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The Impossible Capital: Monumental Rome under Liberal and Fascist Regimes, 1870-1943 Author(s): John Agnew Reviewed

work(s): Source: Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, Vol. 80, No. 4 (1998), pp. 229-240 Published by: Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/491051 . Accessed: 04/11/2012 17:36
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THE IMPOSSIBLECAPITAL: MONUMENTALROME UNDER LIBERAL AND FASCIST REGIMES, 1870-1943


by JohnAgnew

Agnew, John 1998: The impossible capital: monumental Rome under liberal and fascist regimes, 1870-1943. Geogr. Ann., 80 B: 229-240. ABSTRACT. Every nation-state has a capital city from where the central government's institutions operate and where the past of the nation is remembered monumentally. Following unification in 1870 Rome became the capital of the new Italy. Turning it into a singular site to represent the aspirations of the regimes that came to power, however, proved an impossible task. Not only did the Liberal and Fascist regimes of the period 1870-1943 have contradictory intentions and goals, they also ran up against the complexities of Rome's own history in trying to establish their own. This paper contends that there are important similarities between the two regimes in their approaches to making Rome a capital for the new state and that contemporary cultural analysis of the Fascist regime misses this continuity when it takes the regime's claims to aesthetic novelty and architectural innovation at face value. In the end, Rome resisted attempts at using its monumental space to symbolically unify a country that remained materially and culturally divided. Key words: Italian unification, Rome, capital city, monumen-

tality. National identity requires a common memory that is shared by people who do not know one another, but who think of themselves as having a common history. This identity relies on forgetting as much as remembering; reconstructing the past as a trajectory to the national present in which to make a radically new future (Gillis, 1994, p. 9). At one and the same time, therefore, new nations require ancient pasts that can be mined for commemoration yet which do not totally obscure the achievements of the present. This is the burden borne in part by the "monumentality"of capital cities and other sites of national commemoration or lieux de memoire such as key battlefields, the birth- and resting-places of national heroes, and other national shrines (Nora, 1984). They replace or challenge the myriad milieux de memoire in which people's daily lives are saturated with particular place memories that do not privilege "national"events or history. In particular, a capital city's physical layout and the scattering of monuments celebrating national history proAnnaler- 80 B (1998) - 4 Geografiska

vide not only a legibility to the city itself but also a physical means of representing the nation in the city as the city represents the nation. To Moshe Safdie (1984), for example, monumentality refers to the spatial and architecturalarrangementof sites designed to convey the political meanings embedded in the location and iconography of the specific sites both separately and taken together as an ensemble. The architects of monumentality endeavor to impose on the spatial form of the city a singular set of meanings, a perceptible order and sense of hierarchy among sites and connecting routes, that both commemorates and celebrates the common history and evolving brilliance of the nation. The past is thus represented geographically as coeval, without any necessary historical sequence or chronology, within the capital city. After the occupation of Rome in 1870 by the forces of the risorgimento, one of the challenges facing the new regime was to turn the ancient city into a capital worthy of their project. With an incredible heritage of buildings, ruins and artefactsto draw on this might seem to have been an easy task. Surely establishing places of memory to commemorate the achievement of a united Italy would require only the token ritualization of already familiar and beloved sites and scenes? This was not how it worked out, however. On the contrary, it proved impossible to turn Rome into a capital on a par with other European capitals such as Berlin, Vienna and Paris. There were too many different memories encapsulated in the city to effect a successful transition to just an "ordinary"capital for an ordinary country. In the end, Rome defied all attempts at turning its historic center into a site of commemoration and ritual for the new Italian state.

Making a capital for a nation?


When Rome was annexed to the new Kingdom of Italy in 1870 it was only the fifth city of the new

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JOHN AGNEW

state, exceeded in populationby Naples, Milan, GenoaandPalermo.Followingthe collapseof the RomanEmpire,Rome had shrunk bothpopulain tion and political-economicimportance. The city survivedlargelyas a resultof its ecclesiasticalrole in Christendom as the seat of the Pope's terriand toriesin centralItaly(thePapalStates).As the new capitalcity it grewvigorouslyfrom212,000 inhabitantsin 1871to 660,000 in 1921.By thenonlyNaples and Milan were larger.It overtookNaples in 1931andMilanin 1936.Withwell over2.5 million inhabitants Romeis easily the largestcity in Italy , area is second in today, thoughthe metropolitan size to that of Milan. Unlike Paris or Londonin theirrespective states,Romeis by no meansa dominantmetropolis withinItalyas a whole. Norhas it everbeen. Milanis still moreimportant economically.As Italy's self-namedcapitalmorale,Milan has also been seen by manyItaliansas a clearother or totalalternative Rome;untilthe crisis of tanto Rome gentopoliin 1992 it represented everything was not. Only in its immediatehinterland in and partsof the southhas Rome ever been politically andculturally predominant. Italyhas a diffuseand urbansystemthatreflectsthe long hisfragmented in toryof politicalfragmentation the peninsula. As Italian political unificationproceededbetween 1859and 1870,a criticalquestion concerned the selectionof a capitalfor the new kingdom.As not earlyas 1861,although yet partof thenewstate, Rome was declaredthe capital.The annexation of Romeandits surrounding regionnotonly provided the lastchunkof the national then territory claimed by Italianpatriotsbut also a "neutral city" not associated,as were Turin,Milan andFlorence,with the local elite groupswhich had takenhold of the (Caracciolo,1956,p. processof Italianunification 16). In otherwords,as Birindelli(1978, p. 23) puts it, Rome "becamethe capitalnot for the qualities thatit had but for the ones it was missing".This, plus the obviousassociationwiththe gloriesof the ancientRomanEmpire,gave Rome a crucialadRome'sinternational vantageoverits competitors. unification more was visibilityalsocounted.Italian theresultof international thanof nationdiplomacy alist revolt. Consequently, outside supattracting uniGerman portwas crucial.By way of contrast, ficationduring sameperiodwasmoreinternally the oriented.The choice of Berlin as a capitalfor the new Germanyreflectedboth Prussiandominance of the new stateandthe Prussian state'spriorcommitmentto economicandmilitarygrowthas manifestedin the growthof Berlinitself. Rome was so 230

