Much like pizza, pasta, and wine, coffee consumption is one of the defining features of contemporary Italy’s world-renowned food and beverage culture. But when, specifically, did this relationship between Italians and their caffè begin to take its current shape? To answer this question, this monograph-length project will investigate the period between the turn-of-the-century through the post-WWII years in order to identify the primary influences, and influencers, within the shaping of Italian coffee culture. In addition to examining the role played by Italy’s Liberal- and Fascist-era colonial conquests in East Africa, I will the varying strategies employed by industrialists, merchants, caffè, or “bar,” owners, and, equally as significant, members of Benito Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship within the popularization of this, now, quintessentially “Italian” beverage.
Reds & Blacks: Letters from Political Exile in Fascist Italy (tentative title)
In 1937, an Italian socialist from the northern city of Ancona boarded a passenger train headed for France. His final destination, however, would not be in Strasbourg, Marseilles, or Paris but, rather, the front line trenches of the Spanish Civil War. Having volunteered for the Red Brigades in order to fight the spread of Fascism in interwar Europe, he was immediately arrested upon his return to Italy and, after a brief show trial, sentenced to “confino politico” (political exile) in the country’s deep South. While there, he produced a number of writings—all flattering towards Fascism and Il Duce’s dictatorship—in a desperate attempt to curry favor with the regime and, in so doing, liberate himself from his Southern captivity. Having discovered this collection of still-unknown and -unpublished writings at the Central Archive of the State in Rome—which includes a 100-page political memoir, a screenplay for a feature-length film, and a short essay on the “Italian race”—I intend to transcribe, translate, and publish them, along with an editor’s introduction.