Turin activists fend off developers with dance, debates and bee-keeping

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

23 PHOTOS
Turin activists prevent building from being torn down
See Gallery
Turin activists prevent building from being torn down
A yard of the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement, is seen in Turin, Italy, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A curtain lies on the floor inside an empty room at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin, Italy, July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
People dance during a concert organised by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the movement in Turin, Italy, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A man rides a bicycle past a yard at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin, Italy, July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
Toothbrushes are seen on a sink inside a bathroom at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin, Italy July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A member of the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement plays music on his computer at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the movement in Turin, Italy, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
Members of the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement prepare meals that they will sell to visitors at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the movement, in Turin, Italy, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A member of the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement checks a honeycomb at the apiary of the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the movement in Turin, Italy, July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
Roberta Vassallo, a member of the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement, plays a ukulele at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the movement in Turin, Italy July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
People dance during a party organised by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the movement in Turin, Italy, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A view shows pages from books hanging at the main stairway of the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin, Italy, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A tattoo is seen on the back of Yaiza Di Biase, a member of the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement, as she cooks at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the movement in Turin, Italy July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A member of the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement scrapes a wall at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the movement in Turin, Italy, July 15, 2016.REUTERS/Marco Bello 
Members of the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement make seats using tires at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the movement in Turin, Italy, July 15, 2016.REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A detail of a door is seen at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin, Italy, July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A door is seen at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin, Italy July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A sofa is seen in a room at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin Italy, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
Trees are seen from an empty room of the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin, Italy, July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
Photographs are seen on a table at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin, Italy, July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
Members of the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement serve dinner to visitors of the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the movement in Turin, Italy, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A shopping cart used as a planter is seen at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin, Italy, July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
A room used as a darkroom is seen at the Cavallerizza Reale building, which is occupied by the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" movement in Turin, Italy, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello 
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

TURIN, Italy, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Bodies sway as a band beats out a rhythm in a corner of a 300-year-old courtyard in Turin's Cavallerizza Reale, part of a round-the-clock occupation staged to stop the building falling into the hands of developers.

Elsewhere, activists set up art installations, prepare meals and care for a colony of bees in the former military academy and royal stables earmarked for luxury flats.

The campaigners moved into the city-center landmark more than two years ago and slowly transformed it into a community center come gallery come sit-in protest. There is a working darkroom, performance spaces and beds where visitors can stay for up to three nights for free.

"We felt called to the protection of a public good, a place destined for a sad end," said Diego di Caro, a member of the "Assemblea Cavallerizza 14:45" occupation group - named after the building's broken 18th century clock, stuck for ever at a quarter to three.

"We interpreted our role as that of civil servants, simple guardians who invited everyone to participate," he said.

The monumental brick building had already gone through a series of transformations before the protesters moved in.

It was built around 300 years ago as a military academy for senior officers from the royal House of Savoy. Since then, its crumbling courtyards have also been a police parking area, housing for civil servants and a stage for theater and movie productions.

The then city authorities agreed to sell it off in 2009, triggering the mounting protest movement.

Every day, students, artists and associations organize yoga, theater, dance and music sessions, debates, concerts and parties in the structure, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 as part of the Residences of the House of Savoy.

"Each time we call, the Assembly receives a bigger response from the public, a process that should not be stopped but only accelerated," said Diego di Caro.

Assembly members are working on a plan to restore the building and turn it into a permanent cultural center, and these days they are getting a more sympathetic hearing from the city authorities.

Turin's administration was taken over in June by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which says it also wants to work out a way to keep the Cavallerizza Reale under public management.

"We would like to open a participatory management plan of the property. But it's not such a simple path. There is a lack of resources," said Guido Montanari, deputy mayor of Turin and professor of history of contemporary architecture at Turin Politecnico.

"We want to come back to a public management of the asset with the citizens, not only the current occupiers."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners