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It enthuses still today an almost fanatical fascination among all who encounter it. Luigi trained like many in his day in scenography yet found employ in civil engineering. His participation in the competition for the facade of the Lateran assured his reputation although the bulk of his work continued to be in rather utilitarian tasks. In Vanvitelli, the indispensable professional qualifications of engineer and architect, scenographer and coordinator were recognized by, among many, King Carlos III of Naples.
Naples and the southern reaches of the Italian peninsula, ancient Magna Graecia, had been ruled over by a succession of foreign powers. Carlos instigated ameliorative policies in architecture, urbanism, and regional infrastructure that became a primary function of his reign. The king set the example by supporting the arts, undertaking archeological excavations at the buried ancient city of Herculaneum, and building several royal palaces.
At Portici, the Herculaneum excavation site on the bay of Naples, he began a great royal palace more for the good fishing than the promise of archeological finds the site promised. On a hill above Naples at Capodimonte he had a hunting lodge built that outstripped in its ambitious scope that modest program. Nicola Salvi was first on his wish list, but with the architect in ill health and concerned for the ongoing fountain project, he deferred, recommending instead his collaborator Vanvitelli.
Benedict XIV may have been loath to see not only Vanvitelli but also another of his prized architects, Ferdinando Fuga, summoned by the powerful new monarch to the south, but the pope sent them along at the close of the Holy Year of as a diplomatic payment of cultural tokens. More crucially, the site was safe from civil unrest, coastal attack, and volcanic eruption.
Vanvitelli procured all this pertinent comparative material and dutifully shaped the project according to the royal vision. In , he was summoned to the Portici residence where in a private audience,Vanvitelli tells us, the king and the queen delighted over his solutions, each asking questions and voicing desires for the apartments, the gardens, the fountains and, Queen Amalia extemporized, on a whole new, orderly city to rise up around.
This and the entire palace project were minutely described by Vanvitelli in a lavish publication of distributed by the royals to visiting dignitaries. Vanvitelli coordinated the ongoing spectacle of construction of palace and gardens, along with the aqueduct that would serve them.
Two ranges of state rooms bisect within to define four rectangular courtyards. The facade is articulated with a colossal Composite order. The facade of the palace announces its monarchic functions. Here, this cupola does not mark a chapel within the palace. Whereas Felipe erected a palace for the lord, Carlos, his son, erects a palace for the realm, inverting ecclesiastical models and confirming a theme of divinization of the monarch.
The crowning construction was to have been a pierced belvedere, an airy temple seen from the vast piazza and axial road approaching the palace, rising high and framing the equestrian statue on the pediment as if the royal simulacrum were in triumphal procession. This is a grand covered street, a triumphant way that threads three vestibules each of which radiates diagonal glimpses into the courtyards. Every view to and through the Reggia suggests the infinite power of its resident, even the interior vistas.
That power is also manifest in the materials used in the construction. The dozens of monolithic columns that punctuate the great masses of supporting wall, especially in the vestibules, were a particular passion of Carlos, both for their representational value as achievements of the classical past and for their local provenance from archeological sites across his realm. These connections are made explicit in the few but significant sculptural elements realized at Caserta.
This reflects Carlos in all his endeavors. The stair climbs its first ramp between lions and up to a tall scenic wall with a statue symbolizing Royal Majesty. Here, approaching petitioners are exhorted to truthfulness and meritoriousness by flanking allegories.
Here, Vanvitelli maintains an extraordinary equilibrium of baroque theatricality and classical measure. The upper vestibule is similar to the one directly below, but bathed in intense light. Approached at oblique angles, this vestibule is invested with a centrifugal force that sends the visitor off to the four corners of the palace. Vanvitelli also paired the columns as Claude Perrault had done on the recent facade at the Louvre. Vanvitelli too strikes a balance between the forces of tradition and the drive for innovation.
The visitor proceeds through sequences of antechambers to the royal presences, shaping, as at Versailles, the rituals of absolute monarchy through the controlled movement of its courtiers. Although the decoration of these interiors fell to the successors of Carlos and Vanvitelli, the fuga di stanze, or flight of aligned rooms along its meter axes is more impressive than any later gilding.
Placed on the ground floor, the stage may be opened at the back to a garden vista. The central axis, noted upon our first approach, shoots thousands of meters up the hillside; the abundant waters of the aqueduct cascade toward us, bursting rambunctiously from a mountain cataract, stepping down 36 enormous water chains and flowing into long, low pools.
The Ovidian themes of fertility and metamorphosis that Vanvitelli listed in his publication were carefully determined as a Vichian mythopoeic historiography of the land. In other ensembles along the water chain, Adonis departs on his fatal hunt and Venus uses his blood to seminate the earth with anemones. In front of the palace, a vast elliptical piazza opens, delineated by the severe forms of barracks and service buildings.
From here a radiating trevium and an orderly grid of streets were planned with decorous, uniform blocks to guarantee light and air to the residential units. Contemporary interests in urban planning exhorted the monarch to the organization of cities, a duty that brings with it not only considerable public utility but also effective political propaganda.
Contemporaries hailed Caserta as the greatest project of its kind. In celebration of his achievements, the festival decorations erected in the streets and squares of his capital presented Carlos III as a modern Hercules, the mythic builder of a new civilization. Far from abandoning the city to its own squalor, the king began to set out systems of urban improvement for the city of Naples, encouraging private building. He built the Teatro San Carlo, repaired churches like Santa Chiara, established public museums for the Herculaneum finds and the Farnese sculpture collection, supplied warehouses, barracks, and hospices, and opened an ancient-style forum, the Foro Carolino.
The notions of social ameliorative policies had been at the core of Bourbon works, and Carlos had all along a second grand project under way in town. He had proposed a 40 project for the Lateran facade as early as and participated in the Trevi competition as well. His fortunes brightened when the Florentine pope Clement XII made him architect of the papal palaces. The Palazzo della Consulta, —37, a multipurpose building opposite the Quirinal Palace, is his most representative work, combining a carefully coordinated plan behind a lively polychrome facade.
Monumental facades for unfinished churches, public fountains, administrative offices, hospitals, even land reclamation and port reconstruction were the signs of papal magnanimity, magnificienza, well-balanced schemes for social well-being. Fuga, like Alessandro Galilei and Nicola Salvi, propelled these values as architectural principles in his work.
This addition to the garden provided the pope with a casual location for encounters, for example, with King Carlos III of Naples in , for which the palace throne room would have been unwantedly officious. Already in , Carlos had hand-picked Fuga, at the height of his fame, for a mammoth job in his building scheme for Naples.
The population of Naples had grown dramatically in the eighteenth century, necessitating a reorganization of its antiquated charitable institutions. The Neapolitan hospice was to have been the largest in Europe, planned to accommodate and sustain, equip and reintegrate eight-thousand souls at a time. The Albergo dei Poveri addresses both the aesthetics of magnificence in civil architecture and the functionality of a framework for social sustenance. Fuga was given power of executive decision on the means of production, which did not put him in an easy relationship to the local workmen.
Fuga often fled to Rome, leaving the Albergo to young assistants. An enormous square, by meters, was to be divided four-square by cross branches within, much like Caserta, but larger. A church space was placed so that its dome might rise from the facade plane for greater visibility. Not one but three nave spaces were to be fit within the body of the wings—left, right, 43 and down the center. The original site designated to accommodate such a mammoth construction was, however, too low and swampy and was rejected for hygienic reasons.
That it was close to the military installations of the port was also a problem for reasons of security, though it is unclear whether it would be the poor or the port in danger. With the designation in of a new site along the Via Foria, Fuga had to rework the plans. Complications such as this frustrated Fuga, but nothing could have been more of an aggravation to him than to have seen Vanvitelli at this time invited to the more seductive and flattering Caserta project.
Vanvitelli criticized the Albergo plans and perhaps, by his authority, triggered further changes shouldered by Fuga. In turn, Fuga tried to wrench the Caserta commission from Vanvitelli by criticizing the impractical nature and lack of economy of the designs. The rivals bragged to one another about their buildings, exaggerating their comparative sizes.
In May , plans for both the Reggia and the Albergo dei Poveri were presented to the monarch,Vanvitelli in his first encounter, Fuga already having re-adapted the building to the new site on the slope beneath the Capodimonte lodge.
Water slews and aqueducts from the hill behind, perhaps to have been linked to the Acquedotto Carolino, would supply the site. A single central entrance on the Via Foria facade brings all beneath the Regium totius inscription into a vestibule where, according to more Latin inscriptions, men and boys are directed to the left, women and girls to the right. This immediate and irrevocable division by gender, akin to the front and back apartments for the king and queen at Caserta, is emphatically, graciously, and more obviously indicated to the illiterate by the statuesque gestures of the images of King Carlos and Queen Amalia to show the way.
Routes through the building maintain strict segregation of sexes and ages with special skip-floor stair columns and interrupted corridors that carefully restrict movement within. Fuga conceived the systematic circulation spaces to eliminate all promiscuity in every sense. Paths of movement are regulated in invariable schedules of eating and sleeping, working and praying. Once divided, the users were brought together in the central symbolic space of a church.
Each space was focused upon the central domed tribune area without affording views from the fenced-in individual naves to the whole complex. The controlled visibility and focus on the altar was a feature Fuga had also employed at his prison in Rome. The structures of the naves closely resemble the heavily buttressed Gothic vessel of the Church of Santa Chiara in Naples, which Carlos was then having Fuga restore as a royal funerary chapel.
Special passageways through the walls allowed the priests to access these confessionals, themselves not mingling among the inconstant of soul. Bathrooms were conveniently located nearby for the inconstant of body. As by then a century of French development in the building types of confinement had taught, the centralizing gaze assured patients of the presence of providence, but the conscious surveillance of their peripheral positions from the center would, according to Enlightenment philosophy of mind and body, invest the individuals therein with a responsible consciousness.
