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Notte Bianca & Vaffanculo Day: Two Kinds of Demonstrations, Same Date

notteYou’ve heard of D-Day, and probably even VE-Day. But V-Day? No? Well, the first one was last weekend in Italy, and it marries two favorite Italian hobbies: Complaining about the way things are, and public demonstrations.

V-Day stands for “Vaffanculo Day” (“vaffanculo” is “f#*k you”) and, thanks to a translation of the official website from Shelley of At Home in Rome, we have a little note about what the organizers were thinking:

“V-Day is a cross between D-Day (Normandy) and V as in “revenge.” [Vendetta in Italian.] It’s taking place September 8 in public squares across Italy, to recognize the fact that since 1943 nothing has changed. Back then the King was exiled and the nation was in chaos, today we have politicians holed up in huge historic palaces immersed in “cultural” problems. V-Day will be a day for information and public demonstration.”

This first V-Day, which took place on Saturday, September 8th, was created by Italian comic and political commentator, Beppe Grillo. (The official website is here, in Italian.) Shelley has a great commentary here about the Italian love of complaining but lack of confidence that anything will ever change. I can imagine that would take some getting used to, even for someone who’s not political at all.

The intent was to have demonstrations all over Italy, but in Rome the Notte Bianca (White Night) was also on September 8th, so I’m not sure what kind of overlap there might have been. La Notte Bianca is the one night a year when museums, sights and galleries are open all night and are free to enter. In addition, there are concerts and performances which go on all night – shops stay open as well. It’s an all-night festival, and as Elizabeth writes, it’s notable for the lack of both control and fear. What could be seen as an open invitation for the no-good elements of society seems to be overwhelmed by the joy people have in spending a night outdoors with several million of their closest friends. Which is pretty fantastic.

I don’t know if V-Day will have any staying power, whether it’ll be around next year, but La Notte Bianca certainly will be. If you’re even contemplating a trip to Rome next year, it might be a fun – if slightly chaotic – thing to witness. And even though it might completely throw off your internal clock to stay up all night, getting into all those museums and galleries for free could be a great incentive. Keep an eye on the official website for the 2008 La Notte Bianca date.