One of the best things to do in Rome is walk from the Colosseum to the Piazza Venezia at dusk.
Though the beauty of the walk must also be taken with remembrance of the Via dell’Impero’s violent history. The road was constructed under Mussolini’s command in 1932, just seven years before he signed the Pact of Steel with Adolf Hitler. The road was symbolic of the Fascist regime’s self-proclaimed connection to ancient Rome. This tie was illustrated throughout the city on propaganda posters in an attempt to unify the Italian people. Mussolini sought legitimacy for his newborn ideology through suggesting it was the natural descent of the Roman empire. He paralleled himself to Caesar and Augustus and rallied the people in the hopes of returning lost riches to a fallen nation.
Despite Mussolini’s claimed reverence for history, the construction of this road lead to the demolition of many ancient churches and parts of the Roman forum, as well as many tenement buildings– displaying thousands. The road additionally negatively contributes further to Rome’s chaotic and tangled traffic routes. The road begins at the Colosseum and ends at the Piazza Venezia, the symbolic center for Fascist power during WWII.
The beauty of this view is undoubtably tarnished by its dark history but cannot be completely eclipsed, especially when looking out over the Roman Forum with Palentine Hill rising against the setting sun. Fortunately, these ancient sights still remain to be appreciated today; despite Mussolini’s widespread destruction and terror.
My sunset walk through a small handful of photos:
Heading the Piazza Venezia is the Victor Emmanuel Monument which holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This monument celebrates the king who gave the city to Mussolini who later gave the city to Nazi forces, murdering over 8,000 Italian Jewish people. It is difficult to stand in awe of these places while knowing what they stand for and the people who suffered as consequence. Rome is an ancient history that has seen Emperors, Kings, death, innovation, defeat and conquest. Mindful thought must always be taken when you are surrounded constantly by thousands of years of conflict and visual history. While never excusing or applauding the atrocities that took place under Mussolini’s rule, it is still pleasant to appreciate the sunset from the top of Piazza Venezia as the Italian walls that have seen it all soak in the luscious last rays of sun.