Rome Travel Guide

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Saturday, December 16, 2023

Holidays in Rome, Part II: Listen, Taste, See


New Year's Eve 2023 at Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus)

RST welcomes back guest blogger Theresa Potenza. Based in Rome, Potenza is an art historian, private tour guide, and freelance writer. To learn more about her private tours of Rome and read her travel and feature stories about Italy, check out:

This is the second of two posts - since there is so much happening in Rome over the holidays. Part I, featuring Markets, Displays, The Vatican, and Worshipping, is here. Below Potenza finishes up her great recommendations with Listen, Taste and See.

And from us at RST, Buone Feste e Buon Anno!



As part of the culture and music festival Natalè Auditorium, the Auditorium Parco della Musica has shows almost every day of the week from now (they started December 8) to January 7. 

The concert hall, an architectural masterpiece by Renzo Piano opened in 2002, is not only a concert venue but a public music complex with several concert halls and theaters. It is not to be missed on a trip to Rome, and with its endless variety of shows in December there is something for everyone.

 On Christmas Day check out the Harlem Gospel Choir, one of America’s oldest gospel choirs, made up of voices from New York City. Audience participation is encouraged. The repertoire includes traditional and contemporary gospel, jazz, and blues. A fantastic opportunity for a show that has been performed for various Popes and US Presidents. And on New Year's Day check out Tosca-Unico, a concert in three acts with excerpts from three shows.

The Harlem Gospel Choir, scheduled to perform at Parco della Musica over the holidays

For a full schedule, check out the Auditorium website:

 A great way to combine live music with sightseeing in Rome is Tram Jazz. A romantic night made up of a candle-light dinner, jazz concert, and evening tour of the historic center on an old-fashioned tram.  Check out the variety of swing, jazz, and holiday music concerts on their website, 

Tram Jazz view of the Coliseum and the Arch of Constantine, 2022

For the party animals, on New Year's Eve don’t miss the largest outdoor concert in the city at Circus Maximus. Performers include Blanco, Lazza, and Francesca Michielin. Details (in Italian) on the Roma Capitale website here:



When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and feast for the holidays. The Eternal City has been named in 2023 by Travelers' Choice as the best food destination in the world. Make the most of it and try the traditional holiday menus offered in restaurants of all price ranges throughout the city. 

For an exquisite Christmas experience, Mirabelle restaurant offers some of the finest food and views in the entire city. As with most of Italy, Mirabelle offers a Christmas Eve dinner menu that is seafood based with a variety of first course and second course fish dishes including tagliatelle pasta with cuttlefish, and roasted octopus. The Christmas Day lunch menu includes fine delicacies such as foie gras, white truffle risotto, and deer filet. And you can end the year in style and abundance with the New Years Eve menu complete with oysters, lobster, pumpkin and white truffle pasta, veal filet, and even good-luck lentils at midnight! Reservations can be made on the Mirabelle website, 

The view from Mirabelle--though maybe not in December. 

If you are looking for a more casual and traditional Roman holiday meal, Casale Appio Locanda offers a fixed menu for lunch on Christmas Day that provides the option for a traditional menu or a vegetarian menu option. The traditional menu includes what most Roman families have for the holiday, cappelletti in brodo, along with fettuccine with sausage and porcini mushrooms, roasted lamb, and Roman artichokes. The vegetarian menu includes eggplant parmesan, spinach and ricotta ravioli, broccoli flan and Roman artichokes. The kids' menu offers breaded beef filets, roasted potatoes, and fettuccine bolognese. For reservations and for their menu on December 26th (also a public holiday in Italy) and New Year's Day, check out their Facebook page:

Alle Frate di Trastevere (2015 photo)

Finally, if you are desperate not to cook and prefer instead some of your home-style traditionals for the holiday, Alle Fratte di Trastevere will provide catered meals of whole roasted turkey or baked honey-ham, delicacies typically hard to find in Rome. The restaurant will also be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with a traditional Roman menu a la carte. Their website in English is here:  


