Thursday, August 01, 2013

"Restoring" History?

The New York Times has an interesting piece on the Via dei Fori Imperiali, a road built by Mussolini between his palace and the Colosseum.  Part of Trajan's Forum had to be destroyed to build it, and it goes right through the ancient forums (fori/fora)--separating the major Roman forum on one side of the street from the forums of Caesar, Augustus, Trajan, and Nerva on the other.

The current mayor wants to turn the road into a pedestrian area, as it's heavily trafficked.  Locals complain about worsening traffic on other nearby streets.
Mr. Marino’s plan to ban private traffic on the roadway, which bisects a vast archaeological site, from the central Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum, has prompted grousing and histrionic debate over a project that conservators say would solidify the world’s largest urban archaeological area...

But it seems that the mayor can, and did, forging ahead with a project that was a centerpiece of his campaign. In this first phase, the tract of Via dei Fori Imperiali closest to the Colosseum will be off limits to private vehicles, but not to buses and taxis. A rather optimistic simulation is visible on the city’s transportation Web site. 

The final goal is to make the Via dei Fori Imperiali a pedestrian area from one end to the other, and to finance the project with subsidies from the European Union....
I spent a lot of time on this stretch of road last summer.

Update, 8/2/13: Here are two shots from Google Earth.

Imperial Rome:

Modern Rome:
The Via dei Fori Imperiali is the road stretching from the large white Vittoriano Monument in the upper left to down along the north side of the Colosseum.  Note how it goes right through the Imperial Fora of the four mentioned emperors.

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