At one point, Melchiorre Gerbino had the inspiration to put the term "mondo" before "beat" and the formula was liked by all of us, so the Movement was named "Mondo Beat".
Then we have examined what kind of structures to give to the Movement and we have agreed that we should have had a magazine and an editorial office. We have agreed to name the magazine "Mondo Beat", as the Movement, and we have 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 have been the ideologue of the Movement and the editor of the Magazine; Umberto Tiboni administrator and treasurer of the Movement.
When we left the table, I was sure something historic would happen. In fact, if two anarchists meet, after having separated from each other, they both seem visibly perplexed. Therefore, if after an encounter, three anarchists firmly believe in what they have agreed and are ready for action, something historical will happen.

History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 2