Foro Italico in Rome (not to be confused with the Roman Forum from imperial times) is located on the outskirts of the Eternal City and is part of the sport facilities of the University for the Studies of Rome “Foro Italico”. It is accessible to the visitors and constantly holds tennis tournaments and athletic races. The swimming facilities are located in a building right next to it.
Foro Italico was built between 1928 and 1938 and it followed the architecture aesthetics promoted by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. This construction is adorned with Art Deco sculptures, which was the dominant artistic style at the time.
Without going into political, ethical or humanistic issues about what the fascism represented in arts, Fascist architecture, has a very high aesthetic quality. Hitler and Mussolini, as other totalitarians did not hesitate to promote the burning of books and paintings (sometimes even people) in an effort to erase parts of history.
But that doesn’t mean that, in some way or another, both regimes promoted highly effective artistic interventions. And as an example we must highlight the rallies of Nazi propaganda in Germany and executed beautiful buildings erected in Italy, especially in the north, because of the Duce, Benito Mussolini
On that historic, ethical, social and cultural involution of the time, it was believed that there was no better time than the one of the ancient Rome Empire (in Italy) or the pure Aryan tribes (in Germany). With both of these, it was intended to resume some values from the past (from more than 2000 years before them!) and inculcated them in their current life. The consequences are well known and there is no need for me to repeat them.
Foro Italico is a clear example of that greatness pursued by totalitarian propaganda by Duce and that itself is a contradiction of this political regime, intended to return to the glory days of the Roman Empire.
Roman Forum and Foro Italico
One of the constructions promoted by Mussolini that followed the fascist greatness concept is the Foro Italico in Rome. It was built with a harmonic elliptical shape like an old stadium (similar to the one in Athens). Adorning it there are endless white stone sculptures representing many Olympic sports.
Foro Italico is the result of the official propaganda of the Duce and has nothing to do with the old Roman forum; this ancient building doesn’t follow a preconceived plan and, it is home to different constructions.
The Roman forum was a meeting point of the city. There were shops, temples, and official buildings. People usually visited the forum to socialize and have fun. The Foro Italico promoted by Benito Mussolini is, strictly speaking, a stadium trying to commend the strength of fascism and the individuals who embrace it.
Sports, as for Nazis, were a way to highlight the supposed racial superiority.