View Page: Fascism and The Via Dei Fori Imperiali
University of Washington Honors Program in Rome

Fascism and The Via Dei Fori Imperiali
Section Four 4 of 7

Mussolini's Reconstruction of Rome

The ability of Ancient Rome to inspire was exploited by Mussolini throughout his reconstruction of Rome. In regards to his reconstruction of Rome Mussolini declared that it had two goals, functional and grand. In regards to grandeur Mussolini said

We must liberate all of ancient Rome from disfigurements. Next to the ancient and the medieval we must create the monumental Rome of the twentieth century. Rome cannot, must not simply be a modern city in the banal sense of the word. It must be a city worthy of its glory and this glory must be continuously renewed in order to be handed down as the heritage of the Fascist era to future generations.

Over the subsequent years not only would many Roman ruins be excavated but many of the new buildings that where constructed where influenced by the symbols and styles of ancient Rome. The Fascists excavated Trajan’s Forum, Caesar’s Forum, and the Largo di Argentina and repaired the Curia for example. Building surrounding the pantheon and the theater Marcellus were destroyed in order to provide better views. The ruins of ancient Rome also provided great venues to perform various Fascist events in. The Basilica Constantine was used for concerts, the colosseum for rallies, the Circus Maximus for exhibitions and the arch of Constantine for triumphal parades. In fact much of Fascist building plans were thought of in terms of the types of Fascists events that could be held there.

This excavation though would not have been possible without another of Mussolini’s projects, that of the sventramenti. This called for the destruction of much of medieval Rome and its replacement with either new modern buildings or excavations. While this was planed on a grand scale it would only be partially carried out.

Many of the newer buildings that were constructed during Mussolini’s reign where at least partially influenced by ancient Roman ruins. One of the most recurrent symbols in these buildings was the fasces, the ancient symbol of Roman power that gives Fascism its name. The fasces were a collection of bound rods that were stronger together than apart. Many of the buildings that were built during the Fascist reconstruction had distinctly modern designs and are relatively easy to pick out in Rome. Some of the most famous of these buildings are Rome’s university complex, sports complex and also the Esposizione Universale di Roma (EUR) located outside the city.

The effect of this reconstruction was heightened by the fact that internal tourism only really began to flourish under Fascism. Not only did the expanding infrastructure of Fascism facilitate tourism but also the government actively presented tourism as a way of patriotic expression.