It’s hard to tell what’s louder: the electric guitar, the opera singer or the hundreds of hands clapping. In the courtyard of a building in the historic centre of Turin, in northern Italy, Maksim Cristan and Daria Spada are on stage – standing on their balcony with a guitar modified to look like a sword, and a microphone.
Since 2011 the couple have organised concerts on their balcony every Sunday afternoon. At first it was a way to get to know their neighbours, says Spada, 36, who is originally from Puglia, in southern Italy. Now it’s “a regular event for residents, tourists and passersby”, and “a gift to the city”.
Ironically, it was Turin’s reputation for being avant garde and a “little Berlin” that drew Cristan and Spada to the city in the first place, says Cristan, 50, who is originally from Croatia. “We are helping to make Turin what we thought it already was.”
For most of the 20th century Turin was an industrial powerhouse as the birthplace of giants like Fiat. Today it is more often included in tourist guides for its alternative and experimental art credentials.
With a population of nearly 890,000, it is a cultural centre of northern Italy – a hub of dance and electronic music production and festivals, and a thriving university city. Turin also has a strong network of long-standing centri sociali – occupied buildings that host music and events and act as centres for autonomous cultural and political life.
But contrasted with its burgeoning reputation as the beating heart of Italy’s progressive scene, is the defence of some residents’ rights to peace and quiet.
This month locals of an area on close to the university and home to many bars that are open late, held a “silent protest” in Piazza Santa Giulia against noise, hanging bed sheets from their balconies to symbolise their lack of sleep.
On the other side of the city centre, the concertino has also come under fire for alleged noise violations, although it is held for just one hour, during daylight hours, once a week. Read more