Attempting to brush up on my Italian I’ve been watching YouTube videos in Italian and came across a phrase I’ve never heard before, tipi loschi, “shady types”, in the sense of low characters, wise guys, the usual suspects.
There are a few associations in Italy that call themselves i tipi loschi and they all take their inspiration from Pier Giorgio Frassati who as a gregarious young man started a club dedicated to hiking, prayer, acts of charity, and having a good time, called La Compagnia o Società dei Tipi Loschi.
Frassati died of polio at the age of 24 and his funeral was swamped with people, especially poor people, that he had helped in one way or another. His well-to-do family was shocked, they had had no idea how many people he had affected in his short life. Thus began the legend of Pier Giorgio Frassati.
The original Tipi Loschi are not around anymore but there are other groups that take their inspiration from Frassati. One such group is on the Adriadic side of Italy in San Benedetto del Tronto, which began as a group of teens looking for fun and spiritualty, but as they started growing up, getting married and having children they ran into a whole set of grown-up problems associated with advancing careers and raising kids. These Tipi Loschi took the extraordinary step of vowing to not leave their hometown to advance their careers but to put down their roots where they were. They started co-opts, a school, and some charitable organizations. They call themselves “the hobbits” and San Benedetto del Tronto is their Shire.
Besides Frasseti, they take their inspiration from G.K. Chesterton’s social and political writings (most people know Chesterton as a novelist and essayist), drawn to Chesterton’s localism and love of place, family and tradition, things which modern economics and ways of thinking tend to undermine, but which are important for a healthy, joyful human life.
What Frasseti saw, what his modern followers understand, is that a person can’t be good or happy in isolation, and that we live in a world that tends to isolate the individual from his family and neighbors, from his heritage, from nature, and from God. There has to be a conscious attempt to overcome the forces of disintegration.