I recently visited Milan to attend an eyewear trade show, and managed to take one afternoon in which to have a look around the city. One thing that became immediately obvious was just how much graffiti covered any available surface. It reminded me a little of the outskirts of Paris, but the difference being that in Paris they seem to have been able to keep more of a control over it as you get closer to the centre.

One phrase / statement that I kept spotting was “NO TAV”. Without a clue what it meant, it became something that I started to look out for and become more interested in. Sometimes it was scrawled very quickly on the open surface, others had a little more time taken over them with larger block letters, and eventually I began to notice stickers too. Realising that “TAV” must be something bigger than some teenager putting a tag up, I consulted our old friend Google to see if it could shed any light on the matter. It would appear that NO TAV is actually a huge movement [beginning in the middle of 1995] fighting against Government plans to build a high-speed train link between Turin, and Lyon in France. There seem to be various reasons as to why the group are against the building of the train. one is that it is felt it would be uneconomical due to the high cost. Another is felt that it is simply being used as a profit-making scheme for the large shareholders investing in the programme, as they will primarily be the ones benefitting. Other reasons site noise pollution, environmental damage and disruption to water. There is an official NO TAV website [] and various other propaganda websites discussing the subject, but as with all of these types of protests it seems that violence has become a by-product of the campaign.

This is from Italy Calling, posted in the summer of last year:

After a crowded torchlight march on the night between June 26th and 27th, the Free Republic of the Maddalena in Piedmont was brutally assaulted by a full-scale military operation performed by around 2000 forces that turned the place into a battle site: teargas thrown at eye level, bulldozers and heavy vehicles used to evict the camp, water jets against protesters, beatings, tents and equipment smashed up. In the nearby town of Venaria, a riot police vehicle on its way to the site ran over and killed “by mistake” an elderly woman. Demonstrations, pickets and several other initiatives were organised all over Italy to show solidarity with the NO TAV movement that for years has been fighting against the construction of a high-speed train line between Turin and Lyon in France. A national demo was called out for today 3rd July, and  it’s still going on as I’m writing this.  It’s about 8.40pm and it’s difficult to have a clear idea of what’s been happening at the Maddalena today, but what is clear is that there have been hundreds of people injured on both sides (but it’s only one side that I care about). Police have been using rubber bullets and at least one young man is seriously injured after being shot in the face. Protesters have compared the military operation to the repression in Palestine…

Personally, I know much too little in order to have an opinion on the movement, I just find it interesting that noticing two words on a wall led me to the complex political web touched upon above.


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