All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
ABRIDGED HISTORY OF ROME - PART IV
|Year||Political Developments||Events in Rome||1871||(Feb.) The Italian Parliament approves the move of the capital from Florence to Rome.
(May) The Parliament passes the Guarantee-Act (Legge delle Guarentigie) by which the pope is assigned a yearly income, the property of a certain number of basilicas and palaces and the right to keep a personal guard. Pope Pius IX refuses the concession.
|(July) The Italian Court, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies move to Rome and establish their respective residence in Palazzo del Quirinale, Palazzo Madama and Palazzo di Montecitorio.
A census indicates that the population of Rome amounts to 244,844 inhabitants.
|1872||Death of Giuseppe Mazzini, one of the key promoters of Italian Unity.||The Town Council approves a plan for the development of Rome.|
|1873||A law greatly reduces the number of religious congregations: their properties are confiscated and turned into schools, government offices and barracks.||The Central Railway Station (Stazione Termini) is completed on the site of Villa Peretti.|
|1874||Pope Pius IX forbids Catholic believers to take part in Italian political life.||Giuseppe Garibaldi is among the senators elected in Rome. He takes the lead in promoting legislation aimed at protecting the city from floods.|
|1876||The political party known as Destra storica (historical Right) loses the general elections. It ruled Italy after the death in 1861 of Camillo Cavour .||A law finances the construction of walls along the Tiber.|
St Paul's within the walls, the first non Catholic church of Rome is completed and consecrated.
|The first non Catholic church of Rome is a work by George Edmund Street, a leading English architect who is best known for having designed the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand in London.
Although most of his works were inspired by the medieval Gothic architecture prevailing in England and France, in the design of St. Paul's he followed the pattern of northern Italy churches.|
The construction of the church was promoted by the Americans in Rome who belonged to the Anglican Episcopal Church (you may wish to visit their web site). The church was built along Via Nazionale, a street the Italian government regarded as the symbol of Terza Roma (the Rome of Italy after those of the Empire and of the Popes). A funny aspect of this decision was that it greatly enriched Xavier de Merode, a Belgian prelate who had been for many years Pope Pius IX's Minister of War. During the last years of the Papal State he bought most of the land between Piazza di Termini and S. Vitale, the site of the future Via Nazionale.
|Year||Political Developments||Events in Rome||1877||Compulsory primary education is introduced.||Ministero delle Finanze, the largest government building of Rome is completed|
|1878||(Jan) Death of King Victor Emmanuel II; he is succeeded by his son King Umberto I.
(Feb.) Death of Pope Pius IX; Cardinal Gioacchino Pecci is elected pope (Pope Leo XIII).
|The Italian Parliament approves the construction of a Monument to King Victor Emmanuel II.|
|1882||(May) Italy adheres to the German-Austrian Dual Alliance, as a reaction to the 1881 French occupation of Tunisia,
which Italians saw as a potential colony.
(June) Death of Giuseppe Garibaldi.
|Corsa dei Barberi, a horse race associated with the Roman Carnival is abolished.|
|Strada Pia, the street linking Palazzo del Quirinale with Porta Pia was sparsely populated before 1870; for this reason it was selected as the location for many government buildings. It was renamed Via XX Settembre (the day Italian troops entered Rome in 1870).
Ministero delle Finanze (1872-77) was the largest of these palaces and it was decorated with a gigantic coat of arms of the Savoia, the Italian royal family. The style of building and of many others is commonly called stile umbertino after the name of the king during whose reign (1878-1900) most of them were completed. It is a Neo-Renaissance style:
the architects who designed them had in mind not so much the palaces of the Roman Late Renaissance, but two palaces of the XVIIIth century
(Palazzo della Consulta and Palazzo Braschi) which marked a return to a more composed design after the Baroque period.|
The stile umbertino palaces are seldom remarkable, but they at least spared the historic centre of Rome the extravagant designs which characterized the late XIXth century architecture in many European cities.
