Home Page
English      Italiano      Español      Français


Milan, from March 22 to April 30, 1967.

- Mondo Beat lodges a complaint with the Court against the Police Headquarters, which suspends mandatory expulsion orders against the Beats and authorizes a Mondo Beat demonstration.
- Dante Palla finds a suitable place to create a tent city.



On March 24, the trial took place of Pierluigi Perronace Principe, a Beat who had participated in many events of the Movement. He had been arrested by the police as he had not complied with a mandatory expulsion order he had received from the Police Headquarters. Since he lived in a small town on the outskirts of Milan, namely Bollate, such an expulsion order would have prevented him from living a normal life, so he hadn't complied with it. Found by the police in Milan and arrested, he had been imprisoned for a week in the Police Headquarters and then he had been brought to court. Two young lawyers, provided by Onda Verde, defended him. They explained how it was impossible for Pierluigi Perronace to live a normal life without going to Milan. In turn, Melchiorre Gerbino testified that Pierluigi Perronace was a painter and he had to go to Milan to buy material for painting which he couldn't find in Bollate. Despite all this in his defense, Pierluigi Perronace was sentenced to one month in prison (but with probation) and the magistrate who tried him stated that the mandatory expulsion order he had received was still valid, therefore he was interdicted of being in Milan for a period of 3 years.
To penalize the Beats, Italian justice resorted to sentences which were worse than those the South African apartheid system imposed on Blacks. After this verdict, to get rid of the grotesque situation in which he found himself, Pierluigi Perronace left Italy for India.

 To penalize the Beats, Italian justice resorted to worse sentences than those which the South African apartheid system imposed on Blacks
Pierluigi Perronace sentenced to stay in the outskirts of Milan and not to go to the city center.

*

On March 28, 1967, the press gave deafening news of Beats who were arrested for trafficking and consumption of hashish.
This was the first move of a new strategy that the Establishment implemented against the Beats. Since it was unable to crack down on their movement with the police, the Establishment would have resorted to the press to describe the Beats as shady youths involving in hashish trafficking and consumption.
To carry out this campaign against the Beats, the Establishment resorted to Fernanda Pivano, the CIA agent. She had already trapped half a dozen young people in her literary salon and had initiated them into smoking hashish, in order to make them inactive. All these young people had been among the most active in the Movement and Gianni Scarpelli, the leader of the Palumbo Group, the most active of them, therefore he was hated by those who hated the Movement and was chosen to pay the highest price.
Gianni Scarpelli was arrested and sentenced to 8 months in prison, his case had deafening media coverage, being the first case in Italy of a person arrested and convicted of smoking hashish. In turn, Fernanda Pivano would also have had wide media coverage, since she would obtain a special permit for Gianni Scarpelli, that is, he would be allowed to paint in his cell. Gianni Scarpelli was not a painter, but the Police Headquarters and the Corriere della Sera insisted in describing him as a painter, so that Fernanda Pivano could make the headlines for having obtained special permission for him.
A few years after this affair, Gianni Scarpelli, who was a seller of secondhand items in local markets, died suddenly, but this is not surprising, since not a few characters of the Movement have died young.

In addition to be a CIA agent, Fernanda Pivano proved to be also a collaborator of the Milan Police Headquarters.
The devious Fernanda Pivano. The sad story of Gianni Scarpelli.

Since this hashish affair was invented to throw bad light on the Beats, Melchiorre Gerbino intervened in the newspapers to declare that Mondo Beat was stranger to all of this. And from that moment on, Melchiorre Gerbino would openly show aversion and contempt towards Fernanda Pivano, so that the youths of the Mondo Beat Movement would understand that she was a devious character.

Mondo Beat officially distanced itself from this hashish affair
Beats but not addicts.

Now, let's say something about Allen Ginsberg, since he came to Italy at the time of Mondo Beat, to actively collaborate with Fernanda Pivano, and in fact the two together founded the Pianeta Fresco magazine and promoted cultural events.

Allen Ginsberg and Fernanda Pivano campaigning in Italy.
Allen Ginsberg and Fernanda Pivano turned out to be the worst enemies of Mondo Beat and the Contestation.