They would become through prayer and work agents of their own reform and reintegration to society. The architectural design would guarantee it. Fuga employed the lowest, most economical pilaster strips and trabeation lines to delineate wall cells and rhythm for suggestions of central and terminal pavilions. The wall is stripped 46 down to its barest essentials. The Albergo dei Poveri, even in the small fraction of the building eventually completed, exercises an immense visual power at its scale—larger than the eye can take in.
The Albergo impresses itself upon the city and the region not by any alignments that were sacrificed at this site but merely by the scale of its conception. The true monumentality of the Albergo dei Poveri is expressed in a perfect match of his form and its program. Although largely incomplete, it is the most ambitious utopian attempt of the Enlightenment. But this is not the business of the Architect but of good Government. The program never rehabilitated or reintegrated anyone, and the Albergo became known crudely as a reclusorio, jokingly as a seraglio, and effectively as a prison for the poor.
The palace for the proletariat did not ameliorate the situation in Naples as Milizia predicted but defined with greater clarity the distance between it and the palace of the privileged at Caserta. If Caserta is the last in the line of symbols of absolute rule, the Albergo dei Poveri is the progenitor of architectural instruments of social control in the centuries to follow. Although Piranesi built little, through his protean production of architectural images he became the initiator of an influential train of thought that courses through the architecture of modern Italy.
Piranesi was educated in Venice, where the Palladian heritage combined with his own family traditions in stonecutting and hydraulic engineering. Picturing theatrical space, 48 emphasizing point of view, charging lighting effects, and creating episodic sequences of changing views encouraged a reconsideration of the very mode of perceiving and re-creating the reality of architecture.
In an analysis of his architectural views and, eventually, his built work, we will see that in his visual fashion Piranesi challenges traditional ways of seeing architecture. In , Piranesi had the chance to go to Rome for the first time thanks to a connection to the powerful Rezzonico family. He was struck by Rome: the drama of its monumental baroque spaces, the scale and texture of the looming ruins, and the painterly play of the Roman sun.
He engraved the Trevi Fountain and assisted Giuseppe Vasi in the production of vedute for the market of tourists, architectural students, and intellectuals in Rome. Piranesi met both Nicola Salvi, his master builder Giobbe, and Luigi Vanvitelli, whom he praised in his own volume of etched views, Prima parte di Architettura e Prospettive of He aspired to inherit from them the position of papal architect.
So the idea came to me to tell the world of some of these buildings. His veduta of the Pantheon provides us with an impression heightened by the towering scale of the building in its environment, the stark contrasts of light and textures, and, in a scenographic touch, a contrast of the eminent nobility of the ancient structure against the squalid details around it.
With little opportunity at twenty-three years of age to build, the architetto veneziano, as Piranesi signed his works, turned to the production of architectural images to bridge the gap between ancient grandeur and contemporary work. This was not a new idea, 49 but his was a new method. His approach is charged with a novel sense of immediacy by his interpretive genius for archeological remains. The grandeur of public building ensembles was evident to Piranesi down to the smallest corroded fragment.
Piranesi did not seek to reactivate the functionality or purity of ancient forms but the visual, visceral impact of the ruins, which move us precisely because they are signs of a closed historical cycle beyond our power to reclaim. Piranesi acknowledged the divergence of his images from Vitruvian and Palladian views on ancient architecture.
He begs us to understand that in antiquity, as much as among the moderns, architects fruitfully diverged from their works of theory into realms of unfettered imagination to open a dialog between past and present. As Vico proposed, myths, fantasy, and individual genius were fundamental in reviving a dimension of historical truth. Both Vico and Piranesi demonstrated that the heroic origins of Roman magnificence, both moral and formal, lay in Etruscan, Italic virtue, not the Greco-Vitruvian classical tradition.
From Vedute di Roma, c. His Invenzioni capric[ciosi] di carceri are an example of this unique fusion. Fourteen plates first produced in on the popular stage theme of prison scenes were drawn from his rich experience of ruins to forge a poetic architectural vision without precedent. These 51 experiments in the visualization of architectural space press to radical conclusions the compositional, or decompositional, impulses unleashed by his training in scenography.
The Carceri are not conventional perspective scenes. Piranesi disintegrates the traditional quantitative control of space by collapsing Euclidean geometry. The scenes are characterized by multiple viewpoints, random episodes, spatial distortions, an ambiguity of scale, and disproportionate fragments. The Greco-Roman controversy was a debate on the origins of architecture tinged by the aesthetic shift from the rococo toward an astringency of taste.
It also took on nationalist meaning. Piranesi pugnaciously defended Roman genius by connecting it to autonomous Etruscan, as opposed to Greek, origins and found in local Italic sources the origins of a Lodolian functionalist austerity, an impetuous and rather peevish retort to the foreigners. In the first publication, he conjoined the moral and the material by celebrating the magnificence of the Romans as a people and their public works of architecture and engineering.
The second publication demonstrated the mythic proportions of the ancient city. In order to evolve a contemporary system of architecture, Piranesi embraced indeed a more widely based study of the past. The Parere defended an all-inclusive historicism that can be summed up in one strange word Piranesi liked to use: sbizzararsi, or to let yourself go in a momentary and explosive moment of capriciousness.
Piranesi was finally given the opportunity to put his ideas to the test in an architectural project for an actual site. In the s, attention returned to the continuing renovation of San Giovanni Laterano. The pope seems to have solicited drawings for a new apse and high altar from the head of the Vatican Fabbrica, Carlo Marchionni. Piranesi, counting on his Venetian connections, also worked up a series of drawings to present.
He proposed rebuilding the liturgical focus of the basilica with a barrel-vaulted choir and a broad semicircular presbytery area with an ambulatory behind a columnar screen, the whole crowned with a dramatically illuminated half dome. The spatial complexities, leaps of scale, intense lighting effects explored in his etchings, especially the Carceri, can be seen to bear upon his project for San Giovanni. The Parere was republished at this time in a second edition in which Piranesi praised the baroque master.
Luigi Vanvitelli thought him mad. Rebuilding the apse at San Giovanni was not at this time undertaken, perhaps because of the uncertain stability of the ground. This is the only commission of which Piranesi speaks directly in any of his written works, in Diverse maniere di adornare camini published in , which he dedicated to Rezzonico.
As at the Lateran, the goal of this project was to intervene in an ailing pre- existing structure and at the same time transform it into a more dignified setting. The Aventine hill was attractive to the order in this phase of its history for its reserved geographical position above the riverbank opposite the Ripa port and the San Michele hospice, and for the various accreted memories of the hill itself.
Over the next two hundred years, the gardens and adjoining villa structures were embellished. Besides this long, purely visual connection, the site and access to the church itself are particularly eccentric. There is no clear approach up the steep slope of the hill, nor any comprehensive view of the complex once arrived.
Here, Piranesi invites us to meditate on the brotherhood of knights. At this site outside the city limits returning ancient soldiers consigned their arms for purification and safekeeping. Reliefs on the boundary wall and entrance screen to the gardens feature ornaments inspired by those on the base of the Column of Trajan. Each symbol pertains to more than one of four themes: antique or martial, the patron or the artist.
He applied to the reconfigured facade a series of compounded motifs molded in inexpensive white stucco reprising the themes announced at the piazza. Sheathed swords are hung high on the pilasters as quiet trophies of battle. Beside the door, weightless strings of symbols hung as garlands bring together a deceptively nonlinear sequence of motifs again combining the Maltese and martial, Rezzonico and Piranesian.
The Ionic capitals are carved with figures of sphinxes flanking Rezzonico towers elaborated, Piranesi informs us, from examples in the Villa Borghese antiquities collection and illustrated in his Magnificenza. His ordine ionico moderno is the product of a creative transformation of ancient examples and natural elements into abundant ornament held in congruence to its architectural frame.
There is a comparable plastic treatment of the manipulated motifs around the oculus where a fluted sarcophagus, wings, reeds, pipes, prows, and paddles appear all at once transformed and unified in as compactly integrated a meaning as in its formal composition.
The inventions of ornamental incrustations are called by Piranesi and his workmen scherzi, a joking playfulness that brings to mind earlier capricci and the tradition of mannerist grotesques and similar to many passages in the plates of his enigmatic Parere. The interior presents, finally, the complete and climactic expression of all the episodic meanings.
By extending and elevating the presbytery and puncturing the apse with a window in the back and the crossing with a lantern, Piranesi subtly reconfigured the spatial and lighting effects of the interior, incurring no structural alterations to the original chapel. A progressively enriched ornament intensifies the sensation of the space.
The priory altar is a fitting climax of the episodes that lead to it. Saint Basil is hoisted in apotheosis upon the nude form of a perfect sphere emerging from a pile of sarcophagi and ships prows. In it he concocted elaborate chimneypieces precisely because this element had no ancient precedent.
We are alternatively pleased with the gay and the serious, and even with the pathetic, even the horror of a battle has its beauty, and out of fear springs pleasure. The two events demonstrate the variegated nature of the process of renewal in mid-eighteenth-century architecture. Quarenghi, like Piranesi, came to architecture through interests in veduta painting and arrived in Rome from his native Bergamo during the Rezzonico papacy in In , the Benedictines, under the protection of a Rezzonico cardinal, decided to modernize the interior of their Gothic abbey church of Santa Scholastica at Subiaco.
He measured the irregular medieval interior and, in , initiated the reconstruction of Santa Scholastica. The nave walls were straightened and wrapped with semicircular chapels. Thermal-style window openings in the austere barrel vault bring light across the smooth interior surfaces simply and sparingly decorated.
Both had drafted treatises on the simple and noble beauty of ancient art the year Quarenghi arrived in Rome. Quarenghi translated these ideals into architecture. At Santa Scholastica, there is a solemn simplicity, a quiet but secure 61 rhythm of volumetric essentials. The realization of such a serene space, however, was fraught with enervating conflict for its irascible architect.