different.Ratherthan being a center of national Romewas widely viewedas a prestigeor strength, thatconsumedanddid notproduce "parasitic" city (Scattareggia,1988, p. 43). But the choice still made considerable sense. In the firstplace, in the movements unification city of Romewas itfor the self a unifyingforce.If therewas a singletradition that the populationof the peninsulaheld in commonit wasthatof ancientRome.Acrossall theideof this ological currents Italianunification was the one integrating element.Themythof a unifiedpast a imunderwriting unifiedfuturewas particularly to whichtookcontrol portant theliberalaristocracy over the processof nationalunification underthe auspicesof the Kingdomof Sardinia.Rome presentedthe image of a strongcenterfor a powerful groupworriedthatthe new Italymightbe too decentralized theirpoliticaland economicinterfor ests. Second,as notedabove,Romewas notseenas a threat the interestof dominant to groupsin existFlorenceandNaples.Its ing capitalssuchas Turin, to rulingclass was subservient the Pope andit was weak. economically As Italy's political-symbolic capital, Rome threat Turin's to administrative posedno immediate functions(as the seatof the dominant politicalunit, the Kingdom Sardinia), Milan'seconomicimof to portance,to Florence'sculturaland geographical or centrality to Naples'sdemographic weightin Italy as a whole.Yet very quicklymost roadsonce to againled to Rome.ThenewItalyproved be anexstateas the royalcourtmoved tremelycentralized into the RomanQuirinale palace,the military high the and command, Parliament, ministries, thehighest courtsof law took over formerpapalandother in ecclesiastical As properties the historiccenter. a result,by 1890Romehadbecometheplaceof work and residencefor a nationalgoverningclass. The city was now the fulcrumof nationallife undera As stronglycentralizedgovernment. Scattareggia the (1988,p. 45) expresses newrole:"Through mayorsandprefects directors central the of loauthority, catedin the capital,imposedtaxes on the smallest andmostdistant of provinces the kingdom". The new government founditself in a city without muchof an economicbase otherthanits ecclesiasticalfunctions.Industrial growthwas next to this nothingandremained way formanyyearsafter unification. The new governingclass found some commongroundwiththe local papalaristocracy in without classconflict the keepingthecity "tranquil" thatthey associatedwith manufacturing activities. basedon housBureaucracy, property speculation
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ROMEUNDERLIBERAL THEIMPOSSIBLE AND FASCIST 1870-1943 CAPITAL: MONUMENTAL REGIMES,

and and ing ministries residencesfor civil servants, somebanking activities werequicklyestablished as Rome's main economic functions.Initially,most came from the north,particularly the immigrants Piedmontregionaround Turin,but from 1900 onwards the civil service progressively "southernized"and most otherjobs were also filled by fromthe surrounding poorerimmigrants regionof Lazioandregionsto the south.Onelong-term conthe sequenceof this shifthas been to reinforce imin as age of Rome(particularly thenorth) a southern rather thanan all-Italian city:the seatof a bureaucand racythatexists for the bureaucrats theirclients andnot for the national as population a whole. Fromthe outset,the new rulerstriedto makethe city a symbolic center for their regime. Initially, there was an attempt,underthe patronageof the Piedmontese Sella,to establish politicianQuintano a new centerof gravityfor the city to the northeast, beyondits 1870core.But thislargelyfailed.It was easier and more profitable certainintereststo for concentrate officesin the historiccore government of thecity.In thistheylargelysucceeded,expropriating convents, monasteries,palaces and other buildings from the ancien regime. Another and symbolically more important method was by meansof "patriotic building": locatingmonuments to celebratethe new regimeand thus to challenge the singularassociationof the Churchwith the most sacred sites in the city. From one point of a view,mostof theplansforestablishing new monumentalRome in the years 1870 to 1922 came to nothing.As BrunoTobia(1991) has argued,ideodebate producedlittle physical logical-rhetorical of changein the landscape the city.Withinthe historiccenter(Figure1) perhaps only the subversive of to Emanuele II placement themonument Vittorio (the firstking of the new Italy) on the edge of the Hill (thehistoriccoreof the city,nextto Capitoline the seat of the communeandthe imperialforums) andmidwaybetweenthe Pope'stwo seats, as universal pontiff, at the Vaticanand, as Bishop of Rome, at San Giovanniin Laterano,provideda powerfulsymbolfor the new Rome.UnlikeMilan, whose centerwas transformed a monumental into of celebration a unitedItaly,Romewasreshaped by and only a few streetimprovements associated public buildings beauxartsstyle (suchas theViaNain zionaleandthe Bankof Italy,respectively) by and interventions such as the "Passeggiata Archeologall ica",finishedin 1911,whichcontained themain sites of ancientRome between the archeological CapitolineHill andthe Termedi Caracalla.
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Fromanother the pointof view,however, changes canbe seenas moreconsiderable, nevertheless if relativelymodestcomparedto the transformation of centralParisby Haussmann. The problemwas thattherewas no powerfulconstituency urban for of investors theirpoand planning anykind.Private liticalalliesneutralized mostinitiatives limitand to directthe growthof thecity (Fried,1973,p. 22). To the extentthattherewas any"success" planning for in the Liberalera, it lay in the placing of monumentsto unification thereorientation thecity and of fromits historicaxis. In particular, white the away Brescian marblepile that rose in PiazzaVenezia of and againstthebackdrop the Capitoline theruins of ancientRome (1885-1911) provideda new visual anchorfor the city.Via Nazionaleandits westin ernextension,CorsoVittorio, the 1880smadePiazzaVeneziathecentral fortraffic well as the hub as at symboliccenterof the city.All laterattempts rethe orientingthe city to represent intentionsof the new statetook off fromthis pointof reference. The greatmonument PiazzaVenezia(theVitin the toriano)is undoubtedly single most important elementof monumentality the celebrating new nation in the new capital.It is the Romanequivalent of theBrandenburg in Berlin,Admiralty Gate Arch and the facadeof Buckingham Palacein London, and Garnier's OperaHouse in Paris.Even though builtat different timesin thelong archof European capitalbuildingfrom 1820 to 1920, each is an ornate neoclassicalmonumentto nationalprideand the status,announcing modemnational metropolis as a centerof aspiring realizedworldpower.The or Vittoriano followedthe pattern alreadyestablished elsewhere: Marbleand white limestonewere the favored and Corinthian Composite buildingmaterials, orders defined the decorativestyle of grand arches,pedimentsand columns,while monumentalstatuary the recurrent and personification of "Victory" bronzeor marblerecalled in the iconographyof classical Roman cities, with their monumentsand "triumphs." For both the establishedempires of Britain and France,and for the more embryoniccolonial ambitionsof Belgium, Germany the infant or Italianstate, similararchitectural themes and urbandesign, harkingback to the decoration and iconography the classicalempires,deof clared an "Age of Empire"and inscribedits sentiments into the Western capitalcity. (CosgroveandAtkinson,1998, p. 5).

