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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Il Generale: A personal story of an Italian general abandoned by his government in World War II

Gen. Francesco Giangreco. Bologna. 1942
Chiara Midolo and Salvatore Giangreco, the General's
granddaughter and son, at his grave site on the Carso,
where he chose to be buried.  More photos of the Carso
and World War I are at the end of this post.
We are able to bring this story to light thanks to our good friends Chiara Midolo, the General's granddaughter, and her husband, Massimo Vizzaccaro, who assisted Salvatore Giangreco, the General's son, with the editing and publication of this remarkable memoir.

“Gen. Francesco Giangreco:  The Human Costs of an Armistice without Directive” is a fascinating and troubling first-hand account of one Italian caught in the turmoil of World War II.  
Today, the town square in Avola, the General's hometown, and to which he
 returned after the war.  The red wine, Nero d'Avola, comes from here. 
As Chiara quotes her grandfather, "we just called it vino."
It's hard for non-Italians to comprehend just how far Avola is from the Carso.
Born in 1891 in the small town of Avola in southeast Sicily, Giangreco was a career military man. He saw action in the brutal northeast Italian World War I campaign, fighting against the well-positioned troops of Austria-Hungary at the Isonzo River and at Gorizia, both places of horrific conflict that we’ve visited.  He’s buried at San Michele del Carso, at the top of the Carso--a forbidding landscape of limestone rock and sinkholes-- where some of the worst of the fighting occurred.  When asked by his grandchildren why he stayed in the military when Mussolini—whom he said he hated--came to power, he replied, “I’m a general. That was my job.”  
Giangreco was commanding a unit in the now-Croatian city of Knin on September 8, 1943, the day Italy signed an armistice with the Allies. Loyal soldier that he was—and, unlike many Italian soldiers, who simply went home—he stayed at his post.  Instead of the Allies arriving, the Germans were fast approaching.  He repeatedly asked his superiors what he was supposed to do, but he was given no clear instructions and issued no orders; he was simply left hanging.  When the Germans arrived, they tried to coerce him into joining his forces with theirs against Tito, in essence violating the terms of the armistice.  When he refused, they arrested him—a man who had been fighting on their side for years— “for having taken actions against the interests of the Reich.”
Gen. Giangreco in Turin at a war college 1923-24.
He also taught in war colleges around Italy.

Giangreco was sent to several local prisons and eventually to Nazilabor camps.” He spent a year at Schokken in Poland.  Asked repeatedly to join La Repubblica di Salò (The Salò Republic, the puppet government the Germans set up for Mussolini in northern Italy) and having refused, he was sent to the Flossenbürg labor camp in Bavaria, where he was interned for 6-1/2 months before the war ended.  He would remain a prisoner for another month and a half after the close of the war.  By 1947 he was in essence decommissioned.  As his son, Salvatore Giangreco, says in the book’s introduction, “’Democratic’ Italy after the war, obviously, no longer needed men like General Francesco Giangreco.”  After all this, his loyalty to Italy would be questioned.  In a challenge that might have implied he lied and abandoned his post, he was called on by the Commission for Examination of the Comportment of Generals and Colonels to prove he had been a prisoner of war.    

We know the details of Giangreco’s service and imprisonment through a diary he kept from April 15, 1945, when the details of his dehumanizing existence and bare survival were fresh in his mind and while he remained a prisoner, to June 15, 1945, when he arrived in Rome; from letters he
wrote from his home town of Avola in Sicily in January 1946, justifying his actions; and from his missives to the Commission. These documents, “Il Manoscritto” (The Manuscript or Diary) and “Il Memoriale” (The Testimonial), together with the letters to the Commission, photos of the original diary pages and historical photos of Giangreco, form the book, published in 2016 by
ABEditore (available at this time only in Italian).
At the book launch for "Gen. Francesco Giangreco" at Rome's Museo della
Memoria e della Storia.  Salvatore Giangreco at far left.

