Italy, a country that finds itself in political turmoil amid rising tensions between various factions, has also been undergoing a secret civil war.
The walls of any Italian city are desecrated by graffiti, but the real eye-openers are the fiery political ones. One might even see replies to another’s controversial graffiti. And so we went to Venice and Genoa to document the secret civil war on the walls of Italy. Some were threatening while others seemed appeasing, some were vague while others were excessively descriptive. That’s why we put together a gallery of our photographs, dedicated to bringing you the full scope of the story.
Historically, graffiti has always been present on the Italian peninsula. In fact, in Roman times graffiti were thought of as a way to communicate with the Senate and the Emperor, which is why you’ll find ancient graffiti in Pompeii.
The political tension in Italy is enormous. In a country already plagued by a North-South rivalry, new immigrants from Africa and the Middle East have incited fears of losing their culture, as well as safety concerns. Meanwhile, populists like Salvini or Beppe Grillo haven’t done much to assuage the situation, and have even been accused of inciting tensions between North and South, as well as Italian and foreigner.
Italy is at the crossroads of a political upheaval that is reminiscent of the the 1930s, when fascism, populism, and socialism were all on the rise. The same can be seen today. Populism is exploding on both the left and right, with left-wing politicians pandering to downtrodden minorities and right-wing politicians tapping into the inner suspicions and dislikes of the populace to create an atmosphere of chaos. In reality, it’s not just that right-wing populists are pandering to the masses but also that left-wing populists are catering to the resentment and disrespect that so-called “intellectual elites” feel towards their countryside brethren.
In the 20th Century the biggest social problem was the fall of empires and the loss of their colonial holdings; in the 21st Century, the biggest social problem stands to be nostalgia for those same empires. China, the supposedly greatest civilization and of course one of the earliest is trying replicate its historical successes with economics. Italy wants to relive the glory of Rome and its superiority over every other country at the time. Britain wants to become the beacon of prosperity in Europe, the greatest power, in the way of emulating the British empire.
With that said, Italy, and with it Europe, are at its greatest crossroads. And while it looks like Salvini and the Northern League will prevail, Italian politics has a history of flipping back and forth, whether it refers to the rise of the Northern League and the Five-Star movement or their precarious position in the second world war.