Anne's Blog

Perugia Sardines Don’t Swim

Date: December 5, 2019 - categories: , , - 9 Comments

No, Perugia Sardines don’t swim.

They protest.

Le Sardine are gathering by the thousands in cities all over Italy demonstrating their opposition to Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right La Lega (the League) and former deputy prime minister (in a coalition with the Five Star party). Born as a spontaneous online movement, the “sardines” oppose hateful populist rhetoric and divisive political propaganda while promoting human rights for migrants and refugees.

On November 23rd, over a thousand sardine gathered in Perugia.

What drew these “schools of sardines” into Italy’s piazzas?

In late November, four young friends in Bologna were chatting at lunch about the upcoming Salvini rally in their city. They decided to encourage a flash mob in Piazza Maggiore, asking participants not to brandish banners at this a-political encounter unless depicting their symbol, the sardine; the organizers hoped all would be “packed in the piazza like sardines.” The four friends had hoped to reach the 6000-person capacity of the piazza.

An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 showed up. (Salvini’s rally drew in 3,000).

To date, Le Sardine have gathered in Bologna, Modena, Florence, Sorrento, Palermo, Reggio Emilia, Rimini – and Perugia. In New York, too.

At the late November Perugia gathering of Le Sardine, participants respected the norms set out by the young organizers, carrying – or wearing! – only sardine images and avoiding any political references:

Their posters promoted tolerance and harmony among all.

Near us, a beaming young woman held her colorful placard of a happy fish swimming over the words, “Chi odia ha paura (“he who hates is fearful”).

A young woman nearby urged “making love, not the League”:

Connecting there with friends (“mature” like us), we talked about our pride in today’s youth.

Young Greta Thunberg from Sweden had inspired a memorable event in Perugia last year, the #FridaysForFuture rally.

And now, four youths from Bologna had ignited the populace once again.

Hear the Perugia sardine sing “Bella, Ciao”, the anti-fascist resistance song

Read here how the Sardine movement started

Click here to read about #FridaysForFuture in Perugia (March 201

Read more about #FridaysForFuture

Click here to read about an annual event not-to-miss in Perugia, Umbria Jazz

Read about one of my favorite spots in Perugia

Click here to read about a Perugia curiosity linked to rural Umbria

Read about Perugia’s many splendors

Click here for news an inspiring Perugia festival

Read about a “saintly” Perugia sweet

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