231

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The winning design, that of Giuseppe Sacconi, brought to Rome the beaux arts architectural style that had transformed Paris under the Second Empire. The realized monument, officially inaugurated in 1911 but worked on until 1934, took the form

of a three-level acropolismadeout of whitemarble fromBresciain northern Italy.The lowest brought level, abovethe firstflightof stairs,was an altarto the Dea Roma,the mythicalgoddessof Rome and the secularspiritof the EternalCity. The second
Annaler 80 B (1998) 4 Geografiska . ?

232

THE IMPOSSIBLE CAPITAL: MONUMENTAL ROME UNDER LIBERAL AND FASCIST REGIMES, 1870-1943

level was devotedto commemoration the late of king Vittorio Emanuele II (died 1878) whose the equestrianstatuesurmounted Dea Roma.The third level supportedsixteen composite columns with associatedfriezesrepresenting sixteenrethe of gions of Italy-thegeography Italyencapsulated within a single monument. Inscribedvocationsto CiviumLibertas(the city's freedom)andPatrium the Unitae(thenation'sunity)proclaim seculardeities of the regimein open defianceof the Catholic can domesandtowersof thecity.Themonument be narrative Italian of history", thoughtof as a "heroic to gesturingfor authenticity adjacentsites such as the RomanForumand Michelangelo'sCapitoline of Piazzawith its own personifications Dea Roma and the equestrianstatueof the emperorMarcus Aurelius(CosgroveandAtkinson,1998, p. 7). But therewere changesto the fabricof the city duringthe LiberalperiodotherthantheVittoriano PiazzaVenezia andthe new east-west axis through the thathelpedto transform city fromits papalpattern(Aymonino,1984).Inthefirstplace,numerous piazzas and otheropen spaces were "regularized" to fit a preferenceamongthe architectsand planners of the new Rome for Euclideandimensions. This reflectedthe rationalidealsof the regimeand and the urgeto straighten otherwiseorderthe disof ordered appearance the city.Second,new streets to werebuiltaccording a modelof fagadesandlayouts for which Via Nazionaleprovidedthe prototype (Tafuri, 1959). The idea was to produce a in the uniformity pathways through citythat greater would emphasizethe impactof the regimeon the countryas a whole.Third,the RiverTiberwas emThis banked flanked newboulevards. served and by not only to protectthe city fromthe periodicinundationsto whichit hadalwaysbeensubjectbutalso to separate life of thecity fromtheriver. the Fourth, the the new streetswhich cut through fabricof the city divided up the city center into a series of the "blocks"that undermined organic unity that had been a featureof Baroqueand PapalRome. of Fifth, the clearingand "freeing" archeological sites was begun to set them off from later accretions. This reachedits zenithin the Fascistperiod of withtheisolationof theMausoleum theEmperor the pushingof the Via della ConciliaziAugustus, one fromthe Tiberto St. Peter'sSquare(Figure1), andthecuttingof theViadell"Impero (nowViadei Fori Imperiali)throughthe Romanruinsbetween PiazzaVeneziaand the Colosseum.But it had begun earlierwith the decisionto turnthe ruinsinto the a resourceforrepresenting historical continuity
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between ancient and modern regimes by isolating them physically from the accretions of less distinguished epochs. The new Roman monumentality had to deal with the presence of a past that always challenged the authenticity of attempts at recasting the city while at the same time seeming to invite its exploitation. At first sight, planning and Fascism might appear like a natural pairing. After all, it was the Fascist regime of Mussolini, coming to power in 1922 but consolidating its grip only in 1924, that coined the word "totalitarian"to describe itself and its aspirations. Yet Fascist planning, though producing such new anchors to the city as a whole as the Foro Mussolini to the northwest of the historic core (where the Olympic Stadium now stands) and the EUR complex to the southwest (built beginning in 1937 for an exposition that was never held and finished in the 1950s), only continued what had already begun during the previous regime. Possibly Mussolini's most important act in terms of the manipulation of urbanspace for political purposes was the transfer of his office from the Palazzo Chigi to the Palazzo Venezia in Piazza Venezia in 1929. Thereafter,Piazza Venezia became the key space in Rome for performing the ceremonies and ritual speech-making of Italian Fascism. It was from the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia that Mussolini made the speeches proclaiming the "victories" won by Fascism and Italy and commanding Italians to faith and obedience. The sacralization of the Vittoriano as the site of the burial of Italy's Unknown Soldier (1921) was used by the Fascist regime to further reinforce the symbolic centrality of Piazza Venezia to the "nationalization" of Rome. The associated rituals figure significantly in accounts of the exploitation of public space by Fascism, particularly those involving the use of amplification, floodlighting and the image of the masses pressed together in the presence of the leader (Ii Duce). Such technical innovations apart, however, it was the elaborate stage-set provided by the Vittoriano which gave to Piazza Venezia its "dimensions and architectural language of epic theatre" (Cosgrove and Atkinson, 1998, p. 10). Commemorations here and in the vicinity (in the Roman Forum, for instance) were important ways in which the Fascist regime represented itself to Italians and to the world. But the commemorations enacted there were not merely repetitions of the same rituals. Mabel Berezin (1997, pp. 116-19) sees 1934 as a turning point in the characterof commemorative activities.

