Smells Like Team Spirit

Homeless person's bedding. Central Turin, 2013.

Don’t let the homeless fool you. There’s no shortage of housing. Yet, wherever you look, Italians are looking to sell their properties. In cities like Turin, it’s practically a firesale. Suffering from two decades of decline, incurred by the policies of successive Berlusconi governments, the Eurozone crisis simply compounded what was an already catastrophic economic situation, pushing millions out of their homes. Yet, Il Cavaliere, or so he is fond of being called, still finds himself entitled to national leadership.

Tell that to the the legions of frustrated Italian tax collectors, who, already used to having to contend with a culture of tax dodging (including that of the ex-Prime Minister,) now find it difficult to collect anything at all;. Hence this flyer, affixed to Turin walls last summer. Bemoaning the city’s attempt to collect insurance money off of a fire that took place in a squat, the endeavor smacks of desperation. The worst kind, really, as, it contends, the city authorities, and insurance companies, conspired together to earn non-existent cash from a building that was uninsured in the first place.

Whether the story is true or not, the problem is that it sounds entirely plausible. And, for those who are familiar with the history of squatting, there are ample precedents for exploiting the urban renewal efforts of housing occupations. Take, for example, the council flats restored by squatters in the United Kingdom. A good many of their radical occupants have been turfed out by city authorities, only to see their homes put on the market, and sold to private owners, at a profit. This is just a different version of the same. Still, the practice loses no capacity to shock, as it’s an especially cruel exercise.


Squat flyer. Turin, June 2013,
Squat flyer. Turin, June 2013,



Three months after the devastation of part of the house by a fire, the province turned up at Barocchio together with an insurance adjuster to evaluate the damages to be refunded. In recent months, the reconstruction has been taking place: we have completely rebuilt the concert hall roof,  (placed) a slab over the kitchen (that is going to be a terrace,) we have started to use again most of the areas that were not fit for usage and we started to use the pizza oven again. We still have to finish the chapel roof, on which we are already working. All this was possible thanks to the solidarity of many people and groups form different parts of Europe; (through their work) and economic support, through the organization of benefit events, institutions, devoted to the money god, have smelled (the) odour of money and try to make money from something that has never belonged to them. About which money do they dare talk about? Which damages have they suffered? We (would like to point out) the fact that Barocchio, at the time of (its) occupation, practically had no roof and, in addition to its reconstruction, twenty years worth of structural reinforcements were made, preventing the building’s collapse.

No wonder that the province, in need of money, scrapes the bottom of the barrel, asking for reimbursement for the work carried out by others. It has already been communicated to the province that we don’t intend to make our activity legal, nor to keep any kind of relation with (state) institutions. Solidarity is much stronger than speculation. This house will keep on living far from any money or certification of habitability. Otherwise, our rage is ready to be poured on your desks and on our city squares!

Even in these days of (struggle,) we have been sympathetic and supportive of those struck by evictions and repression.

For each eviction, 10 100 1000 occupations.


To get info about the work in progress please visit website


Translated from the Italian by Giulia Pace. Introduction and photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.

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