Sunday afternoon I managed to make a few snaps of the Great Gathering of those Bossi people (I block the scores of puns that surge into my mind), so here they are.
It appears that, in the end, there were more police than potential police patrons.
The organizers claimed that there were 50,000 of the faithful; the police estimated 6-7,000. The difference makes me think of those construction estimates which start on earth but when the job is finished the total cost is lost somewhere in Multiple-Zeroes Land. It’s been like this every year of the past 15 that this event has been staged: the participants want to make it sound as if there are more of them than Attila’s Huns.
The anticipated thunderstorms politely waited till evening.
The floating platform, with the speakers facing inland. It being Sunday, most of the neighborhood was somewhere else. But Bossi was intending mainly to preach to the choir anyway. It was a good day for making money, too: all those tour boats that brought his flock undoubtedly made plenty of crisp crackling euros.
From a distance, this mega-poster looks like it could be just another advertisement, not unlike the billboards around the Piazza San Marco. But instead, it is an image of a cult object (as a perplexed archaeologist might call it): A picture of Monviso, the highest mountain of the Cottian Alps and, more to the point, the source of the Po River. It stirs all sorts of emotions which do not submit to logic.
A few blithe spirits wanting to show their fidelity to the united Italy, which the Northern League wishes to cleave asunder, came out to wave the national flag. Some of the many policemen zooming around came to keep them company -- not to arrest them, but to make sure nobody got close enough to annoy them.
Anyone who's ever visited the gift shop of, say, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center and seen the "I Have a Dream" ashtrays knows that there is no idea or emotion so exalted that it can't be turned into tourist trinkets. Here, the stands were selling T-shirts, cigarette lighters, keychains, and potholders, bearing various motifs but concentrating on the symbol of Padania (the Promised Land yet to be found/created).
The emblem of Padania is a mystic symbol which the League calls the "Sun of the Alps" but which is also recognized around the world as the "Flower of Life." Not quite the same thing. I don't know if anybody has commented on its startling resemblance to Cannibis sativa. They must have.