Home Page
English      Italiano      Español      Français

Milan, from October 16 to November 15, 1966.

- The Mondo Beat Movement becomes reality.
- Vittorio Di Russo subjected to a mandatory expulsion order.
- Flood in Florence in November 1966. The youths of the Mondo Beat Movement flock to Florence to rescue a heritage of universal value.
- Printing of the first issue of the magazine "Mondo Beat".
- On the death of Giuseppe Pinelli.

Youths who met in Piazza Duomo and in the underground passages of Cordusio metro station liked the name Mondo Beat given to the Movement and began to call themselves Beats. In fact, the term "Beat", which Vittorio Di Russo had suggested, was successful, as youths liked it and people learned it easily.
Vittorio Di Russo was so popular with young people that all gathered around him when he appeared in Piazza Duomo. He often took them to a section of the Radical Party, which was close. At the time, the Milanese radicals were so few that they could all be counted on the fingers of the two hands, but Pietro Stoppani and Roberto Pieraccini, who led their section, were brilliant intellectuals and had foreseen that Mondo Beat would go far and had made their facilities available to us.
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 esteemed by the other Milanese extra-parliamentary groups because of its resistance to police and its continued growth despite a continued decimation to which was subjected, and it was admired because it was frequented by many girls while other extra-parliamentary groups were not.
As for the night parties in those large houses, of which I have already told, Vittorio Di Russo and Umberto Tiboni did not attend often, while Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino were quite assiduous. There they have met some Milanese university students and many young people who had fled their homes. At these parties, small groups of boys and girls made love here and there, in the indifference of others. There was a tendency among the girls to attract the shy boys and initiate them into sex. I think that this type of phenomenon occurs in the changes of epoch, when the women feel more committed with the group rather than with only one partner.
Sometimes, before the night parties, we went to the home of Fernanda Pivano, a translator of American writers, who was highly celebrated by the media. Fernanda Pivano received young people with the declared purpose of publishing a book with their protest writings, but it was well understandable that the comings and goings had the aim of giving resonance to the editorial launch of writers of the Beat Generation, of whom Fernanda Pivano translated the works into Italian. I did not like Fernanda Pivano from the first time I met her, as 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 epic of the Beat Generation, an older generation than our, who had almost nothing to deal with the ongoing youth uprising in the Western world. I had expressed these negative considerations on Fernanda Pivano to Vittorio Di Russo, but Vittorio was convinced that participation in the Fernanda Pivano's literary salon was positive, while I thought the opposite. I felt uneasy in that salon, as if I was in a trap.

Meanwhile, the Mondo Beat Movement was expanding, although steadily decimated by police raids. In fact, dozens of young people, who had failed to comply with mandatory expulsion orders, had been arrested and sentenced to one month in prison. Those over the age of 18 were incarcerated in San Vittore prison, underage boys in Cesare Beccaria's juvenile prison and underage girls in Maria di Nazareth's.
While police raids were intense, Vittorio Di Russo began to show signs of confusion. Day time, he wandered aimlessly in the center of Milan. At night, he slept wherever it happened, instead of coming to my apartment, where he had a private room.
I had done my best to convince Vittorio to look for a fictitious work certificate, to avoid a mandatory expulsion order for "vagrancy". But every time I had tried to convince him, Vittorio had been mad at me. He wrongly believed that, as he was a known character, the police would not act against him.
For my part, I tried to protect myself and 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 that he would help me.

(Agenzia Franco Sapi)
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.

November 1. Vittorio's health worries me. It seems to me that, after two weeks of intense activity and extraordinary tension, during which he has shaped the Mondo Beat Movement, Vittorio is about to collapse. In Verona, where we went along with Fernanda Pivano, Vittorio has a serious paranoid crisis in the home of Mr. Donà, a young lawyer, a Fernanda Pivano's friend. There we didn't take any hallucinogens, we just drank a good wine. Vittorio's crisis worsens when I accompany him to the hospital and causes panic in the doctor who was supposed to sedate him. In the end, I had to calm down Vittorio and the doctor.

