Discovering the ‘phenomenology of the hippie movement of the third millennium’
What comes to mind when you think of the word hippie?
Yes, of course, the flower children, the sexual revolution, marijuana, ‘peace and love’… but what if we told you that the hippie movement not only didn’t die at the end of the overwhelming sixties but on the contrary, it has kept up to date and in Italy has several communities?
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Let’s be a little clearer.
The hippies of the Third Millennium: ecovillages
When talking about ecovillages, it is inappropriate to think of one of their inhabitants as the stereotypical hippie, or even in its most negative sense, i.e. the bored ‘Daddy’s boy’ who lives on other people’s money and gets high on hashish and cannabis. In reality, ecovillages and their inhabitants are something else entirely.
But what does this term mean?
An ecovillage is a form of intentional community. It means that people choose to live together, in a particular place and with specific rules.
It goes without saying that different groups of people have other ideas, and therefore it is difficult, to say the least, to outline a single ecovillage paradigm.
There are settlements where everything is shared, others where agriculture is the primary source of livelihood, and others with a mixed economy. The common thread underlying these 100 or so villages in Italy is a shared desire for sustainability, contact with nature and sharing. The opposite kind of life to the frenetic one led in the big Italian and European cities.
And who are the inhabitants of an ecovillage?
As Bernardo Cumbo tells us in his blog in Fatto Quotidiano, the population of these places is highly heterogeneous. Some young people want to experience a different life, families looking for education more in contact with nature for their children, and older adults looking for a quiet place to grow old in company.
Finally, life in these facilities is neither idle nor contemplative: they contact the land and a lot. And all of this is in contact with people whose attitudes and characters are always different.
The ‘old school’ hippies: the Mugello meeting
In August 2021, the Rainbow Family Gathering took place in Tuscany. This hippie gathering has existed in Italy since 2002 and has its roots in 1972.
That year, at Strawberry Lake in Colorado, more than 20,000 people gathered in the middle of nature to meditate for four days. But within a short time, this became a custom that was replicated annually and crossed American borders to spread to many states, not least Italy.
The Rainbow Family is a pacifist and anarchic new age movement based on free love and freedom. Their organisation is not hierarchical and does not exist on an official level. Some call it ‘the largest non-member organisation in the world'.
Another important aspect, all the expenses and work necessary for the organisation of the Gatherings are voluntarily and paid for by the members of the organisation.
And this is what happened among the Florentine municipalities of Upper Mugello in 2021: hundreds of people participated in the Gathering (the exact number cannot be estimated, nor has it been released).
On the eve of the event, the Gathering had been accompanied by concerns about gatherings in the midst of the Covid pandemic, but the event went off smoothly and without incident of any kind.
So no, hippie culture is not dead. It has just become more reserved.
In touch with nature: the Valle Della Luna community
There are isolated rocks and bushes in Sardinia, alongside the magnificent beaches often taken by storm by mass tourism.
This valley is known to most (we are in the north-eastern part, between Capo Testa and Santa Teresa di Gallura) as ‘Cala Grande’. However, the locals and the hippies who choose it as their temporary home call it ‘the Moon Valley‘.
Yes, because on this peninsula, in addition to the Mediterranean maquis and breathtaking beaches, there are enormous boulders smoothed over the millennia by the wind. If you stay close to them, you get the impression that you are almost no longer on earth: a natural lunar landscape.
Since the 1960s, this fantastic, almost dreamlike place has been chosen by groups of hippies who come here to spend the summer, sleeping under the natural vaults carved out of the boulders or in shelters made of wood and straw.
The lifestyle in Valle Della Luna is peaceful and straightforward. The only rules are mutual respect, participation and sharing. There is little room for globalisation and technology; the rhythms are dictated by nature itself.
However, there is no shortage of contradictions: some define the hippies of the valley as shy and solitary. Others even accuse them of building abuse because their shelters would impede the usability of the beach. In contrast, others give the place a psychedelic reputation.
But the reality is that the hippies of the Valle Della Luna are not a fad but a lifestyle that aims at communion with their beloved land.
Hippies in Italy: at a glance
In this article, we have tried to provide an overview of the Italian heirs of the hippie movement that spread like wildfire around the world from the 1960s onwards.
We have presented three typical cases: that of Ecovillages, that of large gatherings, and that of isolated communities.
We have presented three typical cases: Ecovillages, large gatherings, and isolated communities to better convey the heterogeneity of this multi-faceted microcosm.
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