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Milan, October 16 - November 19, 1966

- The Movimento Mondo Beat becomes reality -
- Florence Flood. The youths of Mondo Beat flock to Florence to rescue a patrimony of art and culture, the press calls them 'mud angels' -
- Vittorio Di Russo jailed.



The young people, whom Vittorio Di Russo had catalyzed, have appreciated the name "Mondo Beat" given to the movement. Vittorio often led them to a section of the Radical Party, where they were welcome. At that time the Milanese radicals were very few, but Pietro Stoppani and Roberto Pieraccini, who ran their section, were intellectuals of value, who had foreseen that Mondo Beat would go far.
Also the anarchists "Sacco e Vanzetti", far more numerous than the radicals, had put their facilities available to Mondo Beat, but their section was too far from Piazza Duomo to reach on foot. Therefore, the two more active among them, Giuseppe Pino Pinelli and Gian Oberto Pinky Gallieri, came often to the city center to meet us. We had agreed, Mondo Beat, the radicals, the anarchists, to organize a public event together, as soon as there was a reason.
Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino were assiduous to attend night parties, where they met young fugitives from home and some Milanese students. In those parties, often small groups made love here and there, to the indifference of others. There were girls who attracted guys who were timid and, with a sort of missionary commitment, initiated them into sex. I think this kind of phenomena occur in epochal changes, when women feel more committed toward the group rather than to a single partner.
Sometimes, before night parties, we went to the home of Fernanda Pivano, a translator of American writers. She received young people, to publish a book with their writings, but it was understandable that the comings and goings were organized to give resonance to the editorial launch of the American writers of the Beat Generation, of which Fernanda Pivano translated the works. I did not like Fernanda Pivano since the first time I met her. She downplayed the importance of the youth revolt in Europe and defined the youth revolt in Italy a phenomenon of subculture. She completely ignored the Free Speech Movement and the Provo Movement, while she dramatized the epic of the Beat Generation, a generation older than ours, which had very little to do with the ongoing youth revolt in the Western world. I had expressed these considerations to Vittorio Di Russo, who was in agreement with me, but he was convinced that participation in the literary salon of Fernanda Pivano was positive, while I thought the opposite. In the end, I was right, since Fernanda Pivano proved to be an agent of the CIA, which had the task of confusing Italian provincials, to prevent them from contributing to a real revolution.

(Agency Franco Sapi)
 Vittorio Di Russo, Pierluigi Perronace and Cina
From right to left: Vittorio Di Russo, Pierluigi Perronace Principe (Prince) and Cina (China)


Meanwhile, the Movimento Mondo Beat had grown a lot, 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 more intense, Vittorio Di Russo began to show signs of confusion, wandering aimlessly in the center of Milan. At night, he began to sleep wherever it happened, instead of coming to the apartment of Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino, where he had a private room.
I had also tried, several times, to persuade Vittorio to look for a fictitious work certificate, to avoid being deported from Milan for "vagrancy", but every time he had become angry, so I had given up, but with a heavy heart, knowing that Vittorio was going to meet a tragedy.
Wanting 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 do it.

November 1, 1966. Vittorio's health worries me more and more. In Verona, in the house of Mr. Donà, a lawyer who sympathizes with Mondo Beat, where we went together with Fernanda Pivano, Vittorio has a serious crisis of paranoia. We didn't take any hallucinogens, but we only drunk some good wine. His crisis becomes even more acute when I accompany him to a hospital and creates panic in the doctor who should have calmed him down. In the end, I had to calm both of them.

On November 2, Vittorio Di Russo has another crisis, this time in Milan, at the home of Fernanda Pivano.
It had been decided to ask Fernanda Pivano to write the editorial of the first issue of the magazine Mondo Beat. This proposal was made by Vittorio and opposed by me, but in the end I had to give up, because it seemed that it was an article that I wanted to write myself at any cost. So, I went at the literary salon of Fernanda Pivano and asked her to write the article. Then she took a pen and paper and wrote the article right away "I do not know these young people of Mondo Beat, but, as when we were young and Fascist leaders have come to Turin...". The torture, to which I was subjected, would not last more than ten minutes, since Fernanda Pivano was overworked and could not concede more.
Once outside her apartment, I threw that historical article in a trash can in Corso Manzoni, while Vittorio Di Russo was arriving there. Vittorio picked up the piece of paper and read it, and he became furious. After climbing the stairs, running, he entered the room and headed for Fernanda Pivano, as a bull when is attacking, to the amazement of half a dozen bystanders. But then the imposing figure of Fernanda Pivano's husband, the architect Ettore Sottsass, rose from the shadow of an armchair, loudly reciting a threatening monologue.
For me it was a good opportunity for leaving that literary salon and forever.

(Agency Franco Sapi)
Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino were friends from the beginning of the 60s
Vittorio Di Russo and Melchiorre Gerbino in the first days of November 1966

On the night of November 3, a carabinieri patrol found Vittorio Di Russo while he slept on the floor of the Piazza Duomo subway station, along with three other beats, and the four were arrested.