Quarenghi had to threaten his stuccoist with legal action for not having followed his instructions, and he wrangled with the administration over the simple rectangular statuary niches that he wanted even though there were no funds for statues to put in them. When it was finally inaugurated in October , Braschi was pope, and Quarenghi was soon looking elsewhere for work. At thirty- five and with only Subiaco to show for himself, he left Rome for St. In a few years, Quarenghi delineated classical St.
Petersburg with granite buildings more austere, sharp, and simplified than at Subiaco. English, French, Germans, Danes, Dutch, Russian, Poles, Swedes, and eventually Americans all came to Italy claiming its treasures as an international cultural heritage. Indeed, the Grand Tour had become a vast social phenomenon of intellectual and cultural exchange in a new atmosphere of cosmopolitanism. Giovanni Paolo Panini welcomed the world to his Rome with panoramic paintings of ancient and modern sites.
It was in this international economic context that Piranesi worked. Whereas Panini painted the cosmopolitan piazzas of the contemporary city, foreign painters like Nicolas Poussin imagined Elysian Fields with Arcadian shepherds. The Grand Tourist expected to find them in Italy. Under such intense and inspired scrutiny, Italy and especially Rome developed a cultural consciousness. Italians also had their Grand Tour.
Carlo Rezzonico, another papal relation, traveled the breadth of Europe in the s admiring 63 art, architecture, gardens, and natural landscapes, even Gothic buildings. Italians traveled less assiduously to other Italian cities. When Italians traveled abroad, more likely they traveled, like Quarenghi, to practice their professions in the host countries, not to learn from them.
Music masters, librettists, scenographers, singers, painters, plasterers, architects, and urban planners brought to the European courts Italian classical traditions. Many, like the artisans Robert Adam brought back with him to London, stayed abroad for their entire careers. Through the export of objects and skilled labor, Italy was the producer of classical beauty and culture for all of Europe, a heady proposition for eighteenth-century Italians but one that created among them a brain drain.
Beyond Rome, the Grand Tourist was drawn to Naples with the promise of recent archeological discoveries such as Herculaneum and Pompeii. By , the king established an academy to care for the finds and their eventual publication. When the more easily excavatable site at Pompeii was gradually unearthed in the s, it offered the Grand Tourist the opportunity to contextualize a mental image of the classical world in actual environments. The fresh, unfiltered impressions fell so far outside the prevailing aesthetic that most of the unearthed artifacts were deemed negligible.
Carlos III, who had aspirations to utilize the finds in interior decorations, was paradoxically responsible for their meager immediate impact. Only when Ferdinando IV transferred the treasures to Naples, refitting the old university building for the purpose in , could one identify the birth of a real public archeological museum. Archeology, if it can be so called under Bourbon rule, was placed in the service of governing and had scant effect on contemporary architectural imagination.
Grand Tourists to Naples continued on to Paestum. The Doric temples of the ancient Greek colony were not well known but had not been entirely forgotten. The Doric appealed almost exclusively to foreign visitors at first. Piranesi, evidently the only Italian ready for such a jolt, ventured in the last year of his life to prepare a publication of Paestum views that was published in French in The only use of the Doric in Italy in the late eighteenth century was by a Frenchman.
Dufourny, who upon returning to his native Paris founded a museum of the history of architecture, had initiated in Palermo the significant ideological movement to recompose principal theories of architecture in light of archeological investigation. With intense demand for antiquities, especially among the British, economic incentive aggravated the likelihood of illicit digging for new items and of Roman aristocrats selling off their collections for cash.
Pope Clement XIII, through his commissioner of antiquities, Ridolfino Venuti, renewed the enforcement of limiting excavation licenses to registered agents, the right to entail one third of everything found by them, and strict export regulations. An account of the relationship between private and public collecting in Rome illustrates the crucial importance of formulating a policy for the protection of this heritage. Cardinal Alessandro Albani, the papal nephew, maintained a high 66 profile that was manifest in a superb collection of antiquities, pieces of which were sold conspicuously, for example, to King Augustus III of Poland in Albani trafficked in antiquities, often collaborating with Baron Stosch until the latter was expelled from Rome on charges of espionage.
Indeed, he delighted in the works. In , a new villa was planned for his second collection at a suburban site along the Via Salaria. Nolli surveyed the land for him and may have also designed the parterres and hemicycle included in the upper corner of his map. A two-floor palazzina was begun at the other end of the garden in Low wings extend left and right and finish in pavilions whose small temple facades are entirely constructed of ancient elements.
Caryatids, herms, statues, reliefs, decorative masks, columns, basins, and colored marbles fill every available space in profusion. Like Nolli before him, Marchionni was one in a succession of experts the cardinal hired to create this precious reliquary of vestiges of ancient Rome. The current specialist in the field, Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, reintegrated—made whole again—the ancient fragments with new and virtuosically carved additions.
Ancient works were in turn fluidly assimilated in a wholly contemporary setting with, as an inscription at the villa says, a romano animo, a Roman spirit. The artifice, the first of its kind in an Italian villa, was praised precisely for its English—and hence cosmopolitan—inspiration.
Its curious disintegrated composition suggests the influence, if not the direct intervention, of Piranesi. Piranesi may also have designed some over-door reliefs and a fountain for the gardens. He flatteringly included an engraving of the villa in his vedute series. The pieces, like the caryatids, were not so integral to the structure that they could not easily be extracted and sold. This pope, in strapped finances, could do nothing, but his successor, Clement XIV would.
The Museum Clementinum, later expanded by his successor Pius VI hence Museo Pio-Clementino , is a direct response to the threat of cultural dispersal triggered by the pressures of the Grand Tour and speculation on artistic goods. We witness here the birth of the modern public art museum distinguished from the private collections for its accessibility to the general public as well as the intention of the collection as a long-term cultural depository.
An acquisition policy was put into place, funded by the lottery, guided by the Viscontis, and fulfilled by antiquities dealers including Cavaceppi and Piranesi. In , a reorganization of the Belvedere Villa was projected by the in-house architect, Alessandro Dori. The original Renaissance loggia was rearranged and outfitted with statues on pedestals, busts on shelves, and generous ornament in a manner similar to that of Villa Albani.
A portico was applied to the unadorned walls of the pre-existing courtyard of the Belvedere complex. The vaulted, top-lit portico provides adequately sumptuous cover for the statues. Dori died only a year into the project. The former jumble of incidental spaces and clashing axes were elegantly reconfigured into the semblance of a coherent plan and a coherent institution, promptly renamed Museo Pio-Clementino.
The Museo Pio-Clementino is not a lavish reliquary as captivating as its treasures, but a space designed to elicit appropriate responses consonant with the art. Pius asked for a copy of this painting, a most complete portrait of him in his institution, international host and cultural guardian.
His team of mostly foreign designers was coordinated by Antonio Asprucci, assisted by his son Mario. The villa interiors were enriched with columns and a profusion of colored marbles, vault paintings, and furniture to complement the art works.
The Aspruccis struck a measured and melodic marriage between the solemnity of the antique and the extravagance of the baroque. The Egyptian room of is typical. Ancient fragments of porphyry, granite, and basalt were reintegrated on an Egyptian theme, and new statues and decorative elements were commissioned. Of course, Egyptian things were no novelty in Rome. The interior work was a clever attempt to boost the collection without buying any new pieces. Marcantonio rendered the Villa Borghese not only a more gentle but also a more public place.
At the Villa Borghese of the late eighteenth century, collecting, interior decoration, architecture, and landscape design all conjoined to enhance the continuity of Roman culture under enlightened aristocratic patronage. The Braschi pope had been the financial advisor on the Lateran apse project and the Museum Clementinum, and the titular cardinal at Santa Scholastica.
By the time his turn as pope came, he had firm ideas about cultural heritage, in particular the mediation between forces of tradition and necessities for innovation. The Basilica of Saint Peter had no proper sacristy. Pius put the job of developing a new project to his Fabbrica architect, Carlo Marchionni, by then seventy-four years old. The rich materials employed were supposed to have been representations of the wealth of the papal states and the genius of her artisans, but the structural iron elements Marchionni used had to be imported.
Its careful proportions and self-effacing asymmetry have proven a masterly deferential gesture. In a mixture of styles and details, Marchionni created an architectural amalgam commensurate with the history of the cathedral itself. Pius VI, with modern science at his command, had a drainage canal dug and a highway, the Linea Pio, laid.
Terracina, the dreary medieval town overlooking the area, was revamped with a papal residence and public buildings for trade and 76 commerce. Even a museum was planned to display the artifacts dredged up below. Pius IV combined the agricultural and the antiquarian in a complete program of economic and spiritual recovery of a long fallow land. But it would be myopic to call the Pontine Marsh reclamation a clamoring success for the region.
Luigi Braschi-Onesti was made a duke, married to a Roman noblewoman and set up for display in the papal limelight. A palace was built, the Palazzo Braschi. Architects of the capital rushed to offer their services even before the site was purchased in Cosimo Morelli, official architect of the papal legations, designed the palazzo to fill the boundaries of the roughly triangular site to maximum volume with no particular attention to Piazza Navona behind it.
Like Marchionni and probably under similar directives, Morelli undertook a historicist amalgam of all that made the Roman Renaissance palazzo great, then rather perfunctorily he knocked everything up a notch. The scenographic masterpiece is studded with ancient sculpture and granite columns. The Palazzo Braschi is the last in a long line of nepotistic papal palaces in Rome. He promptly set about rectifying this situation.
In a half- century of Hapsburg administration, palaces, villas, thoroughfares and gardens, academies of learning, and public theaters came into being. In no other country have there been as many changes over these twelve years while no other country is so contrary to change as ours.
Luigi Vanvitelli was brought to Milan in to consult on the conversion of the Palazzo Ducale, whose medieval structures needed a complete overhaul. Vanvitelli, used to working on a tabula rasa, told them to knock everything down, but Wenceslaus Kaunitz, the minister who held the purse strings in Vienna, vetoed the idea. Vanvitelli had little patience for petty patrons but satisfied his contract by leaving behind one of his trusted minions, Giuseppe Piermarini.
