All that was missing was the sea, her beloved sea, to tell stories about her. And perhaps only the sea, in which she would swim for hours alone, losing herself on the horizon, and which was her last wish (which was granted), could have recounted the whole essence of a woman who “did not fit any definition,” who “didn’t belong to any side,” who was “impossible to appropriate because she escaped any established identity that would cage her irreducible singularity.”
She was a ravenous scholar of philosophy, even before she became “Miranda,” a Partisan “because there is also a need to intervene,” an “orthodox” Marxist as she liked to define herself, a communist, a political leader, on the staff of the PCI and excluded from the PCI, founder of il manifesto, a woman of letters, writer, essayist and journalist. An intellectual and a militant.
Rossana Rossanda was all these things, as recalled by at least three generations of her comrades and friends on Friday in Rome, in the Piazza Ss. Apostoli, filled as much as possible given the current times, reconstructing a century-long puzzle.
A grand story. And still, “she did not belong to the PCI, nor to il manifesto, nor to the Italian left. Only to the world, because the world was where she moved and she was curious, insatiable about it.” And there is no other definition for her that would contain all of these aspects, any other word that would represent her better than “free and freedom-loving.”
“A passionate promoter of the Marxian axiom that the freedom of one is worth the freedom of all, the very opposite of icy and cold, as those who did not know her enough called her,” recalled Franco Cavalli, a Swiss oncologist and socialist who, together with Antonio Bassolino, recalled the great generosity she showed in accompanying Lucio Magri on his last journey towards assisted suicide in Switzerland: “Until the very last second, the two of them together discussed the future of the Italian left,” Cavalli said.
It was a powerful and heartbreaking image all at once, like the many such gifts we received from the small stage where the beautiful face of Rossana Rossanda stood out, in an “atypical funeral, without a coffin and with many memories,” as Luciana Castellina called it. She, together with Filippo Maone and Norma Rangeri, unspooled the thread of history, taking us, together with Rossanda, on a journey from the last century into the future.
This was a left-wing assembly that filled the square once again, and not only for remembrance (among the many who wished to pay their respects were Minister Giuseppe Provenzano, Vincenzo Vita, Nichi Vendola, Nicola Fratoianni, and many, many comrades and journalists who at one time or another passed through the offices in Via Tomacelli).
This event was made possible by the efforts of the SEL Deputy and Rome Councilman Stefano Fassina, with the kind support of the City of Rome (with deputy mayor Luca Bergamo also present), and it was followed via streaming on the website and Facebook page of il manifesto by over 70,000 people, who left hundreds of messages and comments.
Ninetta Zandegiacomi, who, together with Luciana Castellina and Filippo Maone, is among the only survivors of the historical core of the founders of il manifesto, remembered the “hard, difficult, exciting but not really beautiful” years of the Resistance, of the “struggle to conquer freedom, to give democracy to this country.” Rossana was “a treasure,” she murmured, her eyes filled with tears, answering a reporter’s question before going on stage.
Rossanda is so many things—too many to tell. Filippo Maone spoke of “the attraction she has exercised over several generations,” due to “an inner energy” and a “marked artistic sensitivity” that made her a point of reference for “an extraordinary multitude, her offspring.” Even if she, who had no children herself, was perhaps not aware of it.
Rossanda was the party official who gave the PCI a very elevated cultural point of view, “a revolutionary who has done honor to communism, which others have besmirched,” in the words of Aldo Tortorella. She stood for the opposite of fanaticism, with no dogma to propagate.
Her teaching, underlined Emanuele Macaluso, is still of core importance for the new generations. “Her life is a political monument that has earned her the respect even of her adversaries,” said Fabio Mussi.
Maurizio Landini talked about her ability to combine culture and intellectual curiosity with the ability to read everyday reality, to record the material conditions of people.
Argiris Panagopulos conveyed the respects and gratitude of Tsipras. Doriana Ricci, who was Rossanda’s secretary for 31 years, talked about their “extraordinary relationship between two free people who have chosen and loved each other very much.” It is thanks to her—as Luciana Castellina pointed out—that Rossana was able to take a final dip in the sea, lying on a stretcher, a few days before she died.
Ida Dominijanni recalled the “enchanting life” lived by RR—as we sometimes called her in the editorial office, we who were the last to arrive in Via Tomacelli—her “sensorial sensibility for art, cinema,” music, dance, etc.
“She was outside every established identity,” recalled Dominijanni, who added: “Nothing in her being is comprehensible without her passion for freedom. For her, a ‘communist newspaper’ meant the opposite of ideology, conformism, and authoritarianism.”
She loved young people and had a deep feeling of sisterhood towards women, Maria Luisa Boccia recounted. “She was a communist who did not like to obey, nor lie,” added Ginevra Bompiani.
Her young friend Stefano Iannillo recalled how “sometimes, even in the last months of her life, she seemed to spend her days going around, talking with workers and students.”
And Gabriele Polo, a former director of il manifesto, recalled that “she taught us the political category of hospitality,” how to “be part of a community without being sectarian. A teaching that perhaps we still have time to put into practice.”
Because Rossana is also our future.
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