The Touch of Pygmalion
For those looking to consume culture, check out the Borghese Gallery, one of the top 5 tourist attractions in Rome, hosting a special exhibit on Rubens until February 2024. The exhibition, The touch of Pygmalion. Rubens and sculpture in Rome, highlights the influence of the painter on new concepts of the antique. And there's a special interactive experience for children. You will need advance tickets for a regular visit (the English tour, btw, is excellent) as well as for the children's experience. Website (in English) is here:

For a break from ancient and Renaissance art, check out the Andy Warhol exhibition, Andy Warhol Universo Warhol, on until March 2024 at the Historical Infantry Museum (Museo storico della fanteria), not far from the Termini Train Station at Piazza Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. The exhibition brings to life the Pop Art genius through a collection of silk-screen prints, ceramics, legendary vinyl and magazine covers, Polaroid photos and advertising posters from public and private collections. Though the museum is usually free, this elaborate exhibition comes with a price tag. See website here in English - scroll down on that website for opening hours and links to buy tickets.  

The holiday season is also a great time to witness the spectacular light show at Rome’s Botanical Garden. The light show entitled “Trame di Luce” transforms the natural space into a fairy tale world of sensory art, light, and  music. The sensory immersion is part of an international light art festival held for the first time in Italy and on until January 8th 2024.

One of the many family-friendly exhibits in Rome to enhance your holiday spirit in a historic setting. For booking go to their website,




Friday, December 8, 2023

The Holidays in Rome, Part I: Markets, Displays, The Vatican, Worshipping

RST is pleased to welcome back guest blogger Theresa Potenza (her last RST post was in 2018 on holidays in Rome and before that on the Etruscans in nearby Cerveteri  - she's a scholar of Etruscan history). Based in Rome, Potenza is an art historian, private tour guide, and freelance writer. To learn more about her private tours of Rome and read her travel and feature stories about Italy, check out: (Also, her article here, on giving birth in Rome during Covid - an amazing tale [yes, they both got Covid] - and at the end of the post a photo of Theresa and her family.)

This is the first of two posts - since there is so much happening in Rome over the holidays. Part II, which will go up in a week or so, features "Listen" (music apart from the religious context, which is detailed below), "Taste" (special holiday restaurant meals), and "See" (exhibitions and light shows).


There is no better place to visit than Rome during the holidays.  A city that is eternally enchanting becomes even more so during the magic of Christmastime. The holiday season traditionally begins in Italy with the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and ends with the feast of the Epiphany on January 6.  The Eternal City is the center of the action and provides many opportunities and occasions to celebrate. Whether you want to shop, eat, pray, or witness the great spectacles of holiday cheer, here is an updated list of what to do and where in Rome during winter 2023.

Holiday markets

Above, another photo of the Piazza Navona market
(photo at top of post also is from the market).
One of the city’s oldest Christmas traditions is the Mercatino della Befana in Piazza Navona.  The Baroque square with Bernini’s fountain has been a backdrop for holiday magic and events for hundreds of years. In the ancient times the area was a stadium for track and field competitions, and in the 17th century it was the stage for elaborate events for the Papal Pamphili family. Since about the 18th century when the legend of the Italian witch known as the befana became popular, the square has been a favorite destination for Roman families and tourists alike shopping for, among other things, candy “coal." According to Italian legend, the befana witch delivers presents or coal in stockings for children the night before the Epiphany. As the legend has it, the three Magi stopped the befana to ask for directions on their way to bring gifts to newborn Jesus. She apparently did not have directions and is still out wandering, visiting families. The story began in Rome and is still thriving in Italian households and especially in Piazza Navona. At the market you can enjoy a carousel ride, puppet shows, games, and stalls selling candy, hand-crafted befana, nativity sets and other crafts. The festival will be open until the day of Epiphany of January 6.

The largest Christmas festival in the city, Il Natale nel Mondo, will be held in Villa Borghese. Covering an area of 60,000 mq, it hosts everything you can dream of for Christmas. You will find original folklore shows, gospel concerts, a chocolate factory, an ice-skating rink, Santa’s house, a double-decker carousel, life-sized nativity scenes, reproductions of cities around the world, and food and wine stalls. What more could you ask for Christmas?, [Website in Italian; try your translator if you need it. Tickets may be purchased online through the website.]

