As Italy’s capital falls apart, a secret organisation is doing the repairs the authorities won’t
The seven clandestine pavement-fixers are part of a network of about 20 activists quietly doing the work that the city authorities have failed to do. Gap stands for Gruppi Artigiani Pronto Intervento, (“groups of artisan emergency services”) but is also a tribute to the partisans of Gruppi di Azione Patriottica, who fought the fascists during the second world war.
“We chose this name because many of our parents or grandparents were partisans and we liked the idea of honouring their memory,” says one of the activists, a fiftysomething architect who goes by the pseudonym Renato. While the modern-day Gap aren’t risking their live, their modus operandi is inspired by resistance saboteurs: they identify a target, strike and disappear unseen into the city streets.
Gap have been busy over the past few months. In December they repaired the fountain, built in the 1940s, of the Principe di Piemonte primary school. In January they painted a pedestrian crossing on a dangerous major road. Their latest work, the pavement fixing in Ostiense, involved filling a deep hole that regularly filled with water when it rained.