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Milan, from October 16 to November 13, 1966.

- The Mondo Beat Movement becomes a reality.
- Vittorio Di Russo subjected to a mandatory expulsion order.
- Flood of the Arno. The youths of the Mondo Beat Movement flock to Florence to rescue a heritage of universal value.
- Printing of the first issue of Mondo Beat magazine.
- Vittorio Di Russo arrested, mistreated and imprisoned.



The denomination "Beat" given to the movement, as suggested by Vittorio Di Russo, was successful, as it was liked by young people and they began to call themselves Beats.
Great was Vittorio Di Russo's popularity among young people, as all of them gathered around him when he appeared in Piazza Duomo. He often led the Beats to a section of the Radical Party, which was nearby Piazza Duomo. At the time, the radicals only had this section in Milan and they were very few, but Pietro Stoppani and Roberto Pieraccini, who led their section, were intellectuals who had foreseen that Mondo Beat would go far, so they were pleased to receive us and let us use their facilities.
The anarchists of the Sacco e Vanzetti section, who were far more numerous than the radicals, had also made their facilities available to us, but their section was too far from Piazza Duomo to be reached on foot and we didn't go there often, instead the two more active among the anarchists, Giuseppe Pino Pinelli and Gianoberto Pinky Gallieri, often came to the city center to meet us.
Mondo Beat was appreciated by the other extra-parliamentary groups for its resistance and growth despite it was subjected to raids by the police and carabinieri. Mondo Beat youths were admired because they were full-time activists, as they had got rid of their families, dropped out of school, didn't bow to wage labor, while almost all anarchists and radicals led a routine life and their activism was limited to their free time. Furthermore, Mondo Beat was admired for the many girls who participated in the Movement, this being an unprecedented phenomenon, as no other extra-parliamentary groups were attended by girls. Thus, anarchists and radicals courted the Beats and asked to stage public demonstrations together.
As for the night parties, Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino were assiduous. They met there many young people who had fled their homes, these youths constituting the core of the Mondo Beat Movement. At these parties, small groups of very young people made love here and there, in the indifference of others. There were girls who lured the shy boys and initiated them into sex with a kind of missionary commitment. I think this type of phenomena occur in epochal changes, when passionate women feel more committed towards the group rather than to single partners.
Sometimes, before the night parties, we went to Fernanda Pivano, a translator of American writers much celebrated by the Establishment media. In her house in Corso Manzoni, which also served as a literary salon, she welcomed young people with the aim of publishing a book of their protest writings, but it was understandable that the comings and goings had the purpose of giving resonance to the works of writers of the Beat Generation, which she translated into Italian.
Melchiorre Gerbino did not like Fernanda Pivano from their first meeting, as she downplayed the importance of the Dutch Provo Movement, completely ignored the Free Speech Movement and defined youth unrest in Italy a subcultural phenomenon. While Vittorio Di Russo was convinced that participation in Fernanda Pivano's literary salon was positive, Melchiorre Gerbino felt uncomfortable there, as if he were in a trap, and he was right to feel trapped, since Fernanda Pivano would turn out to be an agent of the CIA, as we will see.
Meanwhile, the Mondo Beat Movement was greatly expanding, but police raids were also intensifying and youths who did not comply with the order to leave Milan were arrested and sentenced to prison.
When police raids were more intense, Vittorio Di Russo began to show signs of confusion. During the day he wandered aimlessly through the center of Milan and at night he slept wherever it happened, instead of coming to Melchiorre Gerbino and Gunilla Unger's apartment, where he had a room all to himself.
Melchiorre Gerbino, who was linked to Vittorio Di Russo by a friendship which dated from the beginning of the Sixties, when they attended the same existentialist milieu in Stockholm, was doing his best to convince Vittorio Di Russo to look for a fictitious certificate of employment in Milan, to avoid receiving a mandatory expulsion order for "vagrancy", but any time he tried, Vittorio had got irritated, as he believed the police would not have taken action against him since he was a well-known figure. And so Melchiorre Gerbino had given up on insisting, but with death in his heart, aware that Vittorio Di Russo would end up in trouble. Melchiorre Gerbino instead tried to protect himself, so he asked the lawyer Pisano to help him find work in Milan. The lawyer Pisano was a friend of Gerbino's father, an Italian American who had a law firm in Milan where Gunilla Unger worked as a secretary.

(Agenzia Franco Sapi)
Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino were linked by a sincere anarchist friendship.
Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino in Milan in the last days of October 1966.