The city hosts several small artisan markets throughout December in various locations where you can shop for anything from hand-made ornaments to specialty chocolates. Most of the markets run earlier in the month and finish by Christmas Eve, designed for those getting a head start on gift shopping. For some of the best local Italian food items, check out the Testaccio market until December 24. You can find the program for Rome’s markets on the city’s website, [Great information, again, in Italian.]

Christmas displays

This year, Rome’s Christmas tree will be displayed in Piazza del Popolo, instead of its usual location in Piazza Venezia. The tree comes from Como in northern Italy [a shout-out to Dianne's relatives' home province] and was lit today, December 8, a public holiday in Italy.

The Vatican Christmas tree will be lit and the nativity scene unveiled instead on December 9, following the Pope’s celebration of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.

The Vatican

As you can imagine, the Vatican makes a big deal out of Christmas, making it one of the most magical destinations to visit and celebrate in December. The decorations in St. Peter’s Square include an 80-foot silver fir tree from Cuneo in Northern Italy, decorated with edelweiss native to the Alps, and a life size nativity scene. Every year different artists from around the world are chosen for a creative nativity display. This year the nativity set will feature terracotta statues made by the Italian diocese in Rieti. The life-sized figures are designed to commemorate the 800-year anniversary of the first living nativity started by St. Francis in 1223 in the town of Greccio. The anniversary of the live nativity also corresponds with the celebration of Pope Francis’ 87th birthday in December. In the colonnade of St. Peter's Square there will be a display of 100 artistic nativity sets, an annual art exhibition known as 100 Presepe. [See Larry Litman's RST post about the presepe display in 2020.} 

Nativity scene at St. Peter's 2020. Photo by Larry Litman. 


It is also worth a day trip to the historic village of Greccio, just an hour outside Rome, for a creative collection of artistic nativity scenes, and to walk through history as it relates to the life of St. Francis.


To celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the official start of the holiday season in Rome, Pope Francis made a pilgrimage to the statue of the Virgin Mary at the Spanish Steps on December 8. On Christmas Eve, “midnight” mass will be held at 7:30pm inside St. Peter's Basilica, and the Pope will also greet the crowds on Christmas Day at noon for the “Urbi et Orbi” benediction. It is also possible to attend the Pope’s Te Deum prayers on New Year's Eve inside St. Peter's Basilica at 5pm.

The official Vatican website provides a calendar of holy celebrations by Pope Francis. [Website in Italian].

For English language mass, you can reference the web pages for St. Patrick's Catholic American Parish, which will offer a family mass on Christmas Eve at 4:30pm, and the “midnight” mass at 7:30pm.

All Saints Anglican Church will have a Crib service at 5pm on Christmas Eve, and the “midnight” mass at 11:30pm.

St. Paul's Within the Walls church will host a grand Christmas concert on December 23rd with solo artists, choir and orchestra, featuring popular holiday music. [Website in both Italian and English].

St. Paul's Within the Walls 

Left, author Theresa Potenza and her family. Photo by Rome photographer

Part II next week!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Remembering Giacomo Matteotti, and the Early Days of Italian Fascism


One of Rome's least prominent--and probably least visited--memorials is located on the Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia, just steps from the Tevere, near Ponte Pietro Nenni--a 5-minute walk from bustling Piazza del Popolo.

There, on June 1924 (two years after the March on Rome), while walking along the Lungotevere Arnaldo, the Italian politician Giacomo Matteotti was waylaid, thrown into a Lancia Lambda, and stabbed to death. Of the 5 men involved, one was a prominent member of the Fascist secret police. The extent of Benito Mussolini's involvement is not clear. [See the RST post on David Kertzer's book The Pope and Mussolini for more information.]

Matteotti was an anti-Fascist socialist--a member of the Unitary Socialist Party--and a deputy in the parliament. Ten days prior to his murder, he had spoken in the parliament, concerned about violence that had occurred during recent elections and critical of the anti-democratic Acerbo law, which had assigned 2/3 of the seats in parliament to the party of Mussolini--the largest in the body--which had won 35% of the vote. 