In the new quarters built outside the walls architects felt freer to experiment: you may wish to see Villino Ximenes.
|Year||Political Developments||Events in Rome||1883||The competition of American cereals and Chinese/Japanese rice and silk causes a fall of the price of many Italian farming commodities and the start of a massive migration: in the decade 1881-1890 1,700,000 Italians leave the country mainly towards France, Argentina, USA and Brazil.||Palazzo delle Esposizioni (a large Exhibition Hall) is inaugurated. An Anglo-Italian company replaces gas with electric lighting.|
|1885||Italian troops occupy the port of Massawa on the Red Sea, the first step in establishing the colony of Eritrea.||The first stone of the Monument to King Victor Emmanuel II is laid.|
|1887||A small column of Italian troops is ambushed at Dogali by the Ethiopians.||A monument to the fallen at Dogali is erected in front of Termini Railway Station: it is made up of an ancient obelisk found in 1882.|
|1888||Commercial war between Italy and France: the government favours national manufacturing industries by increasing customs duties.||Municipal elections are won by an anticlerical coalition; this paves the way for the erection of the Monument to Giordano Bruno.|
|1889||Filippo Turati founds Lega Socialista Milanese one of the first socialist associations in Italy.||The first stone of Palazzo di Giustizia in Prati is laid.|
|Most buildings of the late XIXth century served practical purposes, but
some had the specific objective to show that the Italian Government was determined to pursue the embellishment of Rome.|
Notwithstanding the amount of public money poured into some of these enterprises, especially the Monument to King Victor Emmanuel II, the results were seldom satisfactory.
The façade of Palazzo delle Esposizioni was shaped as a gigantic triumphal arch, but the size of its upper part and of its statues were not consistent with the lower one and the inscription was trivial.
|Year||Political Developments||Events in Rome|
|1891||Pope Leo XIII issues Rerum Novarum (Of New Things) an encyclical addressing the condition of the working classes.||A modern slaughterhouse is inaugurated at Testaccio, a quarter developed to house the growing working class population of Rome.|
|1893||Banca Romana is involved in a scandal for having issued money without authorization and for having financed the campaigns of prominent politicians.||The Roman real estate boom comes to an end. Several anarchist terrorist acts.|
|1895||Italian troops occupy Tigray a province between Eritrea and Ethiopia.||Monuments celebrate Giuseppe Garibaldi, Camillo Cavour and the fallen on September 20, 1870. Galleria Sciarra Colonna is completed.|
|1896||Italians are defeated by Ethiopian troops at Adua: this event blocks the Italian colonial expansion in the region.||First public screening of movies in Italy at the Roman studio of photographer Henri Le Lieure.|
|The Roman aristocracy during the papal rule had always preferred to invest in real estate properties rather than in farming or manufacturing.
For this reason the families of nobiltà nera (the papal nobility) greatly gained from Rome becoming the capital of Italy. Colonna, Boncompagni Ludovisi, Borghese, Barberini, Pamphilj, Odescalchi, Torlonia all had large possessions in Rome and in the countryside, the value of which greatly increased.
Prince Maffeo Sciarra Colonna owned the land behind his family palace on Via del Corso and he personally took care of its development. He thought that its central location was appropriate for a shopping arcade (in Italian: galleria). He spared no expense for its decoration which was commissioned to the painter Giuseppe Cellini. Every inch of the arcade was painted; large frescoes portrayed scenes of family life having a moral intent, long Latin inscriptions celebrated the virtues of motherhood; here and there coats of arms of the family (Colonna/Barberini) and initials of Maffeo Sciarra completed the decoration. The venture however did not turn profitable; in addition other initiatives of the prince went wrong so that he had to sell first the works of art of his collection and eventually not only the arcade, but even his family palace.
|Year||Political Developments||Events in Rome||1899||Very tense social situation: the Prime Minister is Luigi Pelloux, a former general who promotes a policy of social repression.||S.T.E.F.E.R, a society for the development of electric tramways and railways is founded with the intent to provide Rome with a modern transportation system.|
|1900||King Umberto I is assassinated by an anarchist who claimed vengeance for the workers killed by the army. The new king is Victor Emmanuel III.||Pope Leo XIII proclaims 1900 a Jubilee Year, an indication of less tense relations with the Kingdom of Italy (1850 and 1875 Jubilee Years were not celebrated due to the political situation).|
|1901||The king appoints a Prime Minister (Giuseppe Zanardelli) who promotes a policy of social reconciliation.||According to the census the population of Rome reaches 462,783. Villa Borghese is acquired by the State.|
|Piazza Cavour in Prati, similarly to Via Nazionale, was regarded as a symbol of the Italian Kingdom and of its lay religious policy.
