Maps and Mussolini
Via dei Fori Imperiali, the broad avenue which links Piazza Venezia with the Colosseum, was created by the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who ruled Italy from 1922 until 1943.
Then called the Via dell' Impero, the road was opened in 1932 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Mussolini's March on Rome.
In 1934 Via dell' Impero became a showcase for four large maps, which depicted the growth of Rome and its empire from 753 BCE until 117 CE. The first map simply depicts the city of Rome as a white dot in the middle of Italy; the other three maps trace the history of Rome's expansion until the year of the death of the emperor Trajan (r. 98-117).
In 1936 a fifth map was added, illustrating Italy's military expansion in Africa, but this was later removed.
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My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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