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The Incredible Story of the Rose Island: A Film for Freedom Lovers

Netflix’s Italian film about the incredible history of Rose Island reflects the passionate struggle of an individual against the State

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The Incredible Story of the Rose Island is the revelation film of the moment on Netflix. It is a light Italian comedy that, behind its delicious humor, contains a powerful and inspiring message about freedom, with which it is conquering the hearts of audiences around the world.

Based on real events, it tells the story of Giorgio Rosa, an Italian engineer who in 1967 built an artificial island 6.8 miles off the coast of Rimini in the international waters of the Adriatic Sea and declared it an independent state from Italy.

Real-life Rosa died in 2017 at the age of 92. During his life he was not very inclined to talk about his painful fight against the government on account of the island he decided to manufacture, but before he died he gave his blessing to this film, so that his amazing story could reach the whole world in a comedy genre.

Although at the end of the sixties the media did not have the reach it has today, it is striking that this story did not become popular beyond the city where it happened. In Rimini it is almost a popular legend, but it did not have much impact in Italy or in other countries.

Thanks to this Netflix film, now the world can witness the epic feat of an individual against adversity and government. Fed up with the regulations, bureaucracy, and taxes with which the government hindered the dreams of innovators like him, he decided to take advantage of the legal loophole provided by international waters to build a utopia without so much state regulation.

The construction of the Rose Island was a challenge, given the state of engineering technology at the time. Despite the inclement weather on the high seas, in just four months he managed to erect a 400 square meter platform that included a bar, restaurant, souvenir store and post office.

The Rosa family was not exactly wealthy, and Giorgio had a full-time job that allowed him to support his family and finance the construction of the island in his free time. Giorgio Rosa had to literally invent the technology to build the Island of Roses, and he only had his wits, his own hands, and the help of a small group of friends.

On May 1, 1968 Giorgio Rosa proclaimed himself president of the independent state of the Republic of Rosa Island. The small government took several measures in order to be recognized internationally. As an official language they proclaimed Esperanto, a universal language invented at the end of the 19th century. They issued their own currency and designed a flag with its coat of arms.

The island, which quickly attracted attention for its festivities in an atmosphere of freedom, began to receive thousands of visits from tourists as well as applications for citizenship. Despite not having broken any laws, the Italian government immediately put Rosa in the spotlight for defying its authority.

The government first tried to discredit him, accusing him of different crimes such as tax evasion and drug trafficking, spreading the lie that the platform was unsafe or even making up stories about Russian submarines around the island; then the government tried to intimidate him by exerting political pressure to get his father fired from his job; finally the government tried to buy his will by offering him a lot of money and an amnesty if he would regularize the legal situation of his island and start paying taxes.

None of this made Giorgio give up his island, making it clear that his was a genuine dream of freedom. He did not give in to government reprisals, nor did he succumb to money, his only motivation was his love of engineering and freedom. The Rosa Island was a testimony of the power that the individual has when he decides to bravely face the challenges, both real ones created by Nature and artificial ones generated by governments.

55 days after its independence proclamation, on June 24th 1968, the island was invaded by the “Carabinieri” (Italian police) and the “Guardia di Finanza” (agents of the Ministry of Economy and Finance), putting an end to Girorgio Rosa’s dream come true.

On February 11, 1969 it was demolished by the Italian government. They had to use two rounds of explosives to sink it, making it clear that it was not as unsafe and unstable as the government claimed.

There are two anecdotes told by his son, Lorenzo Rosa, that serve as a reminder of the creative nature of the individual in the face of the parasitic nature of the government.

Shortly after the destruction of the island, the Italian government sent Giorgio Rosa a bill for 11 million lire (about $7,000) in demolition costs.

However, the divers who were in charge of dismantling the debris did have a gesture of humanity. They gave the family a brick recovered from the ruins with the following inscription: “The divers of Rimini have the honor of returning the fragment of a dream to a dreamer.”

Similar projects to the Rose Island today

Netflix’s film about the incredible history of the Rose Island is a true gift for all freedom lovers. Especially when films with such a clear message in favor of the enterprising individual are authentic islets in the middle of an ocean of government apology films.

In novels like Atlas Shrugged or video games like Bioshock we have already seen similar projects represented in fiction. Perhaps the popularity of this film revives the public’s interest in real projects of free micronations that exist today such as The Seasteading Institute or Liberland.

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