Camillo Cavour was the bête noire of the Catholic Church, the most disliked Italian politician, for having supported legislation which abolished
clerical privileges. Of the four Fathers of the Italian Nation (King Victor Emmanuel II, Camillo Cavour, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini) the latter had to wait until 1949 to be celebrated by a monument.|
A large church of the Waldense community added to the antipapal character of Piazza Cavour. The Waldenses are followers of Peter Waldo, a XIIth century French merchant who gave up his possessions and became a wandering preacher. They were persecuted for centuries and survived only in some upper valleys of Piedmont until they were granted full religious and civil rights by King Charles Albert in 1848. The construction of the church was financed by the widow of John Stewart Kennedy, a rich American banker and philanthropist, born near Glasgow, Scotland.
The construction of walls along the Tiber led to pulling down Teatro Apollo (or Tordinona), the best known theatre of Rome. Piazza Cavour was selected for replacing it with Teatro Adriano (the name is a reference to nearby Mole Adriana). It could seat 5,000: it rarely had a full house, so in 1950 it was split into two separate halls.
|Year||Political Developments||Events in Rome||1903||Giovanni Giolitti is appointed Prime Minister: he rules the
country for almost ten years (1903-05) (1906-09) (1911-14).
Pope Leo XIII dies and is succeeded by Pope Pius X.
|The Municipality of Rome founds ICP, an institution for providing houses at low rent: they were first built at Testaccio and S. Saba.|
|1904||Giolitti wins the general elections. Pope Pius X allows Catholics to take part in Italian politics.||The new Jewish Synagogue is inaugurated.|
|1907||Banco di Roma begins a market penetration in the Ottoman province of Tripolitania (in today's Libya)||Maria Montessori opens her first school and daycare centre for working class children in Rome.|
|Piazza del Popolo for centuries was
the first piazza which travellers saw upon their arrival in Rome. With the development of railway and the location of Stazione Termini on the site of former Villa Peretti things changed. The Italian Government promoted the embellishment of a piazza near the railway station: it was named after the ruins of a
circular hall (exedra) of Diocletian's baths.|
Piazza dell'Esedra with the high central jet of its fountain and its elegant cafès and hotels was until the 1950s a "must see" for all visitors.
Later on private motoring and mass air travel deprived it of its role of first (fine) thing seen in Rome; the closeness to the railway station became a negative factor by attracting not very ideal crowds. In recent years action was taken to bring back Piazza dell'Esedra to its former rank.
|Year||Political Developments||Events in Rome||1909||After the 1908 Austrian decision to formally annex Bosnia-Herzegovina, the major European powers start discussing their respective objectives in case of partition of the Ottoman Empire: Italy seeks endorsement for occupying Tripolitania.||The Roman Town Council, led by Ernesto Nathan, the first mayor not linked to the great Roman families, endorses a new town plan.|
|1910||Associazione Nazionale Italiana, a political movement calling for a more active political and military role for Italy is founded in Florence.||The gas factory which was located at Circo Massimo is moved outside the walls.|
|1911||(Jan-Jun) The 50th anniversary of the Kingdom of Italy is celebrated throughout Italy.
(Sep) Italy declares war on Turkey and invades Tripolitania.
|Solemn inaugurations of Palazzo di Giustizia, Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna and Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II.|
|Comparisons with what the Roman emperors and the popes had built caused a lot of headaches to the politicians, architects and artists who were involved in making Rome the capital of a modern state.|
Bernini had decorated Ponte S. Angelo with statues and the members of the commission in charge of approving the project for Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II thought that because this bridge was very close to the old one it had to be decorated with statues too. But while the purpose of the angels by Bernini is immediately understood, the subjects of the four groups of statues of the new bridge require a lengthy explanation. In addition, while Bernini played with the wings of the angels to ensure his statues could be seen from various points, the groups of Ponte Vittorio are too big and too parallel to the bridge; passers-by can only see the statues on the other side of the bridge and only from a frontal viewpoint: the end result is that nobody looks at them.