That a decorated general, who spent 2 years in Nazi camps would have to justify his actions, reveals much about the immediate post-war period in Italy.  If you weren't a partisan (and as some say, there were more ‘partisans’ after the war than the population of Italy), you were a Fascist and
to be denied all succor from your fellow Italians and the government.

If you were a grandchild of “the General,” growing up in post-War Italy when the Left was on the rise and all who participated in Fascism were painted with the same black brush, his past was embarrassing.  You wanted your grandfather to have been a partisan.  Only in reading these accounts can one have a sense of the bravery, loyalty (though one might consider it misguided), and dignity of Giangreco. There is more recent historical work focusing on “passive” resistance: military men such as Giangreco and thousands of others; of civilians who gave shelter to Jews, soldiers, and persecuted people; of civilians who knew and did not report to Nazi-fascist police.

As his son Salvatore writes in dedicating the volume to the General’s grandchildren, the book will help them “understand the price their grandfather Francesco paid for remaining faithful to his oath of loyalty to a king who didn’t deserve it.”  King Vittorio Emanuele III supported Mussolini—until he didn’t.

Giangreco’s account offers a window on the dehumanization that was characteristic of the German camps.  It is all the more searing because Giangreco began his ordeal with a strong sense of his own self-worth as a general in the Italian army.  
Survivors of Schokken gathering at the Altare della Patria in
 Rome May 22-23, 1960, almost 40 years later.
Gen. Giangreco is in the far right corner.

“…[W]e were suffering from hunger, filth, and above all the indiscriminate mixing of people of every race and kind.  There were Poles, Frenchmen, Hungarians, Russians, Belgians, Czechs, Jews, Yugoslavs, gypsies, ex-military, workers, whatever profession, criminals…. General Grimaldi [his colleague] and I (modesty is here out of place) were of a more elevated social condition and, without a doubt, the oldest.”

Giangreco describes the gradual stripping away of, first, his luggage, and then his meager remaining belongings, then his clothes, and then his title, and then even his name.  He became a number - 35305.  We have seen this sequence in many of the survivor records of the Nazi camps.  Giangreco’s stands out as a particularly devastating story, in part because he is a talented writer and in part because he writes this so soon after his experience, in great detail.

On September 9, 1943 (the day after Mussolini was dismissed), he writes "we were led to believe, because of our commitment to the alliance to the end, that almost certainly we would be sent back to Italy, where we thought the Badoglio government would have been returned to power (we were in the dark about everything that had happened, knowing Mussolini had been imprisoned and thinking that the royal government would have taken control of its own house)." [In fact, Mussolini was imprisoned but then was 'liberated' by the Germans, who set him up in his puppet government of the Republic of Salo'.] "At Wietzendorf [between Munich and the Netherlands], the scene changed completely. Before entering a prison camp we were stripped-searched and our weapons and items in our luggage were taken away."

The first camp, where he spent almost one year, is what he called "Schokken," likely "Oflag XXI-C," also known as "Lager 64/Z," a German prison camp for officers near what is now called Skoki, in central Poland, north of Poznan. Wikipedia's entry refers only to Norwegian officers in this camp.

Transferred to another camp and in preparation for the required shower, he writes: "A young Pole called me over and ordered me to put all my things in a large paper bag, leaving me with just two strips of cloth on which was written the number 35305, my camp registration number, telling me that I could keep only that which could be considered toilet articles. I set aside only what was considered "necessary" for shaving and personal hygiene, toilet paper, etc. Excluded from these necessities were personal linens, even hand towels. Then I had to put all the rest in the bag, including my personal documents, receipts, correspondence, visas, family photographs. They left me with 3 small tins of food and 4 biscuits....After several hours, two SS men entered to finish the operation. A table had been prepared for them, close to which was a huge empty bin. We were ordered to pick up the things we had left in the locker room [before the shower]. I understood that I had to take out of my bundle all the food except for one little tin of salmon and some other objects. I was ordered to open my bundle. The military men watched and, for each article, gave a signal. The Pole took the objects one by one, examined them and then, shouting, threw almost everything in the bin. It seemed to me that he threw the best things there. He saw my roll of toilet paper and furiously held it under my eyes, yelling phrases incomprehensible to me, blue with anger and almost horrified: 'In Konzentrationslager...!In Konzentrationslager!' As if to say that it was unheard of to take something of such 'luxury' into a concentration camp....In the final analysis I was left with only a safety razor, the tin of salmon and some Gillette blades. I was totally and legally fleeced. I returned to the ranks, holding in my hands the two strips of cloth with the no. 35305, that by now was my only document."

