The University of Trieste during the period of the Allied Military Government

From fascism to democracy

Authored by: Diana Barillari

The Routledge Companion to Italian Fascist Architecture

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367348519
eBook ISBN: 9780429328435
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter considers the reuse of the iconic main building of the University of Trieste. Designed by Raffaello Fagnoni and Umberto Nordio, the building followed Mussolini’s explicit instructions to design a symbolic rampart of Italianness against the “Slavic menace.” Construction on the project began in 1939. After World War II, the university’s colossal dimensions became a thorny problem for the Allied Military Government, which administered Trieste from 1945 to 1954, until the city and region’s annexation to Italy. In terms of the functions and spaces appropriate for a university, the Anglo-American point of view highlighted aspects that were specific to postwar Italy and Trieste’s political situation. The city and the surrounding territories were at the center of the international political scene – in short, a preview of the Cold War. The university’s architectural features recalling fascist ideology constituted a critical factor, and the institution has reformulated the assumptions that determined its birth. The crucial role of historical research contributed to enhancing the university’s artistic and cultural heritage and moreover to exerting a critical analysis aimed at a frank comparison with the past.

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