It goes without saying that Rome is the perfect location for any student majoring in Italian Studies. I can’t think of a better backdrop for students who have chosen a major that focuses on Italian society, history, politics, media, and language.
Here are five sights in Rome that every Italian Studies major should visit:
Alberto Moravia’s House
(Lungotevere della Vittoria, 1)
On a list of Italy’s most famous writers, Alberto Moravia’s name is never far from the top. Moravia was a 20th- century novelist and journalist who focused on topics such as existentialism, sexuality, and anti-fascism. Although he faced intense criticism, he rose to become one of the country’s most popular writers, eventually writing for important Italian newspapers such as Il Mondo and Il Corriere della Sera. His published works range from 1927 to 1990, the year of his death. You can visit Alberto Moravia’s house along the Tiber river the first Saturday of every month. Tour the home where he lived during the later part of his life, and check out his old wooden desk, typewriter, and personal library.
(Museo Nazionale del Palazzo Venezia, Piazza Venezia)
Mussolini’s impact on Italy is still evident throughout the country. Monuments, roads, and even housing developments of the Fascist era changed the architecture of Rome. Today, these sites act as very tangible reminders of a pivotal period in Rome’s history. One aspect of Mussolini’s persona was his very passionate and persuasive public speeches. The dictator delivered all of his most important speeches from the balcony of Palazzo Venezia. It was from this very balcony that he announced the declaration of the Italian Empire in 1936 and declared war on France and Britain in 1940. Next time you’re passing through Piazza Venezia make sure to look up, and take a glance at the balcony that shaped Italian history.
Altare della Patria
After you check out Mussolini’s balcony, make sure to pay a visit to the Altare della Patria, also known as the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II (or “il Vittoriano”, to locals). You probably pass the giant “wedding cake” or “typewriter”on a regular basis as you shuffle through the crowds and traffic at Piazza Venezia. This famous monument has plenty of historical significance, and even a little bit of controversy. The monument was built in the early 1900s in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of unified Italy. A tomb of the unknown soldier was added after World War I, and the honored tomb and eternal flame can be seen today in the front, under the statue of the goddess Roma. Many Roman citizens reacted negatively to the huge monument due to the fact that it was the largest building in the city, was “too white,” and destroyed part of the Capitoline Hill.
(Via Tuscolana, 1055)
One of the most interesting requirements for any Italian Studies major is the study of Italian media and popular culture. A great way to further this study outside of the classroom is to visit sights pertaining to Italian media — and more specifically, cinema. Cinecittà is the largest film studio in Europe and the hub of Italian cinema. It was founded by Mussolini during the Fascist era as a way to distribute propaganda, as well as revive the failing Italian film industry. Go check out the studio that has hosted some of Italy’s most famous directors such as Sergio Leone, Roberto Rossellini, and Federico Fellini.
While a large portion of Italian Studies coursework involves the Italian language, literature, history, and media of Italy, it also requires students to focus on the business environment in Italy. EUR – which stands for Esposizione Universale Roma (“Universal Exposition Rome”) – was built during the Fascist period. It is now a residential and business area hosting many major companies and government institutions, such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Communications, and the Italian Post Office, as well as a variety of museums and a planetarium. Take a tour of EUR and make sure to check out Palazza della Civilità Italiana, also known as “Il Colosseo Quadrato”, or “the Square Colosseum” – today home to Fendi’s headquarters.
Alexa Vujaklija (Shearer)
Class of 2015
Grew up in the United States, Germany, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Bulgaria