If you live in a town since you were a child, you grow up with some perfect images in your mind. The streets you stroll with your mother, the place you ate your first ice cream, the gardens you enjoyed the children games, your elementary school.
Sounds, voices, smells change while you grow up and slowly disappear in a mix of pale and inconsistent images. So it happens that one day you find yourself with other people, strolling around your town and you look the buildings, the streets and everything with their eyes, their news eyes.
So it happened to me during the Atrium Blog Tour, organized by the Municipality of Forlì and dedicated to the Rationalist Architecture.
I will present you here the wonderful group of people who was with me.

Atrium Romagna Blog Tour Forlì Italy

The Atrium Blog Tour group

It’s a nice morning, exactly the right thing to make nice photos. The meeting point is in front of the railway station in Forlì.
This little town, where I lived all my life before moving in the hills, is plenty of history. Founded by the romans, was governed through the ages by some very important families before entering in the Church dominion, which was one of the thing that influenced the history and the events of this troubled area.

forlì saffi square piazza romagna

Piazza Saffi, the center of Forlì

Instead of driving to the place, we decided to walk from our House, the University Foresteria, right in the center town, discovering a very interesting street, via Giorgio Regnoli, a very famous surgeon of the XIXth century, that in these last years was transformed in an open air art museum where local and young artists can expose their works.

emilia romagna forlì

Open air museum, via Giorgio Regnoli, Forlì

Our special guide Elisa, a professional tour guide I worked with in the past, introduce us to the history of the railway station. Forlì is a special town from this point of view. The old station, 500 mt far from the new one, was a very small one, built in 1861. But when Benito Mussolini, who was born in Predappio near Forlì, became the chief of the government, decided to transform Forlì in the ideal fascist town, just to start the myth and the cult of his personality.

railway station forlì emilia romagna

The Forlì railway Station

In 1924, the architect Ezio Bianchi designed the new station, which should the new linking point with Central Italy: new industries settled in town, due to some rich and noble families like the Orsi Mangelli, Benini, Bartoletti. Working the new raw materials such as rayon or cellulose, using their expertise in the woodcarving to produce furniture for houses and boats.

folì emilia romagna ettore benini atrium

The main entrance of Ettore Benini plant in Forlì

The Forlì station is like the one of Verona and Milan, overhead. Some of the decorative elements are still of the previous architecture of the XIXth century and you will also see some liberty decorations.

The main, huge boulevard, Viale della Libertà, was first dedicated to the date of 28th October 1922, when the fascists marched to Rome to conquer the government. It was intended to be the direct link to the ancient roman street Via Emilia, the principal way of Emilia Romagna, going towards the sea. I have found an ancient photo showing as it was before.

forlì viale della libertà emilia romagna

The old Viale della Libertà

The new boulevard was projected to be a very elegant one, with houses to rent to the public officers. New well decored houses with modern services such as fluent water, electricity, gas heathing and an internal bathroom. Shops were in the lower part of the houses, which had a very beautiful external aspect even if they were built with poor materials.

The main buildings where dedicated to the Youth: the House of Balilla (GIL) and the Technical Institute are the excellent example of the idea and the philosophy of the regime.

After the end of the war the GIL was transformed into a cinema and most of its areas were not used anymore.

The main buildings where dedicated to the Youth: the House of Balilla (GIL) and the Technical Institute are the excellent example of the idea and the philosophy of the regime. Only in these recent years the Municipality decided to restore the building which is not yet opened to the public. And actually the Atrium project was a very important push to consider this building from an architectonic point of view, outside the historic judgment.

These are exclusive photos during our special visit with the responsible architect of the restoration, Stefania Pondi. The writing you can see on the tower was written with bronze letters and was the swearing of the young Balillas who were compelled, in the name of God, to obey to the Duce with every strenth and even with their blood. (Nel nome di Dio e dell’Italia giuro di eseguire gli ordini del Duce e di servire con tutte le mie forze e se è necessario col mio sangue la causa della rivoluzione fascista”).

Architect Stefania Pondi and a representative of Forlì Municipality

Architect Stefania Pondi and a representative of Forlì Municipality

The morning was not ended with this, we also visited the Aereonautic College, where children and young boys used to stay and study to become the best pilots. The aviation tradition in Forlì is stile very active. The town is the headquarter of Enav, the flying national school.

Stay tuned for the second part of the first day with Atrium bloggers.

Disclosure: This post is part of the #AtriumBT Rationalist Architecture blogtour, that was managed by Forlì Civil Council and Atrium European Project in October 2013.



Writer and Travel Blogger. Strolls around Romagna with her little sheep. Curious about life and history!


  1. Anita    

    Lovely post, Alessandra! It is great to have your perspective, a good reminder of what it’s like to see your home through other people’s eyes.

    1. sheep21alessandra    

      Thanks Anita, it was such a surprise for me to discover things with you and Tom helped me to get new photographic eyes. So sorry you won’t be in Cesenatico with me:))

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