ROMA ARCHEOLOGIA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA 2020: Adriano La Regina, “The grandest archaeological project since Mussolini’s time has required a special, bureaucracy-defeating agreement.’ The Art Newspaper # 86 (November 1998); “In 1993 Rome’s town council began preparing for the Millennium. The debate has been over how much to alter Mussolini’s propagandistic exploitation of imperial remains.” The Art Newspaper. # 71 (June 1997) & Via dei Fori Imperiali, dalla pedonalizzazione al sogno: «Smantelliamo quella strada». Reporter Nuovo (Apr 11, 2017).
1). ROME – The grandest archaeological project since Mussolini’s time has required a special, bureaucracy-defeating agreement – Where archaeology becomes power. The Art Newspaper 86 (November 1998).
It is a mark of the persuasiveness of the deputy prime minister in the last Italian government, Walter Veltroni, who also doubled as the nation’s minister of culture, that the grandest archaeological project to be undertaken in Italy in the last fifty years is passing virtually without sniping in mainstream newspapers and is being hailed by the specialist press with a range of superlatives unseen since Mussolini effectively enforced censorship of the nation’s newspapers.
The most politically sensitive archaeological area in Italy, the excavated ancient fora, which occupy a vast sector of central Rome, is now being overhauled.
In antiquity the fora served as the political and administrative centres of Republican and then imperial power. With the fall of empire, the fora were abandoned and largely built over until Mussolini undertook a vast programme of excavation in 1932.
First, he relegated hundreds of inhabitants to the outskirts of the city; then he personally supervised the demolition of all the residential buildings and churches that stood in the way.
An army of archaeologists was mobilised to resurrect the vestiges of Rome’s greatness. Working day and night they uncovered more of ancient Rome than the world of post-antiquity had ever seen. But in 1932 two-thirds of the newly excavated remains were submerged in cement by Mussolini’s Via dell’Impero which connects Piazza Venezia, the centre of Fascist administration where Mussolini had his offices, with the Colosseum. The Via dell’Impero was used to stage spectacular processions of Fascist soldiers against the backdrop of Roman ruins, labouring the continuity between the military might of ancient and modern Rome.
No other archaeological project has been so hotly contested in Italy in the last twenty years as the question of what to do with the ancient fora. Archaeologists have persistently called for the demolition of Mussolini’s road, renamed the Via dei Fori Imperiali after World War II. It slashes diagonally through the right-angle arrangement of the fora, making the excavated remains at its fringes difficult to interpret. But the road carries much of central Rome’s traffic which makes its demolition virtually impossible.
Proposals floated in the Eighties to excavate the vast unexplored areas on the fringes of the Via dei Fori Imperiali were rejected or endorsed by politicians according to their allegiances. Francesco Rutelli, Mayor of Rome for the last five years, has been an enthusiastic supporter of excavations, but until last year his plans have been scuppered by political opponents.
Excavations are now underway to connect the ancient remains on either side of Mussolini’s road, as part of Italy’s plans for the Jubilee in the year 2000 (The Art Newspaper, No.81, May 1998, pp.34-36). The road itself was built on a sequence of arches which support its weight. If all goes according to plan, by the year 2000 these underlying arches will be excavated and will remain exposed, turning the Via dei Fori Imperiali into an elevated structure resembling an ancient aqueduct. Visitors will then be able to walk through the arches underneath the road as they visit the vast archaeological park that is to be created.
Extensive excavations are underway at Caesar’s Forum where an extra third is to be excavated by 2000. The visible area around the Temple of Peace will increase sevenfold, while an extra 50% of Trajan’s Markets will come to light.
By autumn 1999, an archaeological pathway will lead visitors to the recently uncovered monuments and sites. The main entrances to this pathway will be created at Trajan’s Markets and at the Clivius Argentarium, the Roman road which ran between the Capitol and the Quirinal Hills.
The remains of the Basilica Ulpia, where the Romans administered justice, are to have their own museum built around them. The cellars of medieval buildings and ancient water pipes, unearthed during recent excavations, will be used as underground pedestrian routes between Trajan’s Forum and Caesar’s Forum. The latter is to be re-connected to Nerva’s Forum through the cellars of medieval buildings and a stretch of the Cloaca Massima, the Republican drainage system which served a great portion of the city.
The planned network of pedestrian routes may change as work proceeds. It will probably be on several levels, some at street level, others underground. Via Alessandrina, all that remains of the sixteenth-century centre dismantled during the Fascist period, will eventually be demolished. An international competition may be launched for the reorganisation of some areas.
To prepare for the two million annual visitors expected, information points are to be built along the pedestrian paths as part of a larger multimedia information system.
This vast urban excavation project, which entails the almost total reconstitution of the ancient city in a modern setting, would never have been possible if the bureaucratic obstruction that turns many a public project in Italy into a Herculean task had not been bypassed. The situation in this case might be aggravated by the shared jurisdiction over the area between the government and the city of Rome. An agreement is now being drawn up between the leaders of the various bodies responsible for the project: the Soprintendente, Adriano la Regina; his colleague from the City of Rome, Eugenio La Rocca, and Mario Serio from the ministry of culture. The agreement is designed to simplify the decision-making process and to guarantee sustained funding for the project. The first phase of the project is expected to cost L19 billion (£6.8 million; $11.5 million).
