Fendi Completes Restoration of the Temple of Venus and Rome

Arguably more than with anywhere else, the connection between the major Italian fashion houses and the cities that birthed them is a deeply visceral one. And that reciprocity very often gives rise to high-profile cultural projects that serve to poignantly explicate or elaborate on that connection.

Indeed, there’s the Fondazione Prada in Milan, the Gucci and Ferragamo museums in Florence…and most especially Fendi‘s admirable commitment to the preservation of Rome’s historically important monuments – including the Trevi Fountain in 2015. Most recent was the just-completed restoration of the hallowed Temple of Venus and Rome, a joint project with the Parco archeologico del Colosseo. The work was actually begun in September of 2020, when Italy was thrust into the second wave of the COVID crisis, and fear was prevailing above all. But with the present day so overwhelmed with uncertainty and anxiety, what better diversion than to instead focus on the richness of one’s local history – especially in the Eternal City, where one is every day surrounded by said history.

The structure itself was/is unique in that it was built using forward-thinking Roman urban planning and construction techniques, yet was given proportions and spatiality that were distinctly Hellenistic. Dating to 135 AD, it was completed during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, whose architectural legacy was perhaps the richest of all of ancient Rome’s rulers (including Tivoli, the Pantheon, and of course Hadrian’s Wall.) The ingenious configuration found more than 200 columns of gray granite and Proconnesio marble wrapped a single rectangular volume, with one worship cell dedicated to Venus Felix, goddess of nature and mother of Aeneas, and the other dedicated to the goddess Roma Eterna, the sacred personification of the city. The former faces the Colosseum, the latter the capitol.

Director of the Parco archeologico del Colosseo Alfonsina Russo explains, “Through this collaboration we reach a very high moment of synthesis of Italian identity focused on the charm and beauty of places and monuments that dialogue harmoniously with contemporary creativity. Thanks to Fendi, the largest known temple of ancient Rome is returned to its former glory.”

The occasion is also marked by the publication of a commemorative volume titled Il Tempio di Venere e Roma, from Florence based publisher Electa. It’s packed with striking images of the construction project itself, and even of stunningly realized Fendi fashion shows staged on the grounds.

“This site holds special memories for me and for so many others around the world,” enthuses Fendi Artistic Director Silvia Venturini Fendi. “The Palatine Hill and its surroundings lie at the very heart of our Roman mythology – it is the spiritual birthplace of our city and a site of great historical significance. You can feel it in the air, and as the sun goes down on the Temple of Venus and Rome on the edge of the Velia Hill in the evening; there’s a moment where time stops and the buzz of modern life fades into the background.” 

And considering the callous dismantling of history that is the result of so much urban overdevelopment in the 21st Century, the continuing reverence for Rome’s historical treasures is not commendable, but nothing short of exigent.

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