The monument to Matteotti occupies a semi-circular green space on an elevated terrace above the river. The space can be accessed by the Lungotevere or from the river bank, via a substantial staircase that appears to be a part of the memorial. 

Inaugurated in 1974 (50 years after Matteotti's death) and paid for by the Socialist Party, the bronze memorial consists of two very different sculptures, both by Jorio Vivarelli (1922-2008), who as a soldier was captured and imprisoned in 1943 by the German forces. The monument includes the words, "Although you kill me, the idea within me can never be killed."

The original plaque was smashed in January 2017, 6 months before we visited the site and these photos were taken.  


Thursday, November 9, 2023

Luigi Moretti's Il Girasole: a House Divided


Il Girasole. From this angle especially, easy to pass up, to walk by, as if were just another building.

We're walkers, but we don't recommend walking viale Bruno Buozzi (in the Parioli quartiere), unless there's a reason to do so. (Though it's named for an influential union leader murdered by the Nazis towards the end of World War II.) It's a long and curvy street, more or less connecting viale Parioli with via Flaminia, with few attractions and minimal commerce. Not all that interesting. 

But there is at least one reason to walk that walk: Luigi Moretti's "Il Girasole" (The Sunflower) house. 

Il Girasole, as it looked in 2012. That split in the middle is important.

Its architect is famous, and not only in Italy and Rome, his home town. Born in 1907, Moretti studied architecture at the Royal School of Architecture in Rome, then worked for several years with archeologist and art historian Corrado Ricci on aspects of Trajan's Market. In the 1930s he became one of Italian Fascism's favored architects, designing the fascist youth organization building in Trastevere (1933) and several buildings in the Foro Mussolini, including Mussolini's gymnasium (1936) and the Academy of Fencing (1936).

In the United States, he designed the Watergate Complex in Washington, D.C., notorious for the 1972 burglary of Democratic National Committee Headquarters that precipitated the "Watergate scandal," and produced the political term "Watergate" and all the other "-gates" (scandals) that followed.

"Il Girasole" is a postwar work, designed in 1949 and built in 1950. It's considered an early example of postmodern architecture, a building architect and theorist Robert Venturi described as ambiguous, existing in a new space between tradition and innovation.

This photo, from an earlier period, shows off the structure's 
horizontal lines as well as its vertical division. 

This shot of the interior emphasizes Moretti's origins in modernism, though the
brickwork/window, jutting out (and interrupting) at left, has a post-modern valence. 

Swiss architectural theorist Stanislaus von Moss has argued that Venturi's Vanna House (1962-1964) "recalls the duality of the facade of Luigi Moretti's apartment house on the Via Parioli [sic: viale Bruno Buozzi] in Rome." We agree. And both the Vanna House and Il Girasole disrupt the flow of modernism. Hence modernism, with a post-modern touch.

Moretti also designed villas for wealthy patrons, including La Villa Saracena (1954), in the village of Santa Marinella, about an hour by car from the center of Rome. In 1958, he was one of several distinguished architects who designed Rome's Olympic Village in preparation for the 1960 games. 

The trees are larger in this 2017 photo (not good for the look of the building), and there's more foliage on the roof. 


Tuesday, October 17, 2023

36 Hours Around Piazza Navona

 A friend recently asked us for suggestions of what to do around Piazza Navona and Campo de' Fiori. She was clear that she and her companion would be in Rome only 3 days, had seen the big sights and did not want to go back to those this time, and they did not want to do much walking. So maybe this is "36 Hours in Piazza Navona and Campo de' Fiori." 

We put our heads together, created a list and a map for her, and enjoyed the exercise enough that we have made it into 2 blog posts, the first on Piazza Navona and the second on the Campo. Here's our map of Piazza Navona for starters, and you'll see #1 is Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers - not exactly Rome the Second Time, but a good place to begin any walking around.

Below is the code we gave our friends (with a few elaborations; and note she has been a French teacher - so there are a few Francophile hints here) for our suggested meanderings in and around the piazza. Bear in mind our idiosyncrasies, and that we leave all restaurant suggestions to Katie Parla (

Piazza Navona and environs:

1.         Fountain of the 4 Rivers (Fontana dei fiumi – Bernini)

Piazza Navona can be a magical space, especially when no one's around, like at dawn.

