‘No’ to a street named after an antifascist. The decision by Lucca’s town council makes headlines in Italy by Alfio Bernabei

By Searchlight Team

Sandro Petrini, antifascist

The town council of Lucca, one of Tuscany’s most treasured artistic places and favoured destination for tourists from all over the world, has rejected a motion in favour of naming a street after a leading figure of antifascism.

Traditionally a stronghold of the left, the council came under the control of the far-right at the 2022 election which brought Giorgia Meloni to form a government rooted in fascism. This result was replicated in a number of simultaneously held elections for the renewal of regional and local councils.

The motion in favour of naming a street after an antifascist was presented by a councillor of the left. It was rejected with 17 votes against and 12 in favour.

According to some reports the outcome was greeted in the chamber by a councillor with a shout of “A noi!” (To Us!) the fascist military command usually accompanied by the Nazi-fascist salute.

Sandro Pertini with his partner,  former nazi resistance fighter, Carla Voltolina

The leading antifascist who was to be honoured with a street named after him is Sandro Pertini, former president of Italy from 1978 to 1985 and the first socialist to be elected to the highest office of state after WWII.

Pertini was first sentenced to internment under Mussolini’s dictatorship in 1926 before escaping to France to become a leading member of the antifascist movement in exile. Arrested and interned again from 1935 to 1943, he subsequently managed to save Antonio Gramsci’s diaries and joined the Italian resistance movement against Nazi German occupiers and Mussolini’s puppet Salò Republic set up in 1943 by Hitler. Arrested by the Germans, he was sentenced to death but freed by a partisan raid.

It was a councillor belonging to Forza Italia, the party founded by Silvio Berlusconi, who communicated the decision saying that the administration was focusing on “a road map with different priorities”. But the prime movers for the rejection were widely thought to have been two councillors close to CasaPound, including Fabio Barsanti, a former leader of that same organisation that describes its members as “third millennium fascists”.

At last year’s mayoral election in Lucca Barsanti stood as a candidate coming third with 9.5% of the vote and was eliminated. But in the second round his support for the candidate of the right and far-right, proved instrumental in defeating the favourite for the left.

Hailing the result as an example for the rest of the nation, Barsanti invited Meloni to adopt the same strategy of uniting the right, the far-right and CasaPound fascists like himself to bond together. He said that Lucca could become “the laboratory” of the country’s future.

Now the laboratory is at work. A street named after an antifascist? “No, we have a road map with different priorities”.