Wandering and Wondering

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

May Day

Warning: This blog entry contains political content.

Yesterday was a national holiday in Italy to celebrate the 1st of May (Il primo di Maggio). I remember when I was in Germany on May Day a few years ago when I went cycling from beer garden to beer garden and eating lots of pretzels. This year the beer gardens and pretzels were missing, but I took my bike for a ride to Cascine Park. This is one of my favorite places in Florence for escaping the tourists and going for a leisurely bike ride. On the weekends there are always lots of people playing football or volleyball, or just relaxing and having picnics:

Football in the park

After riding down the length of the park to Ponte all’Indiano, I headed across to the other side of the river where I heard music coming from Piazza dell’Isolotto. I parked my bike and went to investigate, where I found a crowd of people gathered to listen to a line-up of bands. The first band that was playing was called “Jellyfish”, and amongst other songs they played covers of AC/DC and Coldplay. If you look closely, you can see the clothes that the band are wearing in honour of the “worker” (which is what May Day is all about):


Upon walking around the piazza, I noticed lots of posters documenting the history of May Day in Italy and around the world (you need to view the large version of this to read the text and see the photos properly):

History of May Day

The most interesting poster, however, was the following one, which shows capitalism getting kicked out of its seat by communism:

Capitalism gets kicked out of its seat by communism

In Australia a poster such as this would likely create a certain amount of controversy, because capitalism reigns supreme and “communism” is still viewed by many people as a dirty word. In Italy, however, the idea of communism seems to be viewed in a more positive light, which is understandable when you look at the country’s political history. During the time of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, the Italian Communist Party was outlawed, so it is only natural that communism rebounded strongly after the fall of fascism. When you look at it from an un-biased viewpoint, communism isn't all that different from other left-wing political ideologies. Sure, it may not work in its extreme form, but neither does any form of extreme politics.

For those readers who are interested, the turbulent history of the post-war political landscape in Italy makes for some quite interesting reading. No wonder Italians are always talking about politics - their politics are so much more interesting than ours!

Ok, this was never meant to be a political blog, so that’s enough of me talking about politics. I hope you enjoyed your May Day, and that my comments don’t upset any anti-communists out there.

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