On arriving at Flossenbürg, he and Grimaldi were put in Block 23, which was one of two considered “euphemistically ‘infirmary’ or, more openly, the ‘antechamber to the crematorium.’” Everyone was near death there.  As Giangreco describes the block, “Most of its inhabitants looked like zombies; there were about 50 who couldn’t get to their feet and seemed about to die any moment....As soon as one of them died, he was immediately stripped of the few pieces of clothing on him, his number was written in red pen on his chest or back (according to the position in which he was found) and he was taken away.” [Giangreco’s term “larve” is more directly translated “larvae” or “worms,” but it is also colloquially translated “zombies,” which seems more apt here.]

He describes those assigned to work in the rock quarry.  “There were intellectuals: students, professors, doctors, lawyers, etc., those who—not accustomed to hard labor—died at their posts.”Partly from luck, partly from being able to speak languages to those internees who had a modicum of power (the “Blockmann”), the two generals managed to obtain work in the clothing facility, where clothes were sorted and somewhat cleaned and redistributed—a relatively easy job.  And they moved, block by block, up to Block 2, away from the constant reminders of death.  Each block housed about 500 internees, with the three last blocks of death housing 1,000 each.

The "blocks" of Flossenbürg,

Giangreco describes going from the hell of Schokken to Flossenbürg, but on seeing what was happening in Flossenbürg, he recasts Shokken as “an Eden.”  He describes “the most pitiful procession that the mind can imagine, that the human eye has even seen.  One, two, three at a time, came forward these beings that could not have been human: zombies that got to their feet, covered with rags, with their eyes fixed on nothing, emaciated beyond belief, faces forward, eyes black and deep, covered with festering wounds.  These unfortunates tried to support each other; all with mouths
half-closed, thin lips from which their teeth protruded, and from which often issued laments.  One in particular I remember, who had a wound on his head from the front to the back, large, deep, pustulent. The puss, mixed with blood, streamed from his forehead; it had filled his eye and ran along his nose to his mouth.  This unhappy man didn’t have the strength to wipe it off, he couldn’t raise his arm, and rid his lips of that pus with his tongue….I thought I was in a nightmare; I couldn’t bring myself to understand that this haunted scene – a haunting not of the devil, but of martyred human beings--was reality….I pinched myself to wake myself from that horrendous dream.  Unfortunately, I was awake.”

For those who read Italian, “Gen. Francesco Giangreco” is a deeply moving account of a camp survivor, as well as the story of a participant in, and a victim of, Mussolini’s war.

Remains of trenches in the Carso, which today is ironically
verdant.  It was white rock, without any green cover,
when the brutal battles of World War I occurred.


The trenches in World War I, from  the Museum
of the Great War in Gorizia, Italy, on the border
with Slovenia.

"Peak #4 - On this peak as in all the other 3 peaks
(1, 2 and 3), unfolded the gruesome and bloody
fights in the battles of Monte San Michele,
contested between the Italians and Austro-Hungarians
in the first year of the 1915-1918 war,
battles the Italian troops won in 1916.
Salvatore at the monument to the "Brescia
Brigade," in which the General served in World
War I, at the cemetery at San Michele dal Carso.

Brescia Brigade officers 1917. Giangreco is seated in the front row, third from the right.

