By Emily Roe and Cristiano Corvino
VERNONA, Italy (Reuters) – Swastikas on the wall turn into giant cupcakes with purple frosting, and the words “my Hitler” become “my muffins.” All in one day at work by the Italian street artist who fights racism by turning malicious graffiti into food.
“I take care of my town substituting symbols of hate for delicious things to eat,” said Pier Paolo Spinazze, 39, whose pseudonym is Cibo – “food” in Italian.
On a recent sunny morning, he was alerted by one of his 363,000 Instagram followers that there were swastikas and racial offenses in a small tunnel outside Verona.
Off he went, wearing his straw hat and his signature stuffed sausage necklace, and he went to work with his paint bag as cars honked by.
He topped off the offense with a shiny slice of pizza margherita and caprese salad, consisting of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. A swastika was turned into a huge red tomato. As he created the murals in the tunnel, each of which took about 15 minutes, people drove by, leaning out of windows to watch and wave. An art teacher lowered the window to praise the work.
In recent years, human rights groups have warned of rising racism in Italy in the wake of mass immigration from Africa. Fascist culture and wartime dictator Benito Mussolini still have many admirers.
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