In Rome, a School of Sardines in Piazza San Giovanni
On December 14th in Rome, we met our first Sardine heading up the escalator from the San Giovanni Metro stop.
A woman in a red jacket – from Parma and in Rome for the Sardine gathering – had a blue and yellow cardboard sign on her back with a message in rhyme, “SARDINA PARMIGIANA – LEGA STAI LONTANA” (“Parmesan sardine – Lega stay away”). The message indicated her opposition to Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigrant party, la Lega (“the League”).
At the top of the escalator, a beaming woman in a homemade sardina costume wearing sardina earrings happily agreed to a photograph:
…and what a greeting – from a whole “school of sardines” – as soon as we exited the metro:
Across the street where crowds were gathering in front of the Basilica di San Giovanni Laterano, a bearded bald man – from Emilia Romagna as his two sea-blue smiling paper sardine indicated – wore a manifesto around his neck summing up the tenets of the sardine movement, each one punctuated with a sardine: “‘solidarity, welcoming acceptance, respect, human rights, intelligence, non-violence, anti-fascism……and…..joy.”
The message on his sardines (like many others in the sardine gatherings (now all over Europe – and not only) assured “questa sardine non abbocca” (“this sardine does not take the bait”).
Sardines were there from all over Italy and two sardine siciliane happily posed with another siciliano, Pino:
….and nearby, I joined a group of Roman sardine, their cards indicating “Roma non si lega“, ie, “Rome does not bind,” a play on words indicating that their Rome does not align with la Lega.
There were sardines from the Tuscan seaside town of Viareggio….
…and from Naples, too. The message on that napoletano’s sardine headdress was in dialetto napolitano: lines from a song by the beloved Neapolitan song-writer/singer, Pino Daniele:
Athough the Sardine movement was started by four young people from Bologna, all ages unite at these rallies promoting tolerance for refugees, and immigrants while opposing divisive populist politics.
The energy of the young people was both palpable and contagious…..
…as was that of the many families there:
La passione – and determination – of the “more mature” sardine equaled that of the younger set:
Many a sign said “I am a sardine. Are you?”
***How would you answer?
Click here to read about the Perugia sardine gathering