1939. Tripoli, where he was the Colonel
in charge of the 20th Infantry Regiment.
Giangreco's post here documents
Italy's imperial ambitions in North Africa.

This was the General's home on the town square in Avola.
On the town square in Avola, a  plaque to the "unknown soldiers"
who died on the Carso.  A little hard to translate literally,
 but loosely and in essence: "Their sacrifice on the Calvary of the
 Carso shines on later generations, helping to form a new Italian
consciousness from the virtue of  these soldiers' military sacrifice."
Massimo and his uncle-in-law, Salvatore, at Gen.
Giangreco's grave site on San Michele dal Carso.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Playful Romans: Their Decorated Vehicles

We can't be sure that decorated vehicles are more common in Rome and environs than elsewhere, but it does seem so.  Perhaps the tradition began with the Italian Futurists, whose fondness for speed and movement made the painting of fast-moving vehicles, from bicycles to airplanes, a natural.

 Futurism was serious and ideological.  In contemporary Rome, it's playfulness that rules.

 Scooter owners like to sticker their rides. 

This fan of the A.S. Roma soccer team likes stickers that attack Juve (Juventus, a Turin top league team), Rome's nemesis:  Juve Merda (Juve is shit), and Juventino Bastardo (adding the "ino" - means "Little Juventus")

 Near the Vatican, we found a car, apparently abandoned, "decorated" with the owner's philosophical message.

 If you read Italian and have the patience, you can figure out what that message is.  It seems Luigi has a website. 

 Decorated commercial vehicles are common.  Below, the first promises home grocery delivery.  The second is a panel truck from Ariccia, a town in the Alban Hills that's famous for its pork. 

And this one, which bills itself as a Europa Club Fiat 500, advertises a slots parlor while welcoming Mr. Grava.  OK.   

Rome, the streets of Trastevere, a bicycle-driven cart, fully decked out.  And abandoned. 

Finally, back to the (contemporary) art world.  Here, street artist Alice decorates a mini-trailer in the parking lot of the L'ex-Lanificio, an avant-garde art space on via di Pietralata. 


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Paris (1937) to Rome (1942): World's Fairs on the Eve of War

With thanks to Robert H. Kargon, Karen Fiss, Morris Low and Arthur P. Molella, authors of World’s Fairs on the Eve of War: Science,Technology and Modernity, 1937-1942 (2015, 205 pp., including 46 pages of notes, and index, $34.95 hardback [$21.00 amazon]), and thanks to the publisher, University of Pittsburgh Press, for providing a review copy.  A good read, highly interpretive, fascinating. 

Followers of this website will be familiar with E42, the world’s fair-like exposition south of Rome, planned by Mussolini and a bevy of Fascist-oriented architects.  E (esposizione, exposition) 42 (1942, the planned opening date) never opened and was only partially built when the war changed everything.  It was not finished until the mid-1950s.

What is less well-known is that E42 was only one of 5 major world’s fairs—planned and/or opened in France (1937), Nazi Germany (1937), the U.S. (1939, New York City), Japan (1940, planning only), and Italy--in the 6 years spanning 1937 and 1942.  The authors of this slim and smart book—Robert H. Kargon, Karen Fiss, Morris Low, and Arthur P. Molella--take up all of them, one at a time in chronological order, including an extended and worthy treatment of the Rome expo.  They examine how each of these nations (and others, such as Russia, that mounted exhibits at some of the fairs), came to terms with science and technology—that is, “modernity”—but also how each nation, and each political regime, used the fairs to negotiate the relationship between modernity, the world-wide Great Depression, their own national cultures, and their needs as nation-states in a world rapidly approaching—and then fighting—World War II.  In some sense, the fairs were about defining the future, and the future looked very different from these distinct national perspectives.  All the fairs can be understood as national propaganda.  

