THE RED ROOF HOUSES by Alessandro Moscè (Fandango)

“The houses with red roofs” by Alessandro Moscè (Fandango): meeting with the author and an excerpt from the novel


Alessandro Mosque was born in Ancona in 1969 and lives in Fabriano. He deals with Italian literature. It is found in various anthologies and Italian and foreign magazines. His poetry books have been translated into France, Spain, Romania, Venezuela, the United States, Argentina and Mexico. He has published essays, edited poetic anthologies and novels. He deals with literary criticism in various newspapers. He created the journal of art and literature Perspective and leads the national award for fiction and poetry “City of Fabriano”.

The new book by Alessandro Moscè has the title “The houses with red roofs” (Fandango): a novel defined as “The poetic and enlightening story of an often forgotten piece of twentieth – century history, an intriguing reflection on madness, integration and freedom”.

We asked the author to tell us about it …


“” Short stories The houses with red roofsbarracks-like cabins, are centered around insanity, ”he said Alessandro Mosque to Literature. “My grandparents lived near the Ancona asylum, and I remember that structure since I was a child. I’ve been taking up the topic of mental alienation since the 1960s and imagine that I’m recycling the gardener Arduino’s diary. With careful work, I tracked the lives of some patients and staff at the asylum. Someone described them to me as in an atavistic ritual. As a child, I entered the department at the same age, Luca, son of Arduino, and I have vivid memories. I frame the characters’ bittersweet gallery through their symptoms and gestures, ironic and disobedient. The director Guido Lazzari, a very human figure in line with Basaglia, is one of the main characters, just like Dr. Enrico Fermenti. Sister Germana acts as the inflexible head nurse, but with a gentle soul. Nazzareno is for all the little man in the harmless pavilion with a clown carrying. Over the years, with the advent of new medicines and the promulgation of Law 180, the hospital structure became an integral part of the city, to the point that some patients managed to get out and meet their daily lives dignified. The narrative is also the story of love, after all, and of the attempt to rediscover a lost identity.
Once an adult dealing with journalistic inquiries, I step into the red rooftops for the last time: In the 2000s, the place was converted into outpatient clinics and houses a forest guard barracks. The lives of these prisoners, the attempt to get out of a state of isolation, as well as the old health treatments that patients suffer, are universal themes that allow us to understand what great revolution was carried out in Italy with the introduction of Basaglia Law and with the closure of asylum seekers, the greatest social achievement born with the 68 as the workers’ statute. My novel therefore also has a sociological background ””.


An excerpt from “The Houses with Red Roofs” by Alessandro Moscè (Fandango)

Arduino lived in Ancona. He also wanted to be a gardener when he was a student and after leaving the Faculty of Agriculture. Green was his favorite color: the one on English football pitches, well-groomed, uniform in height, the water. He worked in an asylum for thirty-four years. When he was hired in 1962, the place looked like a barracks. The layout followed the pavilions that communicated, from arch to arch, using arcades. At the entrance, according to the concierge, two buildings were reserved for wealthy guests. To the right, the building adjoins the pharmacy, the emergency room and the kitchen. The small villas had yellow-paste brick elevations with cornices done in painted stucco. The arcades had the sixth arches lowered by wooden roofs and with the mantle cut in brick. In the middle lay the small villa in the direction entrusted to Professor Guido Lazzari, and next to the large room for medicine. The men and women, separated by a metal net that divided the buildings, were held in the custody of nuns and nurses. “If you’re not good, I’ll send you to the red roofs,” the sellers of the fruit and vegetable carts told their children. They came from the hills of Jesus and rose at dawn. They all climbed into an Alfa Romeo van or three-wheeled three-wheeled cars, each with their wooden boxes. Someone had a Lambretta and did not accompany the others in the vehicles borrowed from the money transfers. There were still those who rationed oil, lard and lard, convinced that the war could return.
The Asylum in Ancona was a small town with hundreds of guests. The red roofs, the color of the blood, welcomed the homeless, the malnourished, the drunkards, those who had returned from the war dazed, with a bullet stuck somewhere, those who could not get out of bed, those who were born straccutired, who had a physical deformity and who was the son of foreign parents, displaced, with the devil in the body, diaol. Epileptics who fell to the ground also ended up believing that seizures were a hereditary mental illness, that the evil eye had consumed the patient’s heart and soul, not just the brain. It was those who were marked by God that one should be on guard against. The main holes, the schizophrenics, held the fixed gaze, the disproportionate eye socket, and the arms along a threadlike or raised body. No one seemed to have a normal figure, everyone had a stretched, thin, overly fat physique. In the sixties on the floors above the asylum lived the violent, the uncontrollable, the psychotic. Ancona was afraid of its mad people, and those who came past these own, slowed their pace, did not turn around, conjured them forward, closed their eyes. Children were forbidden to look at the pavilions and patients looking from one bar to the other or between the cracks in the entrance gate. A nurse had reported that orthodox methods were far from being used to alleviate the ailments and that no one would ever be cured. Violent men were locked inside rooms with a mattress on the floor, without springs, naked, with a blanket over their shoulders when their moans turned to howls and there was no way to make them shut up. They peed and got feces on the ground, without shame. Pillow if you were thinking of the riverto the department, even among those who they all said well. A citadel of the invisible, the asylum, which the locals in the years of economic boom would rather not have around, as if it were a shame, a footprint. And those who lived in the ward were condemned to be citizens of an inferior series. “He lives close to the red roofs, beware,” the boys commented, as if the asylum was spreading a contagious virus, scabies or typhus.