On November 2, Vittorio Di Russo has yet another crisis, this time in Milan, in Fernanda Pivano's literary salon. She had been asked to write the editorial for the first issue of Mondo Beat magazine. This idea had come from Vittorio and I had strongly opposed it, since I myself wanted to write the editorial. But in the end I had to give up, because it seemed that I wanted to write the editorial for exhibitionism and not because I didn't like Fernanda Pivano's approach towards Mondo Beat. And so, I had gone in person to Fernanda Pivano's literary salon and asked her to write the editorial. And Fernanda Pivano had promptly taken pen and paper and had written -"I do not know these young people from Mondo Beat, but, like when we were young ourselves and fascist leaders came to Turin...". The torture, to which I 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, I threw that historical article in a trash can in Corso Manzoni, while Vittorio Di Russo was arriving there. Vittorio recovered the piece of paper from the trash can and read it and became furious. Climbing the stairs and entering the salon, 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, reciting a threatening monologue aloud... For Melchiorre Gerbino, that was the perfect opportunity to leave that literary salon and forever.
Melchiorre Gerbino was right in feeling that salon as a trap. A few years after the time of Mondo Beat, Fernanda Pivano turned out to be a CIA agent. We will see the details of this later.

On the night of November 3, a carabinieri patrol found Vittorio Di Russo and four other Beats sleeping in a corner of the ground floor of the Piazza Duomo metro station and the five were taken to the police headquarters.

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

November 4 was the day of celebration of the Italian armed forces. On the morning of that day, groups of activists protested in the center of Milan against compulsory military service. To avoid being arrested by the police, activists dispersed from time to time among people watching 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 river had broken the banks and flooded Florence. Once confirmed, this tragic event would have offered the youths of Mondo Beat the double opportunity to rush to rescue a heritage of universal value and escape the military hunt to which they were subjected in Milan. Thus, the youths of Mondo Beat rushed en masse towards Florence, where they arrived as first rescuers. In Florence, they committed themselves with such generosity that they would have been baptized Mud Angels (Angeli del Fango). Seeing their photos, reproduced by the media in Italy and beyond the Alps, 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 (among them, Ted Kennedy).
That day, November 4, 1966, which had appeared to Umberto Tiboni and Melchiorre Gerbino under unfortunate auspices, would instead proved to be the day when Mondo Beat began writing a page of history. In fact, in Florence, the youths of Mondo Beat would have fraternized with others who had come from different nations. Many of these young foreigners, after their commitment to rescue Florence, would have come to Milan to participate in the Movement. This is why Mondo Beat was defined a movement of citizens of the world and Milan, in those days, the capital of Europe.

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

November 9. From today I will have no problems with the police. Thanks to Mr. Pisano, the American lawyer, friend of my father, I found work at Alitalia airline. This work, which would be a dream for many, is a martyrdom for me, but I console myself with the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said that the only conditions worthy of man are glory and martyrdom. So, in the late afternoon, back from Alitalia, I devote myself to prepare the first issue of Mondo Beat magazine. I work until late in the night. It is a heavy work, as I have to create the layout and I have to typewrite the articles on matrices for mimeograph.
Finally, the great event!
On the evening of Saturday, November 12, in the Sacco e Vanzetti section, we were ready to print. Giuseppe Pinelli has placed reams of paper on a table near a hand-cranked mimeograph, has poured ink on the mimeograph's roll and 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 exceptional, 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 and Melchiorre Gerbino were around Giuseppe Pinelli, to catch on the fly each sheet delivered by the mimeograph. There were seven thousand sheets to print, first on one side and then on the other, to get a thousand copies of the issue.
Vittorio Di Russo arrived late at night, accompanied by someone who would wait for him in a car. Vittorio remained with us the time of raising a glass of wine. We the others have finished working the next day at noon. Then, the printed material was taken to the apartment of Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino, who would have collated 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 of the issue only 860 were readable and only these we would have put into circulation.
On the evening of the same day, Melchiorre Gerbino met with Giuseppe Pinelli and gave him 100 copies of the issue, to be given partly to Vittorio Di Russo and in partly to the Sacco e Vanzetti section, which had kindly supplied mimeograph and paper to print. And from the same evening, copies of the Magazine were sold by youths who had their residence in Milan, on whom the police could not impose a mandatory expulsion order. The price of the copy was Lire 100, including 25 for the seller. Umberto Tiboni would have taken care for the accounts.


