Mussolini found that one of the best ways to display his leadership and power was to align himself with great Roman emperors. This is a common practice–to pick up where once great leaders left off in order to prove your worth and validity. Mussolini, for example, drained the marshlands southeast of Rome to build a new communities as Caesar had originally planned to do. Mussolini then initiated the development of several new towns in a quest to create a ‘new’ Roman-Italian empire.
This idea of building new towns to define a new building model for Italy could have been wildly successful if planned well, but what Mussolini designed could just be considered a type of Levittown. Granted, what was built was far from America’s white picket fenced suburbia, but the same ideas were applied to an Italian context. Small towns centered around a government and public service buildings, branching out to streets lined with residential homes and apartment centers, all with similar designs. Designed in just over a month, and beginning to be built after three months, these towns popped up overnight like Levitt & Son’s post war prefabricated homes. Each center and home met the street in a similar fashion, with very little attention paid to smaller details (like those considered in the design of Garbatella a neighborhood in Rome from the same period).
Even the structure of the town had similarities to Levittown. The town were divided into smaller groups of homes much l like what I would imagine a home owner’s association to be like. The only difference I can recognize is the towns efforts to appear more established. In American popup towns, everything must appear new, pristine, and clean, but that would not have been suitable for an Italian town, which I now understand to be old, well established, and with just the right amount of gritty.
Unfortunately these towns did not achieve the proper level of Italian feel, the designer had one last shot at trying to make these towns more appropriate for their context by adding a monument in tribute to those from the area who had passed in the 1914-1919 war. “Perhaps it was intended to provide a sense of belonging, a sense of place and continuity that would otherwise have been absent” (Millon 332).
Overall, these towns created a sense of forced community, something that was not genuine and developed over decades of coexistence, but was rather a strictly confined town made up of small angry neighborhood associations.
Millon, Henry A. “Some New Towns in Italy in the 1930’s.”