Monday, 13 October 2008

Incomplete notes on recent mayors

Giulio Carlo Argan (mayor 1976 – 1979)

Argan was the first communist mayor of Rome.  He was an eminent art historian as well as a politician.  Many of his writings deal with architectural topics and it was Argan that proposed the ‘Roma Interrotta’ competition of 1978 to explore imaginative new propositions for the city.  Argan’s books range across the following subjects:

1955 - Pier Luigi Nervi

1957 - Botticelli

1962 - Gropius/Bauhaus

1969 - The Renaissance City

1977 - Henry Moore

1983 - History of Art and the History of the City

1984 - The Baroque

1990 - Michelangelo


Francesco Rutelli (mayor 1993 - 2001)

Originally a surrealist artist, Rutelli had an early political background with radical, libertarian leanings.  He became a campaigner for green/environmental policies in the late 80’s.  By the time he became mayor of Rome, he was part of the centre left.  In the national elections of 2001, he unsuccessfully led the ‘Olive Tree’ coalition against Berlusconi.  In 2006, he became  Prodi’s Deputy, serving also as Minister for Welfare and Culture.  Following Prodi’s defeat against Berlesconi in January 2008, he turned his sights back to Rome and stood unsuccessfully for mayor against Alemanno.


Walter Veltroni (mayor 2001 - Feb. 2008)

Veltroni, of the centre-left Democratic Party, served two successive terms as mayor.  He has a long involvement in Rome’s politics, having been first elected as a city councillor for the Italian Communist Party in 1976.  His cultural initiatives as mayor included free jazz concerts, free museum openings and the White Nights festival.  He was also one of Barack Obama’s earliest supporters in Europe.  He stepped down as mayor in order to pursue politics at a national level, becoming leader of the Democratic Party.


Gianni Alemanno (mayor since April 2008)

Alemanno is a member of the National Alliance/People of Freedom.  He is a controversial right wing politician, connected with neo-fascism and xenophobia, but also a champion of the ‘slow food’ movement.  In addition to a campaign to expel migrants, he has reversed many of Veltroni’s initiatives, including the White Nights.  One of his many controversial cultural pronouncements since becoming mayor has been to propose a referendum to decide whether Richard Meier’s recently completed museum for the Ara Pacis should be demolished.  He has also proposed to ban Hollywood actors from attending the Rome Film Festival.  It is his deputy, Mario Cutrufo, who has announced the EuroDisney inspired theme park.

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