30-31 March and 1 April: Stefania Gialdroni on Law and Architecture

Lesson 1: The politicization of the landscape of Roma Capitale

Lesson 2: The iconography of the Italian Supreme Court

Lesson 3 (Friday): Visit to the Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione): meeting at Piazza dei Tribunali, 10:15 am


“Rome was not the world of religion, of abstract sciences, of literature, of fine arts, because in all those fields other people could defeat it; Rome was the world of law. For law, Romans had a historical vocation, deriving from their intellectual genius, from their moral virtue, from their character, from the force and the persistency of will”. These words, pronounced by the Italian Minister of Justice Giuseppe Zanardelli during the foundation laying ceremony of the Palace of Justice (now seat of the Court of Cassation) in 1889, summarize his ideological program: to make the law one of the cornerstones of unified Italy (1861) with Rome, and especially its glorious and lay legal tradition, as its geographical as well as ideological center. During his long service as Minister of Justice Zanardelli demonstrated his faith in law as a tool for unifying territories and people realizing two great works: the first Italian Criminal Code and the Palace of Justice.

These lectures aim at describing the events that led to the definition of the very peculiar iconographical plan of the Italian Supreme Court building, meaningfully known to the people of Rome as er Palazzaccio: “the bad palace”.

READING: (Forthcoming) S. Gialdroni, Justice petrified. The seat of the Italian Supreme Court between Law, Architecture and Iconography, in Sensing the Nation’s Law: Historical Inquiries into the Aesthetics of Democratic Legitimacy, ed. by m. Antaki, A. Condello, S. Huygebaert, S. Marusek, Springer.

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