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    Forum Boarium, Primavalle

    By jtwang
    Jan 19, '12 4:55 PM EST

    On January 20, we toured the Forum Boarium, which is located next to the round Temple of Hercules and the Mouth of Truth, and Primavalle, a distant suburb in northwest Rome that was made up largely of people displaced from the city center by government visions of the city. Our tour guide was Ferro Trabalzi, who has taught at Iowa State and in Rome, and whose own family was one that was pushed out of historical Rome by visionary urban planning.

    As Ferro explained during our tour, the Forum Boarium area was heavily inhabited. Piranesi's drawing of the Temple of Hercules shows that it was a church in a residential neighborhood. Before the fascist interventions, ancient architecture was integrated into community life.

    Now the Temple of Hercules is "cleaned up," isolated, and no longer part of the life of the neighborhood (which has been primarily moved out of the area). Where there was a dense neighborhood, there now is open space with large streets, lawns, and cars.

    Afterward we visited Ferro's home neighborhood of Primavalle. The housing here is primarily low income and social housing. There is a striking lack of amenities, with the exception of a library that serves as a sort of education and community center. According to Ferro, the government moved people out here to clean up the city center and make it more monumental, as propaganda for a new government. By creating many separate suburbs and placing police near them, they created a system to control dissent. It took decades before public transportation and paved roads reached Primavalle.

    Primavalle was planned on a grid system. Building typologies are not however uniform, since development happened at different times. Some seemed quite successful, such as some of the lower two- or three-story courtyard complexes, whereas others were less so, including a rundown "community center."

    All of a sudden, after the 1870s, people were moved from the city of monuments to a city without monuments. This was, in many ways, our class's earliest introduction to some of the more serious social issues surrounding architecture, a topic that I think is lacking discussion at Iowa State at the moment. This tour has certainly opened my eyes, and I hope the eyes of my classmates.


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