Spring 2011. Hot on the heels of the Arab Spring, the world is in turmoil. People have lost faith in their leadership, and seem unable or unwilling to let things continue on as they are. Widespread political and corporate corruption, failing financial institutions, labor unrest - and through all of it, the rich keep getting richer. People taking to the streets in record numbers.
When I came upon the crowds, I was apprehensive. TV footage of crackdowns on demonstrators was fresh in my mind. Even fresher were the memories of smashed windows and burning police cars from the recent Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver, my hometown. But, hey, I was on vacation, had my camera in my hand, and subject matter right in front of me. I waded into the crowd, hoping that my rangefinder would look suitably unthreatening and suitably un-uncover-cop. Always keeping a watchful eye for brewing trouble, and the Carabinieri keeping an eye on everybody else.
All around me, the excitement was growing - banners, noise, and shouting. Berlusconi's power on the wane, and no idea what was coming next - everybody demanding change. My schoolboy Italian useless for gaining clues from the rapid fire conversation around me.
But gradually, the mood begins to change, and the spirit lighten. It’s a beautiful spring day, after all, and these are Italians. Plenty of time for anger and change - we'll boot those bastards out of power, and be done with them. Time for a party.
In the end, it all becomes a lot of fun - a wonderful day in the sun with a few thousand of my closest friends. A little music, a little wine, a few laughs and a good meal at the end. I think even the carabinieri went home with smiles on their faces.