Essential Italian: Manifestazione & Sciopero

15 Nov


I really think one of the important vocab families to know, if you’re going to live in Italy (or hell, even visit for that matter!) is the whole family of words that revolve around “demonstrations.” Manifestazione is a way to say that a public protest is going to take place, and sciopero, many of you already know, is strike.

A sciopero is a bit different from a manifestazione, and sometimes, as in the case of the event yesterday (pictured above), they take place simultaneously. When transport workers strike (sciopero), they don’t generally take to the streets and protest (manifestazione)–they just don’t show up for work, and your buses don’t run.

When something happens like yesterday’s huge manifestazione, that’s cause for even more concern, in my opinion.

Yesterday has been dubbed with the Twitter hashtag #N14, which stands for November 14. It was an international “European Anti-Austerity Day” and protests against government fiscal cuts took place all over Europe.

Rome had its fair share of protesters. On my way to work yesterday morning, my bus got blocked in traffic at Piramide as this group of students marched through the traffic circle.



It was nuts. The bus driver let his passengers off right where you see the pictures taken from, because there was no other way to reach the entrance to the Metro across the street, where the bus normally stops. In typical Roman fashion, he hollered out to the passengers as they got off the bus: “Watch out for the scooters, eh!!” God bless.

As we managed to round the bend towards Piazza Venezia, there was a pretty stark contrast between the carefree tourists taking pictures of the Vittorio Emanuele monument and the huge police buses with iron-barred windows.



I imagine that most tourists had no idea what was happening or about to happen, as the protesters started their march near Piazza Venezia in front of the Bocca della Verità, and planned to finish the march at Piazza Farnese (near Campo de’ Fiori).

More about the demonstrations specific to Italy can be found here on the Italian Huffington Post.

Living in Rome, public demonstrations become a sort of way of life. Very different than the States. Perhaps because I never lived in a big city in the States, I never experienced the chaos and disruption caused by these demonstrations.

Do the protests make news? Of course. Do they actually provoke real change? That is always a debatable question.


5 Responses to “Essential Italian: Manifestazione & Sciopero”

  1. sunnyromy November 15, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Reblogged this on SunnyRomy and commented:
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  2. Arlene Gibbs Décor November 15, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    It seems as if strikes here are more common BUT shorter. Usually a day or even just a few hours.

    In the States they can last for weeks!!

    Trust me, you do not want to live in NYC or any major city when there is a garbage or transit strike. Especially the former, in the summer.

    Post Reagan and the air traffic controllers strike, the unions have really lost quite a bit of power in the States. At the same time the gap between rich and poor has widen. hmmmm.

  3. anna l'americana November 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Its like the Anni di Piombo all over again…. you haven’t really lived Rome until your daily life and commute are so routinely planned around whatever daily occurrence of manifestazione and/or sciopero of the day that you give it no extra thought, so that if there’s a sciopero generale you just naturally stock up and make sure you won’t need i mezzi for the duration, and if there’s a manifestazione al centro, you already have a series of alternate commute routes that don’t include any byways of the afflicted thoroughfares…(or, sometimes, even road), avoiding Pzza Venezia and il centro like the plague…. Of course back then ZTL wasn’t even a gleam in someone’s nipote’s eye so it’s possible that there’s less of a resulting snarl now, but somehow I doubt it. If you haven’t lived this Shelley (and Arlene, and all of you over there), consider it baptism by fire. Either way – please be careful. When EVERYONE is getting squeezed, it gets ugly, and cops there shoot first and ask questions later, shoot freely into crowds, and are very free with the tear gas (from experience)….. Also, FWIW, they tell Carrabinieri jokes for a reason. 😦

  4. Gil November 16, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    The strikes are shorter, but it seems that the can take place on the spur of the moment.

  5. Catherine November 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    My kids love sciopero days. I don’t.

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