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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Station(s) at Tiburtina

The Tiburtina railroad station, the one near Piazza Bologna, was torn down about two years ago, and another took its place on November 28.  The old station was on Itinerary 7 in Rome the Second Time.  Not because it was of any architectural merit, but because it was the place where in October, 1943 over one thousand of Rome's Jews were put on sealed trains for shipment to Nazi concentration camps.  Seventeen returned.   Plaques on the station platform reminded travelers of that event of the massacre of more Jews, and other innocent people, by the Nazis at the Fosse Ardeatine.  The plaques are gone--at best consigned to some remote storage facility--and unlikely to reappear. 

The old station was small and crowded, and the new one should be a relief.  But the dominant impression is hardly one of comfort.  The new station is huge.  Almost comically so.  Like an aircraft carrier, or the hovering hunk of high-tech metal from outer space in the final scenes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Then, as one can see in the photo (right, center of photo), in July a fire consumed a portion of the new structure.  The authorities are still investigating (don't hold your breath). 

We'll have to wait to experience fully the new Tiburtina station.  But one part of the new building appealed to us: a colorful, angular box at the front of the station, positioned in playful contrast to the glowering mass behind it.  Almost as if the architect had had second thoughts and decided to include a day-care center. 

Back in our apartment, we were shocked to pick up one of our architecture books, Rationalism and Architecture in Italy during Fascism (a translation from the Italian) and see, on the cover, a design for a building--not identified elsewhere in the book---not unlike the fanciful cube at Tiburtina.  Had we not seen this drawing and seen it marked as an example of rationalism, we would have labeled it postmodern, if only for its complex window treatments, the use of the pink and blue (the colors of infancy), and the presentation of an unusual angularity that undermines a message of stark modernity.  While cut from the same cloth, the Tiburtina box goes a step further--and lifts our spirits.
[A reminder from Dianne - when itineraries need to change (e.g., because the station with its plaques is torn down), Updates are provided in an online document, and thru the ebook versions of Rome the Second Time.  Updates can be accessed with a click on the link on the blog at right, or right here.]

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