Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Piero Bruno: Political Soul of Garbatella

"A Piero Bruno...Chi Sogna Non Muore"  (To Piero Bruno...those who dream, never die)

A stroll through Garbatella--a neighborhood south of central Rome, built as public housing in the 1920s and 1930s, and then as now strongly identified with the political left--will inevitably introduce
one to the name and face of Piero Bruno.  In a sense, Bruno represents Garbatella's radical, militant, in-your-face history and image. Knowing something of Bruno's past, you'll understand better what Garbatella is about, and better appreciate the political fissures--rooted in World War II and the postwar era--that continue to divide Romans and Italians.

Marchers from the Armellino Technical Institute
Piero was born on 8 December, 1957.  He lived with his parents and two sisters in Garbatella and attended the Armellino Technical Institute in the next suburb to the south, San Paolo.

The 1970s was an intense political era in Italy--not unlike the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States.  Piero was involved with the Lotta Continua ("the struggle continues"), a far-left organization founded in 1969 as a spin-off of the student/worker movement in Turin.  Lotta Continua encouraged radicalism and militancy and had a hand in setting up social centers in Italian cities.

Possibly a photo of the demonstration in which Bruno was shot.
On November 22, 1975, Piero participated in a large march/demonstration--some 2,000 people--in support of the Republic of Angola's struggle for independence from the colonial power, Portugal.  As the marchers passed the intersection of via Muratori and largo Mecenate--near the gate of the Zaire embassy--violence broke out (that's vague, yes).  Piero was shot twice--apparently in the shoulder and the back--one shot fired by a Carabinieri (state police) and the second, while Piero lay on the ground, by a Rome police officer.  He died the next day.  No charges were filed.  The website "Maverick" sees the larger issue as the "violence of power" and blames the Christian Democrats (the party that held power through most of the postwar era), including Giulio Andreotti and Aldo Moro, high-ranking Italian politicians, both prime minister at times, for employing a "strategy of tension."

Ahead, the school named after Bruno.  The artwork has changed
little over the years.

Piero is remembered in Garbatella not only through wall paintings and a plaque--and in marches in his honor--but also through La Scuola Popolare Piero Bruno, an after-school help and social center where university students assist middle-school students with their homework on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Marching to protest Piero Bruno's death.  Judging from the winter clothing, probably fall/winter (1975).
via Passino 20

An element of what may be a Piero Bruno
walking tour in Garbatella
To locate the Piero Bruno images in Garbatella, start from Piazza Pantero Pantera, follow via Luigi Fincati southeast, past the central market and onto via Francesco Passino.  The "Chi Sogna" wall, above, is further ahead in Piazza Damiano Sauli.

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