But in this industrious atmosphere he learned the indispensable tools of the trade: patron relations and the cosmopolitan classicism that appealed to them. Piermarini was duly invested in as the Imperial Royal Architect of Hapsburg Lombardy over which he held a kind of architectural monopoly. He supervised dozens of projects while his example significantly raised the standards of professionalism in the region.
Pre-existing foundations were used to reconfigure the old building with a generous forecourt opening toward the cathedral. A distribution of half-columns and pilasters lend the exterior a stately economy, with balanced horizontal and vertical accents.
Piermarini also built Ferdinand a country house in Monza outside Milan with a tree-lined avenue 15 kilometers long to link the Villa Reale to the capital. In the spirit of Hapsburg enlightened rule, Piermarini was also put in charge of the reform of key cultural institutions, both administratively and architecturally.
Piermarini was in charge not only of the architectural adaptation but also the building of the faculty. He gathered a distinguished group of professionals including Albertolli for the chair of Ornato, a concept of artistic decorum on the measure of everything from domestic interiors to urban planning.
The road from Vienna and the Corso di Porta Orientale were embellished with new toll gates and public gardens. By , Milan was endowed with its first comprehensive urban design, drawn up principally by Piermarini and Albertolli.
Throughout Italy, the state— in the person of its ruler—usually took the lead in building and planning, but only in Milan do we find also a social class independent and prosperous enough to respond in spontaneous private initiative. Piermarini took on many private commissions that are each shining examples of how enlightened rule stimulated independent initiative.
Within the dense medieval fabric of the city, before a narrow but regular piazza, Piermarini produced for Belgioioso a miniature Caserta. The facade is underscored by continuous horizontal striations while the pilasters draw vertical accents at its three entrances for a discrete tripartite scansion. Here, the elements of the Reggia are subtly rearranged to modest but entirely effective results.
The Palazzo Belgioioso has smaller and more domestic spaces than in the patrician palaces of the previous generation, and its style served as a model for generations to come. Engraving by Domenico Aspari, Vedute di Milano, 1.
Painting by Angelo Inganni, 1. The world-renowned theater lies at the heart of Enlightenment Milan, a cultural locus and catalyst of paramount importance. The origins of this theater lie in the burnt ruins of an earlier theater once located within the old Palazzo Ducale.
No one was particularly surprised. In the eighteenth century, Milanese theaters were managed by clubs of private individuals, usually noble devotees, who were given opera boxes, or palchi, in exchange for financing. In the case of the former Teatro Ducale, the palchettisti included Alberigo Belgioioso.
In March , the palchettisti, discreetly guided by Archduke Ferdinand, formulated a proposal for a new theater to be built of masonry at a new site by Piermarini. Twenty months later, on 3 August , the Teatro alla Scala was completed. The overlay of secular culture on religious memory is particularly indicative of Enlightenment operations in Milan.
This site was a step out of the shadow of the Palazzo Ducale and into the tangle of streets where the theater could become the focus of a new urban center. The Scala exterior displays a balance of horizontal and vertical elements that tend toward an economical minimalism. The exterior lost that shimmering coherence of the Belgioioso palace. Pietro Verri opined that the theater looked good on paper but rather forced in reality.
The scientific nature of Enlightenment endeavor made theater 82 design one of its distinctive hallmarks. Piermarini, as was his method, gleaned examples from the already prodigious technical literature on theater architecture, acoustic engineering, and fireproof construction. Various treatises on the subject posited the traditional half-round ancient model revived by Palladio against the innovative science of acoustics that called for elliptical, horseshoe, and bell shapes.
In a lavish commemorative volume on La Scala, a Vanvitellian promotional touch, Piermarini published a synoptic table comparing all the major theaters of Italy. For La Scala, Piermarini synthesized the current technical knowledge in the rather unusual curve of the auditorium. It is clear he did not invent anything new here, but everyone confessed that it proved a perfect solution.
Masonry construction was used in the auditorium structure, leaving wooden surfaces only on the box divisions and fronts and the coved ceiling. The distribution was praised on both sides of the proscenium arch. The Teatro alla Scala established a model of methodological mediation in the building type and was imitated by countless others across Italy. Piermarini brought the spirit of classicism to life in Milan. This was brought about through formal, constructive, and procedural clarification not only in architecture but also in decoration, urbanism, and education.
Piermarini renewed Milan through the classical traditions while addressing its current needs to lift it to capital rank. A glance to late- eighteenth-century Venice provides an idea of the classical renewal in architecture. Giannantonio Selva is a typical product of the Palladian heritage.
Selva was a student of mathematics who traveled more widely than most in his day. From the ruins of Paestum to the gardens at Stowe, England, Selva was witness to the gamut of eighteenth-century cultural phenomena. His mental bank of images paid out in a career in theatrical scenography.
There was hope of creating a new cultural center there. The creation of a theater displays all the complex crosscurrents of the age—Palladian traditions, scientific advance, commercial interests, lingering rococo taste—and the creation of a self-image of modern society all blended into one elusive, ever changing expression.
Francesco Milizia, who promulgated his ideas through rigorous criticism of contemporary architecture, spelled out principles of composition, structure, and ornament more severe than contemporary tastes. His principles helped to redefine an architecture for the public weal that was commodious, solid, and grand. A tendency toward purer architectural form made the re- emerging classical style once again, as it was in the Renaissance, adaptable to a wide range of new building types. The strong, forthright forms of public architecture provided the appropriate impact for the underlying pedagogic aim of the arts during the Enlightenment.
The reforms of Bourbon Naples, of Hapsburg Milan, even papal Rome, were manifest in contemporary architecture of more stoic, secular images. Museums and theaters were of paramount importance in the risorgimento, or resurgence of the arts, as contemporaries called it. In most cases patron, artist, and style were lodged firmly within the continuities of the old regimes. This was a perennial return to a hardly absent classicism. The essence of tradition— recognizable schema established by recurrent use—exerts a remarkable force on the Italian consciousness.
In March , as an offensive army commander against the Austrian empire in Lombardy, he entered Italian territory to secure free passage across Piedmont from the Savoyard monarch. A chain of rebellions in the neighboring regions of Reggio Emilia and the papal legations of Ferrara and Bologna spurred Napoleon to further territorial consolidations.
The subsequent Treaty of Tolentino, signed on 19 February , demanded disarmament, concessions, and passage south to Bourbon domain. A republic in Rome was proclaimed on 15 February , and the pope was finally exiled to France, where he died the following year. His nephew scampered to meet the French but was promptly taken hostage. Napoleon was hailed as the liberator of Italy, galvanizing hitherto scattered or incomplete movements of reform in a sweeping political maneuver.
The force of the revolution politicized the arts in a way that they had never been in the eighteenth century. Republican ideals were projected onto the forms of established classicism. He promoted art institutions and established procedures of state patronage that would disseminate images across the land. Classicism, or neoclassicism as he would see it, contained simultaneously the rational underpinnings of a military engineer and the efficacious imagery of a propagandist.
Public festivals were effective instruments in transmitting ideology and releasing social tensions while shaping the collective consciousness. In republican Rome, grand allegorical processions were performed, illustrating crucial episodes of the revolution. There was no passive participation in this fashioning of a collective consciousness. Although the forms were ephemeral, they were significant for their secularization of architectural ideas and their influence on built reality in Italy.
The French rhetoric of liberty and equality marked a promising advance in Enlightenment progress. A rationalist spirit was turned on to political and religious institutions by a secularist and materialist intellectual class seeking the benefits of free enterprise. In reality, Italians were free only as far as French foreign policy would allow, as was most evident in the south where plutarchies formed in the absence of any bourgeoisie.
The Neapolitan republic lasted only days, yet the experience of political action was invaluable. His legal code was applied uniformly across the 89 former patchwork of customs, and a territorial organization set up with prefects assigned to public works projects, such as the new Simplon alpine pass.
Napoleon appointed his siblings to governing positions across his empire. In the regions not significantly prepared in Enlightenment reform, the applications of Napoleonic administration came as a shock. The concessions exacted of Rome by the Treaty of Tolentino specified the removal of one hundred artworks among the paintings and statues of its public collections at the Capitoline and Vatican. When the convoys from Venice, Florence, and Rome arrived in Paris, triumphal processions were staged and the citizens of Paris applauded themselves as guardians of the art of the free world.
Artworks, the icons of history itself, had become commodities to be sold or stolen. The architecture and urbanism Napoleon left behind describes the benefits. After the benevolent Hapsburg rule, the Milanese had much to lose, not so much in terms of their historical patrimony, but in advancements in social progress.
Napoleon, however, continued many of the programs of public works improvement begun under Austrian rule, and private initiative soon picked up. Beauharnais gathered an entirely new group of architects to carry out the projects. Giuseppe Bossi, second in command at the Brera, impelled young designers to careers of political action through the arts. Architecture was a means of achieving social goals, he claimed, inciting civil virtues to unify the people.
For Bossi, the forms of antiquity manifested the politically correct symbolism of republican virtue. A Festa della Federazione was also staged in Milan, complete with a triumphal arch, patriotic altar, and liberty trees. Projects of economic and urban development were drawn up by the local governors, including a new forum.
The Foro Bonaparte will present a spectacle of Roman Magnificence. To the pomp and display of the ancients will be united the good taste and amenities of the moderns. The dismantled bastions were used to fill the surrounding moats, providing a cleared and level ground for political festivities.
The remaining fortress was to be converted for civil functions and the core of the new forum. Within a month, Luigi Canonica devised a basic program that combined military, commercial, and commemorative functions, and the building commission was swept away by the galvanic vision of an unsolicited project from a radical newcomer, Giovanni Antonio Antolini. Antolini had studied in Rome and had attempted a sacristy project for the Vatican, but was assigned only minor works in the Pontine.
