Home » Academics » Exploring Fascist Rome

Exploring Fascist Rome


Andrew Cohen

Since we are now approaching finals week at the Centro and have finished all of the normal course material, today we had a chance to explore a whole different side of the Roman city: its Fascist period.  Everyone knows Mussolini for his role in forming modern fascism, his rise to Italian Prime Minister then il Duce, and of course his great hats.

Here's a sampling.

While Duce (which translates to leader) Mussolini was responsible for serious public building projects that sought to transform the ancient city.  Rome had grown organically from its beginnings around its many hills, so no orthogonal grid plan governs the way that the roads are laid out.  Anyone that has been to Italy knows that trying to take a shortcut is dangerous since the road could curve in any direction at any time and throw you way off course.  Mussolini tried to fix this problem by building up new areas that would be better planned out for a modern city with cars and many more people than had ever before lived in Rome.

One of his main areas that he created was the Esposizione Universale Roma, or EUR area south of the city center that was originally planned for the 1942 world’s fair.  The architecture here is typical of the fascist era and features Classical elements like lots of white travertine and column structures, but strips all of the decoration from them creating a very stark and intimidating view, perhaps suitable to the authoritarianism Mussolini aspired to.

eur.jpg

While in EUR, we vistied the Museo della Civita Romana, which houses plaster casts of some of Rome’s most important artwork, including the friezes from the Columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius.  It also houses a model of the city in the year 300 CE that shows in detail every building within the city center.  Normally museum goers view the model from a balcony above, but with the Centro we got access to the lower level so we could walk right up to the model itself.  This totally sounds really nerdy, but believe me its cool.

Centristi (Centro students) getting up close and personal with the model.

After this, we split into groups to explore various fascist monuments that we would then present to the other groups later.  My group went to the Foro Italico, which was once the Foro Mussolini.  He created his own forum like ancient emperor’s had to assert his leadership of the city and built the Stadio Olympico for the Fascist Male Academy of Physical Education (again with the facism.)  He also placed a large obelisk that reads plainly “Mussolini Dux” or “Mussolini Leads” as a not-so-subtle reminder of the fact that he was in charge.

Seeing this side of Rome definitely gives me a new perspective on the city.  I am usually so focused on the ancient and maybe Renaissance history of the city that the fascist seems more of a hinderance that just serves to make some parts of the city kind of ugly and a constant scapegoat for destruction of archaeological ruins to make room for the modern city.  Although Italy’s fascist period certainly wasn’t a great time to live in Rome, seeing the impact of the fascist architecture and building projects makes me realize that it just adds to the diversity of Rome’s monumental history.  And it’s important to remember that modern people live in Rome who want modern things.  It may sound silly and obvious, but when you get deep into discussions about how important preserving the past is it can be easy to condemn all new subway lines that might interfere with an unknown ancient temple.  To me, the fascist architecture now serves as a constant reminder of the careful balance between preserving the past and allowing the city to move forward, a problem we rarely think about in the US where the land’s history before about 500 years ago is mostly ignored.

Might have rambled a bit, but as I come to the end of my semester here in Rome I have a lot of thoughts about the city that I’m eager to share.  To add some levity, I’ll end with a great Mussolini comic courtesy of xkcd.


Back Home   

we're talking about

a cappella Academics activities admissions alpha chi omega Alternative Spring Break Alumni Alumni Lawn AOII ASB athenian sing Athletics AXLE Baking BCM Big Brothers Big Sisters biology blair Blair School of Music Blogging Books Branscomb break brevard Bridgestone arena Cafe Coco caitlyn's catch-ups California campus catch-up chronicles cello Centennial Park Chicago child development choosing a major choosing Vanderbilt christmas Circuits class Class of 2017 Classes Club Soccer Club Sports coffee Cognitive Studies College College Life college of arts and science college sports Commencement Commodore Cruise Commodore Quake commodores commons community concert Concerts Cooking Country Music dance derby days Dining Dinner Diversity downtown downtown nashville Economics ed sheeran Edinburgh End of Semester end of the semester engineering exam exams exploring Extracurriculars fall Fall Break family family weekend fido finals finals week First Year five days of harry Florida food football franklin fraternity free food french freshman Freshman Life Freshman Year Freshmen friends fun GEO graduation Greek Life Grins Halloween Harry Potter Health Care hillsboro Hillsboro Village HOD holidays home homecoming Housing Human and Organizational Development Ice Cream IFSA-Butler Inside Dores International International Student internship internships Intramurals james franklin Jeni's job Jobs Kentucky Libraries library list London major managerial studies math Mayfield MCAT meal plan Mechanical Engineering Mechatronics medical school Megabus melodores memories MHS MOSAIC Move Crew Move-In movies Music Music City Music on Campus Nashville Nashville Predators Nashville sports Nashville Symphony Nationals nature neuroscience OACS off campus on campus events opportunities Orchestra original cast Packing parent's weekend Parking Peabody performance Performances philosophy physics poetry Poland pre-med procrastination professor professors rand Reading Rec Center Registration relaxing Religious Life research retreat Rites of Spring Rome roommate ROTC Running rush Schedule School school spirit Scotland sec Semester senior Senior Year Service shopping sick sigma phi lambda sleep snow soccer social life sororities sorority South Africa speakers sports Spring Spring Break Spring Semester stress Student Life student organizations Study Study Abroad Study Break studying Summer Summer Break Sweet Cece's Taste of Nashville Taylor Swift Tennessee Textbooks thanksgiving Thanksgiving Break The Music Group theatre tour guide towers tpac training travel ultimate frisbee undergraduate research University College London University of Edinburgh vacation Vanderbilt vanderbilt athletics vanderbilt football vanderbilt medical center Vanderbilt Programming Board Vanderbilt University Theatre Vandy Victory A cappella volunteer VPB vsg VSVS VUcept VUT Weather weekend Why Vanderbilt winter winter break work Writing YES Zanzibar

ALL TOPICS »

Recent Posts

  • Thankfully I had the chance to snap a quick pic with my bestest fans. Meloroo 2014 » 4.19.14
  • IMG_9040 Speaking to My Soul » 4.18.14
  • 6588410997_d4e5970315_z The End of an Era » 4.18.14
  • image Second Semester Review » 4.16.14
  • image The Beginning of a Beautiful (Peabody) Relationship » 4.15.14

Browse by Month

VIEW ARCHIVES »