Saturday, April 26, 2014


Piazza Adolfo Hitler has been renamed.  The plaza in front of the Ostiense Station, designed with Hitler's visit in May of 1938 in mind, has been wiped clean of references to a visit which was a signal moment in the history of Italy in the 20th century -- the final capitulation of Mussolini to Nazi-style fascism.  The Mussolini obelisk at the entrance to Foro Italico can remain, but references to Hitler, of course, cannot.  The parking lot in front of Ostiense is now called Piazzale dei Partigiani, in honor of partisans who fought against the Nazi occupation.

I finally made it to Ostiense, to look at what remains from that time and that singular event.  As is typical here, there is no public interpretation, nothing to describe and discuss the reason for the construction of this station or the signal event that defines it.  Instead, we have remnants, in the architecture and, even more, in the decorative program.  Imitating the mosaic style of Ostia Antica (which lies just a few miles to the west), mosaics on in the portico out from of the station, are not bombastic in the way the Foro Italico mosaics are.  They refer to the detente with the Catholic Church, secured in 1929, and offer a map of the Roman empire, with a black eagle surveying the once and future joint fascist empire.  And then there are the scales -- of justice, I presume -- about to be tilted by the weight of a sword.

These remnants remain, even inside the supermarket that has taken over a corner of the station.  Amid  olives and toilet paper, biding their time, are scenes from the Roman and mythological past.

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