Surprising Traces of the Past in Italy

There's no need for me to go into the history or background of fascism in Italy during the 20th century. Hundreds of books are available on the topic and I'm no history teacher. When visiting Italy, you'll be surprised to find leftover traces of fascism across the country. Towns like Sabaudia were built from the ground up by the fascist regime and, to this day, are thriving communities. Entire areas of Rome like EUR were built to "show off" Italy's brand of fascism to the world. EUR, in and of itself, is a lovely part of Rome and, despite its background, a thoughtfully planned area.

Fascism, in a sense, gave birth to rationalist architecture with Giuseppe Terragni's Casa Del Fascio . The style is clean and recalls classic architecture, namely ancient Roman architecture. It is clean and simple and, in some ways is similar to art deco and moderne. Near Piazza Bologna and the Via the Nomentana, one can come across several fine examples of residential and institutional rationalist architecture. One of the more famous examples is a monumental apartment building, Case Federici, designed by Mario De Renzi on Via XXI Aprile. The building is not only one of the more notable rationalist designs from the 1930s, it also appeared in the Italian movie, Una Giornata Particolare.

So... where am I going with this? If you keep your eyes peeled, you can see some interesting and often less noticeable, traces of fascism in these buildings. The front of Palazzo Federici, by De Renzi, provides a perfect example.

The faded but clearly legible writing on the photograph is visible when one approaches the building from the main entrance into a large courtyard. The "A" stands for anno or year. The "XI" is clearly the Roman numeral for 11. The "E F" stands for era fascista or, clearly enough, fascist era. If you keep your eyes peeled, you might spot these markings on rationalist style buildings or monuments.

A more surprising example is not only the 55 ft obelisk near the Ponte Milvio but many of the inscriptions and mosaics around the Foro Italico. These are very surpising traces of the past which, rather then being obliterated, are there to remind us to remember history lest we repeat it. The next time you see these markings in Rome, you'll know what they mean.

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