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Monday, October 7, 2019

The "F" Word in Rome: A Brief Survey

I first became interesting in tracking the use of the "F" word in Rome last spring. We were living in Pigneto, a hip and cool neighborhood with lots of recent immigrants. Not long after we settled in, we saw this sticker on the door of a business--a regular, establishment business, not some fly-by-night operation.  And right above the sign "tirare," instructing customers to pull the door.  No one could miss it.

I was shocked.  I reasoned that the sticker wouldn't be there if "Fuck White Supremacy" wasn't an entirely acceptable, even mainstream expression--presented here by a 1950s-style woman--at least for Pigneto.

One doesn't have to think quite so hard about the use of the word "fuck" in relationship to sports competitions and sports teams.  Although commonly the team you don't like is referred to with the word "merda" (shit), as in Lazio Merda or Rome Merda (expressions ubiquitous in Rome), I did find one use of "fuck."  It's from 2015, and it was posted by the Ultras (extreme) fans of the Roma team, on via Guido Reni in the Flaminio quartiere:

Interesting, the Italian equivalent of "fuck" (fanculo), a version of "fanculo te" or "fuck you," is seldom seen on Rome walls. Indeed, in two months of walking the city, I saw it only once, in Quadraro, a leftist community out via Tuscolana, and one well known for its street art.  Indeed, the reference had to do with street art--the writer didn't like it, probably because it was understood to be the cutting edge of gentrification, and with it rising rents and trendy wine bars.  "Fanculo la street art."

"Fuck" can also be used ironically, as in the stencil below (also Pigneto):

Or it can seem to be used in all earnestness, or apparent earnestness, to make a broad political statement.  This appeared in Ostiense, under one of its bridges.  The poster replaces the U and the C with an anxious woman's face.  Not sure how to read that.

Below, a "Fuck" diatribe, all in English, apparently about Beyonce, in Monteverde Vecchio:

Also in Monteverde, we found a pub using a version of the word to advertise its establishment, on the assumption that its use would bring in customers. Here "fucking" is used as an adjective, meaning "very".

Then there's the simple finger, which says "fuck you" without using the word.  Instead, one is tempted to say it to oneself--hence there's a participatory element.  Also from Pigneto.

And another


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