As the days went by, Vittorio Di Russo's health deteriorated. On November 1 in Verona, in the home of Mr. Donà, where we were in the company of Fernanda Pivano, Vittorio Di Russo had a serious paranoid crisis, while we drank good wine and we didn't do drugs at all. Vittorio's crisis worsened in the emergency room of the Verona hospital and put into paranoia the doctor who should have calmed him down. Eventually, Melchiorre Gerbino had to calm both, Vittorio and the doctor.
*

At this point it is worth opening a parenthesis on Fernanda Pivano because, despite being unknown internationally, in Italy she was celebrated by the Establishment and together with Allen Ginsberg, with whom she was intimate, she would have opposed the Mondo Beat Movement. We will talk about this situation while making the excursus of Mondo Beat story, now we will tell how Fernanda Pivano turned out to be a CIA agent.
In fact, ten years after we had been in Verona at Mr. Donà's, Fernanda Pivano published a book, "C'era una volta un beat" (Once apon a time a Beat), in which she used a photomontage to show how in Verona we had been at the house of a certain Giorgio Bertani (and not at Mr. Donà's, where we had actually been) and how on that occasion Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Paolo Gerbino were indoctrinated in the program of the PSIUP, which was a radical Marxist political party.
But, due to this imbroglio, it would have turned out that Fernanda Pivano was a CIA agent, as more recently the CIA revealed that the PSIUP, the Marxist party that Fernanda Pivano referred to, was created by the CIA itself, with the aim to dismantle the union of two socialist parties, PSI and PSDI, which were in government in Italy.
Thus, Fernanda Pivano with this photomontage had tried to achieve a double result: to downgrade the history of the Mondo Beat Movement, showing how were communist the two most charismatic characters of this movement (whereas they were anarchists) and, by the other hand, she would have encouraged those provincials who looked at her with deference, to vote for the PSIUP in the elections, so that the CIA could receive and manage their votes.

Fernanda Pivano, a proven CIA agent

Jack Kerouac sensed that Fernanda Pivano was a mischievous person when he came to Italy, in 1966, to give an interview on RAI, the Italian state television. On that occasion he was assisted by Fernanda Pivano, then he would have met her on other occasions. To a journalist who asked him what he thought of Fernanda Pivano, Jack Kerouac said verbatim: "A Jewish Communist spy".
Fernanda Pivano was not Jewish, but Jack Kerouac who, when drunk saw Jews also where there were none, intended to invest Fernanda Pivano with the heaviest insult in his repertoire. There is no doubt that this episode took place, since Fernanda Pivano herself tells about it in her aforementioned book "C'era una volta un beat".

Jack Kerouac and Fernanda Pivano in a photomontage.
Jack Kerouac and Fernanda Pivano in a real sequence and in a photomontage.

Image on the left. Jack Kerouac and Fernanda Pivano in a real sequence of the interview given by Jack Kerouac on Italian state television in 1966.
Image on the right. Jack Kerouac and Fernanda Pivano in a photomontage, most probably made by Ettore Sottsass, Fernanda Pivano's husband, and widely diffused by the media of the Establishment.

*

Returning to the chronological reconstruction of the history of the Mondo Beat Movement, on November 2, 1966, that is, the day after Vittorio Di Russo had that paranoid crisis in Verona in Mr. Donà's house, he had another paranoia crisis, this time in Milan and precisely in Fernanda Pivano's literary salon.
Fernanda Pivano had been asked to write the editorial for the first issue of Mondo Beat magazine. This idea had come from Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino had strongly opposed it, since Gerbino himself wanted to write the editorial. But in the end Gerbino had to give up, as it seemed that he wanted to write the editorial for exhibitionism and not because he didn't like Fernanda Pivano's approach towards Mondo Beat. Thus, Melchiorre Gerbino himself went to Fernanda Pivano's literary salon and asked her to write the editorial and she promptly took paper and pen and wrote - "I do not know these guys from Mondo Beat but, like when we ourselves were young and Fascist hierarchs came to Turin...". The torture, to which Melchiorre Gerbino was subjected, would not have lasted long, since Fernanda Pivano was overworked and could not grant more than ten minutes. Once out of her apartment, Melchiorre Gerbino threw that historic article into a garbage can in Corso Manzoni, while Vittorio Di Russo was arriving there. Vittorio retrieved the piece of paper and read it and got angry. Climbing the stairs and entering the salon, he headed, to the astonishment of half a dozen spectators, towards Fernanda Pivano, moving his head like an attacking bull "I will gore you, Fernanda! ... I will gore you!". But, then, the imposing figure of Fernanda Pivano's husband, architect Ettore Sottsass, rose from the shadow of an armchair, loudly reciting a threatening monologue... This was the perfect opportunity for Melchiorre Gerbino to leave that literary salon, and forever.

The day after that theatrical situation in Fernanda Pivano's salon, a carabinieri patrol found Vittorio Di Russo asleep in a corner of the ground floor of the Duomo metro station. He was brought to the Police Headquarters where he received a mandatory expulsion order from Milan, for vagrancy, and a warning of not to reside there for a period of five years.
As Melchiorre Gerbino had feared, Vittorio Di Russo would find himself in a big mess. But to understand how he could have behaved in such an irrational way, it has to be consider that he suffered from a nervous breakdown even before his arrival in Milan, and this is evident if considering how in Amsterdam he had torn up his passport inside the Italian Consulate.

