The United States is a young country. One that is credited with both a rich and storied history. America’s past is preserved in the traditional form by way of great monuments and museums. These state and federal funded, distinguished buildings are considered works of art. For the residential and commercial areas of America however, demolition and reconstruction is changing the city’s architectural landscape all the time. Locally in Philly, even walking through Temple’s campus we see old buildings being destroyed and new ones rising out of their rubble. popular style has an expiration date in America.
This is not the way in Rome. The city is old and its history is stacked on top of each other like a Jenga tower. Walking through any street you will see a building of one epoch sandwiched next to architecture from another. It is also not uncommon to see one single piece of architecture that has been worked on at different periods and has resulted in an actual hodge podge of Italian styles. A Neoclassical building with Art Nouveau decor and an interior modified and re-purposed with Fascist rational design, as is the case of the Piazza Venezia. The grandiose structure is called “The Wedding Cake” by locals because of its layers and white marble. The road next to the Wedding Cake is the route of Mussolini’s demolition tour of Rome to create his road to the Colosseum. While paving the way for this road an exorbitant amount of priceless Roman history was found. Some artifacts were destroyed for the sake of reconstruction and others preserved and honored, for example, many forums of past Roman emperors, like Augustus Caesar. It seems one cannot merely dig into the dirt of Rome without unearthing some article of the ancient past.
But what has stuck out to me most while observing Rome is the modification of past structures to accommodate a new way of living. For example, while touring the ancient Aurelian Wall, I noticed a part of the arch ways had been knocked down to allow traffic flow for modern automobiles. And to boot the area is covered with graffiti. I have attached a few photos of these sightings below. It is an interesting display of change and adaptation. This is not just the modification of the Aurelian Wall to accommodate modern ways of transit but also by the visual imprint of modern culture. Some graffiti is not unlike ours seen in Philly, simple tags of the same names spread over the city. However, some examples of graffiti are mural-like and harken to another moment in time once seen has boldly futuristic, like a space station, while others portray iconic scenes and characters from cinema. Pulp Fiction is the film I am referring to in particular, an English language film by an idiosyncratic American film maker. This juxtaposition of modern and foreign cultural influence paired with the antiquity of Roman history is a fascinating sight to behold every day.