Piazza Navona at dawn. Borromini's Sant'Agnese in Agone (see #2, below) is at left. 

But not always. In 2014, we encountered Bernini's lovely fountain while city workers were repairing the stone pavement around it. And the piazza has its sometimes tawdry, commercial side. 

2.         Sant’Agnese in Agone – (church) by Borromini  

            So between #1 and #2 here you get a feel for the great rivalry of architects/sculptors: Bernini  - the sculptor who was an architect - and Borromini, the architect whose architecture is sculpture. You'll have to look up for yourself the apocryphal story that one of Bernini's figures in the 4 Rivers Fountain has his head turned away so as not to see Borromini's church (the statue was erected first).

3.         Embassy of Brazil – often has art shows you just walk into. We like these one-off exhibits that often are open all day, are free, get you inside a classic palazzo, and often are very good - usually contemporary -  art.

4.        Palazzo Braschi – excellent museum (generally Rome, 17th century on), sweet café – easy to walk thru – often free shows on the ground floor – beautiful cortile - - this article says “best museum in Rome you’ve never visited." Re the free shows: it was here we learned about Raffaele di Vico and his extraordinary contributions to Rome's cityscape in the 20th century, and saw a moving photo/quotation exhibit of women trapped in abusive relationships. As noted, the shows are wide-ranging.

5.         Portuguese Institute – We have been to shows here (met the architect Julio Lafuente one evening - we are taken with his buildings), but can’t locate it nor a site for it – walking around Piazza Navona just looking is a pleasure anyway (if you can avoid all the hawkers).

6.        Stadio di Domiziano (Piazza Navona was built over it) - underground archeological site – small and interesting – not sure of opening times; sometimes has exhibits as well. This is a good way to get your ancient history fix, and to learn more about Piazza Navona -

7.         Tre Scalini tartufi – just go and get one of those to split – amazing gelato dessert – make sure you go to this corner and not across the little street to a copy cat. Tre Scalini is the real deal. We wrote about the tartufo war in 2010:

8.        Hotel Raphael – one of the city's best rooftop bars and lobby – interesting political stories about it too – on the way to Santa Maria della Pace and Chiostro Bramante -

The imposing exterior of the Hotel Raphael,
as it was 15 years ago.

9.         Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pace – lovely, limited hours

10.      Bramante Chiostro & exhibition space -  Beautiful cloisters and has a café, plus current show is Pistoletto –the contemporary Italian artist famed for his use of mirrors.

Bramante Cloister  - can't recall the
name of the show but fairly
certain those 2 "head" sculptures
are by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa

A work by Pistoletto--this one at the State Department.

11.      Piazza di Pasquino – the original “talking statue” -

Pasquino, right, with his messages relegated to a board next to him.

12.      Cul de Sac – on Piazza di Pasquino – considered one of the best wine bars in Rome – has food – don’t go to the salad place by mistake

13.      Otherwise bookshop – English one, just steps from Piazza di Pasquino  - on via del Governo Vecchio – nice street with boutiques, tho’ getting a bit gentrified

14.      Caravaggio – San Luigi dei Francesi – 3 amazing Caravaggio paintings – the French church in Rome

15.      Caravaggio – Basilica di Sant’Agostino – 1 Caravaggio – and the once Papal library next door is gorgeous – worth just walking up and looking at it (Biblioteca Angelica)

16.      Sant’Ivo – a Borromini masterpiece (church)

17.      Palazzo Napoleonico -  interesting for its French connection - it is NOT Palazzo Altieri – the entrance to Napoleonico is on the Lungotevere.

18.      Baracco museum – ancient sculpture – we think it’s free – we’ve never been in it!


Thursday, September 28, 2023

Life is better with a broomstick: creative solutions to appliance problems in Rome


Italian ingenuity often has to extend to making appliances work.  Here a broom handle is used to keep the oven on.

But it wasn't the only use we found for broom handles.

Below, the only way we found to keep the washing machine door shut:

Needless to say neither the stove (which was in a friend's apartment) nor the washing machine would work without these tricks.