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If before that date the primary focus was on building national social and political institutions, after it the regime "took a decidedly more militaristic cast and so did its public ceremonies." Of the twelfth annual commemoration of the Fascist March on Rome in 1934 she notes: "two corporative physical bodies, the bodies of the fascist martyrs and the bodies of fascist athletes-dead youth and living youth-carried the symbolic weight of the twelfth anniversary commemoration. The old and the new generation of fascists, the past warriors and future fighters, were a harbinger of fascist aggression" (Berezin, 1997, p. 119). It is still plausible to see the planning of Roman monumentality as one of the main features of the Fascist regime. To a considerable extent Mussolini (increasingly the personification of what Fascism stood for as the years went by) turnedto ancient imperial Rome to provide a pedigree for his otherwise modernist movement. Reconstructing Rome according to an imperial image became a vital part of the agenda of Fascism. As Robert Fried (1973, p. 31) put it in his book on Planning the Eternal City, "The city of Rome was once again to become an imperial capital. Romans and Italians were to draw from the monuments of ancient Rome a sense of pride, power, and discipline." But even this was not new. Italian intellectuals had long called up on the grandeur of the Roman Empire for contemporary inspiration. In the years before, during and immediately following the First World War the Roman "ideal" reached its zenith, as related by Borgese in his Goliath: TheMarch ofFascism (1937) (see also Salvemini, 1973, p. 26). In the early years of the regime, Mussolini made a number of pronouncements about the "freeing"of the city from the years of "decadence". On the occasion of the 2,677th birthday of the city (21 April 1924), for example, when he was made an "honorary citizen" of the city on the Capitoline Hill, Mussolini gave his vision of the physical form of the capital: I should like to divide the problems of Rome, the Rome of the Twentieth Century, into two categories: the problems of necessity and the problems of grandeur. One cannot confront the latter unless the first have been resolved. The problems of necessity arise from the growth of Rome, and are encompassed in the binomial: housing and communications. The problems of grandeur are of another kind: liberate all of ancient Rome from the mediocre

construction that disfigures it, but side by side with the Rome of antiquity and Christianity we must also create the monumental Rome of the Twentieth Century. Rome cannot, must not, be solely a modern city, in the by now banal sense of that word; it must be a city worthy of its glory, and that glory must be revivified tirelessly to pass on as the legacy of the Fascist era to generations to come. (Mussolini, 1934, p. 93). This grand programme, however, offered no solution to the contradiction between "necessity" and "grandeur." Fascist architecture and aesthetics were factionalized (Zevi, 1956, pp. 265-81; Tannenbaum, 1972, pp. 269-70). On one side, including Mussolini himself in the early years of the regime, stood the strongest advocates of romanittc and grandeur. One of the leading figures in this camp, Gustavo Giovannoni, proposed a massive rebuilding in the Baroque districts to celebrate Fascism by means of the large-scale construction of a new monumental space near Piazza di Spagna. He also approved the "conservation through isolation" of the classical monuments scattered around the historic city. The needs of the city's population attracted little or no interest. Mussolini appeared to endorse the emphasis on imperial Rome by moving his office to Palazzo Venezia-the center of the new east-west axis created in the years after unification-and by supportingplans to open up monumental access routes to it. But this also betrayed his passion for new roads, irrespective of the "damage" this might inflict on the existing configuration of the city. One partof this enterprise became the shifting of the center of gravity of the city towardsthe sea. This recalled the outward orientation of imperial Rome. The autostrada, linking the outskirts of Rome to Ostia, opened in 1928, was one partof this strategy. To open up the Piazza Venezia to the south a road had to be built along the foot of the Capitoline Hill via the Theatre of Marcellus to the autostrada and thence to the sea. On the other side of the piazza a road was cut through the heart of ancient Rome-the Via dell' Impero-joining the Piazza to the Colosseum and thence to the Appenine Hills. A partof the classical inheritance had to be sacrificed to celebrate its rebirth. On the other side stood a group of young Roman architects, under the protection ofMarcello Piacentini, by the late 1920s Fascism's leading architect, who wanted to conserve the existing city as it was
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THE IMPOSSIBLE CAPITAL: MONUMENTAL ROME UNDER LIBERAL AND FASCIST REGIMES, 1870-1943

