This 1:250 scale model, that was achieved in the residential Roman neighbourhood of Europe, is representing the magnificent ancient Rome. It is called the Plastico Di Roma Imperiale. The plaster model of the city was ordered by Mussolini in 1933 to represent the Rome of the 4th century AD at the time of Constantine. Nowadays, the model is preserved in the Museum of Roman Civilization, which was opened in 1930 to demonstrate the history of ancient Rome.
Italo Gismondi is the archeologist who created the masterpiece and dedicated is life to build it. He completed the initial core of the scale model, which was basically inspired by Rodolfo Lanciani’s 1901 map Forma Urbis, for the big celebration of the 2 000th death anniversary of Augustus. It was then installed permanently in the Museum of Roman Civilization, but Gismondi continued to expand the model until 1971.
The masterpiece is now considered one of the most important references of how ancient Rome looked. Its manufacturer used really precise maps of different monuments such as the Pantheon or the Colosseum. For the houses or other sites that had no archeological remains, he used models that were representative of the ancient constructions. This lack of reference was actually Mussolini’s fault, because he was the one ordering that many Rome’s ancient houses be destroyed to make room for new infrastructures like the via Dei Fori Imperiali, that leads to the Colosseum.
Victor Plahte Tschudi, a professor of architectural history at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design said, “the model gave Fascist modernism a seeming imperial origin. It also legitimized, even inspired, the regime’s town planning policy and brutal overhaul to redeem Rome’s ancient monuments.”
Even if its initial purpose was for propaganda, the Plastico still brings many children’s school or tourists who want to visualize better how the ruins that are visible today once fit into a bigger urban landscape. The scale model that measures 55 feet by 55 feet features so many delicate details that it is sometimes used by filmmakers, example by Ridley Scott in 2000 for some shots in The Gladiator.
Down below you can see some other pictures of the wonderful scale model;