On the death of Giuseppe Pinelli

Giuseppe Pino Pinelli, the trustee of the Sacco e Vanzetti anarchist section in Milan

I want to tell now of the death of Giuseppe Pinelli, which occurred after the time of Mondo Beat, while I will make a chronological reconstruction of his participation in Mondo Beat as I reconstruct the history of the Movement.
The death of Giuseppe Pinelli, or rather the murder, occurred after the Contestation had spread across Italy and France.
In the night between 15 and 16 December 1969, Giuseppe Pinelli was killed with a blow of karate in the neck, in a room on the fourth floor of the Milan police headquarters. Later, his body was thrown out of a window, to simulate suicide.
Giuseppe Pinelli's murder occurred three days after a bomb had exploded inside the Banca dell'Agricoltura, Piazza Fontana, Milan, which killed 17 people and wounded 88. This was the first act of the so-called terror strategy (strategia del terrore), conceived by the Vatican and NATO to end the Contestation in Italy.
What we do know for certain about the death of Giuseppe Pinelli is that, during 3 days in the police headquarters, they had pressured him to obtain a false testimony, because they wanted to blame an innocent anarchist for the terrorist attack on the Banca dell'Agricoltura. The innocent anarchist was Pietro Valpreda, who had been selected as a scapegoat because he was a double of Antonio Sottosanti, known as Nino il Fascista (Nino the Fascist), the one who actually placed the bomb in the bank.
At the police headquarters, they wanted Giuseppe Pinelli to declare that on 12 December, that is to say the day of the explosion of the bomb, he had seen the anarchist Pietro Valpreda in Milan, who usually lived in Rome, so that Valpreda would be blamed for the attack and any suspicion regarding Sottosanti would have been removed. Obviously, at the police headquarters, they knew that Sottosanti was the culprit. As I said, the attack on the Banca dell'Agricoltura was the first act of a state strategy aimed to contain mass contestations, and this strategy would have continued with the explosion of bombs on trains, railway stations and squares crowded with people: the anarchists, or the fascists, would have been blamed for these attacks, when in reality the bombs were placed by the Italian secret services. In fact, a few years after the attack on the Banca dell'Agricoltura, magistrate Giancarlo Stiz, who had to shed light on what had happened, wrote that all tracks led to NATO.
Returning to Giuseppe Pinelli, he had been under pressure for 3 days and 3 nights at the police headquarters, but, as he personally knew Pietro Valpreda and Nino il Fascista, he understood what the imbroglio was and, at one point, he said aloud the name of the real culprit. At that, the police commissioner Luigi Calabresi, fearing that their plan would be thwarted by Pinelli, killed him with a blow of karate in the neck. The body was then thrown out of a window to simulate suicide.
In the room where the murder took place, there were Giuseppe Pinelli and five other people, including four police commissioners, Luigi Calabresi, Antonino Allegra, Antonio Pagnozzi, Marcello Guida, and a lieutenant of carabinieri, Sabino Lo Grano.
Lieutenant Sabino Lo Grano prepared a report on the murder of Giuseppe Pinelli and handed it over to a general his superior. In turn, based on the testimony of lieutenant Sabino Lo Grano, this general made a public statement on the murder of Pinelli and he did it because bad blood always flows between the carabinieri and the police. The statement made by this general, which is consistent with what I am declaring here about the death of Giuseppe Pinelli, cannot be erased from historical memory since it was published in the newspapers.
Furthermore, a few days after the explosion of the bomb in the Banca dell'Agricoltura, everyone in Milan knew that the culprit was Nino il Fascista. He was gay and a few days before the attack on the bank, he told a group of very young boys that he would do something that all the newspapers in the world would write about. Soon after, these young boys ended up in a rehabilitation institute and when the bomb exploded, having understood that the bomb had been placed by Nino il Fascista, they informed their tutors. Then the news spread. Publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli said: "Sottosanti places the bombs but they blame the anarchists" and this statement was published verbatim by the weekly L'Espresso. But after 50 years of trials, the judiciary having found no culprit, the relatives of those who died in the explosion in the Banca dell'Agricoltura were sentenced to legal costs. Italian jesters are famous, particularly those with wigs.

Nino il Fascista placed the bomb in the Banca dell'Agricoltura in Milan, which killed 17 people and wounded 88
Antonio Sottosanti, nicknamed Nino il Fascista.

History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 3