and move the Terminirailwaystationto the east. The planwas to emphasizethe "modern" element identifiedby Mussolini:to createa new Rome to the east of the existing one, along the lines origiSella, andto celebrate nally proposed Quintano by Fascismin this new city. proposFinally,in 1931 a planwas promulgated in monumental capital" which eling a "splendid, Piaementsof bothvisions werebrought together. wrotethe recentini,Fascism'sperfectpragmatist, the portwhichaccompanied plan.Theplanacceptof ed the continuation thehistoriccity as the center of the moderncity.Expansionwas proposedat the fringein all directions.But the planalso proposed relocatingthe mainrailwaystationto the east and on rigidly controllingdevelopment the city's outskirts. Some of the more significant monumental out, by projectsapproved the planwere carried includingthe cuttingof the Via dell' Imperoandthe of isolationof theMausoleum theEmperor Augustus. In general,however,the plan was not impleremained whereit was. mented. railwaystation The of Therewaslittleconcerted regulation housingdevelopmentat the fringe.Threefactorslay behind the failureof systematicplanningunderFascism. could not generatethe reveFirst,the government nues neededto buy landandcoverthe costs of the projectsit had proposed.Rather,as with Fascist the militarization, design was not backedup with The generalfailureof Fascisteconomic resources. policies andthe onset of the GreatDepressionalso set limits to public spending for monumental weremajoralSecond,private developers projects. lies of the regime and were as a resultallowedto build withoutlet or hindrance. Third,and finally, of in the contradictions the spatialorientation the 1931 planwereexposedby the new planin the late 1930s to hold a world fair in Rome in 1942 (the twentieth anniversaryof Fascism's March on Rome) on a site to the southwestof the city. The choice of site was made withoutreferenceto the 1931 plan. It implicitlyendorseda seawardthrust to the growthof the city. The EUR (Esposizione Universale di Roma) site became, when it was a War, memorial completedafterthe SecondWorld to Fascismanda new anchorfor the city's growth. The failureof the 1931 plan was due not only to the powerof privateland andbuildinginterests but also to the incoherenceof the Fascist plans themselves.They failed to squarethe countervailing pressuresof the "necessity"facing the city as of a living entitywith the "grandeur" the city as a
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nationaland imperialcenter to which Mussolini himself had drawnattentionat the beginningof his regime. The Power of the Past There were also more long-standing problemsin using the city to make a nation.One was thatthe like city was naturally polycentric, Italyitself. The from a city in 1870hadinherited complexstructure and its variegated of erasof expansion contracpast tion. One consequencewas thatit lackeda single centeror monumental space thatcould be readily for expropriated lateruse. Onlyhalf the areainside The theAurelian wallswas urbanized. centerof ancient Rome was in the RomanForum,butwith the In fall of theEmpirethis site was abandoned. 1870 rather thanthe city,andserved it was in thecountry as a cattlemarketfor the city. The centerof medieval Rome had been the CapitolineHill, but by locatedtherehad 1870 the municipalgovernment of little power;it too was on the spatialperiphery the city. For centuriesthe Popes had moved bein and tweentheirseatsattheVatican SanGiovanni But Laterano. no one of theseorothersites of papal as identified the couldbe unambiguously authority readingof spatialcenterof the city.The rationalist the city favoredby its new mastersalso suffered fromtheclashbetweentherealityof a dividedItaly on the one hand,andthe highly chargedandcomwithinthe fabricof Rome on the plex past/present other.InAnnaNotaro's(1996, p. 6) words,writing of LiberalRome: "Theobvious risk was that far role as the unifying from fulfilling its attributed the force of the risorgimento, city might startreof flectingthe fractures the countryandthe contradictionswithinthe processof unification". The choice, of course, was to impose a center, This was to give thatrepresented theVittoriano. by a unityto thecity thatwouldsymbolizetheunityof Rome",the "Romeof thePeople," Italy.The"Third as Mazzini would say to distinguishthis vision fromthatof the previous"twoRomes"of the Caesars and Popes, "neededa directingcentreand an image that would speak of progress,Italian-ness and,aboveall, unity"(Notaro,1996,p. 6). Thiswas easier said than done. The fateful choice to build withinandoverthefabricof theexistingcity meant out thatit was impossibleto fully separate the impactsof differenterasin the past andassociatethe grandest ones with contemporaryclearance or the buildingprojectscelebrating new regimes.The productionof new symbols in the Vittorianoand 235

JOHN AGNEW

which as we have seen were not all that greatin termsof impactson Rome'shistoriccenterandin the common appealto a magnificent past, it also overstates ideologicalcoherenceandthe archithe tectural successof the Fascistregime.To theextent thatFascismexhibiteda corebelief it wasa disdain for the regimethathad precededit. Followingon fromsuchfinde siecle aesthetesas GiosueCarducci (Drake,1980),some of theFascistgrandees may well havewantedto erecta "Theater State" satthat isfiedtheirdesirefora RomethatwasRoman rather then Byzantine.The use of monumental sites and spectacles,however,was not alwayssuccessfulas either theateror propaganda Schnapp(1996) (as has shownin one little knownif instructive case). because they were built does not mean that they in- Theevidentpopular hegemony enjoyedby Fascism evitablyservedto solidify the regimesamongthe appearsto have restedas much or more on indifnationalpopulace and necessarilysacralizetheir ferenceandcoercivepowersas on convictionconclaims aboutItaliannationhoodand empire.The veyed by shared mythology communicated on of of emergingliterature the "sacralization poli- throughthe symbolicmanipulation urbanlandtics"underFascismtendsin thisdirection(see e.g. scapes.An anecdotefrom the archivesof the Fasthe Gentile, 1996; Falasca-Zamponi, 1997).This per- cist spiescaptures spiritof wearycynicismwith was often spective, which draws from George Mosse's which Fascist "consensus-making" aboutthe symbolic"nationaliza- greetedby largeelementsof the population: "One (1996) assertions tion of the masses"underFascismandNazismand spy commentedin 1932 that the Duce's motto, CliffordGeertz's(1973, 1980)politicalanthropol- andare verso ilpopolo (go to the people), had so far in ogy whichemphasizes takingtheclaimsof regimes been interpreted only two ways: the usual paon theirown terms,confusesthe attempted repre- rades and the usual speeches lasting a couple of sentation of power with its successful exercise. hours"(Ghirardo, 1996, p. 352). of With respectto the presenceof a fundamental Buildinga "Temple the Faith" gives no guarantee thatanyoneotherthanthe alreadyconverted or Liberal-Fascist bothregimeswerecendichotomy, in both cynicalwill assemblethereto worshipwhatit rep- trallyinterested nation-building, hadimperesents.The appealof the perspective thatit of- rialdesignsinAfricaandelsewhere,andbothmade is fers an alternative a vision of Italy as rivenide- use of monuments "stage" to to commemopageants It their successes, even if the ologically,sociallyandgeographically. putsin its ratingand celebrating placea mythof politicsas purespectacle,ritualand Liberalpageantswere usuallybothless bombastic one that avoids hardsjudgements (exempting Vittoriano) less focusedon the the and showmanship; aboutthe character regimesandwhattheydo or charisma a singleperson.Fascismhadcome out of of do not accomplish(see also Bosworth,1997).It is of the social conditionsestablishedunderthe predifficultnot to see the parallelwith RobertWohl's viousregime.It didnotcome out of nowhere. Havto socialism (1979, p. 586) conclusionwhen writingof De Fe- ing himselfcontributed themaximalist lice's revisionistaccountof Mussolini: that becamea threatto significantsections of the dominantgroupsof the Liberalepoch, Mussolini In takingat face valuetherationalizations of giv- came to powerunderthe sponsorship the forces en by Mussolini for his policies, De Felice of traditional conservatism (Salvemini,1973; Vimisses the dramaof a manwho possessedthe varelli, 1981, 1991). Fascismthereafter pushedto views andunderstandings wherealthat dangerous abilityto inspireothersto actin the anextreme name of causes in which he could not bring ready widely acceptedby powerful segmentsof himself to believe. Italiansociety andcoercedthe rest of the population into going along.The birthof Fascismin vioAt the sametime, the sacralization not lence meantthatthe Fascistsalwaysachievedconperspective only exaggeratesthe political-ideologicaldiffer- sent throughan all too obviouscapacityfor coerences between the Liberal and Fascist regimes, cion (Elazar,1993).Thiswas whatAntonioGram236
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beyondthe existingcity at EUR, for example,representexplicitattempts createa monumentality to for the new capitalcity. But theseeffortswere difficult to translateinto singularand unambiguous politicalmessages.The existingRomes got in the was derided fromthe way.TheVittoriano popularly start as a monstrositydepositedinto a setting in which it did not fit. The ambitiousEUR scheme was nevercompletedby the Fascistregime.Its futureroleas a pole of suburban officeandresidential developmentis hardlywhat its architectshad in mindwhen they designedit. Thelackof "fit" betweenintention outcome, and shouldleadto cautionin interpreting the therefore, monumentsof Liberaland Fascist Rome. Simply

