Friday, May 25, 2007

In international swimming news...

Timed Finals notes that Rome is doing renovations in preparation for the (aquatic) World Championships, to be held in 2009 in the city's Foro Italico.

Have you been to Rome? And if so, have you visited the Foro Italico?

I bet you have not, unless you were there for a good while, or have a particular interest in architecture of the Mussolini era. (That obelisk reads "MUSSOLINI," btw.) The sports facilities were built then, and originally called the Foro Mussolini--that's right, an echo of the many other fora in the city from the city's ancient imperial period. Hmmmm... I wonder why Benito was so interested in that era.... Anyway, the Foro Italico is well outside the historical center, requiring a rather elaborate busride (with connections), so that, combined with fascism's non-hotness means hardly anyone sees it.

Anyway, the now-called Foro Italico is in a bit of disrepair.

Nevertheless, short of EUR, it is the best example of how Mussolini's urban vision wanted to build a modern version of ancient Rome.

Check out the statues encircling the running track:

Talk about muscular male athleticism! An entire statue series dedicated to the male bum.

There is a piazza there with (frankly) amazing black and white mosaics. They are an imitation of mosaics discovered at Ostia Antica, an ancient Roman city located between the actual city of Rome and the sea. Here is an example of a mosaic from Ostia:

And here is what the mosaics in the Foro Italico look like:

You probably cannot read the entire text, but it says, "L'Italia ha finalmente il suo impero," or "Italy finally has its empire"--taken from a speech given by Il Duce when Ethiopia was conquered. Some empire. (And sorry for the weird angle: have you ever taken good pictures of floor mosaics?)

Anyway, the natatorium also has some pretty elaborate mosaics, celebrating human athleticism.

I wonder what these "restorations" will look like. I am not a fan of fascism, but it would be a horrible shame if this remaining relic of Mussolini's vision were wiped from the face of a city that bears so many traces of so many visions.

[UPDATE: There is more about the Foro Italico and the wider context of Mussolini's city plan for Rome at "Blame Scott."]

1 comment:

Scott said...

Thanks for the pictures 'cause you're absolutely right, visiting the Foro Italico with only three days in Rome was indeed way down on my list of things to see and do. Truthfully it wasn't even on our list! But now that you've perked my interest I must google this and take a better look at it.