Fernanda Pivano had the task of confusing the Italian provincials with a resounding media campaign on the Beat Generation, to divert them from participating in the Mondo Beat Movement, a movement which was contemporary of the Free Speech Movement and the Provo Movement and, like them, a movement who wanted to rise awareness on the need of asserting civil rights.
Now, the point is: could Allen Ginsberg be not aware of Fernanda Pivano's real activity, let's say, not understand that she was working for the CIA?
Or Allen Ginsberg too was colluded with the CIA?
This suspicion is reinforced by the difficulty of otherwise explaining how such a mediocre poet (yes, Allen Ginsberg was a mediocre poet) would have been celebrated to the point of paroxysm.
Nevertheless, as there may be different appreciations of Allen Ginsberg's poetics, the undeniable fact remains that he, together with Fernanda Pivano, with a deafening campaign on the Beat Generation, aimed at confusing the Italian provincials, diverted attention, of many of them, of the commitment to assert civil rights in their country and, by this process, to emancipate themselves.

*

Returning to the chronological reconstruction of the Mondo Beat Movement, on March 31, 1967, Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino left the apartment where they had lived for 18 months. Gunilla went to Sicily to visit their son Nino, who lived with the paternal grandparents. From that day Melchiorre Gerbino slept in the Cave.

To note that after the dissolution of the Mondo Beat Movement and the definitive departure of Melchiorre Gerbino from Milan, that stretch of Via Rucellai where Gunilla Unger and Melchiorre Gerbino had lived saw its name changed from "Via Bernardo Rucellai - Poet" to "Via Martin Luther - Theologian".
Melchiorre Gerbino must say that he didn't like this at all, as it seemed to him that this was done to suggest that there is a correlation between Protestantism and Contestation. But Mondo Beat, and Melchiorre Gerbino first of all, did not protest against the current world order, but contestated it, and obviously contestated the Vatican in first instance, which is at its foundations. But, with this, Melchiorre Gerbino did not express appreciation for the Reformation as, from his point of view, Martin Luther adapted the fraudulent Roman Christianism to an even more fraudulent one, to free the barbarian kings from the yoke of Rome so that they themselves could administer the fraud.
To be explicit on what Melchiorre Gerbino thinks of the Christian Churches in general, he will quote Bertrand Russell, of whom he fully shares this sentence: "I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its Churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world."

*

On April 3, assisted by the lawyers Alessandro Garlatti and Carlo Invernizzi and accompanied by 200 youths of the Base of Mondo Beat, Melchiorre Gerbino filed a complaint with the Court against the Police Headquarters. The two lawyers, Alessandro Garlatti and Carlo Invernizzi, were those who had come to the Cave the day after the Demonstration to Contestate the Establishment and offered their patronage. Thus, they had prepared documentation on the abuses which agents of the Milan Police Headquarters had committed against youths of the Mondo Beat Movement.
A copy of the documentation of the complaint was sent to the Minister of Justice and another to the Minister of the Interior.

(Il Giorno - April 4, 1967)
150 people went to Court to file a complaint
From left, lawyer Carlo Invernizzi, Melchiorre Gerbino and lawyer Alessandro Garlatti
descending the stairs of the Court, after filing a complaint against the Milan Police Headquarters.


In the photo, the first from the left is Giorgio Contini, then Giorgio Cavalli 'Ombra', Melchiorre Gerbino, Zafferano, Eros Alesi      In the photo, Cristo di Monza      In the photo, with hands up, Zafferano

From the left, an article in the Corriere della Sera; then two articles of the Corriere d'informazione, published on the same day, one of which published on the front page of that newspaper.



(photo AGI, Il Giorno - April 4, 1967)
After filing the complaint against the Milan Police Headquarters, they were returning to the Cave, which was located 200 meters from the Court
FromThey signed the articles with pseudonyms and not with their names, as they were under contract with publishing houses. left, Giorgio Cavalli Ombra, Melchiorre Gerbino, Zafferano (his face is half-covered) and the poet Eros Alesi.
After filing the complaint, they were heading to the Cave, which was located 200 meters from the Court.

Thus, the same youths who had been at the forefront of the Demonstration to Contestate the Establishment would have filed a complaint against the Police Headquarters in the Court. Indeed, the youths of the Base of Mondo Beat were the first activists to affirm civil rights in Italy. What they did in risky demonstrations, as well as in legal actions, was unprecedented and their example of promoting a more dignified society was understood and followed first by other young people from different social backgrounds, then by the mass of Italians.

*

On April 5, that is to say, two days after the complaint was submitted to the Court, the Lombardy youth secretary of the Republican Party arrived at the Cave and told that the Minister of Justice, who was a member of the Republican Party, received a copy of the complaint and was willing to receive Melchiorre Gerbino in Rome.
Melchiorre Gerbino thanked the secretary and assured him that he would go to Rome as soon as possible.
But, in reality, Gerbino didn't care to go to Rome to be photographed together with the minister (they took so many photos of him in Milan!). Instead, he would have tried to take this opportunity to find a compromise with the Milan Police Headquarters, so he put in place a bluff. He summoned all the youths who were in the Cave and solemnly declared that he would go to Rome to ask the Minister of Justice to sanction some senior officers of the Milan Police Headquarters. To this, police informants, who never failed in the Cave, ran to the Police Headquarters to tell this news and it was not long before Gaetano, the owner of the bar in front of the Cave, looked for Gerbino, because someone was on the phone, asking for him...
"Antonio Saccardo speaking. I am a commissioner of the Milan Police Headquarters. Signor Gerbino, I would be happy to speak with you. I ask not officially, but in an informal and friendly way."
"Signor Saccardo, it would be a pleasure for me to meet you."
"Can I come with a driver to pick you up?"
" Yes, sir, I will be here waiting for you."
Antonio Saccardo was a Neapolitan gentleman in his fifties, gray hair, strong build. He was a little lame and walking around the premises of the Police Headquarters, which Antonio Saccardo liked to show Melchiorre Gerbino, he leaned with one hand on a stick and with the other on Gerbino's arm. He praised Gerbino for his intelligent attitude in educating the young people of the Mondo Beat Movement to be respectful of the police officers and not to argue with them even when they were arrested.
As they were proceeding with the walk through the premises of the Police Headquarters, Antonio Saccardo told Melchiorre Gerbino about his life, when in Naples, as a young lawyer, he had manifested antifascist attitudes which had created a world of problems for him, so that, to get rid of them, he had to enlist as a volunteer in the police. But when the time of the Resistance arrived, he joined it. Thus, he was assigned to a clandestine radio which was located in the center of Milan, just a few meters away from where the German radio was located, and for this reason, and because it transmitted very short messages, the Germans never found it (indeed, this is well known story).
Speaking with Melchiorre Gerbino, Antonio Saccardo assumed a good-natured attitude, as from father to son, which would not have embarrassed Gerbino, as in some way it was sincere.
In the end, Antonio Saccardo and Melchiorre have easily reached an agreement, since the Police Headquarters would no longer impose mandatory expulsion orders on the youths of the Mondo Beat Movement and Melchiorre Gerbino would have avoided to meet the minister in Rome. To formalize the new course, Antonio Saccardo and Melchiorre Gerbino agreed on a public demonstration, organized by Mondo Beat and authorized by the Police Headquarters.


Mondo Beat Demonstration of April 8, 1967

Mondo Beat demonstration of April 8, 1967
A sign reads "Long hair is not unconstitutional" (I CAPELLI LUNGHI NON SONO ANTICOSTITUZIONALI).


Mondo Beat demonstration of April 8, 1967    Mondo Beat demonstration of April 8, 1967

Photo on the left, the demonstration proceeding along Via Mercanti. In the background, the Teatro alla Scala.
Photo on the right, the demonstration proceeding along Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.


Mondo Beat demonstration of April 8, 1967    Mondo Beat demonstration of April 8, 1967

Photo on the left, the first on the right is Eros Alesi, on his left Melchiorre Gerbino, then Zafferano holding a sign; the last one on the left is Cristo di Monza. The demonstration is about to reach Piazza Duomo.
Foto on the right, the poet Eros Alesi in a T-shirt. Eros Alesi, who was 16 at the time, looked almost like a child. And what a temper! He was in a T-shirt, while everyone else was wearing warm clothes. The demonstration proceeding through Piazza Fontana.


Mondo Beat demonstration of April 8, 1967
The demonstration when the police escorted Mondo Beat instead of attacking it.

This demonstration was a significant step for the assertion of civil rights in Italy, as ordinary people understood that the police was instituted to protect citizens rather than oppress them.
Due to the wide media coverage of the complaint against the Police Headquarters and of the following demonstration, the Swedish leather coat that Melchiorre Gerbino wore during that wet winter in Milan and with which he went to Court and attended the demonstration, became an emblem. After him, other activists would have worn similar coats on the occasion of official events for the assertion of civil rights in Italy.



After pacification with the Milan Police Headquarters, much changed in the Mondo Beat Movement.
A positive aspect was that many visitors came to the Cave. As on the ground floor there was a permanent exhibition of paintings by youths from the Movement, the paintings were easily sold and the Cave also became an art gallery.

In this photo, from left, Zafferano, Alfredo and Loredana
The ground floor of the Cave also became an art gallery.

But the pacification with the police has also created a critical situation. As the news spread that the city of Milan was safe for the Beats, many youths arrived from all over Italy and along with them youths from other countries and they were so many that the Cave could not contain them all. Many remained with their backpacks on the sidewalk, others in the bar in front of the Cave, while many onlookers crowded Via Vicenza near the Cave, where the traffic was often disrupted.
And to complicate the critical situation even more, Giorgio Contini's father arrived from Sardinia to take him back home, from where he had disappeared. As photos of Giorgio were published in newspapers and magazines, his father had discovered that he was in Milan at Mondo Beat. Giorgio Contini managed the cellar and the wardrobe and he was unique in sensitivity and dedication. But still, it was good that his father arrived, Giorgio needed medical attention, as he suffered from bronchitis, because he had been in the humidity of the cellar for too long.

Giorgio Contini leaves Mondo Beat
Giorgio Contini

Here a link to see Giorgio Contini and Gunilla Unger in the cellar of the Cave.

Furthermore, considering the situation in which Mondo Beat found itself after the pacification with the Police Headquarters, the risk was that, since it was safe and easy for everyone to come to Mondo Beat ,to be photographed or having a poem published, Mondo Beat could become a fashion. It was therefore urgent to find a way to continue to be a breaking movement and logic said that, since what truly destabilizes power is the loss of control over the sexual behavior of its subjects, Mondo Beat had to promote a sexual revolution. Thus, with the dual purpose of getting out of the confusion created by the too high number of people crowding into the Cave, and to trigger a sexual revolution, Umberto Tiboni and Melchiorre Gerbino decided to create a tent city on the outskirts of Milan, where anyone could pitch a tent for free or sleep on the grass. To find a lawn to rent, they gave task to Dante Palla, who knew every dog who barked on the outskirts of Milan.
And on April 20, Dante Palla announced the good news. He had found a suitable place to set up a campsite. To get there, you had to take tram 24 to the Vigentino terminal, then walk 10 minutes. It was easy to do, as tram 24 had a stop on a corner of Piazza Duomo.
In fact, the place was ideal, large enough to accommodate many tents. On one side, the field was delimited by the wall of a factory; on the opposite side, it was delimited by the Vettabbia brook; in the direction of the road, it was bounded by a row of bushes, behind which was the large square of a petrol station; in the opposite direction, there were fields until the Alps, which stood out on the horizon. The price agreed by Dante Palla was Lire 140,000 for 4 months rent. Umberto Tiboni and Melchiorre Gerbino decided to take it immediately.
On April 23, four of Mondo Beat went to the home of an old farmer with whom they had made an appointment. Gerbino put Lire 140,000 cash on the table and explained they were boy scouts who wanted to camp as soon as possible. The farmer replied they could enter the field any time we wanted. A contract was therefore signed, valid from May 1 to August 31, 1967.
In this field, the tent city of Mondo Beat would have arisen, which the Corriere della Sera would have baptized New Barbonia. Other reactionary newspapers would have called it Barbonia City, the two names having the same meaning of "city of the new tramps". But this wouldn't have bothered us, these nicknames were fun and we have liked them.
Barbonia City would have lasted 42 days, before the Vatican was able to have it destroyed by the Italian government, but the consequences of what happened in those 42 days are not yet calculable.


History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 11