27 ROME SILENT BEAUTY The photographer has immortalized this pivotal and significant event in images that speak volumes, which accompany us to Milvian Bridge, from which, with Constantine’s victory over Maxentius, Christianity became the state religion; to the “Bridge of Angels” leading to Castel Sant’Angelo, the bulwark of the Catholic church’s military defense for many centuries, a monument that had originally been built to house the Mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian, who died in 138 AD. Just a stone’s throw away from that celebrated monument, secular Rome finds its ideal space in the nineteenth-century Piazza del Popolo, a masterpiece of architecture and urban planning that these pictures describe both powerfully and inspiringly. The images also tell us about another crucial area of secular and civil nineteenth-century Rome, Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, with its wonderful statue of Giordano Bruno, which once caused bitter conflict between the City and the Papacy. Ancient Imperial Rome is still tangible in the Eternal City, although two thousand years have passed. These pictures remind us how in the first half of the twentieth century the cult of a return to Antiquity was underway, according to the very same criteria that de Chirico imagined for his painting at the dawning of the twentieth century. Worthy of note in this sense is the photographer’s crossing of the EUR, the neighborhood that was built to host the Universal Exposition of 1942, which was not held, however, as it coincided with the height of the hostilities of World War II. The images show us, in a new and unorthodox way, those places that were born, based on great architectural doctrine, surrounded by the immense propaganda campaigns of a fascist dictatorship, and that then sank into an equally immense silence after the fall of the regime, an early symptom of the rebirth, a difficult and tormented one, of the modern city. To understand this better, we need to look back over what the photographs suggest to us about nineteenth-century Rome, the demolition work that took place on Via Nazionale, which was built by drastically eliminating the great green spaces corresponding to the large aristocratic villas such as that of the Ludovisi, turned into building land after Italy’s Unification. This book can be read based on a comparison between the different eras. Particularly magnificent is the photographic documentation of the eighteenth-century city with Piazza del Quirinale, Palazzo della Consulta (now the seat of the Corte Costituzionale), the Trevi Fountain, witnesses to a memorable season in urban design. But no less important, and actually extolled by the pictures, is the seventeenth century, especially represented in the images of Piazza Navona. This was the fief of the papal Pamphilj family, and visible here are the splendors of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the heroic architectural undertakings of Francesco Borromini, two of the greatest artists ever to have lived, whose differences characterized a new era. However, sixteenth-century Rome is highlighted as well, the one that created the most famous thoroughfares in the Eternal City, from Via Giulia (named after Pope Julius II), which leads to Piazza Farnese, to Via Sistina (after Pope Sixtus V), after a long stretch running all the way to the Lateran. The images cast light on the fifteenth-century city, when Rome was literally reborn with the return of the popes after their exile in Avignon. The greatness of Imperial Rome achieved new vigor. Palazzo Venezia and Palazzo della Cancelleria were conceived, the latter belonging to the Vatican City, and therefore lying in foreign territory. However, the most crucial moment is when the images take us to the world of the Roman Empire. Palatine Hill, Caelian Hill, the Imperial Fora, Via Appia which is the quintessence of the union between the modern city and the ancient one. At the height of this is the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, as well as the Pantheon, which is rather far from the Colosseum, and still represents the highest symbol of continuity in time, a monument that was conceived to be pagan and was later consecrated Christian. The ability to see everything without anyone being there allows the reader to perceive the breadth of history, the great beauty of the spaces and the monuments, the sense of decorum and profound spirituality that are expressed by even the remotest of corners, but lovingly rediscovered by this poignant series of photographs.