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In the Street of the Dark Shops: How things change PDF Print E-mail
Aug 01, 2013 at 05:53 PM

ImageSeveral decades ago I made Enrico Berlinguer, the then leader of the then powerful Italian Communist Party, laugh. Although he seemed to be dour and unsmiling, he actually had a good sense of humor and was amused when I told him I had dreamed that the party's huge headquarters building in central Rome had been turned into a very capitalist department store.

Image Was I clairvoyant? Probably not. But I was amused when I read the other day that the Botteghe Oscure, as Communist headquarters was referred to because of its address, 4, Via delle Botteghe Oscure ( the street of the Dark Shops, because many buildings there had few windows) , has now been bought by ABI, the Association of Italian Banks, the apex of Italian capitalism.

ImageThe party, which is now no longer communist (after several metamorphoses it has become the left-of-center Partito Democratico, which also includes a never-Marxist Catholic faction) sold the massive building with its reddish façade (red for Reds?) more than 15 years ago and moved to other premises. But for anyone who followed Italian politics here in the 70s and 80s as I did, the Botteghe Oscure (see the pictures of a rally in the street and of Berlinguer on the balcony) was a major political landmark and its sale to ABI means that an era has definitively come to an end.

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