I finally made it to one of Mussolini's most bombastic propaganda projects -- the Foro Italico (once the Foro Mussolini). A network of sports buildings in the Disney-Fascist mode, the Foro Mussolini was designed to glorify the virility of the fascist enterprise and Il Duce himself. The massive mosaic pathway to the soccer stadium is covered with references to Il Duce and his favorite phrases (such as, following the invasion of Ethiopia, "Italy finally has its empire") and is framed by a series of slabs marking the "progress" of the Italian empire. I will be returning in a few weeks, accompanied by Valentina Follo, who works at the Academy and whose dissertation is focused on the meaning of the mosaics.
Some questions that ran through my mind:
Why has also this fascist propaganda remained? (Part of the answer lies with the fact that the American military used the site as their headquarters after taking back Italy. That presence somehow inoculated the place, changing its meaning).
Should they have removed the obelisk with "Mussolini Dux" engraved, high above the Tiber, welcoming thousands into the sports complex every weekend?
Should they have pulled up the millions of stones making up the mosaic, removing the offending words?
Should they, instead, protect the mosaics, as a part of Italian history? Should they be restored? Should the crowds heading to a soccer or rugby match be rerouted? Or should Italy encourage the crowds to continue to pass over the plaza, allowing the mosaics to steadily disintegrate?