Cosimo Morelli, a fellow Romagnolo, helped the younger man attain projects in the Tiber basin managing bridges and dams. He also studied the Doric order. The Foro Bonaparte project was drawn up when Antolini was nearing forty-five, confident in his vision but anxious to see it realized. The route from the Simplon pass enters Milan at this point. The castle, refurbished with a colossal marble portico, was to be 93 accompanied by a ring of fourteen monumental public buildings linked along the colonnade.
The volumes were articulated, the surfaces made austere, and the space rigorously symmetrical. Antolini was clearly influenced by the ancient forms Jacques-Louis David employed for his famous Oath of the Horatii, which had once been exhibited in Rome. The metaphoric value of the column made clear in the festival ephemera was joined to the rational functionalism of permanent useful construction, thus uniting the Doric style to public utility.
Antolini presented his project in Paris in May Milanese confidence in the project preceded the presentation, and on 30 April the cornerstone was placed. Speeches noted that the project would promote commercial strength and social stability.
In June , construction was halted by the Parisian supervisors who had assessed its escalating costs. At the same time, Napoleon was seeking to present a more moderate governmental imagery in architecture, as proposed to him by 94 Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine, his official architects.
The commission was asked to rework the Foro project under more utilitarian and less celebratory aims. The Milanese were embarrassed by the reprimand, and enthusiasm for Antolini suddenly shrank. Despite its rejection, the Foro Bonaparte was included in the city map as if completed. The area, however, would be laid out in far more modest fashion and cost by Luigi Canonica. Under a revised financial scheme, just disencumbering the castle was deemed a sufficient recognition of the progress the French brought to Milan.
Canonica carried on the project with Piermarinian professionalism closely following economized directives. In the end, only the most minimal suggestions of the original forum idea were executed by Canonica. It was compiled in June , and brought to the attention of the Prime Minister, the Under-secretary of the Interior and the Director of Public Security. On 30 May the expulsion order came into force, and both she and her son were abused and maltreated.
They were moved from Milan to Bologna prison, before being forcibly transferred to Florence. With the title of qualified beautician and as a citizen of Trento, I humbly ask Your Excellency to free me immediately. An image that struggles to exorcize his preceding one. On 3 May the recently founded newspaper Italia del Popolo picked up the issue.
Strange rumours were set afloat during the agitated days which followed. The ex-editor of the Avanti was declared to have accepted money from France in order to start a paper of his own … We knew him, of course to be incapable of taking a sou for himself; but a man a-fire with a great project and with the sense of an imperative call to fulfil it! It was decided to acquaint him with what was being said for the slanders were calculated to damage seriously both Mussolini himself and the cause dear to us all.
What was my surprise when I saw the two tiny rooms furnished with only four tumble-down chairs and a rickety table. The fact that she remained penniless after having 64 The cult of the Duce sold her cosmetic parlour in Milan in order to give the proceeds to Mussolini did not confirm the Sarfattian myth of the Dux as a natural protector of the weak.
Where will the future take me? Catholicism, though, was still excluded and only much later would Mussolini walk down the aisle with Rachele. Furthermore, in the first biographies of Mussolini, the quality of the seducer was based very much on his irresistible magnetism for women rather than on his frantic need for sex and capacity to manipulate. Most importantly, all his adventures were tidy, concluded episodes: in the past.
As wife, donna Rachele did. Back from the war and in hospital in , Mussolini made sure that the police would stop Dalser from visiting him44 after the public scenes that she and Rachele had caused during his previous hospitalisations, when both had claimed to be his wife. The fact is he chose Rachele. And any traces of the past that did not fit the newly emerging image needed to be covered.
Seduction was one thing; betrayal, abandonment, abuse and theft, another. He was now a husband and father. And for Dalser this transformation spelled danger. Ida Dalser as the confined paranoid, —32 By the mids Mussolini, the editor of a Milan newspaper, surrounded by a group of cronies, seemed to belong to the distant past.
Just over two years later, in the wake of the Matteotti crisis of , he defied parliament and took full control of the state apparatus in a gamble that paid off. He maintained the trust of the king, and in the next few years the elements of a dictatorial regime were rapidly set in place. All parties other than the Fascist Party were abolished, the apparatus of repression was strengthened, and state control over the media was established.
However, it was to be some time before Mussolini became the permanent linchpin of the new Italian political order. The regime faced rival claims still for hearts and minds, above all from the Catholic Church, which always remained an alternative pole of allegiance to the Italian 66 The cult of the Duce State. For example, the penal sanction against the advocacy of artificial contraception, introduced as early as , was justified in terms of the Fascist goal of strengthening the Italian stirpe,49 something the Church had long sought for other reasons.
Mussolini had his children baptised in and then regularised his family status by a religious marriage with Rachele55 in December Whether from a sense of necessity, or as a precaution, or because he simply now had the power to do so, it was at this point that the Duce intervened to sweep away once and for all two skeletons in his cupboard that threatened his new public image: Ida Dalser and Albino Benito.
But the conflict remained latent. At the same time watch her closely and throw her in jail, which is where she belongs. For her part, Ida continued to meet and write to politicians, journalists, policemen and priests. The Trent courts attempted to carry this through, but failed under pressure from another local magistrate summoned by Ida and the Paichers. When Paicher refused to hand over his nephew, Prefect Guadagnini gave precise orders to the Police Superintendent Amato and Marshal Miramonti to take the child by force.
He was brought to the St Ilario Shelter for the Destitute. Apart from some very short spells and an intrepid escape on 16 July which ended in her rapid 68 The cult of the Duce recapture, she was to be enclosed in the walls of institutions for the insane in Pergine and on the islands of San Clemente and San Servolo in Venice69 until her death on 3 December The mental institution emerges as a facet of the Fascist regime that is distressingly under-studied.
To Dalser and her son can be added the celebrated case of Violet Gibson71 or the less well-known one of Agnese Castaldi. After being arrested and subjected to psychiatric assessment at the Policlinico in Rome, she was released under pressure from the neuropsychiatrist Giovanni Mingazzini and managed to escape to France, where she wrote about her ordeal.
She still talks, the whore. You would be the exception. Yes, Dalser went crazy, and so died. No, [her son is] not my son at all. Too many have been attributed to me. But now think a little of me. The final say, though, should be given to Dalser, one of his victims, who fortunately for posterity was a graph-maniac, like Mussolini himself.
This play is also mentioned as The Unlit Lamp in E. Dalser Ida. See Zeni, La moglie, pp. See Mack Smith, Mussolini, p. De Felice, Mussolini il rivoluzionario — Turin: Einaudi, , pp. Letter mentioned in R. Roma 16 April , Prot. Passerini, Mussolini immaginario Rome—Bari: Laterza, , p. Fazzini , Aneddoti e giudizi su Mussolini Florence: Bemporad, Susmel eds. Borneman ed. See De Felice, Mussolini il rivoluzionario, p. De Felice, Mussolini il fascista: La conquista del potere —, Vol. Pieroni, Il figlio segreto del Duce Milan: Garzanti, , p.
Cartelle Cliniche, Ida Dalser, Prot. The s and s witnessed the emergence of new forms of fame in various spheres including politics. Thus he can in some ways be compared to them, and the trajectory of his career as a public personality understood in part in terms of the transformations that brought extraordinary fame and acclaim to a limited number of people. These changes occurred in the early phase of mass society, and they bore witness to the erosion of the near-monopoly on visual representation enjoyed by royalty and the conventionally prominent.
For most of the s and a large part of the following decade, Mussolini developed a repertoire of theatrical poses and attitudes all of which required appropriate costumes that were captured and amplified in the domestic and international media. As a political outsider whose youth and vitality were unusual, he traded heavily on his physical presence and energy.
He appeared frequently in foreign magazines and newspapers, newsreels and even one documentary film produced by Columbia Pictures. As some telling caricatures reveal, sometimes even a line or two indicating a jaw and a piercing stare were sufficient to sum him up. By focusing on Mussolini as a star or celebrity, the intention is not to trivialise his role as a dictator or to shift the focus of analysis of the personality cult on to a terrain that ignores the political and underplays the specificity of the Fascist system of organised acclamation of the Duce.
In highlighting these aspects, however, there is an intention to criticise approaches which, by contrast, focus entirely on the political machine and on Fascist ritual. Underlying the emergence of all these activities and institutions were rapid developments in commercial culture, communications technologies and the forms of urban life. It needs to be seen as a modern phenomenon that flowed as much from needs and forces that were extraneous to Fascism as from the movement itself.
First, however, some broader considerations will be advanced on modern fame and on Italian star culture. Fame and acclaim in the mass age Some studies treat fame as a timeless phenomenon that first manifested itself in the ancient world,2 when it acquired forms that are still apparent today.
Others relate it more specifically to the early modern period,3 while yet more focus exclusively on the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. All of these factors created a mass audience that sought idols. This modern public was not satisfied with kings and queens, high-society figures and others associated with the court or its equivalent, even if these conserved a good measure of their appeal.
It wanted heroes and heroines of its own, people who captured the spirit of the modern age or who emerged from the lower reaches of society and possessed some of the qualities that the mass of people understood and valued. In politics, it is possible to trace the emergence from the nineteenth century of colourful figures with a capacity to rouse emotions and touch popular chords. Men like Gladstone and Theodore Roosevelt, too, exercised an influence on the popular imagination and were astute manipulators of the media of their time.
The period not only witnessed political turbulence but also a series of changes in the relationship between the upper classes and the press, between the older and younger generations and between the public and the communications media. After the war, the popular press began to cater more to mass audiences. It aimed to shape events as much as to report them. Entrepreneurs like Lord Beaverbrook in Britain, the founder of the Daily Express, grasped that there was a widespread desire for heroes and celebrities.
Alongside the sporting hero, the beauty queen and the great criminal, there was also a place in the papers for an eye-catching debutante. All of these personalities were treated not with the deference of a hierarchical order but with the curiosity of a fastmoving, mass society. At the same time, photography and the movies altered perception by expanding the realm of the visible.
