Cavallera arrived in Carloforte when he was still young and immediately became a pioneer of socialism and then a protagonist in the trade union struggles of the Sulcis miners. A photo that recurs in historical reconstructions of the events of those years shows the crowding of the winches in the town’s port after Cavallera’s trial for organising the strikes on the island in the last years of the century. The present-day cinema is therefore not named after him by chance: traces of that first use, and of the trade union history of this place of memory in Carloforte, remain on the façade overlooking Via Roma, where the side entrance to the building opens, still dominated by the sign Casa del proletariato (Home of the proletariat).
On 1 May 1922, at its inauguration, the theatre was named after the Tempiese tenor Bernerdo Demuro, who was to perform on its stage for free. During the Fascist era it became the ‘Palazzo Italia’, with the inscription ‘La nostra vita è sul mare’ (Our life is on the sea) on the Corso Battellieri. Only later was it named after Cavallera.
Inside, in the vast building, the rigour of the angles and straight lines that dominate the external façades give way to the Art Nouveau arzigogues: once the period of trade union struggles had passed, u Palassiu, with its redesigned interior, stopped hosting workers’ assemblies and took on the appearance of a film theatre. Its loggias, the three galleries with gratings in art nouveau style, saw the greats of pop music perform on the large stage: from Claudio Villa to Nicola di Bari, from Nilla Pizzi to Little Tony. Along with the greats of operetta, such as the company of Elvio Calderoni and Aurora Banfi and the Abati di Modena.
Still shrouded in the aura of the town’s historic monument, the Cineteatro Cavallera currently hosts the most important cultural events organised by the Carlofortina community, and is occasionally available for the organisation of private events.