The centre of Camucia, a tiny town in Tuscany - and as you can see, its left wing pedigree is not so much evident as keenly advertised. Palmiro Togliatti, whose name has been borrowed by the local park, was for almost forty years the leader of the Italian Communist Party, the PCI, by far the most important communist party in western Europe. Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian-born anarchists who were convicted of murder in the US and executed in 1927. There was an international campaign against this miscarriage of justice, and in the 1970s the governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, acknowledged that the trial and conviction were unfair and that the two men should be regarded as untainted by disgrace.
And the main streets in Camucia? Well, one is named after Gramsci, a founder of the PCI and its leading thinker, and the other after Matteotti, a prominent socialist assassinated in 1924.
On display in Camucia's town square is that day's edition of l'Unita, the daily paper founded by Gramsci - its circulation is now no more than 20,000. There's a similar display given over to the hard line Rifondazione Comunista - and other parties including the governing Democratic Party (more directly a successor of the PCI than Rifondazione, some would say), an environmental party, and - on the other side of the square - the Northern League, with its no-translation-necessary slogan of 'Basta Euro'.
Rifondazione is now a marginal political force, in Tuscany as elsewhere, with no presence in the national Parliament. But it does keep alive one old tradition of the Italian left. The Festa. This year's is imminent, and will be held in the seaside town of Marina di Pisa, described in one guide book as a 'decadent' former resort. But then decadence is also a tradition of the Italian left, perhaps?
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!