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The founders of Mondo Beat


Caught in Amsterdam in a police raid 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 in the Provo Movement in Amsterdam
Mondo Beat. Vittorio Di Russo deported from Amsterdam to Milan

The journalist of Corriere della Sera assigned to the police headquarters in Milan, where Vittorio Di Russo was taken after his arrival from Amsterdam, wrote an imaginative report, that is, Vittorio Di Russso had ripped his passport aboard the plane, declaring be a "citizen of the world" and he had instigated the other passengers to do the same with their passports.
In reality, Vittorio Di Russo, who was a Provo near Bernhard de Vries, had been caught by police in a raid and ordered to leave the Netherlands within 48 hours. Then, he had sought help from the Italian consulate in Amsterdam and there, in a moment of frenzy, he had ripped his passport, consequently, he was embarked on a flight Amsterdam Milan and deported.
After reading about his arrival, being 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, which usually wandered there, and Vittorio had already catalyzed around him.
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 the meantime, Vittorio Di Russo was able to connect with Giuseppe Pinelli and the anarchists, Pietro Stoppani and the radicals, Carlo Masi and the university students, while he was attracting young people who had fled their homes, making a group of them.

(AGI - Il Giorno)
Vittorio Di Russo had the charisma of promoting a historic movement by bringing together dispersed young people
Mondo Beat. Vittorio Di Russo


Vittorio Di Russo was born in Scauri di Minturno (Lazio) on August 12, 1936.
He enlisted in the Navy at the age of 16, but two years later he deserted and clandestinely entered Corsica, where he lived in rugged mountains for some months. He finally obtained a regular Italian passport and traveled to many European countries.
Vittorio Di Russo spoke in a linear manner, never 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, because he didn't write articles for the magazine "Mondo Beat" and avoided to appear in the media. But ignoring Umberto Tiboni, or marginalizing his figure, is a serious mistake, since Mondo Beat would not have existed without him.
He was in charge of finding a suitable place as a venue 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 original and appealing.
The Cave exercised an irresistible call, that Italian boys and girls would have heard even in the most remote suburbs. Frequenting The Cave and participating in the events that were conceived there, with the great personal risks that this involved, gave charisma to those who did it. They would have written a page of history and would have understood this in real time, by leafing through newspapers and magazines.
Legally and actually, Umberto Tiboni was in charge of The Cave and his management was as discreet as impeccable. And it was not at all easy to manage The Cave, as it was the heart of the Mondo Beat Movement, open to anyone 24 hours a day.

(Agenzia Franco Sapi)
Umberto Tiboni's management of The Cave was as discreet as impeccable
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. By the time of Mondo Beat, he had not yet undertaken travel and, although he understood enough English and French, he spoke fluently only Italian.

*

The personal story of Melchiorre Gerbino is so intrinsic to the story of Mondo Beat that they cannot be extrapolated from each other. Melchiorre Gerbino structured the magazine "Mondo Beat" and directed it throughout its path. He was at the head of the Mondo Beat Movement at public events, the most important of which were not authorized, so he had to face the police. He was the creator and leader of Barbonia City, the Mondo Beat campsite, where a sexual revolution was sparked, thanks to which Italian women emancipated and all of Italian society with them.
As Melchiorre Gerbino has never denied his past, I let you imagine how they have defamed, vilified, diminished him, in movies ("The Prophet", "Satyricon") in books ("Underground: a pugno chiuso!", "I viaggi di Mel") and in so many writings that I don't know from where to begin to mention them. And I let you imagine how many times they have tried to kill him (Italian secret services, CIA, Mossad, French secret services, Polish secret services...) and how they have annoyed him with the judiciary.
This, because the Vatican wants the history of Mondo Beat to be forgotten, as it fears that today young people may be inspired by it and raise a new wave of Contestation.

(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 August 30, 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 and I kept the name Paolo for myself. In Stockholm, Vittorio Di Russo knew me by this name. When we met later in Milan, the first thing Vittorio said was "Paolo!", consequently, I was Paolo also at the time of Mondo Beat.
At that time, I was fluent in Italian, French and Swedish, I spoke also a little English and Spanish. At school, I had studied Latin and Ancient Greek.

