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Crowds pay respects to Italy Nobel winner Dario Fo

Crowds of mourners flocked on Friday to pay their respects to Italy's Nobel prize-winning dramatist Dario Fo, whose flower-adorned coffin lay in state in a theatre in Milan.

Crowds pay respects to Italy Nobel winner Dario Fo
Dadio Fo's coffin lay in state at the Piccolo Teatro Strehler. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP
A lay ceremony will be held Saturday in front of the city's Gothic  cathedral for the writer and actor, one of the leading figures in 20th century farce and political theatre, who died on Thursday aged 90.
   
Behind the coffin stood an easel featuring a photograph of a smiling Fo, brush in hand, while painting materials rested on a stool nearby in tribute to the provocative playwright, who studied fine arts and architecture in Milan
before turning to the theatre.
   
His son Jacopo and his wife and children were present at the Piccolo Teatro Strehler to share memories of the Italian master.
 
Fo was “a 360-degrees artist, he was an extraordinary innovator in the theatre world and linguistically as well,” 27-year old history student Vincenzo Mirigliano told AFP, after placing a flower near the coffin.
   
“But he was also a great painter, creating works (…) with extraordinary  colours,” he added, saying Fo's genius lay in his ability to mix humour with moments of profound reflection.
   
Adalberto da Pieve, 80, who came from Milan's outskirts to say goodbye to the mime, stand-up comic, historian and political commentator, said “he was such an ironic person, we will miss him”.
   
“Even the sky is crying today,” added his wife Angela Sansoterra, 73, as dark rain clouds broke over the northern Italian city.
   
Fo, who was married to the actress and activist Franca Rame, won the Nobel prize for literature in 1997 and told Swedish Academy the award also belonged to his wife and life-long collaborator, who died in 2013.
   
He was best known for his works “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” and “Can't Pay, Won't Pay”.

NOBEL

Singing in the rain at send-off for Italy’s Dario Fo

Thousands of mourners sang as they walked through the streets of Milan Saturday to pay their respects to Italy's Nobel prize-winning dramatist Dario Fo at a lay ceremony in front of the city's Gothic cathedral.

Singing in the rain at send-off for Italy's Dario Fo
Jacopo Fo, son of dramatist Dario Fo, during the march. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP
The funeral cortege wound its way in heavy rain from the Piccolo Teatro Strehler where Fo's coffin had been lying in state, with mourners singing political ballads in honour of the left-winger, who died on Thursday aged 80.
 
Crowds taking shelter under a sea of coloured umbrellas in the northern Italian city's Piazza Duomo chanted “Dario! Dario!”
   
Fo's son Jacopo and some of the country's cultural elite spoke in honour of a provocative playwright unafraid to clash with authority.
 
“We are celebrating the greatest among us, who had the ability to ridicule the powerful by pulling faces,” Fo's close friend Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement, told the crowds.
   
On this day of mourning, “it's better to be generous than miserly. We will pop corks, sing, dance, and make love”, he said.
 
Fo, one of the leading figures in 20th century farce and political theatre, best known for his works “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” and “Can't Pay, Won't Pay”, won the Nobel prize for literature in 1997.
   
He told the Swedish Academy the award also belonged to his wife and life-long collaborator Franca Rame, who died in 2013.   “We're Communists and atheists but my father never stopped talking to my mother and asking her advice,” Jacopo Fo said.
 
“It's not possible to really die. I'm sure they are together now and sharing a lot of laughs,” he added.
 
 As the ceremony came to a close a group of musicians outside the cathedral struck up a band version of “Bella ciao”, an Italian partisan song sung by the anti-fascist resistance movement during the Second World War.
   
“When Dario Fo won the Nobel, half the country — out of jealousy or to taunt him — tried to belittle it,” writer and journalist Roberto Saviano told journalists after paying his respects.
   
“This is an ungrateful country, but there is also an authentic part which has always protected (Fo) and listened to him. He taught me not to be a pushover, to have fun being a critic and never to take myself too seriously,”
he said.