Action #10: Il Porto dell’amore

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“Poor Nitti is beside himself over the shameful goings on in Fiume [...]. Not only have they proclaimed the Republic of Fiume, but they are now preparing a landing at Ancona, two air raids over Italy and other such delights. Fiume has become a brothel, a hideout for the underworld and prostitutes of all kinds. He [Nitti] told me about a certain Marquise Incisa, who goes around dressed like a soldier, complete with dagger. Unfortunately he cannot say all of these things in Parliament, for the honour of Italy.”

(Lettera di Filippo Turati alla compagna Anna Kuliscioff).

Filippo Turati

Free Love and Artificial Paradises
In Fiume, with its atmosphere of “time suspended” and total subversion of social mores, not only the soldiers, but also the women, engaged in behaviour marked by sexual freedom. “It was a flourishing period for rapid, impromptu, casual sexual relations between the soldiers and uninhibited girls or the prostitutes that filled the numerous brothels”. According to records and the memories of those present, the Fiume episode was “a period of delirium and revelry (...) everyone enjoys themselves here, making love to the girls of Fiume, who have a reputation for being beautiful and permissive”. The reports of the Dionysiac atmosphere that held sway in the city did not fail to elicit outrage amongst the more conventional, including among the left-wing.
(...) Alongside the widespread practice of heterosexual sex (including group sex) (...) there were homosexual relations, which came out freely in the general climate of subversion of traditional morality. (...)
Cross-dressing and role reversal between men and women were also not uncommon.

(Giovanni Savegnago, Scheda critica del libro di Claudia Salaris Alla festa della rivoluzione. Artisti e libertari con D’Annunzio a Fiume, Il Mulino, Bologna 2002).
“Although her physique seemed overly robust, her mouth was extraordinarily beautiful, and she was immediately, spontaneously kissed. She looked trapped in her clothes, didn’t speak and made hand gestures first rejecting me then beckoning me. When I removed her scarf I recognized ‘her’ as one of the soldiers who came to pass the evenings with us, and who promptly ran off towards the woods.”

“[…] Enrico, wearing Grethe’s dress, appeared, making a number of nimble dance moves, like a more beautiful, more brazen version of Grethe. His bare arms, decorated with long ribbons, accompanied the movements of his legs. My friend jumped up onto the sofa to chase him, like a faun chasing a nymph, but the agile Enrico got away, still dancing. Then out of the same door came Grethe dressed as a soldier.”

(Giovanni Comisso).
And, in a city which appears to have chosen systematic transgression and libertarian vitalism as its pole star, narcotics were naturally in regular use, cocaine in particular:
“There was a basement, all decorated with polar bear skins; at the back, among incense smoke, unmentionable orgies went on, alternating with Satanic libations: and neither were artificial paradises out of the picture. Cocaine by the barrel-load snowed down on these encounters, and steaming blood was sipped from human skulls...”

Leon Kochnitzky

(Giovanni Savegnago, Scheda critica del libro di Claudia Salaris Alla festa della rivoluzione. Artisti e libertari con D’Annunzio a Fiume, Il Mulino, Bologna 2002).
I never saw officers whiling the night away playing cards – all the recreation was aimed at the immediate gratification of the senses. During the war various pilots used cocaine to keep them going on endless flight missions, where falling asleep would have been fatal. Some of these airmen introduced cocaine to Fiume – they kept a little gold box of the drug in their jacket pockets. My friends took it and tried in vain to convince me to take it too.

(Giovanni Comisso, Le mie stagioni, Edizioni di Treviso - Libreria Canova, 1951; pp. 73-75).
 Naturism - nudism - vegetarianism

Many of the scholarly legionnaires engaged in getting back to nature, by leaving the city, sleeping in the open air, begging for a bite to eat from the monks in monasteries or living off berries in the woods or sea urchins, in the attempt to rediscover the primitive dimension of life which had been eliminated by social progress. Theirs was a quest – by means of a Pan-like fusion with nature - to renew a heavenly happiness which had been lost for ever. This dreamy sensitivity to nature also lay behind the nudism, vegetarianism and aversion to artificial shelter.

(Giovanni Savegnago. Scheda critica del libro di Claudia Salaris Alla festa della rivoluzione. Artisti e libertari con D’Annunzio a Fiume, Il Mulino, Bologna 2002).


Introduction [HTML]

The “Celebration City” [HTML]
Free Love and Artificial Paradises [HTML]
The “Desperados” [HTML]
International acknowledgement [HTML]
Pirate Economy [HTML]
Publishing [HTML]
The Charter of Carnaro [HTML]
The Labarum [HTML]
The League of Fiume [HTML]
Bloody Christmas [HTML]
Protagonists [HTML]