And finally, maybe not crucial - unless you don't want to put dishes away with one hand while the other holds the cabinet door open - our solution to a sky drain door that wouldn't stay up:

We are fans of the sky drain - Italians way of drying dishes. We wish American kitchen designers would use them, though Americans are addicted to electric dishwashers.

We don't think we're dissing Italian products by saying that often design trumps utility, though these aren't the coolest designs we've seen. Just routine appliances that don't quite work.

  BTW, don't expect the Airbnb host to tell you how to solve these problems - just look for the broomstick in the closet.


Monday, September 11, 2023

A statue of Carabinieri leads to the question: What was the role of this national armed force under Fascism?


La pattuglia nella tempesta.

One of the rabbit holes we went down this year started on the day we flew into Rome and wandered into the park across from Palazzo del Quirinale while waiting for the time on our timed tickets for the Scuderie exhibition (more on that exhibition in a future post). The park's center has a statue of Carlo Alberto, father of Vittorio Emanuele II, the first King of a united Italy in the 1860s. But that's a traditional equestrian statue. We gravitated instead to a statue of two figures, on the back side of the park, and seemingly "lost" on the park grounds. Italians no doubt recognize the flowing capes and (what I now know are called) bicorn hats, but we didn't. After much Google sleuthing, we discovered these figures represent Carabinieri from 1814, when they were formed as the King's police. The statue - from 2014 - celebrates the national police force's bicentennial. 

By Florentine sculptor Antonio Berti (1904-1990), the statue is, in our minds, a gem. It's titled "La pattuglia nella tempesta" - "The patrol in the storm," and is designed to show the Carabinieri - off their horses (or these days, out of their cars), in any weather, helping their countrymen and women. I love those flowing capes. There's something about the work that reminds me of Rodin's Balzac, though I'm probably getting carried away here.

   Outside the museum. The tourists
don't even look at it.

And now the rabbit hole. In trying to find the subject and name of the statue, I ran across an article titled "Italian policemen and fascist ideology," by Dr. Jonathan Dunnage of Swansea University in the UK. Many Italians look at the Carabinieri and Fascists this way: they were the King's police force. The King was a Fascist; the Carabinieri supported the King. When the King separated himself from Mussolini, so did they. Kind of "just doing their job." 

Dunnage is more critical. In a summary of his article, he states, "There is little doubt that, without undergoing dramatic transformations, the Italian Interior Ministry police and Carabinieri played key roles in the enforcement of the fascist dictatorship."  This summary focuses on the police, rather than on the Carabinieri, and, arguably, the Carabinieri were more independent. I contacted Dunnage, who was kind enough to exchange emails with me. In a response to me, he contends, "On the other hand, both police organizations would have been grateful for a government which claimed to restore respect for the law (and for the institutions of law and order) following the 'humiliations' of the 'Red Two Years' (1919-1920)." [Elaboration by Dunnage on this theme is at the end of this post.]

The statue, Dunnage's comments, and a lunch with two Roman friends convinced us to return to the Carabinieri Museum (Museo storico dell'Arma dei Carabinieri) in Piazza del Risorgimento (where most folks are heading in droves to the Vatican). We had been there previously, for a press conference announcing the recovery of stolen art works (the Carabinieri have an art recovery section). Our lunch companions told us the museum had been reorganized and modernized (it needed it; all material was only in Italian, for starters), and that a relative of one of them, a retired Carabiniere, had designed the new exhibition. We couldn't wait to go back.

We found the first floor, in particular, much better organized, and with all placards in both Italian and English. Paintings, more than photographs, illustrated the Carabinieris' bravery. 

The Carabiniere at left was serving in the Barmash (Albania) Carabinieri Station when it was attacked "On December 28, overwhelming enemy forces, which he resisted heartily. Once the ammunition ran out, he did not give up, but with hand grenades faced the enemy together with [another Carabiniere], who fell with him." Note, no mention of who the enemy is.

Looking at the historical panorama that covers the Fascist ventennio (20+ years), one can see a sort of amnesia:

The dates are, left to right, 1922, 1936, 1941, 1942. The painting above 1942 is the painting above in this post of the Carabiniere in Albania.

