The Crystallisation of failed Utopias

I’ve been living in Bologna for nine years already. Like many others, I arrived in this city with the aim of studying at the local university (the oldest in the world…) and eventually decided to stay. Most of the students who come each year keep the myths that characterize the city alive and deepen them: on the one hand, it’s an open, outrageous city whose streets bustle with life and brisk activity; on the other, it’s a city of cultivation and intelligence. Nonetheless, thanks to its way of being, the city is known particularly well as a rabble-rousing, revolutionary city dominated by left-leaning tendencies.

As we walk down the university alleys, we might easily encounter such baffling phenomena as young people loitering in the streets dressed in ‘60s- and ‘70s-style clothes – a Peruvian-style coat and sweater, Clarks shoes and creased trousers, Alain Robbe-Grillet-style jackets, thick-rimmed glasses from the period, the long beards of spiritual leaders on twenty-year-old faces, moustaches, unbelievable numbers of young people with long hair and dreads who see themselves as spiritual descendants of Bob Marley and advocate marihuana.

The city itself seems caught in a nostalgic snare it would have trouble extricating itself from – but there isn’t the least desire to do so. It’s as if the ghost of times past were a millstone around the neck of the present, a present with no dream-affording Utopias.