THEIMPOSSIBLE CAPITAL: MONUMENTAL ROMEUNDERLIBERAL AND FASCIST 1870-1943 REGIMES,

sci understood "hegemony." recentexperiThe by ence of squadrismo no meantthatFascismrequired mandate hadto be constantthat appealto a popular if ly reproduced the regimewas to survive. Withrespectto the natureof Fascism,it was an politicalmovementbasedon nationopportunistic alist oppositionto the moreideologicallycoherent Socialistmovement. (if organizationally sectarian) in of Right-wing its conservation theexistingsocial order, it invented itself ideologically as it went along,drawing eclecticallyfroma widerangeof inand tellectualandpoliticalsources.Revolutionary nationalistin its early years, Fascism became inas and creasinglyimperialist statistin orientation it institutionalized 1992).Totheextentthata (Visser, its consistentand coherentoutlook underpinning culturalpolicies can be detected,it involved the vision of a "newItapursuitof an ultra-nationalist ly" but withoutconsistentaestheticcontent(Griffin, 1998). Weldingtogethera set of local groups into a nationalmovement, Mussolinidrewon a vain riety of contradictory ideologicalcurrents fashioning a set of Fascist precepts.For example,he of broughttogetherthe hyper-modernism the Futurists, and their obsession with technology and speed, with a romanticdistastefor cities; he demfor onstrated botha sympathy theVatican in the (as Lateran Pact of 1929 deemingthe RomanChurch as the nationalchurchof Italy) and an attachment to the idea thathe was resurrecting Italyas the seat Whenit cameto planning of a new RomanEmpire. Itthe "new" Rome,the symbolicseatof the "new" aly, the total intellectualincoherenceof Fascism was opento display.Perhaps only after1937,when Mussolinithrewin his lot with Hitler and turned Fascisminto an imitationof Nazism, did a degree of coherencebegin to emerge (Knox, 1982). This was basedopenlyon thecultof theleaderanda "raBecause of the rapid cial" definitionof italianittd. onset of warit had little or no impacton the monumentalprojectsand, at the very least, correlated for with a dramatic decline in popularsupport the regime. ideas Theemergence romanitdt thedominant of ological motif of the regimecan be seen as a reaction to the ideological incoherenceof Fascismas well as its relianceon recyclingold myths for its own purposes.Schnapp(1992, p. 3) arguesplausibly thatthe regime'slack of a consistentset of precepts gave rise to "an aestheticoverproduction-a surfeitof Fascistsigns,images,slogans,books,and for, buildings-tocompensate fill in, andcoverupits foreverunstableideologicalcore."It is not surprisAnnaler- 80 B (1998) - 4 Geografiska

to ing, therefore, discoverthatthe most persisting theme in the planningof Rome as Mussoliniinthe creasinglypersonified regimewas the imperial it heritageof thecity andtheneedto re-establish in the present(Atkinson,1996). The main problemwas that the presenceof so muchpast in Rome got in the way of offeringsinof gularinterpretations whatit all meant,irrespective of Fascism'sideological incoherence.It was impossibleto startfrom scratch,to makeover the to imageyet incity according somenewormodern withinthis the historicfabricof the city. In tegrate the particular, idea of romanitdt,the city's Roman for past as the inspiration a new Rome in a new Ithadto contendwiththeformidable aly, presenceof the Pope as the heir to an entirelydifferenturban history:that of Rome as the seat of a universal Church.This representsthe greatest continuity withRome'srecentpastin that,sincethe fall of the continuRomanEmpire,the city's most important functionhas beenas the homeof the Pope.The ing of churchesof the city andthe huge numbers reliof gious andpilgrimsin thecity aredailyreminders the embeddedtraditionagainstwhich the nationbuildershad to struggle. But in Rome the past can also mean something otherthanan alternative (ecclesiastical)historyto thatof the nation.Onelong dominant imageof the hasbeenthatof a cityof ruins.Thisis theimage city famous Promenade conveyed in Chateaubriand's
dans Rome au clair de lune:

Rome is asleepin the midstof her ruins.This orbof the night,this spherewhichis supposed to be extinguished and unpeopled, moves throughher pale solitudes,abovethe solitude of Rome. She shines uponthe streetswithout inhabitants, upon enclosed spaces, open squares,and gardensin which no one walks, wherethe voices of monks upon monasteries are no longerheard,uponcloisterswhich are as desertedas the archesof the Colosseum. (Quotedin McGann,1984, p. 84) Romeis only whatit once was In this construction, reandcan neverbe again.Theruinsarea constant loss. But each generation minderof a permanent Romeon thebasisof interpretations has reinvented received from previous ones. Thus, Liberal and Fascist Rome knew Classical Rome throughthe theirown of drawings Piranesias muchas through endeavors. archeological the Less definitively, ruinscan be seen as partof 237

