Rome Travel Guide

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Tufello: A Rebel Community

Vigne Nuove--we started here - no "new vineyards" in sight. 
On a sunny day in mid-May, we got on the Honda Forza 300 and headed north to Vigne Nuove.  The name refers both to the quartiere/neighborhood of Vigne Nuove, and to one of Rome's largest public housing projects (above), this one from the 1970s. Our plan was to have a look at the housing project (which we did--we plan a full report in a future post), then walk south into Tufello, an older, more human-sized enclave just to Vigne Nuove's south. If you're not on a scooter or in a car, Tufello is accessible, at its southern end, by the relatively new Jonio stop (one beyond Conca d'Oro) on Metro's "B1" line (though some refer to waiting for a Metro B1 as "waiting for Godot"). Vigne Nuove means "new vineyards." We're not sure when it got its name, but the area obviously was at one point an agricultural area with vineyards, and ruins of a 1st-century AD villa have been found there. And "Jonio" is also spelled "Ionio" as in the Ionian Sea between Italy and Greece.

"Welcome to Tufello, a Free and Rebellious Quartiere" - note the "Welcome" is expressed in BOTH the masculine and
feminine plural (very PC), instead of using the masculine plural to refer to both males and females - the classic use.
Tufello's "charm" comes in part from its geographical confinement; it's essentially a triangle with one angle at the top, bounded on the south by Viale Jonio, on the west by via Giovanni Conti, and on the east by via delle Vigne Nuove. At its center is Piazza degli Euganei (see below).

Just north of that piazza, off via Monte Massico, we encountered several apartment buildings--probably dating to the late 1940s or 1950s. The courtyards were less than elegant--not unusual for "public" spaces in Rome.  A few of the apartments had air conditioning, but here, as elsewhere in the city, clothes are dried by hanging them in the sun.

A sparse, uninviting courtyard.  Dianne checks the map. Yes, a print map.

This interior space had nice pine trees, but was overgrown
On one of the buildings, an ode to "Fabio," now deceased, "nel paradiso degli eroi" ("in the paradise of heroes").

Tufello has a cultural center, the C.C.P., or Centro di Cultura Popolare, offering a Yoga experience.

At the end of several blocks of this older housing, a new, more modern building:

Some new investment in the area
The main piazza has a large, somewhat awkward, modernist market, surrounded by the standard array of shops, many of them closed in the early afternoon, when we visited.

Many of Rome's neighborhoods have a "favorite son"--always a young man rather than a woman, and usually a political figure from the Anni di Piombo (Years of Lead), a period in the 1970s and early 1980s characterized by deep political divisions and violence. The identity of the favorite son defines the political identity of the neighborhood.

Tufello's walls tell the story.  In posters and wall art, the quartiere remembers Valerio Verbano.  Verbano was born into an anti-fascist family in 1961, and became an active militant during his high school years in the Rome neighborhood of Nuovo Salario.  He was a Communist and a member of Autonomia Operaia ("Worker's Autonomy" - loosely translated - perhaps "Power to the Workers" might be better).  In April 1979, Verbano was arrested and charged with fabricating explosive devices--basically, Molotov cocktails--in an abandoned building in San Basilio.  He was convicted and served 6 months in prison.

These signs appear on a gymnasium building (palestra). 
"Valerio Verbano--Militant Communist, Assassinated by the Fascist Skunks
An Idea Never Dies"
On February 22, 1980--three days from his 19th birthday--Verbano was shot and killed by three armed and masked men who had come to his home at via Monte Bianco 114, tied up his parents,and waited for Valerio to come home from school. Though the case was investigated many times over the years, it has never been solved--which may explain Verbano's prominence on Tufello's walls 40 years later. The Monte Bianco address places Verbano's home just south of Viale Jonio.

While much of the area's wall art and postering deals with Verbano, a good portion is more broadly political, marking the neighborhood as anti-fascist, militant and, after almost 80 years, still linked to the anti-Fascist/anti-Nazi partisans (partigiani) of World War II.  This wall immediately below links Verbano and Carla to the partisans.

"ieri partigiani"--yesterday, partisans
Identifying the enemies: money and Nazis--and something else

"Antifa Tufello"--anti-Fascist Tufello
Again, red and black flags

Cuore is heart, ribelle is rebels or rebellious. Not sure what a good translation would be
other than a literal "Rebellious heart". 
And the poster below reveals that Valerio is more than an idea; every year, on the anniversary of his death, the community marches in his memory, and for what he presumably stood for and against: against the "racism of the state," against the "war on the poor," "connecting the resistance."  A significant level of distrust of government here. (Tufello was cited in one of Conor Fitzgerald's novels as a neighborhood "wherthe police have not disturbed the criminal status quo." 

"1980...The Revolt Goes On...2019"


I've written many posts on "heroes" celebrated on Rome's walls, from both the left and the right. Here are some of them:

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