During the Roman Empire the Tiber Bend area was a public training ground for soldiers called the Campo Marzio. With Rome’s fall, the city turned its back on this riverside neighbourhood and, aside from a few foreign settlements, it wasn’t until the 15th century that anything other than a few churches was built here. The Baroque boom gave the area’s palaces their distinctive look. Mussolini cleaned up the neighbourhood in the 1920s and 1930s to bring out its ancient character. He cleared away the debris surrounding Augustus’s Mausoleum, reassembled the Ara Pacis and surrounded the lot with reviled Fascist buildings, complete with self-aggrandizing bas-reliefs.
Romans are ingenious recyclers. The Pantheon ...