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Milan, October 16 - November 19, 1966

- The Mondo Beat Movement becomes reality -
- Florence Flood. The youths of Mondo Beat flock to Florence to rescue a patrimony of art and culture.
- Vittorio Di Russo arrested, mistreated, imprisoned.



Youths, who usually met in Piazza Duomo and in the underpasses of Cordusio metro station, liked the name Mondo Beat given to the Movement. They have felt being part of the Mondo Beat Movement.
Vittorio Di Russo often took them to a section of the Radical Party, where they were welcome. At that time, the Milanese radicals were so few that they could all be counted on the fingers of two hands, but Pietro Stoppani and Roberto Pieraccini, who ran their section, were valuable intellectuals, who had foreseen that Mondo Beat would go far, so they had put their facilities available.
Also the anarchists "Sacco e Vanzetti", who were far more numerous than the radicals, had put their facilities available to us, but their section was too far from Piazza Duomo to be reached on foot. So, we didn't go often there, instead the two more active among those anarchists, Giuseppe Pino Pinelli and Gian Oberto Pinky Gallieri, came often to the city center to meet us.
Mondo Beat, the radicals, the anarchists, we had agreed to organize a public event together, as soon as there was a reason.
While Vittorio Di Russo and Umberto Tiboni were not interested in attending night parties, instead Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino were assiduous. There they met some Milanese university students and many young people who had fled their homes. In those night parties, often small groups of boys and girls made love here and there, in the indifference of others. There were girls who attracted the shy guys and initiated them into sex with a sort of missionary commitment. I think this kind of phenomena occur in epochal changes, when women feel more involved by the group than by a single partner.
Sometimes, before the night parties, we went to the home of Fernanda Pivano. She was a translator of American writers, highly reviewed by the media. She received young people with the declared purpose of publishing a book with their writings of protest, but it was well understandable that the comings and goings had the aim of giving resonance to the editorial launch of American writers of the Beat Generation, of whom Fernanda Pivano translated the works. I did not like Fernanda Pivano from the first time I met her. She downplayed the importance of the Dutch Provo Movement and defined the youth malaise in Italy a phenomenon of subculture. And while she completely ignored Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement, instead she dramatized the characters of the Beat Generation, a older generation than our, who had little to do with the ongoing youth uprising in the Western world. I had expressed these negative considerations about Fernanda Pivano to Vittorio Di Russo, who agreed with me, but Vittorio was convinced that participation in the literary salon of Fernanda Pivano was positive, while I thought the opposite, since that salon seemed to me a trap.

Meanwhile, the Mondo Beat Movement was expanding, despite being constantly decimated by police raids. Dozens of young people, who had not complied with mandatory expulsion orders, had been arrested and sentenced to one month in prison. Those who had turned 18 were incarcerated in San Vittore prison, boys under the age of 18 in the juvenile prison Cesare Beccaria, girls under the age of 18 in the juvenile prison Maria di Nazaret.
When the police raids were intense, Vittorio Di Russo began to show signs of confusion, wandering aimlessly in the center of Milan. At night he slept wherever it happened, instead of coming to the apartment of Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino, where he had a private room.
I tried to convince Vittorio to look for a fictitious job certificate, to avoid being expelled from Milan for "vagrancy", but every time I tried to convince him, he was angry with me, so I gave up, but with a heavy heart, foreseeing that Vittorio would end in a tragedy.
Unlike Vittorio, I tried to protect myself. I looked for a friend of my father, Mr. Pisano, an American lawyer of Italian origin, who had a studio in Milan where Gunilla Unger worked as a secretary. I asked Mr. Pisano to help me find a job and Mr. Pisano, who knew nothing about Mondo Beat, promised he would help me.

November 1. Vittorio's health worries me more and more. In Verona, where we went along with Fernanda Pivano, Vittorio has a serious paranoia crisis. We were invited to the home of Mr. Donà, a friend of Fernanda Pivano. There we didn't take any hallucinogen, we just drank a good wine. Vittorio's crisis worsens when I accompany him to the hospital and causes panic in the doctor who should have calmed him down. In the end, I had to calm them both.

On November 2, Vittorio Di Russo has another crisis, this time in Milan, in the home of Fernanda Pivano.
She had been asked to write the editorial for the first issue of the magazine Mondo Beat. This idea had come to Vittorio and I had opposed it. I myself wanted to write that editorial. But in the end I had to give up, because it seemed that, for exhibitionism, I wanted to write that editorial, and not because I didn't like Fernanda Pivano's approach to Mondo Beat. So I had gone to the Fernanda Pivano literary salon in person and asked her to write the editorial. And Fernanda Pivano promptly had taken pen and paper and written without delay -"I don't know these young people from Mondo Beat, but, like when we were young and the fascist leaders came to Turin ...". The torture, to which I was subjected, would not last long, as Fernanda Pivano was overworked and could not concede more than ten minutes. Once out of her apartment, I threw that historical article in a trash can in Corso Manzoni, while Vittorio Di Russo was arriving there. Then Vittorio recovered the piece of paper from the trash can and read it. And he became furious. Climbing the stairs and entering the saloon, he went, 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 suddenly the imposing figure of Fernanda Pivano husband, architect Ettore Sottsass, rose from the shadow of an armchair, loudly reciting a threatening monologue... For Melchiorre Gerbino, that was a perfect opportunity to leave that literary salon, and forever.
A few years after Mondo Beat's time, it was shown that Melchiorre Gerbino was right in feeling that literary salon as a trap, given that Fernanda Pivano turned out to be a CIA agent and an informant of the Milan police headquarters. In fact, she had the task of confusing the Italian provincials with the exaltation of the characters of the Beat Generation, to prevent the Italian provincials from emancipating themselves by contributing to a true revolution, the one triggered by Mondo Beat with the Contestation. We will see the details of it later.

Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino were bound by an indissoluble anarchist brotherhood
Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino in Milan in the last days of October 1966.

On the night of 3 November, a patrol of carabinieri found Vittorio Di Russo as he slept, with three other Beats, on the floor of a corner of Piazza Duomo metro station, and the four were arrested.

Vittorio Di Russo received a mandatory expulsion order from Milan for 'wandering'
Vittorio Di Russo received a mandatory expulsion order from the Police Headquarters and a warning not to reside in Milan for a period of 5 years.

On the morning of 4 November, in a pouring rain, small groups of activists protested against mandatory military service. It was the day of the celebration of the Italian armed forces. To avoid being arrested by the police, from time to time the activists dispersed among people that watched the military parade.
Umberto Tiboni and Melchiorre Gerbino, who were among the activists, lived dark hours because of Vittorio Di Russo, of whom they had read in the newspapers, and because of the decimation that the Movement was suffering due the continuous police raids, when the rumor spread that the Arno River had broken its banks and flooded Florence. Once confirmed, this tragic event would have offered the youth of Mondo Beat the double opportunity to rescue a patrimony of art and culture and escape the military hunting they were subjected in Milan. So, the youths of Mondo Beat have flocked to Florence, where they arrived as first rescuers. They were baptized mud angels (angeli del fango) by the press, because of their long hair and the generosity with which they committed themselves. Furthermore, because of their heroic commitment, they would have disproved what the reactionary press had constantly written about them, that is they were lazy and did their utmost to avoid to work.
Publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, who wrote the editorial of the last issue of Mondo Beat magazine (as you can read later), gave witness on how the youths of Mondo Beat have engaged in Florence. Note that the words of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli had weight, because he was a very famous editor, who had known a worldwide success with the publication of the novels "The Leopard", by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and "Doctor Zhivago", by Boris Pasternak.
Here is an excerpt of what Giangiacomo Feltrinelli wrote

Many youths from Mondo Beat have engaged in Florence for more than one month, as volunteers, without receiving any economic compensation
Giangiacomo Feltrinelli on how the youths of Mondo Beat have engaged in Florence after the flood of November 1966.

*

Returning to the chronological reconstruction of the history of Mondo Beat, on 6 November 1966, Umberto Tiboni and Melchiorre Gerbino were discreetly informed that Vittorio Di Russo had not complied with the mandatory expulsion order and was hiding in Milan. Giuseppe Pinelli, the trustee of the anarchist section Sacco e Vanzetti, made us understand that Vittorio Di Russo was hiding among the anarchists.

9 November. From today I will have no problems if I am checked by the police. Thanks to Mr. Pisano, the American lawyer, a friend of my father, I found a job with the Alitalia airline. This work, which would be a dream for many, is for me a martyrdom, but I console myself with the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said that the conditions worthy of man are glory and / or martyrdom.
In the late afternoons, once back home from work, I devote myself to prepare the first issue of the magazine Mondo Beat. I work late into the night. I have to make a selection of the articles to be published, I have to write some of mine, I have to typewrite the entire layout of this first issue on mimeograph matrices.
Finally, the great event!
On Saturday 12 November, in the late afternoon, we are ready to print the first issue of the magazine Mondo Beat in the anarchist section Sacco e Vanzetti. The trustee of the section, Giuseppe Pinelli, has placed reams of paper on a table near a hand-cranked mimeograph, has poured ink on the mimeograph's roll, has applied the first matrix... He said "Vado!" ("Vado" means "I go" in Italian, but with an exclamation point it takes the meaning of going towards something great, if not fatal).
Gunilla Unger and Carmen Russo, who had put on makeup for the occasion, were smiling in the deafening noise, while Umberto Tiboni, Gennaro De Miranda, Melchiorre Gerbino stood around Giuseppe Pinelli, attentively, to take in the flight each sheet of paper delivered by the mimeograph and lay it down to dry. The sheets to be printed were seven thousand, first on one side and then on the other, to obtain one thousand copies of the issue.
Vittorio Di Russo arrived late at night, brought by someone who would wait for him in a car. Vittorio remained with us the time of raising a glass of wine. The others, we finished working the next day at noon. Then, the printed material was taken to the apartment of Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino, who would collate the sheets. Due to the exaggerated pressure with which Melchiorre Gerbino had typewritten on the matrices (he had never done this work before) he had caused lacerations on the matrices, with the result that of the 1000 copies, only 860 were quite well readable and only those 860 would have been put into circulation.
As soon the copies were ready for circulation, Melchiorre Gerbino went to Giuseppe Pinelli and handed him 100 copies, to be delivered partly to Vittorio Di Russo and partly to the anarchist section Sacco e Vanzetti, who had kindly provided mimeograph and paper.

From November 15, copies of the Magazine were sold by youths residing in Milan, to whom the police could not impose a mandatory expulsion order. The copy costed £ 100, 25 of which were retained by the seller. Umberto Tiboni took care of the accounts.

On November 19, Vittorio Di Russo left his hiding place and went to sell copies of Mondo Beat in the underpasses of Cordusio metro station. At that, two plainclothes cops arrested him. Imprisoned for a week in the police headquarters, Vittorio Di Russo suffered beatings and mental torture. After that, he was brought to court, sentenced to one month and jailed in San Vittore prison.

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


History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 3