Fonte / source:
— The Art Newspaper 86 (November 1998).
2). ROME – In 1993 Rome’s town council began preparing for the Millennium. The debate has been over how much to alter Mussolini’s propagandistic exploitation of imperial remains. The Art Newspaper 71 (June 1998).
ROME – Almost 2,000 years ago, the first Roman emperor, Augustus, proclaimed his power through an impressive building programme designed to transform his capital from “brick into marble”.
In the 1930s, Mussolini grasped the propaganda potential of Rome’s imperial architecture in a huge archaeological programme that had less to do with the recovery and preservation of antiquity than with fostering an apparent continuity between the imperial city and Fascist Rome.
Now, the mayor of Rome, Francesco Rutelli, and his Partito Democratico della Sinistra (Democratic Party of the Left) council, have endorsed a major scheme in the run-up to the Millennium that will go a long way towards erasing Mussolini’s mark on the city.
In a project that has been described by its supervisor, Professor Eugenio La Rocca, as “every archaeologist’s dream”, the imperial fora of Augustus, Vespasian, Nerva and Trajan, built in antiquity to serve as the political and commercial heart of the city, are to be excavated as far as is possible without disrupting the modern city. Ongoing excavations on the Forum of Nerva have already yielded rich finds from every era of the city’s history.
At the turn of the century, the archaeologist Corrado Ricci focused on the visible parts of Trajan’s Markets, the Forum of Augustus and a small area of the Forum of Nerva, all of them partially visible in the courtyards and cellars of a sixteenth-century residential area. At that time archaeological excavation was not contemplated because the area was densely populated.
Enter Mussolini and his team of archaeologists in 1931. In his eagerness to excavate the fora, three churches, eleven streets, and a hill of Renaissance villas and gardens, were demolished.
Having excavated the imperial fora, Mussolini covered two-thirds of the remains under a thirty-metre wide coat of asphalt to create the Via dell’Impero (today known as the Via dei Fori Imperiali). The street connects the Colosseum—the monument that popular imagination most associates with imperial Rome—to Piazza Venezia, the administrative and ritual heart of Fascist Italy, where Mussolini had his headquarters. On this road, against the backdrop of imperial ruins, isolated from their surroundings and framed by empty space, spectacular processions of Fascist soldiers laboured the connection between Italy’s imperial heritage and its Fascist rulers.
Excavation of the fora has been debated for the last fifteen years, with political ideologies often dictating archaeological proposals. Some advocated the total demolition of Mussolini’s Via dei Fori Imperiali, but in Dr La Rocca’s opinion this would have brought Rome’s traffic to a standstill and it was preferred instead to excavate the empty space framing the monuments to either side of Mussolini’s great road. Archaeological walkways will lead the public through the ruins and new museums will display discovered material.
The work is part of the mayor’s “Capital Rome” project launched in 1993 in run up to the Millennium. L19 billion (£6.9 million; $10.9 million) of the L30 billion (£10.8 million; $17.4 million) to be spent on the project were released in February.
The Ara Pacis: out goes Facism, in comes Richard Meier
If the necessary funds are made available, Millennium preparations will include new housing for the Ara Pacis Augustae. Richard Meier, the American architect whose work includes the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona and who is also working on the new Getty complex, was asked to submit designs for a new structure to enclose the monument. The Ara Pacis—the altar of piece—is a marble altar dedicated in 9 BC by Augustus, to celebrate the peace following his victory at Actium in 31 BC. The walls are decorated in high relief with scenes illustrating the founding of Rome and the rise of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. In 1938 a new technique that permitted freezing the soil of the marshy site was employed to recover all possible fragments and the monument was reassembled. It was enclosed in a larger structure made of concrete and glass on the outer walls of which Mussolini chose to inscribe the Res Gestae . The Res Gestae—an autobiographical account of Augustus’s achievements as emperor, including detailed description of his building projects—was translated, exported and inscribed on temple walls throughout the Roman empire. For Mussolini it became the sacred precedent of Italian imperialism and justification for his dreams of a new Italian Empire. Pending the allocation of funds, the Fascist building is to be replaced by a new structure large enough to house a small museum.
Fonte / source:
— The Art Newspaper 71 (June 1998).
3). ROMA – Via dei Fori Imperiali, dalla pedonalizzazione al sogno: «Smantelliamo quella strada».
Reporter Nuovo / You-tube (Apr 11, 2017).
Adriano La Regina, ex soprintendente ai beni culturali di Roma, rilancia l’idea di rimuovere la strada voluta da Mussolini e creare il parco archeologico più grande al mondo. L’ex sindaco Marino: «Siano gli archeologi a valutare il progetto»
Fonte / source:
— Reporter Nuovo / You-tube (Apr 11, 2017).
Additional photographs in:
— “Roma e le automobili (1975),” In questa serie di fotografie troviamo alcune istantanee che ci mostrano la presenza di automobili nelle principali piazze e vie, ma anche luoghi iconici e meravigliosi della capitale. ROMA IERI OGGI (05/2020).