Urban Planning?

April 1, 2008 / Local Interest
Of all the misguided projects and endeavors that Mussolini drummed up and initiated, perhaps the most mind-boggling yet lesser known one involved Piazza Venezia, Via dei Fori Imperiali, and the Colosseum. Fixated with empire-building, he wanted to surround himself with all things ancient Roman in order to draw a supposed parallel between the Caesars of yore and himself.

The trouble (to him) was that his office in Palazzo Venezia did not afford a direct view down Via dei Fori Imperiali to that most August (yet unfortunately not perfectly aligned) relic of ancient Rome’s glory, the Colosseum. Easily solved, he must have barked. He figured that he would move the Colosseum just a few degrees to the right, physically and symbolically aligning his reign with that of the ancients and shrouding his name in glory for eternity.

Of course, nothing large enough existed with which to move this most iconic of buildings, so he used a crane (photo 1) to turn it on its side, and then simply rolled it (photo 2) to its current position. Celebrating the achievement in a typical ancient Roman fashion, he then flooded the arena and held a mock naval battle between Roman naval “ships” and a large pesce d’Aprile (Italian for “April fools”, literally April’s fish).


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

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