Rome Travel Guide

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Most Photographed Building in Rome: Palazzo di Fantozzi

We have no doubt that the most photographed building in Rome is the Coliseum.  But the building most often presented in the city's newspapers isn't the Coliseum--or the Vatican, or the huge memorial to the triumph of Italian statehood known as the Vittoriano.  It is, and by far, the headquarters of the government of the Lazio region.  The regional government was once housed in the "square coliseum" in EUR, but since sometime in the early 1970s has been located in a distinctive structure on viale Cristoforo Colombo, on the edge of the quartiere of Garbatella.  From above (below right), the building takes the form of a an "H," with each of the four standards curving gently outwards; pod-like buildings occupy the openings in the "H."  We've heard the building was originally constructed for the Michelin Tire Company, and that what we've described as an "H" was actually an "X," once a Michelin symbol. 

Despite a lengthy internet search, we couldn't find much about the origins of the structure or its architect.  Our guess is that it's a very good building from 1960s or the 1970s--that is, after modernism had run out of ideas--decades that produced much that was awkward but also a few buildings of merit, like this one.  Although the internet contains the merest suggestion that the building opened in 1984, it is well known  (or at least widely claimed) that the building was the setting for some of the scenes in the Fantozzi film series; it featured a hapless Italian clerk/accountant (Fantozzi), and the first film opened in 1975.  So strong is the identification that the building is sometimes referred to as the Palazzo di Fantozzi.  Also fond of the building is the administrator of a group called "Nostalgici degli anni '70 & '80 (Nostalgics of the 1970s and 1980s).    Bill


3 comments:

Dianne Bennett and William Graebner said...

Readers who have left comments on the Palazzo di Fantozzi on our Rome the Second Time Facebook site have not found the building appealing. One called it a "true hideous monstrosity," another "modernism run amok."

Smiley1081 said...

I work in the building, and unfortunately the Spirit of Fantozzi runs strong in its corridors...

There are few informations about the origin of the building and its architect, but before it was occupied by the Regione it was used by INAM, a workers medical insurance, which was absorbed by the Regione in the '70s.

It is said that it was designed as an hospital, but INAM inherited it an used it as their HQ.

Smiley1081 said...

BTW, as you can see in this Youtube clip the first Fantozzi movie was indeed filmed in the building.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT8YHwZgKAw

During the phone call you can see the A building as seen from Via Cristoforo Colombo and Via Maria Drago Mazzini.

When the "hound" of Ufficio Impiegati Smarriti ("Lost Employees Bureau") is hunting for Fantozzi he is first running on the ramp for the underground garage (uses by the upper echelon, nowadays) then the stairs in the C building which reach the cafeteria, then to some stairs without risers which do not exist anymore, and the final scene is probably in the ground floor of the B building, but after 40 years I am not completely sure...