Lecce, Italy – Between speculation and disorder

Wheeler-dealers’ hands on the Giravolte neighbourhood
“How can he live without water and facilities, everything should be walled up inside with him”.
Beatrice Baldisser, businesswoman and wheeler-dealer from Lecce
The fury of these words, addressed to an elderly occupant of a house in where the water supply had been cut off for some time, resonates like a declaration of war and shows a way of thinking: one that only knows the language of money and the world produced by it. A world of profit, speculation, acquisition, privilege, abuse, authority, inhumanity, exclusion. These times are still full of all this, and as in the past they are the expression of an economic model based on inequality, that even vaunts it. Still more, the few accumulate and exploit, still more, the many continue to get poorer.
The Giravolte neighbourhood in Lecce is a small microcosm, one of the last neighbourhoods still lived by local inhabitants.  Once with a strong immigrant component, it is now populated by a diversity of humanity, including the anarchist library ‘Disordine’ in one of the squatted houses. Meantime gentrification advances. Wealthy Italians and foreigners are buying flats cheap, redeveloping them and turning them into luxury places accessible only to wealthy tourists. The local people are gradually being swept away, chased out, eliminated. ‘There are suburbs for social housing’, a lawyer among those responsible for the redevelopment of Giravolte declared, where some houses should be destined for social housing according to the municipal urban planning, which is not happening. One of these houses was sold cheap to Ms Baldisser, former manager of a health centre for municipal employees. And this was the Trojan horse that allowed the wheeler-dealer woman and others to put their hands on a piece of the town, upturn its way of living and architectural and social tissue, speculate and make profits. And this with the approval of the nuns, owners of most of the buildings, to whom everything was granted, with a request for social purposes, by an infamous character, ‘Mara’, who also got rich by renting her flats to many immigrants.
Giravolte is a muddled neighbourhood, where you risk getting lost if you are not a local; and its stories are also muddled. Like an Almodovar film, some might say. Public and private CCTV everywhere to protect the property of those who are changing its aspect, represent the fate of a city. More and more a window for tourists crowding the historic centre, now just become a huge restaurant; less and less living space, less and less available to everyone. But if this model appears to be irreversible, that doesn’t mean that it is unlikely to meet with any obstacles… Someone once said that property is theft; the house belongs to those who live in it, affirmed someone else. So there is sense and possibilities in turning everything upside down.
                                                                       fip via delle giravolte 19/a Lecce 26/7/2018

Translated by act for freedom now!

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