Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Foro Italico

Valentino Follo, director of the archaeology collection at the American Academy and one of the foremost experts on the Foro Italico, and Håkan Hökerberg, a researcher at the Swedish Institute who shares many of my interests, walked around and discussed the fate of the Foro Italico.  Because of an upcoming game the main areas of the Foro were closed (including the infamous mosaics, the largest mosaic project since ancient times).  But we managed to see the swimming complex,  Luigi Moretti's spectacular Casa delle Armi, and the tennis courts.  Moretti was perhaps the finest of Mussolini's stable of architects and also the most troublesome for us now, as he was an avowed fascist.  You cannot look at this buildings and think that he was someone forced to design for Mussolini, someone who  grudgingly built for the regime.  He proudly took on some of the important projects, including being the leading planner for both Foro Italico (where he did the Casa delle Armi fencing building as well as Mussolini's personal gym) and the EUR.  He was briefly imprisoned at the end of the war but went on to have a long career as an architect and editor in Italy.

Anyone wrestling with how to deal with  the fascist legacy has to reckon with Moretti and ask:  what do we do with these buildings, especially in a climate, in Italy, but across Europe, where the right wing and even fascist parties are on the ascendancy.

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