The Italian Almanac

I guess that's the club uniform

Italian News - January 22

Behind the black door with the sign that says “ARCI members only”, one of the Left’s dreams has in a sense come true.Everyone who goes in is looking for union - with a small “u” - and no one wants to stand on his or her own. The mayor of Mignanego failed to see the joke.“Let’s just say that the union we Democrats of the Left are looking for is not quite the same thing”. The licensing application to geologist Michele Malfatti, mayor of this small town in the Genoese hinterland, was for an “alternative ARCI recreational centre”.

The organisers were true to their word, “Più o meno” (More or Less), as the sign on the entry phone says.Più o meno is the name of the club, and “Club for Refined Couples” is the description underneath the name, added by the owner, Francesco I., a 40-year-old builder from Genoa and keen partner-swapper who now feigns surprise.“What’s the problem? I told ARCI that I wanted to set up a centre for cultural socialization.”.

The application to the Genoa ARCI from the non-political Francesco was the necessary first step towards obtaining clearance from the health authorities and a license to serve alcohol. That’s why it’s a “recreational centre” and the regulations for ARCI members in Liguria hang on the bar wall, reminding clients that entry is open only to those who hold a membership card from one of the longest established leftwing associations in Italy.

Alessandro, manager of the real ARCI bar not far from the club, says“Let them do what they like, but not as ARCI.This is a serious association. It’s the best aspect of the Left”. Mayor Malfatti, concerned about Mignanego’s good name, agrees but is powerless. “I merely ask for compliance with the rules.Of course, if I’d known what it was all about, I wouldn't have issued the license”.