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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, Dec. 18 2013: Milan's Bronze Typist


Soldiers in statues wave swords, lawyers hold statute books, and rulers brandish proclamations: Why not immortalize a journalist working at a typewriter? We were startled when we first saw this on our one-day stopover in Milan. It's probably the only instance of that, a statue of Italian journalist Indro Montanelli in Milan's Public Gardens. The park itself was renamed to honor him when his statue, by Vito Tongiani, was installed in 2002, a year after his death.


The statue led us to look for more about him. What we found was that trying to trace his political views during his career, from the late 20s until his death, is like trying to follow the skid marks of a car on slick pavement. He started as a believer that Italy needed fascism to bring order, but soon got in trouble with the regime. He continued working in Italy, with time out for France, Spain during the Civil War and the U.S.; served as a war correspondent in various parts of Europe, and managed to be in trouble with both the left and the right. By the end of the war, he had been jailed and condemned by Germany, but was rescued and escaped to Switzerland.


In post-war years, he became one of Italy's best-known journalists and received many awards as editor of a major newspaper--and then was fired for refusing to support the political ambitions of his boss, Silvio Berlusconi. He was an assassination target for the Red Brigades in the 1970s. Hard to imagine, but the man with endless enemies ended up an icon of world journalism--and a man with a bronze typewriter.

768px-Monument_to_Indro_Montanelli_-_Monumento_a_Indro_Montanelli_-_Giardini_Porta_Venezia_-_Milano_-_01[lower picture: stefano stabile/Wikimedia Commons] 




Images (2)
  • Indro Montanelli, Milan
  • Monumento a Indro Montanelli Milano

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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I enjoy the photo and the story, PHeymont, but am drawn to the typewriter.  In a few more generations, children will be wondering, "what's that strange thing the man is holding on his lap?"  I still remember owning and using a typewriter, but few under the age of 30 do.


I recall reading a SciFi short story collection written in the 1950s not long ago that featured a story about a journalist traveling on a space ship.  He needed to keep his typewriter anchored so that it didn't float away in zero gravity!  Imagine -- a typewriter on something as modern as a spaceship!  Even the great Arthur C. Clarke didn't envision these changes.


When I see a statue like this I'm reminded of the way personal computing has revolutionized our lives -- mostly for the better. 

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

I was struck, actually, by the size of the typewriter (sort of like an Olivetti Lettera 22, the chic portable of the 1960s). When Montanelli started out, surely a typewriter you could put on your knees was as strange an idea as computers were in our childhood (I'm giving away my age, I know)!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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