At the 1937 Paris fair, for example, the French positioned themselves against what the country perceived as the American version of modernity: consumption of things and Fordist mass production.  Instead, the French fair emphasized “human creativity,” “artistic invention” “good taste,” intellect, and bringing social classes together.  Lots of art (Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Fernand Léger), French cinema.  As the authors suggest, “France imagined itself as a rational middle way between contending ideologies, the “new and powerful forces threatening the stability of Europe.”  
Sonia Delaunay, Propeller (Air Pavilion), Paris, 1937
German pavilion, Paris
In contrast, the Soviet and German pavilions, situated across from each other, were huge, imposing, and confrontational, all about strength and power.  Italy’s pavilion, designed by Marcello Piacentini, was more modest, though it did feature an enormous equestrian statue honoring Mussolini, who was fond of posturing on horseback. 

Russian pavilion, Paris

Schaffendes Volk, Dusseldorf
The 1937 German fair, the Schaffendes Volk in Dusseldorf, while less than a full-blown world’s fair (as in Rome, there were no foreign pavilions), expressed the German perspective.  This fair was about getting the Germans to understand and participate fully in the ongoing militarization of Germany, while recognizing that some consumer purchases would have to be deferred; autarchy (the 1930s word for economic self-sufficiency); and the machine age.  The Nazis were suspicious and intolerant of modernism in the fine arts, and so the fair didn’t do much, if anything, in those areas.  To emphasize the goal of self-sufficiency, the fair incorporated a display by IG Farben, maker of synthetic rubber (and, as it turned out, Zyklon B gas, used to kill millions of Jews), as well as other exhibits about synthetic fabrics.   Lebensraum (living space) was the theme of another pavilion, which also emphasized the German “race.”  The fair presented women as housewives and purchasers. 

Poster for the planned 1940 Japan fair
In contrast to the 1939 New York World’s Fair, which accepted modernity whole-heartedly and looked relentlessly into a technological and scientific future, the 1940 Grand International Exposition of Japan, planned but never opened (that darned war!) was packed with tension between modernization and tradition.  The Japanese didn’t reject technology and science (they would need both to fight the Chinese and the Allies), but they were into the cult of the emperor and didn’t like the idea of seeing their country overwhelmed by western ideas, values, and modes of production.  Those planning the fair also had to find a way to merge international modernism in architecture with Japanese design traditions (like the Shintō shrine).  “Many Japanese,” write the authors, “believed that Japan combined the best of East and West.”  

One result was the “Imperial Crown style” of architecture, a herald of postmodernism: take a rationalist, concrete, steel-frame, modernist building and put a traditional, pitched roof on top.  The winning entry for one of the Japanese halls combined the Shintō shrine with designs for Michelangelo’s Capitoline Hill complex and Bernini’s St. Peter’s Piazza.  Like the Italians and Germans, the Japanese were into “autarchy” (self-sufficiency) as well as race and nationalism, “blood and culture.”

Hey, we’ve made it to Italy, and E42!  Here at RST we’ve written extensively about the planned expo and the arch intended to be its centerpiece (Modern Rome has an EUR itinerary, Rome the Second Time devotes a special section to the arch, and there’s E42 material on the blog, too; links to some posts are at the end of this post).  So here we’ll deal mainly with what the authors of World’s Fairs on the Eve of War contribute to our understanding of E42. 

Ludovico Quaroni poster, with
a version of the E42 arch
Kargon et. al appropriately emphasize the way in which the exposition, designed to be permanent, looked to both a Fascist future, in which Italy was imagined as a world power, and the glorious ancient Roman past.  The never-built symbol of this synthesis of past and future was the Arco dell’Impero, the enormous arch that was to sit astride the far-flung complex, evoking not just technology and science but the imperial conquests of imperial Rome, past and present.  Mussolini wanted to be compared (favorably, of course) to the Emperor Augustus (just as Hirohito saw himself as the heir to Emperor Jimmu), and so he had an Augustan exhibit that had been at the Palazzo delle Esposizione moved to a new building in E42.

E42 planners also wanted to emphasize “Italian scientific genius.”  The arch would have done that, had Italians been able to figure out how to build an arch 600 meters high.  But they couldn’t—at least in the time frame they were afforded. 