JOHN AGNEW

a city of layers,in which no one elementfromthe The of pasteverreallypredominates. remnants differentepochs interpenetrate complex ways. To in WilliamWeaver(1984), for example: Literally, the ancient stratumunderlies the medieval city, the Baroquecity, the modern city. But layerscan also be vertical; theyinterAs lock, intersect. you walkalonga downtown street,you can see a Romancolumnincorporatedinto the facadeof a Baroquepalazzo,or a fragmentof ancient wall preservedin the atriumof a glass andsteel apartment house. Fromits twenty-fivecenturiesof history,five epochs hadprovided to majorcontributions thecity as it stood in 1870. The firstand most important reminderof the gloriouspastof the city was ancient Rome (both republicanand imperial)whose few (such as the Panremaining completemonuments theon), scattered ruins, ancient roadways and bridges challengedthe veracityof contemporary a attemptsat reconstructing new imperialcity in theirimage.The secondepochwas theearlyChristian period from which a numberof important churches survived on the peripheryof the city. These churches,such as Santa MariaMaggiore, San Giovanni in Lateranoand Santa Maria in Trastevere, gave the city a series of ecclesiastical axes around whichmuchof the streetplanwas still The organized. thirdepoch,thatof the MiddleAges, left its impactin termsof the dense residential settlementin the elbow of the Tiber,with palaces constructed fortresses noblefamiliesandfew as by open public spaces, such as Piazza Navona.The fourthepoch,thatof the Renaissance Catholic and of Reformation,had seen the transformation the Vaticaninto an architecturally dominant complex in the city with the dome of St Peter'sgiving tanof gible proofof the supremacy papalpowerin the abouttheopeningupof themecity.It alsobrought dievalcity anda new monumentality gave old that sites, such as the CapitolineHill, a new architecturalcentralityto the city. Finally,the papalgovernment from 1750to 1870hadinitiateda number of changes in the fabricof the city, includingthe and of railwaystationatTermini the construction a numberof factoriesandrailwaylines. Thisrichhistoricinheritance formedthebasisof the city's claimedstatusas the Eternal City.Whateverthe epoch,the changesto the urbanfabrichad blendedinto the existing eclectic mixture.Some sites, such as the Capitoline Hill, the Piimportant

azza del Popolo,the PiazzaNavonaand St Peter's of Square,containa wide array elementsfromdifferent epochs broughttogether in juxtaposition. The influenceof no one epochtotallyprevailsover others.As a result,simpleepochalmessageshave alwaysbeen swallowedup by the rich inheritance from the past. Rome's uniquenesslies in the pluthat ralityof aestheticeffects andinterpretations it Simmelnotedof Rome in 1898 engenders.Georg that it "canstill be experiencedin multipleways andthis sentiment be interpreted manymancan in ners"(Simmel, 1996,p. 7). This was also the case afterLiberalandFascistregimeswent to workon the transforming city. the meaningsof monuments archeand Finally, ological sites areneverfinallyfixed andunambigthe uous, whatever intentionsof theirbuildersand excavators. Take,for example,the case of theVitto in toriano,the greatwhite"Altar the Nation" PiazzaVenezia,developedas a sacredsite fornationand building bothLiberal Fascistregimes(Dickby ie, 1994). In his well-knownbook, The Italians (1964), Luigi Barziniconcludedthatthe bulkand bombast themonument of reflected anxietyand the ambivalencethataccompanied process of nathe tional unification. the one hand,therewas the On of apathyor indifference most "Italians" (particularly peasantsand the workingclass) towardsthe entireproject.The monumentwas the subjectof jokes and barbed nicknames (for example, the "weddingcake"or the "falseteeth")fromthe moment of its inauguration. the otherhand,there On was the activehostilityof the Papacytowardsthe declaration Rome as the capitalof the new naof tion. In addition, movement unification the for was itself dividedinto republican monarchist and currents which operatedaccordingto distinctivevisions anddifferent symboliccodes. Even atthe zenithof Fascism,whenthecultof Il Duce as theembodimentof the nationwas at its peak,theVittorianoremained ambiguous an symbolof nationhood and its travails. CosgroveandAtkinson(1998, As p. 5) note of one particularly revealingincidentin the life of the monument: Only the decisive interventionof Mussolini himself thwarteda plan to paint it yellow so thatthe starkwhiteBrescianmarbleof its construction, so dazzling in the summer sun, might appearless obtrusiveagainstthe ochre tones of the Romancityscape.In the redcrayon in which he dispatchedhis paperwork, II Duce had scrawled"niente"(no such thing)
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THE IMPOSSIBLE CAPITAL: MONUMENTAL ROME UNDER LIBERAL AND FASCIST REGIMES, 1870-1943

over the policy proposal(Cederna,1981, p. 83). Yet that such a suggestionwas proposed at all is indicativeof the controversy conand testationswhich attended monument the only two decades after its completion, and how readysome lobbies were to suggestthatit be, in effect, camouflaged disguisedas an emor barrassment the city. to

of throughthe symbolicmanipulation urbanspace A is a potentially and dangerous activity. materially symbolicallydividedItalywas not readilyunified monumentally.
John Agnew, Professor and Chair of Geography and Associate Director of the Centerfor European and Russian Studies, UCLA, 1255 Bunche Hall, Box 951524, Los Angeles CA, USA 90095-1524. E-mail: jagnew@ ucla.edu

