Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

The Bozen Gate

TRIUMPHALISM IN architecture is a double-edged sword. When done properly, it is glorious, like the Arc de Triomphe, standing majestically as avenues radiate forth from the stout, sculpted monument to Napoleon’s victories. The Italian monument at Bozen in Südtirol is the other end of the spectrum. The French emperor was wise enough to construct his triumphal arch in Paris, on his own turf, where it would prove relatively uncontroversial over the span of the years. Mussolini, meanwhile, had this gate celebrating the Italian victories of the First World War in Bozen, the capital of Südtirol, a region whose inhabitants are mostly German-speakers despite it being part of the Italian Republic. While the existence of a monument to Italian victories is acceptable, the placement and nature of this monument is a direct insult to the local population.

The inscription is particularly insulting: “Here at the border of the fatherland set down the banner. From here onwards we educated the others in language, law, and culture.”

The monument was inaugurated by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1928: the dedication was greeted with a demonstration of 10,000 people across the Austrian border in Innsbruck. Its architect was Marcello Piacentini, one of the less lamentable architects and urbanists of the twentieth century. Piacentini’s campus for La Sapienza is a bit of a dud, as is his Rome Opera House, but his Palazzo di Giustizia in Messina is stately, combining modernity style and classical sense. Of his monuments, I prefer the Arco della Vittoria in Genoa. Unfortunately, Piacentini will most likely be remembered most for his design of the Via della Conciliazione, which involved the demolition of the ‘Spina’ obscuring the view from St. Peter’s, thus destroying the Baroque element of surprise created upon entering the Piazza San Pietro.

The sculptures on the Bozen Gate are by Adolfo Wildt, an underappreciated Italian sculptor from a working-class Milanese family of Swiss origins.

Given the contentious nature of the monument, it must be protected from defacement by strong metal fencing. Perhaps some day it can be carefully removed and reassembled in an Italian part of Italy.

This post was published on Sunday, November 28th, 2010 6:08 pm. It has been categorised under Architecture Austria and been tagged under , , , .
Baron von Hetterscheidt
29 Nov 2010 4:47 am

This article (just one of so many which make this blog such a pleasure) prompts the following:
1) the South Tyrol is Austrian and should be returned to Austria tomorrow;
2) Fascism (by which I mean the system which ruled in Italy) was particularly successful as an architectural movement;
3) The Italians are a mature people, who are unbothered by the monuments of past regimes. How unlike poor Spain, presently being torn apart by the wicked Socialists, who, in less than a decade, have destroyed the peaceable transition from Franco to Juan Carlos with their hateful campaign to destroy and outlaw anything to do with the man and the regime which saved them from Communism and kept them out of the second World War.
I look forward to watching Rodriguez Zapatero and his swinish followers writhe as the realities of their collapsing economy bring them down, one hopes forever.

Árpád Horváth
29 Nov 2010 1:32 pm

Thank you for this. I am in many houses at once on this issue. My mother’s family is Italian from Friuli not far from Suedtirol. This is where I get my blond hair from….. the source of confusion to my fellow Hungarians. Usually the only Hungarians with blond hair are fake women on tv. I’m mistaken for a German or a Swede in my own country!

But as Hungarian, I’m backing the Tirolers not the Italians. We and the Austrians are like the Irish and British. When we’re not fighting them, we’re fighting on their side, so I say go Tirol!

Andrew Cusack
29 Nov 2010 2:27 pm

BvH, I disagree. Why shouldn’t part of Italy be Austrian? It makes the world more interesting, and it means at least ONE province of Italy is well-run. We mustn’t given in to the totalising nationalism which states that all must be ruled by their own precise ethnicity.

Even if Südtirol were to leave Italy, it might be preferable for it to be added as a canton or two of Switzerland, to which it is contiguous.

Benedict Ambrose
29 Nov 2010 3:42 pm

Alas, some of the architectural features are ruinably weak. The most obvious stylistic delicts are the capital-less columns and the emasculated entablature – quite disfiguring. Mr Cusack is certainly correct, however, to praise the sculpture, which is firmly the best element in the design.

Baron van Hetterscheidt
29 Nov 2010 4:24 pm

But Italy is a freemasonic construct which by rights should not exist. Not only the South Tyrol (unjustly torn from Austria’s prostrate body after the ruinous first world war), but also Lombardy and Venetia should be once again ruled from Vienna. Put minor Habsburgs on the thrones of Tuscany and Parma, and, perhaps most importantly, restore the Two Sicilies to the Infante Don Carlos, Duke of Calabria
The Papal States can wait: the clergy are corrupted perhaps more hideously than any other body by the democratic heresy. Let Rome be ruled first of all by a council of all the monarchs I have spoken of. The Pope and his cardinals will come round quickly enough.

30 Nov 2010 12:20 am

I agree with the Baron. I have never heard an idea so good in such a long time. As long as the Savoias are in the gutter!

Liz S.
30 Nov 2010 1:14 am

It was three years after I was first introduced to Mr. Horvath that I first found out this proud patriotic Hungarian is in fact barely “Magyar” at all. Born in France to an Italian mother and a Hungarian father — he’s a frog in disguise.

And that hair! Poor Fark, such a fopp! Too Hungarian pour les français, et trop hongrois for the French.

Baron v Hetterscheidt
30 Nov 2010 4:12 am

Dear Lady,

You will have noted that the House of Savoy was not mentioned. In polite company, that is the only course open to one.

30 Nov 2010 5:03 am

“Usually the only Hungarians with blond hair are fake women on tv”

You exaggerate slightly, Mr Horváth. I can see at least two blonds in this sample of Hungarians:

Back on the subject, Mussolini was indeed Garibaldi’s spiritual son.

Liz S.
30 Nov 2010 6:46 am

Alberto, those two have dark blond hair. Arpad’s hair is BLOND blond. So much so that I think he’s hiding a Swedish grandfather or two that he’ll eventually reveal only once Ive known him for ten years. He has an emotional attachment to the idea of being Hungarian that I guess comes from being born outside the country.

Árpád Horváth
30 Nov 2010 7:04 am

BARELY MAGYAR AT ALL?!?!?!?!?!?! My lady, men have killed over smaller insults than yours!

Robert H.
30 Nov 2010 7:17 am

Elisabeth my dear, as your fiancé can I gently dissuade you from insulting Hungarians experienced with arms? Especially ones that are on our wedding invitation list?

I know you’re a romantic on the issue of pistols at dawn but I’d prefer not fighting any duels on your behalf. Besides, I think a century or two ago the Pope poo-poo’d the idea of Catholics participating in duels.

Liz S. soon-to-be H.
30 Nov 2010 12:24 pm

Oh very well. We mustn’t poo poo the Pope’s poo poo after all.

I know you boys love Blackadder —

S. Petersen
30 Nov 2010 2:00 pm

BvH is spot on about Spain. They have to be the most ungrateful people still a people.

Leave a comment

Name (required)

Email (required)



Home | About | Contact | Categories | Paginated Index | Twitter | Facebook | RSS/Atom Feed | © Andrew Cusack 2004-present (Unless otherwise stated)