Forlì’s new boulevard: protoype of the Fascist town
The urban complex from the train station to the Monument to the Fallen constituted a kind of prototype of the ideal Fascist town. A walk along this unique boulevard reveals the history of architecture during the Fascist period as well as the concept of Fascist propaganda.
One boulevard, many styles
The urban complex extends from the train station along the imposing boulevard (originally Viale Mussolini, now Viale della Libertà) to the large square (Piazzale della Vittoria). It displays the various architectural styles that could be found during the twenty years of Fascist rule. Eclecticism and decorations in Art Déco style characterise the train station. Along the boulevard, the local engineer Arnaldo Fuzzi designed various buildings in an eclectic style: the houses of the railway employees and the elementary school. Just a few years later, Fuzzi designed the monumental Technical School in stile littorio, which stands in contrast to the elementary school. Finally, the young Roman architect Cesare Valle was responsible for the GIL building (sports and cultural centre) and its rationalist style.
A boulevard shaping minds
Construction was one of the most powerful instruments of the Fascist propaganda machine, exploiting the mind-shaping power of architecture. Imposing buildings were erected along the boulevard with the aim of building consensus, both among the local population and on a national level. In fact, on arrival at Forlì’s new train station, visitors were lead directly along the “grandiose” and “modern” boulevard. A contradictory project: the train station was oversized for a town like Forlì, as was the 40 metres wide boulevard given the fact that only a handful of citizens owned a car.
Fascist messages: war and sacrifice
The numerous educational and sports buildings on the boulevard were part of the Fascist indoctrination of young people. The ultimate goal was to create “new men” – virile, physically strong and mentally tough – thus, ready to fight and to sacrifice their lives for “the cause of the Fascist Revolution” (as was expressed in the oath inscribed on the ex-GIL tower). In fact, the boulevard culminates in a large square with the towering Monument to the Fallen, glorifying the war hero as the myth of the new Fascist generation. Cesare Bazzani designed the 30 metre high monument. Its base is decorated with bas reliefs by Bernardino Boifava, which illustrate the four salient moments of a hero’s life: attack, defence, sacrifice and triumph.
Today’s message: liberty and peace
From Viale Benito Mussolini to Viale della Libertà. The boulevard, once named after the Fascist leader, after WWII was renamed to celebrate one of the most important values repressed during Mussolini’s dictatorship: liberty. The Monument to the Fallen remained a memorial site commemorating the victims of war. However, after the WWII, symbols of the Resistance movement have been integrated. In this way, the monument lost its Fascist meaning, becoming a symbol of peace and antifascism.