In the large cities, advertising hoardings, neon signs and places of entertainment including dance halls and cinema all aimed at an undifferentiated audience. In the s the manipulation of perceptions became a profession and the period saw the birth of public relations as a business.
Far from declining with the advent of universal male suffrage, the manipulation of consent had become stronger and was based on analysis and on new means of communication. This aided those who traded in images and were able to make a strong visual impression. There was, however, one important difference. The political was a more significant factor in Italy as the expansion of the franchise occurred relatively late.
This meant that, in certain circumstances, politics could absorb appeals and motifs of a consumerist type. For this reason, it is possible to read the emergence of Mussolini in relation to a series of factors extraneous to the conventional political realm. Marinetti founded his movement in Milan, a city that in the early years of the twentieth century was undergoing major cultural changes, including the development of new communications and cultural industries. Marinetti rejected the option of simply joining the commercial sphere of entertainment to get his message across but he also recoiled from seeking to preserve a pure realm of high art.
Instead he found a way of exploiting the opportunities that commodification brought for his own ends. He shaped and continuously reshaped his persona for the mystique, aura, and symbolic associations he wanted to project, in precisely the same way as the manufacturer of a product does to attract buyers.
His emergence as the head of Fascism owed everything to his political journey from socialism via interventionism to nationalism. But Fascism created a space for itself not only through violence and intimidation, or through eclectic and ambiguous appeals, but by manipulating traditional images and myths on a mass scale. In a diary entry from , he wrote: The advent of the masses in political life … produces the same requirements in terms of publicity and advertising as it does in the industrial and commercial sphere.
The fame and the power of a politician among restricted elites, in the clubs, committees, circles, lodges, and cabals, used to be built up in relation to values — regardless of whether these were false or not — that were laboriously established, day by day, through a patient work of skill and cunning, with a refinement and an awareness that brought a certain nobility even to lowly wiliness. In mass politics, great leaders can only make an impression in general terms through the means of communication that shape the fantasies and sentiments of millions.
It is necessary to propose a physiognomy, gestures and words with the sort of reiteration that is typical of photography and cinema. Repeat, repeat, repeat — just like with commercial advertising. The politician who thinks he can get himself noticed with a book, a newspaper article, a speech or through his learning and diligent preparation is deceiving himself. In this delusion he will be consoled by the high regard of the few.
One commentator, F. Maciste,26 the Herculean strongman played by Bartolomeo Pagano, who appeared in some thirty films produced between and , is one figure from the universe of mass culture who has often been cited as having influenced perceptions of Mussolini. From his first appearance in Cabiria in , Maciste was a character whose brute strength in the service of good could be harnessed to right wrongs in any historical period or location.
Born in the ancient world, in his films he moved from the Risorgimento to the First World War. In his modern-dress incarnations, he embodied patriotism, order and common sense. He also had the compelling personality of Za la Mort, a fascinating criminal played in several films by Emilio Ghione. The French journalist Maurice Bedel, writing in , saw the Duce of Fascism as a seducer, equally capable of capturing the imagination of crowds and of charming a French visitor with his fine manners.
Certainly Mussolini invaded the collective consciousness. In his Socialist days, the future Duce had been known for his scruffiness. At first he simply borrowed clothes,41 but, with his appointment as prime minister, a qualitative shift was called for. Between late October and early November , he attended a number of public events for which the photographic record shows him correctly if not impeccably attired in morning dress the garments do not fit perfectly; shirt cuffs are visible beyond his coat sleeves.
Tails were regularly worn by senior Fascists. He was particularly attached to spats and his bowler hat even joking with his wife at one point that only three people in the world still wore one: Laurel and Hardy and himself. Ernest Hemingway once remarked that there was something odd about a man who wore spats with a black shirt. But there were many occasions, mainly of a less formal nature, when, wittingly or unwittingly, he broke the conventional rules of dress.
The usual reading of this situation is that Mussolini lacked breeding or refinement and behaved in the manner of a parvenu. But it was also a time of innovation and modernisation in both menswear and womenswear.
The expansion of leisure and sport, as well as the wider adoption of novel means of transport such as the automobile, produced a demand for ease of movement and more flexibility. The illustrated press also provided an encouragement to individuality among the famous. In Britain and more widely, he was the leading example of a young man who stood out against those who regarded conservatism and continuity as always best.
The prince revelled in the spotlight and he mixed mainly with people, including entertainers and film stars, who shared his tastes. Unlike Mussolini, whose curious outfits were privately criticised or ridiculed by the elite, Edward was hailed as an innovator. This was because fashion innovation was class-based. Distinction was its prerogative and differentiation the means necessary to maintain this.
Thus the Prince of Wales was entitled to innovate, while Mussolini, as a man of lower-class origins — whatever the prominence he had achieved — was not. Unlike Edward, the Duce was not a conscious sartorial pioneer and in some respects his behaviour can be likened to that of a snob. Snobbery has a number of applications, but both a recent history of the phenomenon and an Italian guide to it regard the snob as a social climber who seeks to imitate and win acceptance by the elite.
Not always did the sporting air they conveyed correspond to substantive endeavour. Rather, three elements can be identified as contributing to them. The Naples gathering of Fascists on the eve of the March on Rome, recorded for posterity in the documentary film A Noi, offers a gallery of vanities.
It shows a wide variety of beards and moustaches, as well as many personal interpretations of the Fascist black shirt. Some senior Fascists, notably Michele Bianchi and Augusto Turati, the party secretary between and , never liked uniforms and cultivated a personal style which in the case of the latter included bow ties and black-and-white shoes. Mussolini was not immune to the lure of dandyism; in the s he evidently enjoyed having a wardrobe that included many more items than he had previously possessed.
Some at least of the mixing and matching in his attire derived from his passing swiftly from one activity to another without undergoing a complete change of outfit. This especially applies to the frequently seen combination of formal black jacket and jodhpurs and riding boots.
The Duce was accustomed to going horse riding in the morning before attending to his duties and meeting visitors, with whom he would often be photographed still wearing his jodhpurs. Other combinations juxtaposed the civilian and the military, and country and town wear. Thirdly, Mussolini seems to have desired, from quite early on, to be visually memorable. He was aware that writers, artists and some politicians notably Garibaldi but also, in a different way, Francesco Crispi used clothes to project a personality.
The combination of physical vigour, sartorial elegance and personal magnetism was commonly found in entertainers, most especially film stars, the leading example of whom was the athletic and charming Douglas Fairbanks. Many such people had trademark visual tropes or affected an eccentricity to be noticed and remembered.
The actor and singer Alberto Rabagliati, for example, wore evening wear during the daytime, while Maurice Chevalier wore a panama hat with a dinner jacket. It is quite possible also that advisers like the diplomat Mario Pansa involuntarily provided Mussolini with something to kick up against.
It is known that on one occasion Pansa went to collect the Duce prior to a gala event and found him wearing a black tie instead of a white one with a tailcoat. It should not be forgotten that he was not just trying to win the approval of the social elite — although this was more important to him early in his rule than it would be later — but to communicate an image to the people.
He was at once trying to reassure the bourgeoisie by offering a semblance of continuity and to mark a break with the old political class. From the late s, he was seen ever more frequently in uniform. This coincided with a shift towards the martial and the totalitarian within the regime. The Duce was no longer just a man of energy and authority but a dictator whose person was increasingly surrounded by ritual.
But at least the uniforms, which were all designed specifically for Mussolini, were uniquely his. By this time no observer would in any event have dared voice anything but private criticism of his dress. The shift to uniform deprived would-be pundits of any frame of reference outside Fascism itself. Situated beyond acknowledged style, Mussolini could more effectively develop his individuality in a way that was closely tied to his political project. He admired certain actors, notably the Roman artiste Ettore Petrolini, who recorded in his memoirs that Mussolini received him three times and regularly attended his performances, even sending notes of apology when he unexpectedly could not come.
As a journalist, he understood the press more than any other medium. He also granted audiences to large numbers of foreign writers and journalists. However, although he was born in the age of the newspaper, the train and the theatre, Mussolini became prime minister in a period in which, while all of these things were still 82 The cult of the Duce important, other forms of transport and communication were fast gaining importance.
Cars and planes captured the headlines, illustrated magazines distilled events into images, photographs and postcards made the physical appearance of the famous familiar and newsreels and radio brought current events to life. As a young prime minister who was determined to impress a new style on government and impose a new direction on the country, he saw the opportunity that these developments offered for making himself and his daily activities more visible, for capturing the attention of the masses and for presenting himself in a multi-faceted way.
Cinema and the press, and later radio, all carried news of his visits, speeches and foreign and domestic initiatives far and wide. He also fenced and swam. However, there is little evidence that the Duce ever rode a motorcycle except for the cameras or that he was a genuine tennis player or a serious skier, despite documented trips to the slopes of Terminillo outside Rome.
Various witnesses attest to the staged nature of his tennis matches, which were laid on for the foreign as well as the domestic press. By the same token, the motorcycle was adopted as a vehicle suited for local party officials and it acquired specifically Fascist connotations. In this way an image of Mussolini was forged and disseminated that was made up of a mixture of fact and fiction. Events and pseudo-events formed the manner in which his place at the centre of public consciousness was perpetuated.
In the USA, news-hungry reporters recognised in him a readymade machine for producing stories. Showing him in a variety of contexts and guises served both to humanise the Duce and to establish his exceptionality and ubiquity. He emerged as a man of limitless vigour and energy, with the physical as well as the intellectual and political qualities to lead Italy to a new dawn.
In the same way a family narrative was developed that brought his children although not, except on rare occasions, his wife Rachele into the public eye. Illustrated magazines occasionally published images of the Mussolini family at Villa Torlonia; the marriage of his daughter Edda to Galeazzo Ciano, and the military experiences of the older males, Bruno and Vittorio, were widely publicised. The best-known of these show him toying with the lion cub Italia that was given to him by an admirer and which he kept first at home and then used to visit at the zoo, entering her cage cautiously equipped with leather gloves.