There are pictures and stories of the Italian African campaign, in which the Carabinieri figured prominently, and of battles raged against "brigands" in Sicily and elsewhere. Nothing about Fascists, Mussolini, or fighting for the State against partisans in Italy. The second floor is laid out similarly, although the English translators haven't yet made it to that floor. There, under 1928, is an illustration of the Carabinieri fighting Sicilian brigands; under 1936, a battle in Somalia. 

Above, one of the more interesting paintings, of the Battle of Culqualber, which lasted from August to November 1941 in Ethiopia ("Italian East Africa"), and is considered the end of the the war in East Africa for the Italians. Carabinieri and colonial forces fought the British Commonwealth forces there.

The only place we saw any reference to Mussolini or Fascism was in the collection of annual calendars, and even then the one with Mussolini on the cover was high up on the wall and difficult to photograph; one has to recognize his profile - which any Italian would:
All of the calendars in the Fascist era use the Fascist
numbering system. Mussolini is on the cover second from
left, middle row, year 1939, XVII E.F. (17, Fascist Era,
i.e., 17 years after the 1922 March on Rome).
The online site for the museum is filled with information. And if one searches for Mussolini or Fascism, there are many citations. Among them is the intriguingly titled "I Carabinieri nel novecento italiano - la fine delle illusioni" ("The Carabinieri in 1900s Italy: the end of illusions"). The post has a good summary of Italy at the end of the Fascist era, but nothing about the Carabinieri in that period. And so it goes with the other entries in which Fascism is mentioned.

With the year 1943, the panels change dramatically to the Carabinieri fighting against the Nazis as part of the Resistance. 

Right, a Carabiniere in Greece, 
trampling the Nazi flag and 
raising the Italian one.

There's no doubt many Carabinieri were significant in the Resistance to the Nazis, after the King abandoned Mussolini.

Some were shot by the Germans, and 12 were murdered in the massacre at the Fosse Ardeatine outside Rome (on an itinerary in our first book on Rome, Rome the Second Time). A monument to the 12 is in the museum:

The exhibitions bring the Carabinieri into the 1970s and 1980s, with their efforts to combat the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse), who assassinated politician and statesman Aldo Moro. In the panels below, his portrait is labeled "'78" - the year he was killed. "'83" is a painting depicting the Carabinieri, led by Mario D'Aleo, who were ambushed and killed in Sicily by the Mafia that year.

There are also some "fun facts" in the museum, including posters of movies featuring Carabinieri.

Right, the beloved "Pane, Amore e Fantasia" 
(In English, "Bread, Love and Dreams"), 
starring Vittorio De Sica and Gina Lollobrigida.

And our museum tour ended where it began, with our rabbit hole. An entire corner and display is devoted to the statue of La pattuglia nella tempesta, which is popular enough that one can buy small replicas of it, as in, Exit through the Gift Shop.

Dianne [see more from Jonathan Dunnage below the photo]

Here is Jonathan Dunnage's more complete response (in an email to me) to the argument that the Carabinieri weren't at heart Fascists:

It has been argued that the Carabinieri were less complicit with the fascist regime because of their loyalty to the monarchy, as a result of which Mussolini decided to entrust policing and surveillance first and foremost to the Interior Ministry police. However, if you consider that the Carabinieri were answerable to the Interior Ministry for matters of policing, and if you look at daily policing activities on the ground, it is obvious that the Carabinieri were complicit, even if their position was secondary to that of the Interior Ministry police. Despite formal adhesion to the regime, as evident in public ceremonies, it has been suggested that the Carabinieri managed to maintain a degree of aloofness. On the other hand, both police organizations would have been grateful for a government which claimed to restore respect for the law (and for the institutions of law and order) following the 'humiliations' of the 'Red Two Years' (1919-1920). Members of the police and the Carabinieri, whether or not they were staunch fascists, had historically been accustomed to seeing the forces of the Left as dangerous for public order, and one can imagine that many saw the fascist regime as enabling them to do their job of 'protecting' Italian society from anarchists, socialists and communists, when the preceding Liberal governments had appeared hesitant (i.e. for fear of infringing citizens' democratic rights).