The Square Colosseum

-A Square Colosseum? Are you joking? Haha, and why not a rectangular Tower of Pisa?
-Oh, wait...
(Rome, 1940)

Once, browsing the movies available on board of a plane, I stumbled upon last year's release Immortals. As visually powerful as boring -how much talent wasted-, it is the last but one film which uses the look of the Palace of Italian Civilization, which probably you've seen before in at least one of the many many films which feature this Square Colosseum.

Italian fascists updated the design of the old Roman Colosseum with this polished white cube. It was part of a brand new suburb, the EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma), built on the Myth of Ancient Rome, to host an Universal Exhibition that never took place due to the war.

Updating this post, the building has been restored and transformed into offices for the multinational luxury fashion brand Fendi. From March 2016 the ground floor will open to the general public as an exhibition center.

The point is that while some hate this martial architecture, others, like the film director Federico Fellini, loved it. He explained in this video why this edifice and the hole neighbourhood deserve a visit. Photo Captions in italics are the translations from the voice of the master Fellini:

Square Colosseum
The EUR is a decadent neighborhood, Mussolini's triumphal district. It has the fascination of a foolish dream interrupted and then transformed into something else.
Image by Eugene Van Grinsven


Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana
I don't know why I like it so much, but the EUR has an artistic atmosphere [...] It's like living inside the dimension of a painting. Therefore it has a liberating charge, because there are no laws in a painting but those of the aesthetic.
Image by Gianluca Lavezzo




EUR Roma
It is also fascinating because it has a sense of provisional, like if you will wake up one morning and it would be all taken away, as if it had to be dismantled the next day.
Image by Cristiano Corsini


Colosseo Quadrato
The houses seem to be empty, uninhabited, they are buildings created by ghosts or by statues like these here.
Image by Andrew W


Federico Fellini
A source of consolation derives from the fact that the EUR looks futuristic but it's a future already known, and therefore no longer scares, because it is already assumed by the metaphysical painting or by the science fiction, even by the cartoons. Image by Franco Farina


E42
Also the people living here gives you the feeling that they have an aseptic psychology, new, unknown. This provides another attractive specially taking into account that just a mile away is the chaotic and visceral city of Rome.
Image by Gianluca Arena


Palazzo dei congressi
Everywhere you look at, there is a film studio [...] it's like if after some time following the end of a filming, there would be something still standing on the streets from the scenery.
Image by Gianni Dominici


Piazzale delle Nazioni Unite
Another good reason for visiting the EUR is also to get away from the crowds of tourists invading the center of the city.
Image by Friol the oil


Palazzo della Civiltà del Lavoro
At the end, Rome got its own modern business suburb, like La Défense in Paris.
Image by Eugenio


Museum Made in Italy
Aerial view after the war in 1953. The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana has been closed to the public since 2003, and now it may reopen this year as a Museum of the Made in Italy and design.
Image source unknown


Immortals
A shot from the film I was talking about, Immortals.
Image courtesy of Tippett Studio


Immortals
Anita Ekberg in Fellini's Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio from the collective film Boccaccio '70.






 

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