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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Touring RAI Headquarters. Or, at least we saw the horse.

The semi-artsy photo above was taken from the parkway between the two halves of viale Mazzini (at #14), across from the headquarters of RAI, Italy's largest television station, in the della Vittoria area of Rome (adjacent to Prati).  We had made hard-to-get reservations for a tour of the building through Open House Roma, the two-day, May event that promises access to buildings that are normally off limits to those without badges and the like.  We imagined observing busy newsrooms, reporters at their desks, local celebrities preparing for the news hour--or something like that. The tour is beginning to form.

Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you don't.

Being part of the tour did get us inside the gate and the fence, and in close proximity to the "Cavallo Morente" (the dying horse). The horse is visible from the sidewalk and can be photographed through the fence, but we appreciated the closer view of what has become the symbol of the company--an odd one, we think, given that the horse is dying.

With our tour group in front of the building.
It's a well known sculpture, designed by Francesco Messina (1900-1995), who was an active sculptor during the Fascist era and managed to survive that experience without undue damage to his reputation.

In 1941--two years before the fall of Fascism--Messina was at work on four horses, of about the same size as the Cavallo Morente, that were to be installed atop the Palazzo dei Congressi, in EUR.  The war intervened, and the horses were never completed and, of course, never installed.

Thirty years later a wealthy man in the town of Formello (a town we've enjoyed hiking from not far out of Rome) acquired the molds for the 4 horses, had them cast in bronze and placed in Villa Leoni, where they are not--to my knowledge--visible to the public.  Indeed, the photo I found of the horses on the internet was not copyable by ordinary means.  I took the photo below with a camera, from a  computer screen.  (By the way, we didn't learn any of the above from the tour.)

These could be seen at Villa Leoni in Formello--if you knew the owner. 
The RAI horse motif also appears in a "Flying Horse" designed by Mario Ceroli, which we saw on our visit to the suburb of Saxa Rubra, where RAI has more operations.

A couple of shots of the building's exterior:

Angled steel columns, typical of the period.
An elegant corner staircase (we assume). Italian staircases are invariably well done.
Our group was allowed to proceed through the glass doors and into an interior courtyard decorated with a garden and fountain in, as I recall, vaguely Asian style.  I say "I recall" because we were not allowed to photograph the courtyard.  With two exceptions.  We were permitted to photograph a model of the building in a plastic case, which at least offered some sense of the structure's configuration, which is in the shape of an "R" for RAI (or even "R+A+I," depending on how you look at it):

And we were allowed to photograph a composite photograph of the building under construction.

It goes without saying that we never got beyond the courtyard.  No newsrooms.  No celebs.  No upstairs.  As restricted as we were, there were prohibitions: no caschi (motorcycle helmets), no bagagli (baggage, suitcases).

RAI is a state-owned enterprise, part of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.  It was founded in 1924, and until 1954 was known as Radio Audizione Italiane, whose initials form RAI.  Since 2000 it has been known simply as RAI (pronounced like "rye").  Designed by Francesco Berarducci (we have written about his buildings before, including a nifty apartment house in the Brutalist mode) and Alessandro Fioroni and completed in 1965, it was the first building in Rome constructed entirely of steel.  It's considered a fine example of 1960s architecture, or so we were told.  We didn't see enough to be sure.  At least we saw the horse.


"Tour" over


Dianne said...
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Dianne Bennett and William Graebner said...
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Dianne Bennett and William Graebner said...

from Mary Jane Cryan (who knows so much about Rome and environs!): Could Villa Leoni in Formello be the villa of former president Giovanni Leoni? They say that the Cassia bis highway was built when he retired to better arrive to his villa in the northern outskirts of town.