Another way to showcase Italian prowess in this area was E42’s Museum of the Sciences, “heavily planned” but, like the arch, never built. 

Italy was not without a scientific heritage, and the new museum would have trumpeted the accomplishments of Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, and Marconi.  Planners hoped to present Galileo as the founder of scientific method, and Marconi’s contributions to radio were widely acknowledged and praised.  However, as the authors of this book argue, there was not much more to celebrate.  “Too bad,” they write, Italy’s “great atomic physicist Enrico Fermi had fled with his wife, Laura, to America.”  Too bad, too, that the 1938 anti-Semitic laws had forced many other notable scientists to leave the country.  (Mussolini once referred to Einstein’s theories as “a Jewish fraud lacking in originality.”)  Some thought the planners might have done better emphasizing technology rather than science (think of the Roman invention of cement).  Perhaps the basic idea was flawed.  “The Italian performance in science and technology over the last century,” the authors conclude, “was distinctly subpar by world standards.” 

Square Coliseum
Where Italians did excel was in art, architecture, and design, and today EUR (Esposizione Universale di Roma) stands as a monument to that heritage, albeit a flawed and ambivalent one.  The authors present E42 as the product of a debate and competition between Italian rationalist modernism, on the one hand, and “monumental Fascist classicism,” represented by Piacentini, on the other.  The former found its way into the fair’s most iconic structure, the Square Coliseum, and some other buildings, and the arch would have fallen in this category, too.  Indeed, the authors of World’s Fairs foreground the contributions to E42 of Italian futurism and they echo architectural critic Vincent Scully’s remark, that “EUR has a de Chirico-like perspective.” 

Museum of Roman Civilization (now closed for lack of funds)
To be sure, there are places in EUR where the absence of people might lead one to think of Giorgio de Chirico.  But by and large the complex lacks the painter’s sense of the mysterious, and its linearity and stasis seems to have no relationship with futurism’s curves and movement.  No, Piancentini (as the authors acknowledge) “won” the competition with rationalist modernism.  The result is a heavy, overbearing architecture that represents Fascism’s glorification of strength and power, its turn to colonization and, not far down the road, war. 


Some additional RST posts featuring EUR:
Il Fungo - Rome's Mid-century architecture.
The art of Caffe' Palombini in EUR.
EUR's manhole covers.
Folk-art and Fascist architecture in EUR.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

"Spolia" in Rome: Reading the Middle Ages' Use of Roman Materials

What is one to make of this column?  And which way is up?  What looks like a capital - at right - is in fact the base - below.  The photo at right is the photo below turned upside down.  Christians making Santa Maria in Cosmedin used a Roman capital to shore up a column that was too short compared to the others.  You can also see the different marble blocks used to support a row of columns below.  

Even those on a first-time trip to Rome soon learn that successive generations used the materials of ancient Rome for their building blocks and decorations.  Maria Fabricius Hansen, in her recent book, "The Spolia Churches of Rome" brings new insight to this well-known fact of the "spoils" of Rome, and makes going back to a church you've visited many times seem like a first-time trip.
Hansen focuses her exploration of spolia on religious buildings and brings a wealth of historical knowledge to bear.  You can enjoy yourself without her book, finding spolia everywhere, but you'll learn a lot more with it.  We ducked into San Giorgio in Velabro one afternoon while passing by and couldn't resist a photo of it:

We had learned from Hansen's book that the Christian builders usually put similar columns in pairs, across from each other.  But in this church they didn't.  She takes her educated guess at the dates of the various capitals:  on the left here, Corinthian capitals from the first to fifth or sixth centuries, but she guesses the capital on the right (the one almost out of the picture, an Ionic one) is from the first century. The next two on the right, fluted columns with matching Corinthian capitals, she dates as first century, but the next two (grey) are of the Early Christian period.  She theorizes that the differences between the right and left "may have been intended to reflect the liturgical tradition of separating the sexes in the church, with the 'good' side on the right designed for the male members of the congregation."  "Monotony was associated with the 'sinister' left side."