Conclusion Thechoiceof Romeas capitalproved be a fateful to one for the projectof Italianunification.Its com- References inplex iconography, recallinga seriesof divergent ATKINSON, D. (1996): The road to Rome and the landscapes of fluencesin a complexpast,defiedthe symbolicuniFascism, in GILLIVER, C.M., ERNST, W. and SCRIBA, F. of fication accordingto a singularinterpretation (eds): Archeology, Ideology, Method. Rome: Canadian Academic Centre in Italy. thatpastwhichtheprojectof representing new the ArThe nationin the capitalrequired. monuments a AYMONINO,e C. (ed.) (1984): Roma capitale: 1870-1911. storto chitettura urbanistica, uso e trasformazione della citta a city in which revivedItalywere swallowedup by ica. Venice: Marsilio. a singularimpositionof architectural political BARZINI, L. (1964): The Italians. London: Penguin. and meaning proved impossible to attain.Unique as BEREZIN, M. (1997): Making the Fascist Self: The Political Culture of Interwar Italy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. thiscase appears be, anancientcity posingas the to M. (1978): Roma italiana, come fare una capitale new capital of a late-unifyingEuropeannation- BIRINDELLI, cittai.Rome: Savelli. e disfare una lessonsabouthow BORGESE, G. (1937): Goliath: The March of Fascism. New state,it does suggestsomelarger York: Viking Press. we shouldinterpret politicalmonumentality the of R.J.B. (1997): Tourist planning in Fascist Italy and cities in general.One is that political re- BOSWORTH,of a totalitarian culture. capital the limits Contemporary European gimes of a range of political complexions,from History, 6: 1-25. to totalitarian, similarproblems CARACCIOLO, A. (1956): Roma capitale. Dal Risorgimento face parliamentary alla crisi dello stato liberale. Rome: Rinascita. in imposingtheirvisions of nationhood potenand (1981): tial grandeur onto the fabricof existing cities. We CEDERNA, A. anni del Mussolini urbanista. Lo sventrimento di Roma negli consenso. Bari: Laterza. of shouldalso be carefulnotto taketherhetoric the COSGROVE, D. and ATKINSON, D. (1998): Embodied identities: city, nation and empire at the Vittorio-Emmanuele II regimestoo seriously;this is somethingthat does Monument in Rome. Annals of the Association of American seem to be a problemwith some recentwork on Geographers, 88: 28-49. intentions presumed are Rome,in whichbombastic DICKIE, J. (1994): La macchina da scrivere: the Victor Emto have given rise to outcomesthatwere both aesmanuel monument in Rome and Italian nationalism. The Italianist, 14: 261-85. thetically and politically successful in conveying the intendedmessages. This sometimes happens DRAKE, R. (1980): Byzantiumfor Rome: The Politics of Nostalgia in Umbertian Italy, 1878-1900. Chapel Hill, NC: Univerbecause in following the traditionsof art history, sity of North Carolina Press. sites are isolated from the wider land- ELAZAR, D.S. (1993): The making of Italian Fascism: the seiparticular that zure of power, 1919- 1922. Political Power and Social Thescapeof thecity andgivenreadings makesense ory, 8: 173-217. only whenthe sites areisolated.Most importantly, FALASCA-ZAMPONI, S. (1997): Fascist Spectacle: The Aescity attemptsat makingRome a monumental for a thetics of Power in Mussolini's Italy. Berkeley and Los AnunifiedItalyranup againstthe powerof the pastto geles: University of California Press. subvertthe intentionsof politiciansand planners. FRIED, R.C. (1973): Planning the Eternal City: Roman Politics and Planning Since World WarII. New Haven, CT: Yale Unimustcoexistwithand New layoutsandmonuments versity Press. drawin the establishedfabricof the city. JuxtapoGEERTZ, C. (1973): The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: sition, however,is a two-edged sword. While it Basic Books. betweenpastand GEERTZ, C. (1980): Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenthdrawsattention the connection to Century Bali. Princeton NJ: Princeton, University Press. present(as in the RomanForumnext to the VittoThe Sacralization of Politics in Fascist ItE. riano),it also opensup thepossibilityfor invidious GENTILE, (1996): Harvard University Press. aly. Cambridge, MA: of betweenthe achievements past and GHIRARDO, D.Y. (1996): Cittaifascista: surveillance and speccomparison tacle. Journal of Contemporary History, 31: 347-72. present.Withoutsome concreteaccomplishments therefore, (otherthanmonuments), nation-building GILLIS, J.R. (1994): Introduction: memory and identity, the hisAnnaler- 80 B (1998) - 4 Geografiska

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JOHN AGNEW tory of a relationship, in GILLIS, J.R. (ed.): Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity. Princeton NJ: Princeton, University Press. GRIFFIN, R. (1998): The sacred synthesis: the ideological cohesion of Fascist cultural policy. Modern Italy, 3: 5-23. KNOX, M. (1982): Mussolini Unleashed 1939-1941. Politics and Strategy in Fascist Italy's Last War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. MCGANN, J.J. (1984): Rome and its romantic significance, in PATTERSON, A. (ed.): Roman Images. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. MOSSE, G.L. (1996): Fascist aesthetics and society: some considerations. Journal of Contemporary History, 31: 245-52. MUSSOLINI, B. (1934): Scritti e discorsi di Benito Mussolini. Milan: Hoepli. NORA, P. (1984): Les lieux de memoire. Vol. I. Paris: Gallimard. NOTARO, A. (1996): Telling imperial histories: contests of narrativity and representation in post-unification Rome 18701911. Imperial Cities Project Working Paper No. 1, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway College, University of London. SAFDIE, M. (1984): Collective significance. Harvard Architectural Review, IV: 87-97. SALVEMINI, G. (1973): The Origins of Fascism in Italy. New York: Harper and Row. SCATTAREGGIA, M. (1988): Roma capitale: arretratezza e modernizzazione (1870-1914). Storia Urbana, 42: 37-84. SCHNAPP. J.T. (1992): Epic demonstrations: Fascist modernity and the 1932 exhibition of the Fascist Revolution, in GOLSON, R.J. (ed.): Fascism, Aesthetics, and Culture. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England. SCHNAPP, J.T. (1996): Staging Fascism: 18BL and the Theater of Masses for Masses. Stanford CA: Stanford, University Press. SIMMEL, G. (1996): Roma, un'analisi estetica. La Critica Sociologica, 116: 1-7. TAFURI, M. (1959): La prima strada di Roma moderna: via Nazionale. Urbanistica, 27: 95-108. TANNENBAUM, E. (1972): The Fascist Experience: Italian Society and Culture, 1922-1945. New York: Basic Books. TOBIA, B. (1991): Una patria per gli italiani. Spazi, itinerari, monumenti nell' Italia unitca (1870-1900). Bari: Laterza. VISSER, R. (1992): Fascist doctrine and the cult of romanitai. Journal of Contemporary History, 27: 5-22. VIVARELLI, R. (1981): IIfallimento di liberalismo. Studi sulle origini difascismo. Bologna: II Mulino. VIVARELLI, R. (1991): Interpretationsof the origins of fascism. Journal of Modern History, 63: 29-43. WEAVER, W. (1984): Rome: on foot in the past. New York Times, 19 February, Section 10: XX. WOHL, R. (1979): Review of "Mussolini il duce. Gli anni del consenso". Journal of Modern History, 51: 584-6. ZEVI, B. (1956): Storia dell' architettura moderna. (2nd ed). Turin: Einaudi.

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