I had read that communists as well as anarchists were involved in the social center movement, but I had assumed that these were eccentric communists -- "autonomists," say, or maybe some Rosa Luxembourg types -- not Stalinoids. Nope. There's even a picture of Lenin inside, in place of the Gaudi-like art that apparently decorates other social centers around Italy. ("Betrayer of the revolution," Leslie mutters when she sees old Vlad's portrait on the wall.) This particular project was once more philosophically diverse, I'm told, but the communists eventually kicked the anarchists out. One consequence is the Castroites gathered outside. Another is that the squat is now self-managing in name only.
I could see why anarchists would want to build D.I.Y. alternatives to the welfare state. But why communists? Seems there's a tradition in this country of civic virtue among the Reds. Antella contains a casa del popolo, a community center sponsored by the group previously known as the Communist Party. The party's name and politics are now more social-democratic, but the casa is still there. Young people see concerts and movies there; old folks come to play cards.
We were going to get a tour as well of Controradio, a formerly (and maybe still?) unlicensed radio station that I'd written about in my book Rebels on the Air. But this fell through: I walked by the station, took a couple pictures of the front door, but never got to go inside.
I don't mind that. Back at the villa, the electricity flickers off and on. People light candles, pour wine, pass around tomatoes and bread and Pringles. ("Even revolutionaries like Pringles.") The rain slows and we climb into the car; and then, with water and mud, we slide down the road to Florence.