Once you start looking for spolia, you can hardly stop.  Here are just a few examples we've photographed:

A shop in Tivoli.
Exterior of the supposed home of Cola di Rienzo on via L. Petroselli,
across the street and not far from Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
Christian writing added to a column in the Basilica of San Nicola in Carcere,
via del Teatro di Marcello, 46

The two photos at left and below are from the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Laterano, a gorgeous, much-remodeled structure (including by Borromini).  Hansen points out the red porphyry columns--of various thicknesses and heights--are topped with an entablature that has the ancient Roman decoration turned backwards, or inward, with verses engraved by order of Pope Sixtus III on the previously undecorated, outward facing side.

The full title of Hansen's book is "The Spolia Churches of Rome: Recycling Antiquity in the Middle Ages."  It costs more than your average guidebook, but is worth it.

Yes, that's me holding her book in the baptistery.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Best Posters, 2017

I was encouraged to begin the 2017 version of "the year's best posters" by a remark made by Larry David, the creator of the popular television comedy series, "Curb Your Enthusiasm."  Asked about the show going into still another season--its 10th--David responded: "When one has the opportunity to annoy someone, one should do so."

So I'll get to it--annoying someone, that is.  Here's the first poster of this year's bunch.  It's included not for any aesthetic reason, but because it was the most widely disseminated poster of the year.  Ubiquitous and unavoidable.  Note the use of English. Intimissimi is one of the largest Italian lingerie chains.

I hope I haven't lost all my female audience, because the annoying part is pretty much over.  Actually, I'm a moderately sensitive guy on gender issues (yes, it was required).  To prove it, here's a poster from Ostiense (probably November 2016):
Call for meeting at Forte Prenestino, an avant-garde leftist space.  Solidarity.
The second line is famous:  "If I can't dance it's not my revolution."
The following poster, too, uses the words/slogan/manifesto "Non una di meno" (literally "not one less," though perhaps better translated "no one (female) left behind").  It calls for a struggle (lotto) and a global strike by women ("if our lives are not valued, we strike"). 

I also have a sense of humor. I found this one in the Re di Roma area, walking around while Dianne was getting her hair done.

The next one's a mystery.  Found in Trastevere, it seems to advertise an art fair--or more likely takes issue with the "art market."  It presents artists as mere money grubbers with silly ideas (the cover of the book seems to identify the work of street artists with sandwiches: "nuove figurini panini"). Wish I could blow it up just a bit more. 

In any given year, most of the posters are political, and 2017 was no exception.  I was intrigued by this poster, featuring Martin Luther King, Jr., on a corner in the ethnically mixed neighborhood of Torpignattara. 

The same community yielded the rather dramatic poster below.  It identifies a number of issues--unemployment, "cementification" (paving over paradise), and the distribution of wealth--that make the quartieri invivibili "unlivable."  The line in black reads:  "He who does not revolt remains a slave (male or female)."

Whether leftist or rightist or beyond politics, some made the list because they're colorful or pretty.
Of the three posters immediately below, the first two are products of the radical right.  The third advertises the annual flower festival in Genzano di Roma, in the Colli Albani (a wonderful event). For an explanation of the torch poster, we recommend Paul Baxa's history of Acca Laurenzia. 

There's still some interest in Communism.  Don't miss the new biography of Lenin!  Not such a nice guy, we hear. 
"Power to those who work and those who are unemployed.  All power to the proletariat."
The next one's another mystery.  I looked up "Etere" on the internet but was unable to make much progress.  I originally translated it "to be or not to be," but it's not clear that Etere (one meaning is "ether") means "to be," even in Latin.  Help me out here.
At the intersection of Via Po and Viale Regina Margherita
Opposition to the European Union, here depicted as the chains of servitude, has been a  major poster theme for years. 

For some previous editions, see: