Rome Travel Guide

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Story of Zippo

Free Zippo, with schematic fasce below
Zippo Libero/Free Zippo.  If, like RST, you walk the streets of Rome's outlying neighborhoods, you'll now and then see the words Zippo Libero written on a wall.  And Zippo is not purely of local, neighborhood interest. 

Zippo (right)
The 23-year-old young man was the subject of a well-atttended march on via dei Fori Imperiali, obviously undertaken with city approval, the marchers uniformed in white T-shirts decorated with the Zippo Libero slogan.  And on December 5 of last year, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in protest outside the Regina Coeli prison, where Zippo was being held. 

Siamo quello che Facciamo (We are what we do).
A CasaPound sticker attached to a light pole near
Stadio Olimpico. Looks like the mascot is
a turtle. 
Zippo, whose real name is Alberto Palladino, is a right-wing militant and activist, with ties to rightist organizations, including the Blocco Studentesco (Student Bloc) and CasaPound, which takes its name from the American poet Ezra Pound who, living in Italy and enamoured with Mussolini's Fascism, made hundreds of radio broadcasts citicizing the United States during World War II. 

1930s public housing in Monte Sacro
The event that landed Zippo in jail took  place on the night of November 3, 2011, in via dei Prati Fiscali, a major thoroughfare in Monte Sacro, a hilly, middle- and working-class neighborhood north of the Center.  According to the Carabinieri, who happened by that evening, Palladino was one of 15 men who, with their faces covered and armed with wooden clubs and "mazze ferrate" (iron cudgels) set upon five members of the youth movement of the Democratic Party (PD) who had just moments before finished with some postering--a common activity among political youth groups.  Four persons, all affiliated with the PD, required hospital treatment. 

Marchionne Infame (Infamy)
Palladino was identified as one of the aggressors by Paolo Marchionne, head of the PD in the Monte Sacro area (how he made that identification is not clear), and Zippo was arrested in early December, on his return to Italy from Thailand, where he was doing volunteer work. 

Zippo Libero March.
Despite the marches and protests, Zippo was convicted of assault and battery and in early July, 2012, was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months of house arrest (domicilio coatto) in Ronciglione, a town between Rome and Viterbo were he had previously lived.  At the sentencing, Palladino's mother confronted Marchionne, the only one who had identified Zippo as among the aggressors. 

CasaPound, which occupied a small building near the scene of the November 3 confrontation, claimed the arrest was "purely political," a reponse to Palladino's social activism.  The source of the identification--a political operative on the left--would lend credence to that claim.  Even so, an armed assault took place, 4 young men were injured, and Zippo, given his strong political convictions, may have been among those wreaking havoc.

Zippo Libero?  Maybe, maybe not.

Two other posts on right-wing graffiti incude one centered in Piazza Vescovio and one generally deciphering Rome's walls.
A "Zippo Libero" sign makes an appearance among extreme
soccer fans (Ultras)

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