Foro Italico, The Monumental City of Sport

 

A highly popular destination among thousands of tourists and sport lovers. The Foro Italico was inaugurated with the name of Foro Mussolini, and was designed at the end of the 1920s, with the idea of constructing “the greatest, most original and perfect sports complex to be made in the world”. A true city of sports that also served as the location for manifestations and celebrations of the regime.

Inspired by architecture from the Roman Empire, the project was designed by the young architect, Enrico del Debbio, and commissioned by the Opera Nazionale Balilla, and organization that was established two years before the fascist regime, made for the assistance of physical and moral education for the youth, whose president was the minister Renato Ricci. The first buildings to be inaugurated in November 1932, where the Fascist Academy of Physical Education, the obelisk, the Marble Stadium and the Cipressi Stadium (later known as Centomila Stadium and currently known as Stadio Olimpico, ie. Olimpic Stadium). After intense debate regarding its location, the vast area between the Milvio Bridge, Corso del Tevere, Villa Madama and the hills of Monte Mario was finally chosen.

Proving its importance for the affirmation of this modern style of architecture, the area shows significant influences, especially Nordic classicism, especially Swedish. It is divided into two symmetrical side wings, connected by a transverse roof, from which there is a view of the rear part of the Marble Stadium, which is entirely surrounded by colossal marble statues of athletes. Each one from an Italian province, as to constitute a sort of outdoor museum of Italian sculpture of the early twentieth century.

At the time of its construction, but somewhat also today, the complex presents a singular outstanding alienating air. A metaphysical tone, which is inspired by the architectural environment prefigured by Giorgio de Chirico in the most famous stage of his painting, giving way to much of what is called “Italian twentieth century architecture”, which is seen in its maximum splendor right here.  At the entrance, we can find the Obelisk, finished in 1932. On it we can find the Roman characters "Mussolini Dux ", meaning "Optical center and perfect the complex", as well as the celebratory dedication to the head of the fascist regime. From the obelisk you arrive to the fountain of the globe along Foro Italico boulevard, a mosaic carpet design of the artists Angelo Canevari, Capizzano, Rosso and Severini, who depicted the main scenes of the fascist life and ideology with black and white marble tiles. 

To the right of the obelisk is the Fascist Academy of physical Education, a building that over the years has undergone numerous changes of use: as the headquarters of the liberation troops, to Vatican hotel for pilgrims of the 1950 jubilee, to the headquarters of CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee) - which replaced the beams with the five intertwined rings. To the left of the Academy, we find the dual building of the Baths and the Academy of Music by the engineer Costantino Costantini; the complex also contains the Tennis Stadium, house of Arms, the two Forestry and the heliotherapy Colony. In May 2015, the route of the Legends of  Italian Sport on the Avenue of the Olympics was inaugurated – a walk of fame, on which 100 legends of Italian sport were commemorated, including former athletes who have written the history of Italian sport.