He was frequently photographed with her and even travelled with her in his car. Tigers and cats were unbiddable and this indifference to authority appealed to him. Over the years he was associated with, or likened to, many animals. Emilio Lussu noted that Mussolini seemed like a horse when he walked, while he toyed with adversaries like a cat with a mouse.
In each relevant case the local prefect provided information on the background of the person making the request. Aristocrats, senior military officers, foreign diplomats and the like stood far more chance than anyone else both on account of their prominence and their awareness of the appropriate channels to go through. Many institutions and associations wanted to have Mussolini as an honorary member or honorary president. There was also a constant demand from organisations of every type, as well as individuals, for autographed photographs of the Duce.
As Enrico Sturani has shown, the majority of the eight million postcards of Mussolini that entered circulation during the life of the regime were not produced by the Partido Nazionale Fascista PNF or official organisations; they were made and sold by private companies. The sheer variety of proposals conveys something of the extent to which Mussolini became a centre of commercial activity.
By no means all requests were accepted and where as in the case of the glasses the sole end appeared to be financial speculation, rejection was usual. The regime itself invaded city centres with its parades and spectacles, its watchwords and slogans; busts and photographs of Mussolini appeared in shop windows, magazines were filled with news of the Duce and posters decorated city walls.
Much of this was orchestrated from above, but some of it was simply the product of a movement generated by popular expectations and the enthusiastic participation of individuals and businesses. What gave rise to a demand for effigies of the Duce was a huge fan base.
All this created mixes and overlaps between political and commercial culture. A regime that aimed to shape and condition clothing, leisure and domestic life inevitably entered the very realms in which consumer culture and modern communication were active. Some have compared Mussolini to the promoter Barnum or to the director of big-budget cinematic spectaculars, Cecil B.
For a long period he was a suggestive figure who occupied a space in the universe of the international media as well as the domestic one. Between and he appeared on the cover of Time no fewer than eight times Hitler managed one cover, Stalin two. In this period commodification spilled over into fields including religion and art as well as politics. This trend provoked considerable opposition in Italy, as elsewhere, from those who championed spirituality against materialism.
Fascists railed against the spirit of the age and fervently championed their own austere alternative vision of modernity. But their propagandists neither disdained modern techniques nor rejected new types of communication. Indeed, the very eclecticism and opportunism of their movement meant that they often made the most of them.
In any event, in a dictatorship contaminations and overlaps are unavoidable as distinctions between politics and entertainment are abolished. Mussolini, ultimately, was not a big star because he was an extraordinary being but because democracy had been quashed.
Sennett, The Fall of Public Man Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, focuses on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, while the books which focus entirely on the twentieth are too numerous to cite. Ridolfi ed. See S. Ewen, PR! Passerini, Mussolini immaginario Rome—Bari, Laterza, , p. Malaparte, Muss. Il grande imbecille Milan: Luni, , p. Bertellini and J. Munch ed. Biondi, La fabbrica del duce Bologna: Cappelli, , pp.
Finzi ed. See also D. Mack Smith, Mussolini 1st edn , London: Phoenix , p. Berneri, Mussolini: psicologia di un dittatore 1st edn , Milan: Edizioni Azione Comune, , p. Luzzatto, Il corpo del duce Turin: Einaudi, ; D. According to Rossi, Manlio Morgagni loaned him various garments. However, she was not present in Rome in the period immediately following his appointment as prime minister.
Mussolini, La mia vita con Benito Milan: Mondadori, , p. Laura ed. Bertoldi, Camicia nera Milan: Rizzoli, , p. De Ambris in R. De Felice ed. See also L. Isnenghi ed. Rouvillois, Histoire du snobisme Paris: Flammarion, , p. Morin, Les stars 1st edn , Paris: Seuil, , pp. Monelli, Mussolini piccolo borghese 1st edn , Milan: Vallardi, , p. Cannistraro, La fabbrica del consenso: fascismo e mass media Rome: Laterza, , pp.
Franzinelli and E. Marino, Il duce proibito Milan: Mondadori, , pp. Cerri, Il duce nei pensieri di undicimila baresi Bari: Laterza, , p. Lussu, Marcia su Roma e dintorni 1st edn , Turin: Einaudi, , pp. Sturani, Le cartoline per il duce Turin: Edizioni del Capricorno, , p. Villari ed. Part II The Duce and the Fascist Regime 6 A town for the cult of the Duce: Predappio as a site of pilgrimage Sofia Serenelli First among the European dictators, Mussolini transformed his place of birth, the village of Predappio, into a site for the celebration of his own political cult.
The community was so small that it did not even have a church. In the s, the pilgrimage to Predappio developed into a huge social and political phenomenon. As a consequence, private businesses and marketing strategies 94 The cult of the Duce have exerted increasing influence over the form and content of the political cult. Yet, the changing features of the cult of the Duce have also been related to the national dialogue with the legacy of Fascism.
This phase, set against the backdrop of the new ideological framework created by the fall of the Berlin Wall, has also been marked by a new relationship of the local authorities with the subjects and the object of the cult. In each phase, both the symbolic meanings of the ritual of pilgrimages and the underlying myth of the Duce have undergone significant changes. This chapter examines the first of the three phases of the cult of Predappio.
It focuses first on the construction of the town in relation to the myths behind the cult of the Duce, using local memories and documents. This development went hand in hand with the emergence of the myths and images of Mussolini created by the first public biographies following the rise of Fascism. Indeed, the cult of the Duce in Predappio was deeply related to the images and rituals of the Catholic religion, with the mother of the Duce being progressively associated with the image of the Virgin Mary.
At the same time, by royal decree, the territory under the administration of Predappio was enlarged by suppressing and including other local communes, among them Fiumana. Both the town and the province of the Duce were taking shape in direct and explicit reference to the myth of Rome. The republican Fiumana, for example, neither welcomed the suppression of its administrative status of commune nor appreciated its unification with the socialist Predappio.
In this way, it was argued, the traditional scourge of unemployment would be erased from the local countryside. This is because many people from the old Predappio had been as shocked as she was by the displacement of their own municipality. The first building of Predappio Nuova was the church, dedicated to Santa Rosa in honour of Rosa Maltoni , near to the casa natale, followed by a block of council houses known as Becker see below built for the people moving from the old Predappio.
The construction of council houses was conceived as a socially minded operation to help justify the displacement of the old town. The construction of Predappio Nuova took place in a not always coherent fashion over more than fifteen years under the supervision of a series of urban planners and architects chosen directly by the Duce. It was also influenced by the changing architectural styles relating to the evolution of the image of Mussolini and the ways of representing his political power.
The urban form of Predappio was established by the symbolic and practical needs of the ritual of pilgrimage. The first territorial arrangement was approved during a second visit of Mussolini to his home town in May , when the casa natale, Palazzo Varano the house where Mussolini had lived , and the cemetery of San Cassiano were made the three epicentres for the new development. The latter were given particular prominence in the first tourist guides.
Running from the casa natale to the square at the foot of the hill where the new town hall, Palazzo Varano, was located, the Viale Benito Mussolini was in fact the axis around which the town developed into a form of showcase of Fascism. Particular attention was focused on the Becker council houses, both as a social legitimation for moving the old town and as an indication of the international appeal of Fascism they were built thanks to a private English donation.
Most attention, however, was concentrated on the 98 The cult of the Duce new school. The building of schools in most of the hamlets of the province, very often funded by Mussolini himself through special subventions,26 is underlined in local memories. All things that people from other places did not have.
I was one of the first boys to go to the primary school. And it was later at school that you could see what difference it made. Piersante, middle-class family from Predappio, Catholic, born Facing the Casa del Fascio in the main square, there was also a new monumental parish church. This, however, was still constructed in the eclectic style. The factory, whose construction was linked in propaganda to the Fascist myth of aviation, was built on the hillside on the way to Predappio Vecchia, exactly where, only 12 years earlier, the threat of landslide had caused the medieval hamlet to be moved from its original site.
The arrival of the Caproni factory stimulated migration to the new town of both local peasants and technical personnel from the branch in Milan. Sometimes it was necessary to curb the excessive zeal of wealthy admirers making personal donations or promoting subscriptions to finance celebrative constructions in the town of the Duce. On the hill above the square was the town hall — where Mussolini had grown up.
It was accessed from the square via a monumental staircase facing the Rocca delle Caminate a medieval castle about seven miles from Predappio donated to Mussolini in and from then on his local residence. The road leading from the square to the cemetery was named after Arnaldo Mussolini. With its library, restaurant, dance hall, souvenir shop the only one officially licensed and the reception room for visitors, the Casa also functioned as a polyvalent centre for the promotion of the cult and town of the Duce.
It was always like a celebration, with all these people coming. As lads we particularly The cult of the Duce joined in with these things. We used to make money! We used to buy them at the shop and then sell them again. But then our parents stopped us … It was a sort of party for us lads, but we did not have any critical understanding. The quantitative and qualitative development of the pilgrimages, and their collective meaning, followed a course parallel to the growth of the town of the Duce.
The beginning of mass pilgrimages in was fostered by central government through state institutions and organisations. From , however, the promotion of the pilgrimages was replaced by a need to regulate the increasing and now also spontaneous arrival of pilgrims.
The growing political and sociocultural significance of the cult was paralleled — and in this case successfully promoted — by the efforts of the tourist propaganda machine. It was indeed through the involvement of public institutions and organisations that Predappio initially developed into a site of pilgrimage.
My dad, my mum, and me, too — all with a pushcart! I used to sell fizzy drinks and postcards. Many people used to sell postcards. It was like manna from heaven at the time. In the biggest pilgrimages my dad used to use a big hut because more services were needed: drinks, ice-creams … There was the Grattachecca, no alcoholic drinks, but mint drinks, orange juice, ice-cream. There were 10, of them. Five cents an ice-cream! We could not even get out! Piersante, born The turning point for the ritual, in both qualitative and quantitative terms, came in The casa natale accordingly remained the second most important stage of the pilgrimage.
One reason for this extension was the growth of the cult of the family of the Duce as a consequence of the affirmation of family values within the ideological framework of the regime. This was particularly evident on the most important occasions, such as the visit of the king in June We all had the Balilla or the Figli della Lupa uniforms. We all had to parade with German or Japanese flags. The king came, and the prince … When the king came, since he was short, they put a grape box on the town hall balcony covered in a cloth to raise him up!
And I was down there, dressed in the Balilla uniform. The king came in and I was eight. From the Fascist newspaper Il Popolo di Romagna started to report the figures for daily visitors, which had now risen from hundreds to thousands. At the same time Don Pietro Zoli became zealous with statistics, providing the Duce each month with the number, social class and geographical origin of the pilgrims.
This is confirmed by oral testimonies: We were building an extension on our house. Pilgrims could not afford to go to the restaurant! They were poor people who brought food from home or else had those packed lunches. Piersante, born This also explains why Mussolini never wanted any hotel, unless it was a very modest one, to be built in Predappio. The aim was frequently to involve an element of hardship and suffering traditionally associated with the pilgrimage.
The highest official acknowledgment was the visit of the king on 6 June followed shortly by the rest of the royal family. They thought it was the bed Mussolini used to sleep on, while in fact it was all fake! So the mattresses had to be stuffed again from time to time to keep them in shape.
This is the cult of personality: but we were not interested, we were interested in playing. Indeed at the end of the s Predappio was often subjectively described and experienced in the devotional terms that the cult had aimed to encourage. As the carabinieri of the province and the local administration reported in , the interruption of pilgrimages damaged the socioeconomic situation of Predappio, which, in contrast to the surrounding rural area, was characterised by a mixed industrial economy the Caproni factory was taken over by the Germans in All this was accordingly bound to fail once its empty and vainglorious author fell.
Ludovici ed. Luzzatto, Il corpo del duce Turin: Einaudi, , pp. The first postwar re-emergence of the cult of the Duce in Predappio dates back to Passerini, Torino operaia e fascismo: una storia orale Rome: Laterza, stands as a rare and still unrivalled example of micro-historical and oral-history study on the popular reception of Fascism.
Passerini, Mussolini immaginario Rome—Bari: Laterza, De Grazia and S. Luzzatto eds. Farolfi, La religione civile nella politica del novecento: Predappio nella biografia mussoliniana e nel mito fascista, Dott. Ceccarelli ed. Interview with the author, 29 October See letter from the Minister of Public Works, 16 May On the characters of local fascism cf. Farolfi, La religione civile. His tomb was sometimes visited by pilgrims on their way to Predappio.
Comune di Predappio, Predappio Nuova, Interview with the author, 23 August The reference is to the primary school established within the Church of Santa Rosa, run by the Orsoline nuns since The failure of a popular fund-raising effort for the building of the Casa del Fascio in postponed its construction to the s. The Pope often showed interest in how the building works were proceeding, and in even proclaimed a plenary indulgence for pilgrims to Predappio see Farolfi, La religione civile.
Interview with the author, 25 October As for the proposal, which Mussolini declined, of a triumphal arch which a private admirer wanted to build for him in Predappio, cf. The sending of money collected by pupils to Predappio on specific dates, such as the anniversary of the death of Rosa Maltoni, became a habit within some female schools. Two tons of fresh fish were brought as a present by the seamen from Fano. Marcu, Predappio-Mussolini Bucharest, The rehabilitation of Alessandro is highlighted by the transfer of his body to Predappio and the issue of his first biography promoted by Arnaldo.
See G. Popolo di Romagna, 16 September The number of visitors after ranges from hundreds per month in winter to an average of five thousand in the summer. Visita di S. See M. In some respects these were standardised occasions, highly choreographed according to an established ritual. However, visits served different purposes at different times and, beyond them, the wider relationships the Duce enjoyed with the cities and regions of the peninsula were variable in both intensity and content.
Propaganda and political practice were inseparable on such occasions. The visits occurred in the age of the media and thus they were turned into narratives and images, for the consumption both of those who were present and for a wider audience that was not. The press provided very detailed accounts of the visits, which themselves were prepared in advance in every particular.
Descriptions were formulaic, following a vocabulary of words and concepts that became canonical. Much criticised in the s, these were subject to constant refinement. From the early s, public events including rallies in public squares were conceived more in terms of the screen images they would give rise to than the needs of a given occasion. In their narration and projection the standardised nature of the visits was reinforced.
Nevertheless, there was never any question of the Duce abandoning his visits in favour of studio recordings. It focuses on the close identification of the Duce with Milan, the city where he cut his political teeth; the affinity between Mussolini and his home region of Emilia-Romagna; the semi-clientelistic special relationship that was sought and to some extent obtained by Bari; and, finally, the visit the Duce undertook to Sardinia in , at a time when mass support was rapidly ebbing.
The Duce and place All the biographies of Mussolini published under the regime stressed his humble roots in the Romagna region. The purpose of statements of this sort was to make the out-of-the-way village of Predappio somehow seem a place pregnant with associations and meanings for the whole history of the peninsula.
However, Pini acknowledged that other experiences were necessary to render Mussolini more national. His role as a socialist activist and migrant worker contributed to broaden his experience, but his time as a combatant in the First World War was crucial. Being part of the melting pot of men of all regions who were fighting and dying for the fatherland served to deprovincialise Mussolini and prepare him for the political role he would play after the conflict.
His role in the war qualified him to claim a purchase on the idea of the fatherland and a special right to speak on behalf of those who had perished. If Rome stood for history and tradition, Milan was endowed with a more contemporary European dimension. Since the s, the city had been seen as a laboratory of modernity, while its battle against foreign domination under the Austrians gave it a patriotic primacy.
The early Fascists were strongly conditioned by local and provincial circumstances but they also moved readily from place to place. Mussolini was their only leader of national standing and it was through him that a movement which took different forms in the urban and rural contexts in which it garnered support became a factor of importance in national politics. Mussolini established his intention to be different from previous prime ministers by undertaking an extensive tour of the country in It was not the first time he had visited the South but his decision to travel there was relatively novel and signalled his desire to make the presence of the state more widely felt.
In the idea of Fascism, Mussolini was not a local figure or even a purely national one. In his book of hyperbolic adulation and pro-Mussolinian aphorisms, Uno e molti: interpretazioni spirituali di Mussolini, the Fascist writer Asvero Gravelli alluded to the simultaneous Italianness and universality of the Duce. Modern communications helped in the process of presenting Mussolini as the first new Italian.
The illustrated press and newsreels served both to narrow distances by bringing pictures of the Duce to everyone, no matter where they were and where he was, and to sustain the image of a modern, active leader who was forever starting building projects, inaugurating buildings and using modern means of travel to reach all areas of the country. In contrast to Hitler, who addressed crowds in sports stadia and specially constructed arenas, Mussolini preferred to hold his rallies in the historic squares that for centuries had been the focus of civic life.
The engagements with crowds were vital to him. Whereas German newsreels and press photographs showed Hitler in a variety of roles and contexts, including society events and semi-private settings, where he mingled with others apparently as an equal, the official image of the Duce was of one type.
Laura asserts. It was the powerful encounters between leader and crowd that took place here, in the most prominent piazza in the national imagination of the period, which set the tone for the re-enactments that occurred in the provinces. Thus the regime sought to make its impact felt in all corners of the country by harnessing symbols and traditions and undertaking public initiatives.
This effort was facilitated by the eagerness of localities, and especially of local officials and dignitaries, to feel included in the building of a new Italy. Requests for funds were accompanied by pleas for a visit from the Duce, which was inevitably desired ardently by all towns, cities and regions seeking to win favour. In the meantime many delegations sought audiences with the Duce at Palazzo Venezia, an experience that was rendered complete by a commemorative photograph.
Of course, there was a straightforward power aspect to both sides of this equation. On the other hand, the yearning for a direct line to the Duce was a reflection a timeless desire to win resources, investment and prestige. By the s, journeys were lengthy and articulated, sometimes lasting over The cult of the Duce a week and involving short stops in numerous towns and cities. Preparation for them was meticulous.
Normally schools and shops were closed for the day, Fascist youth and Dopolavoro after-work groups were mobilised and their members brought in by bus from surrounding areas. Ordinary citizens flocked to these occasions but it was the activists who set the tone, shouting encouragement to the speaker and leading applause. Crowds were partly spontaneous and partly organised, with party members often being instructed to attend and police mingling with the people to ensure nothing untoward was said or done.
The enthusiasm that was so apparent in representations of these moments of communion between leader and people was facilitated by choreography and constraint. Visits to single centres were short-lived but everything was done to render them memorable and significant. They were written up in the press, following strict official guidelines, as triumphant exercises marked by mass adoration.
Newsreels and press photographs kept up a constant flow of images of his activities, movements, meetings and promotion of public-works projects. All of this, combined with other propaganda resources and word-of-mouth communication, turned him into a ubiquitous presence.
One of the main qualities of this imaginary projection was approachability. As his government collapsed, he left the city secretly hoping to make his way to Switzerland. After he was summarily executed on 28 April , his body was brought back to Milan and exposed to public opprobrium in Piazzale Loreto. Yet every night, at a late hour, Mussolini went down the staircase of the paper and stepped out into Via Nazionale heading calmly for home. He would not allow any friend to accompany him.
The Socialists had been at their strongest there and so too was the avant-garde. A similar ambivalence would later mark his relationship with Rome, a city whose past he embraced while rejecting its notorious indolence. In the course of the regime, Mussolini travelled to the city on numerous occasions. He undertook official visits in March , May , October and October and also made appearances on the occasion of significant anniversaries such as those of the founding of the Fasci and the tenth anniversary of the March on Rome.
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