*

Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino met the first time in a club in Gamla Stan, the Old Town of Stockholm, on the day Gunilla Unger turned 18. Melchiorre Gerbino was 23 and had already spent two years in Stockholm.
In Gamla Stan, they frequented clubs located very close to the Royal Palace, cellars which, in the Middle Ages, were barns of aristocrats. To enter these cellars, you had to pay very little money and, to drink a coke, you had to go out and look for a vending machine. These cellars were frequented by youths of various countries and among them were the first globetrotters who were in their way to go around the world. The Swedish girls, who frequented, were fluent in at least three languages. There, we danced jazz, sometimes live, when African American musicians came to play. Those musicians played for free, as they liked the acoustics of those cellars. Some of them were famous, but they came to play incognito. Those were the days when the world opened up to the world and African Americans in Sweden found no racial opposition if they were in the company of white women. The milieu of those cellars was really original. 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 talked to an Australian, a young professor of philosophy, who had arrived in Stockholm from Singapore by hitchhiking, who gave you information about a part of the world you had not yet visited.

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 a registered 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 police 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 liberated during the nights, when we used to meet at people who owned large houses. In one of those night parties, one of the first, as 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.
Admittedly, 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 story of Mondo Beat, because the Movement would not have existed, since Mondo Beat would have been characterized by that sexual spontaneity which characterizes true revolutions. In a time 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 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 characterized by the kind of Scandinavian fair play that has connoted it. Nor, without the sexual brotherhood they shared, would the youths of Mondo Beat have been able to stage public events that paralyzed the heart of Milan, during which some of those youths would have ended 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, Via Pontaccio, on October 15, 1966, with Vittorio Di Russo, Umberto Tiboni, Melchiorre Gerbino, at the occasion of the foundation of the Movement. But her personality was so fundamental in the history of Mondo Beat that she must inevitably 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 March 10, 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 travel to Italy, where the Vatican, through its political creature Democrazia Cristiana in power, 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 October 15, 1966, six of us met at Crota Piemunteisa, Via Pontaccio, a tavern located in the center of Milan, a short walk from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts.
Crota Piemunteisa was a popular tavern, with an entrance as wide as the premises, as there were many in those days in Milan. But this tavern was particularly original, as, in addition to the rooms on the ground floor, it had also a loft, that created the theatrical atmosphere of a stage. We sat at a table of that loft, Melchiorre Gerbino, Vittorio Di Russo and four others who had come with Vittorio. We ordered hard-boiled eggs and Oltrepò Pavese red wine.
When Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino started talking about young anarchists whose actions would have shaken Milan and the whole of Italy, events that had never happened in history, three of the four who had come with Vittorio left discreetly. Only Umberto Tiboni remained with us.
Umberto Tiboni had a weakness for boys and girls who had fled their homes and he housed 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 listened. At our request, he would intervene, but after a good moment of reflection, and then he would have confirmed the goodness of our prophecies, offering common sense judgments to support them. And Umberto Tiboni would always have been like that. In the evolution of the history of Mondo Beat, even when risky actions were conceived, he would never have disagreed, but he would have reviewed the matter to support it with terms of common sense.
At some point, there were discussions about 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 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 decided to name the magazine with same name as the Movement, "Mondo Beat", and we decided that, before having our own seat, we would have found support in the anarchist section "Sacco e Vanzetti".
In conclusion, we decided that Vittorio Di Russo would have led the Movement at public events and would have maintained contacts between Mondo Beat and the other extra-parliamentary groups who operated in Milan; Melchiorre Gerbino would have been 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 that something historic was going to happen. In fact, ordinarily, if two anarchists meet, to try to see in perspective, in order to achieve a goal, the two will seem visibly perplexed when separating. Yes, ordinarily, it is like this. So, by logic, if three anarchists seem firmly convinced of what they have decided and ready to act, then something historic has to happen.

History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 2