Rationalism and monumentalism
The territory of Forlì being the home of Benito Mussolini, it is rich in examples of Rationalist architecture, which developed in Italy in the 1920s with the aim of providing the regime with a more suitable architectural style, supported by many young architects among whom Giuseppe Terragni and Giuseppe Pagano.
The new trend was like a ‘simplified Neoclassicism’ and was considered as part of the trends named altogether Monumentalism by critics, and characterized by symmetric and fixed plans, classic architectural details and marble slab coating, rhythmic colonnades, columns, arches and symmetries.
The town of Predappio clearly shows Benito Mussolini’s commitment to enhancing the places where he was born: it is a real urban museum, which still preserves the original architectural and urbanistic styles of the ‘Ventennio’ (Twenty years of the Fascist regime) built under the supervision of nationwide renowned experts. At the end of 1937, Predappio had all the buildings celebrating the power, contributing to the role of land of the myth of origin.
Special attention was also devoted to the town of Castrocaro Terme. At the beginning of the 1930s, the real attraction was the Spa park, very much appreciated for its entertainment activities and luxuriant vegetation. To make the surrounding bleak hills green again, the ‘Bosco Littorio’ (Lictor Forest) was created by planting 1,200 Canadian poplars for 2 km along the valleys of Rio del Piano and Rio dei Cozzi down to the Bolga sulphur springs.
Based on the idea of the Duce’s brother Arnaldo Mussolini, the State purchased in 1936 the whole spa and inaugurated a new season of magnificence for the ‘Royal Spa of Castrocaro’, which would become the main source of profit for the village.
Between 1936 and 1938, under the supervision of Engineer Rosario Pappalardo, the new Spa facilities were built. Castrocaro had nothing less than the major spas abroad and could host ‘highly distinguished’ international clients.
The painting and ceramic decorations of the new buildings and outbuildings were entrusted to the competence and skilfulness of the Manifattura Chini from Borgo San Lorenzo. The Grand Hotel was often used as guest-quarters for the party officials and authorities waiting to be received by the Head of Government in the Castle delle Caminate.
Coming from Forlì, as soon as you reach Castrocaro, you can also admire the outside of Palazzo Piancastelli, which is today the seat of the Spa management. The building was built in 1781 by Bartolomeo Conti and thoroughly restored in 1938.
The impulse to modernization of the ‘old and a bit Romantic’ town of Forlì was given by the first Podesta, Count Ercole Gaddi Pepoli, who provided the town with an instrument to master its own transformation: the general town planning scheme published in 1927 and based on the project by Engineer Luigi Donzelli from Bologna.
The old town was overwhelmed by a significant and increasing number of buildings that replaced the previous urban fabric judged as decaying, without taking into account the historic stratification of elements.
The idea of a new ‘forma Urbis Fori Livii’ put forward by the Fascist Regime, was indeed accompanied by the architectural transformation of whole areas of the town.
Outstanding architects and engineers sent by the central government or called by the Forlì notables came to town to ‘scrape off the deposits of time’.
The Counts and entrepreneurs Orsi Mangelli, for instance, entrusted Architect Ariodante Bazzero from Milan with the design of the office building of their artificial silk manufacturing factory, as well as with the restoration of their Palace in town. The Marchesi Paulucci di Calboli imposed their family architect Florestano di Fausto from Rome, who was the real inventor of the image of the town of Predappio.
Manlio Morgagni, the Grand Officer of the Kingdom, took to Forlì Aldo Zacchi, who was born in Cesena but moved to Milan, to design the Maternity and Children Ward of the hospital of the town.
The real creators of the new ‘imago urbis’ – image of the town of Forlì – were Cesare Bazzani, Cesare Valle, called by the Ente Opera Nazionale Balilla, and Gustavo Giovannoni, outstanding Italian expert in urban planning and monument restoration.
Rationalism can specially be admired in three areas of the town of Forlì: Viale della Libertà, the road connecting Piazzale della Vittoria to the railway station, Porta Ravaldino and the town centre.
In each of the abovementioned areas important buildings can be found.
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