DeviationRadicalia, chapter 1 of 5
Up until a few decades ago, every Italian provincial town had its fool, just as it had its chemist and its local Carabiniere. So-called ʻtown foolsʼ were men and women with different stories and problems. Some had been locked up in asylums; others never left their community, of which they were very much a part and which supported them. Others still were thought of as ʻoddʼ, having left their hometowns in search of fortune further afield. Village fools are still around, though their role in society is less acknowledged today. They often dress in eccentric, eye-catching outfits, and lay claim to an identity that defies the standards of efficiency, productivity, costs and earnings that define other people and rule the world around them.
Il Lunazzi, UdineAfter several trips and peregrinations along the hippie trail in Europe and America, he returned to his hometown to take up art – street art specifically. He is very interested in new technologies and is an avid user of the social networks.
Signora Wally, SchioA jovial and outgoing octogenarian, she does not spare anyone – not even strangers – her autobiographical tales of youthful love and lust. She has a penchant for brightly coloured flower print frocks: ʻThey say I have fire running through my bloodʼ, she says to those she meets.
Massimo, SchioAn indefatigable walker, keen smoker and methodical drinker of coffee. Well dressed and always in a hurry, he talks to himself out loud. When asked a question, he replies repeating his answer three times. ʻWhat's your name? Massimo, Massimo, Massimo.ʼ
Aladino, VeniceA courteous artist with gentle and polite manners, he lives in a flat stacked up with artworks, books, and various paraphernalia of the Giudecca island. He often hangs out in Campo S. Margherita and is known by most local female University students, whom he often gifts with one of his works.
Giorgio, SchioA connoisseur of Indian culture and spirituality, he returned home after a long journey. Shy and solitary, he is passionate about stones, cinema and philosophy, and is well respected by the people of his town for being a discreet and cultivated converser.
Marco, MaloAn ungregarious person, he lives in a country house where he stores in the dark all sorts of bric-a-brac and worthless objects he has collected over the years. He only travels by bike and will cover a distance of up to 100 kilometres in a day. Shy and proud, he declines any charity his townsfolk offer.
Pino l'anarchico, MilanHe lives in a trailer someone gave him wedged between a builders supplier and Milan's Cimitero Monumentale, with his two dogs and a rooster called Choppy. He is professedly anarchic and has no qualms admitting he has done time in most Italian prisons. He is often found loitering outside a supermarket in Corso Sempione.
Conte Fiocchi, ArzignanoBorn to a family of entrepreneurs in the tanning industry, in the late Seventies he quit his family business and set off to travel the world. Twenty years ago, he decided to make his home in the industrial zone, between an old container, the chrome-tinted riverbank water and his free-ranging chickens. The title of ʻConteʼ was bestowed upon him by his townsfolk.
Giovanni, ChiuppanoEvery day he walks the same long path round the outside of his town on foot, aided by his walking stick. He stops along the way to pick up cigarette butts and puts them in his pocket, perhaps to later use any leftover tobacco. He wears a pink furry hat which vaguely resembles an animal and has three pheasant feathers sticking out.
Marco Pannella, Rome.He is a radical, non-violent, anti-prohibitionist and secular politician with a strong belief in the socially reforming potential of referendum. In 1970s Italy alongside the Radical Party he promoted referenda on divorce and abortion. For several decades he has been self-imposing hunger and thirst strikes in the hope of bringing the attention of Italian media and politics to various civil rights causes. A defender of minorities, he has always paid particular attention to society's underdogs. Pier Paolo Pasolini defined him ʻan unredeemable scandal.ʼ