(Il Giorno, November 4, 1966)
Vittorio Di Russo arrested together with four other Beats as they slept on the ground floor of the Duomo metro station
Vittorio Di Russo received a mandatory expulsion order and a warning not to reside in Milan for 5 years.

*

November 4 was the day of celebration of the Italian armed forces. On that morning, groups of activists manifested against compulsory military service in the center of Milan. To avoid being arrested by the police, the activists dispersed from time to time among the people who watched a military parade.
Umberto Tiboni and Melchiorre Gerbino, who were among the activists, lived dark hours, due to Vittorio Di Russo's situation, of which they had read in the newspapers, and because of the decimation to which the Movement was subjected by continuous police raids. But, at some point, the rumor spread that the Arno had broken the banks and flooded Florence. Once confirmed, this tragic event offered the youths of Mondo Beat the opportunity to rush to Florence to rescue a heritage of universal value and escape the hunt to which they were subjected in Milan. Thus, almost all the youths of Mondo Beat rushed to Florence, where they arrived as first responders. In Florence, they would have committed themselves with such generosity that they would be baptized Mud Angels (Angeli del Fango) by the media. Having seen pictures of them, hundreds of other young people would have rushed to Florence, from all over Italy and from various European nations, and also Americans and Australians who were visiting the Old Continent. As the youths of Mondo Beat have fraternized with other young people from different nations, many of these young foreigners, after their commitment to rescue Florence, would come to Milan to participate in the Mondo Beat Movement. In the mud of Florence, Mondo Beat would have become that international movement from which the Contestation would be born.
To be noted that none of the Italian governments which have succeeded each other since the time of the Flood of the Arno have recognized that the young people of the Mondo Beat Movement were the first to rush to the rescue of Florence. The same omission is made by the Enciclopedia Treccani, which claims to be a serious encyclopedia. Vatican vetoes have reduced Italian official culture to such an obscene standard.

In the mud of Florence Mondo Beat would have become a movement of citizens of the world
Columns of youths in Florence to help the city to revive.

Back to the chronological reconstruction of the history of the Mondo Beat Movement, on November 6, Umberto Tiboni and Melchiorre Gerbino were discreetly informed by Giuseppe Pinelli, the trustee of the Sacco e Vanzetti section, that Vittorio Di Russo had not complied with the mandatory expulsion order and was hiding in Milan, protected by the anarchists.

On November 9, Melchiorre Gerbino, thanks to Mr. Pisano, the American lawyer friend of his father, found work at the booking desk of Alitalia airline at Linate airport. This work, a dream for many, was a martyrdom for him, but he consoled himself with the words of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who said that the conditions worthy of man are glory and martyrdom.
Back from work, Melchiorre Gerbino devoted himself to prepare the layout of the first issue of Mondo Beat magazine. A heavy commitment, as he had to type all the articles on mimeograph matrices, a job which he had to do alone, as no one was on hand to offer him collaboration.

On November 12, the great event! They were ready to print the first issue of Mondo Beat magazine in the Sacco e Vanzetti section.
Giuseppe Pinelli placed reams of paper on a table near a hand-cranked mimeograph and poured ink on the mimeograph's roll. He applied the first matrix and said "Vado!".
"Vado" means "I go" in Italian, but with an exclamation point it takes the meaning of going towards something exceptional, if not fatal.
Gunilla Unger and Carmen Russo, who wore makeup for the occasion, were smiling in the deafening noise made by the hand-cranked mimeograph, while Umberto Tiboni, Gennaro De Miranda and Melchiorre Gerbino were catching on the fly the sheets delivered by the mimeograph to lay them down on the floor to dry. The sheets to be printed were seven thousand, first on one side and then on the other, to obtain a thousand copies of the issue.
Vittorio Di Russo arrived late at night, brought by someone who stayed in the car waiting for him. Vittorio stayed with us just to raise a glass of wine. The rest of us worked all night and finished the job by noon the next day. The material was then taken to the apartment of Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino, where it was collated.
On the evening of the same day Melchiorre Gerbino went to Giuseppe Pinelli and gave him 100 copies of the issue, to be delivered partly to Vittorio Di Russo and partly to the Sacco e Vanzetti section, which kindly provided the paper for the printing. From that same evening, copies were sold by young people who had legal residence in Milan, on whom the police could not impose mandatory expulsion orders.

On November 19, Vittorio Di Russo left his hiding place and went to distribute copies of Mondo Beat in the underground passes of the Cordusio metro station. There he was arrested by two plainclothes policemen. Brought to the Police Headquarters, he was detained during a week. The procedure of his detention was illegal because, according the law of the time, after a maximum of three days of detention, the police had to release the citizen or indict and hand over the file to the judiciary, which had to decide whether the subject had to wait in captivity or on the loose before the trial. Nothing of this for Vittorio Di Russo, who suffered beatings and mental torture for 7 days. After what, he was taken to court, sentenced to one month and jailed in San Vittore prison.

For Vittorio Di Russo this would be the end of his active participation in the Mondo Beat Movement
Vittorio Di Russo arrested, mistreated and imprisoned.



History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 3