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© Fandango


Details of the book: “The Houses with Red Roofs” by Alessandro Moscè (Fandango)

On the occasion of the sale of Grandma Altera’s and Grandpa Ernesto’s house, Alessandro returns to the red roofs, or the large structure of the former psychiatric hospital in Ancona, a complex of green buildings inaugurated in the early twentieth century and rebuilt under the Basaglia Act of 1978.
The liberation from his childhood home becomes for him the threshold of a journey through time, in the memories of when a boy wandered around the gates to see the madmen, they interned, when Ancona and Marche all bordered on those who had not stood inside. these walls to World War II: the former prostitutes, the obsessions, the paranoid and simple drifters who inflict revenge and corporal punishment on them.
Alessandro remembers Dr. Lazzari, assisted by doctors, Sister Germana and the gardener Arduino, the king of flowers and medicinal plants, to make a change in the management of the hospital, in the style of Basaglia.
The subject of their attempt at a more humane hospital is the man-giraffe, the pirate, Franca, who dreams of the Nazis, Adele, who remembers nothing but Mussolini, Giordano, who, when he does not collect buttons, thinks only of Naples football.
Alexander goes into their hearts and compassionately describes the guests at the asylum for us as meaning, spirit, emotion, fear, hope.
Joy, sadness, euphoria, despair. The challenge of a treatable madness is intertwined with tender family memories that also consist of smells and tastes from a lost world, and with the football field where he and Luca, the gardener’s son, challenged the madmen in a fantastic match with mixed teams. .
The poetic and enlightening story of an often forgotten piece of twentieth – century history, an intriguing reflection on madness, integration and freedom.


Alessandro Mosque was born in Ancona in 1969 and lives in Fabriano. He deals with Italian literature. He has published the poetic collections The smell of the alleys (I Quaderni del Battello Ebbro 2005), Outdoor space (Moretti & Vitali 2008), Hotel of the night (Aragno 2013, San Tommaso D’Aquino Award), the e-book plaque Until dawn, the railing lights up (Poetry Laboratories 2017) e Father’s dressing gown (Aragno 2019). It is found in various anthologies and Italian and foreign magazines. His poetry books have been translated into France, Spain, Romania, Venezuela, the United States, Argentina and Mexico. He has published the narrated essay The resident traveler (Cathedral 2009) and the novels The talent of the disease (Avagliano 2012), The white age (Avagliano 2016), Anita Ekberg’s last days (Melville 2018, finalist at the Flaiano Award). He published the anthology of modern Italian poets Lyrical and visionary (Editorial work 2003); the books of critical essays Places in the twentieth century (Marsilio 2004), Between two centuries (Neftasia 2007), Millennium Gallery (Raffaelli 2016), Alberto Bevilacqua. Motherly word (Il Rio 2020) and the anthology of Italian poets from the end of the twentieth century, translated in the USA, The new Italian poetry (Gradiva 2006). He deals with literary criticism in various newspapers, including the newspaper “Il Foglio”. He conceived the journal of art and literature “Perspective” and leads the national prize for fiction and poetry “City of Fabriano”. His personal website is


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