(Il Giorno - November 4, 1966)
Vittorio Di Russo receives a mandatory expulsion order from the Police Headquarters
Vittorio Di Russo receives 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 November 4, in the pouring rain, small groups of activists protested against compulsory 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 were watching a military parade.
Umberto Tiboni and Melchiorre Gerbino lived dark hours, due to the situation of Vittorio Di Russo, of which they had read in the newspapers, and because of the decimation that the Movement was suffering, due to continuous police raids, when, at one point, there were rumors that the river Arno had burst its banks and flooded Florence. This tragic event offered a double opportunity to the young people of Mondo Beat, that is to say, to go to the rescue of a wealth of art and culture of universal heritage and escape the manhunt in Milan. So, the boys and girls 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. At the sight of their images, reproduced in newspapers in Italy and beyond the Alps, hundreds of other young people have rushed to Florence, from all Italy and several parts of Europe! That day, November 4, 1966, which appeared to us under bad auspices, would have proved to be the fateful day in which Mondo Beat would begin to write a page of History. In fact, in Florence, during the weeks in which they committed themselves, the young people of Mondo Beat have fraternized with young foreigners who had come there after following their example, those young foreigners were coming from many parts of Europe and among them there were also Australians and Americans who were visiting the Old Continent (among them, Ted Kennedy). Many of those young foreigners were later in Milan and participated in the history of the Movement. That is why Mondo Beat was called a Movement of World Citizens and Milan, in those days, the Capital of Europe. This is why, born of such an international movement like Mondo Beat, the Contestation, which is "nonviolent mass action for the affirmation of civil rights and for the protection of the environment in the nuclear age" would have proved to be a model active in the era of globalization. It would have spread through Italy for years, to the point that a feminist would have entered the Basilica of St. Peter holding the sign "The womb is mine and I manage it myself!" (L'utero è mio e me lo gestisco io!). It would have spread through France, where it would have forced the nuclear polluter General Charles de Gaulle to escape from the Élysée Palace. After that, the Contestation has manifested itself everywhere, even in the Islamic world with the "Arab Spring", since its motivations have become part of the common universal conscience.

The youths of Mondo Beat were the first responders to rescue a patrimony of art and culture in Florence   Youths of Mondo Beat and young foreigners were the first responders to rescue a patrimony of art and culture in Florence
Columns of youths in Florence, to help the city to revive - They descend in the darkness of the mud for love of books and Florence

6 November. Returning to the chronology of the history of Mondo Beat, on that day, Umberto Tiboni and Melchiorre Gerbino are informed that Vittorio Di Russo was hiding in Milan. Giuseppe Pinelli, the trustee of the anarchist section Sacco e Vanzetti, made us understand that Vittorio was hiding among the anarchists.

9 November. From now on, I will not have any problems if I get checked by the police. Thanks to Mr. Pisano, the American lawyer friend of my father, I found a job in the airline Alitalia. This work, which would be a dream for many, for me is a martyrdom, but I console myself with the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who has affirmed that the conditions worthy of man are glory and martyrdom.
In the late afternoon, back home from my work, I dedicate myself to prepare the first issue of the magazine Mondo Beat. I work until late at night. I have to make a selection of the articles to publish, I have to write some myself, I have to type all those articles on mimeograph's matrices. So the big event!

In the late afternoon of Saturday 12 November, in the anarchist section Sacco and Vanzetti, we are ready to print the first issue of Mondo Beat magazine.
Giuseppe Pinelli has brought reams of paper to a hand-cranked mimeograph, has poured ink on the roller, has applied the first matrix... "Let's start!" (Verbatim he said "Vado!").
Gunilla Unger and Carmen Russo, who had made up for the occasion, were smiling in the deafening noise. Umberto Tiboni, Gennaro De Miranda and Melchiorre Gerbino are standing around Pinelli. The sheets to be printed are seven thousand, first on one side and then on the other, to obtain one thousand copies of the issue. Every leaf that comes out of the roller must to be taken on the fly and positioned somewhere to dry.
Late night arrives Vittorio Di Russo, brought by someone who will wait for him in a car. Vittorio stays with us the time to have a glass of wine.
The others, we will finish the job the next day at noon.

Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino finish collating the copies of the magazine on the evening of November 14th. Only 860 copies are legible and only those will be distributed.
On the same evening, Melchiorre Gerbino meets Giuseppe Pinelli and hands him 100 copies of the issue, to be delivered partly to Vittorio Di Russo and partly to the anarchist section Sacco e Vanzetti, who kindly provided the mimeograph and the paper for printing.

From November 15, copies of the magazine are sold by young people who are resident in Milan, to which the police can not impose mandatory expulsion orders. Each copy costs £ 100, of which 25 go to the seller. Umberto Tiboni takes care of the accounts.

On November 19, Vittorio Di Russo has left his hiding place and sells copies of Mondo Beat in the basement of the Cordusio metro station, and then two plainclothes cops arrest him. Imprisoned for a week in the police headquarters, Vittorio is subjected to beatings and mental torture. After that, he is taken to court, sentenced to one month in prison and jailed in San Vittore.

(Il Giorno - November 27, 1966)
For Vittorio Di Russo this was the end of his active participation in the Movimento Mondo Beat
Vittorio Di Russo arrested, mistreated and imprisoned.


History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 3