Anita Mezzalira, the first Venetian woman politic 

28 March 2022

In 1946, Anita Mezzalira became the first woman to enter the Office of assessor in a council of the city of Venice, a city that today celebrated 1600 years of its foundation. She devoted her whole life to her ideas, to a lofty idea of justice and the protection of the poor right up to her last day of life, when she was found motionless while clutching in her hands a letter asking for housing for two evicted spouses. 

She was very small when her father returned from the Garibaldi expedition and thought her the values of freedom and justice. From the very beginning she understood that she would dedicate her life to fighting against social injustice. Anita began working at the age 14 in the Tobacco Factory to help the family who lived in absolute poverty. She was hired with the fifth grade due the certificate that certified her condition as “miserable”. She was a very intelligent woman and, although she also had retaliation because of her political commitment, she devoted her whole life to helping people: she set up summer stays for children, took care of the soup kitchens of the poor, visited hospitals, cared for those who were ill. Mezzalira joined the trade union movement with demands ranging from wages, to pensions, to the health of the environment, to kindergartens to allow mothers to work and participated in the organization of the National Tobacco Strike of 1914, the most important in the history, which lasted over two months. 

First a socialist and then a communist, Anita was suspended from work several times and, when she was deprived of her salary, she was so loved by her colleagues that they taxed themselves and helped her. A strong opponent of fascism, expelled from the factory in 1927, she participated in the Resistance and in 1945 she was reassigned to the Manufactory where she was elected to the secretariat of the Internal Commission and, in 1948 she was appointed municipal councilor in the lists of the Communist Party. Then followed the appointment as deputy assessor for nutrition. And so began the political career of a woman who made a difference in Venice, a city that recognize her commitment by naming a street on the Lido.