History in RomeEdit This
In the 20th century, Rome went through yet another growth spurt. The pope was made sovereign of Vatican City in 1929. The new administration was more interested in offices and housing blocks than churches, and during the 1930s the city expanded beyond the city walls. During Mussolini's rule, in the 1920s and '30s, Rome took on Fascist airs, puffing out its chest with wide boulevards and overblown architecture. Dreams of imperial glory led Mussolini to form an alliance with Germany during WWII, and the nightmare that ensued helped set the scene for Italy 's transformation from a totalitarian regime into a republic in 1946. The postwar years saw Rome expanding physically and becoming the centre of Italy 's film industry until the early 1960s.
The 1970s and '80s were marked by more violent transformations, namely those of some radical student groups (who had a long list of complaints about Italy 's left-wing governments) into right-wing terrorists. The Brigate Rosse (Red Brigade) was the most notorious group, going so far as to kidnap and eventually murder former prime minister Aldo Moro in Rome in 1978. Recent History The last few decades of the 20th century saw a mixture of economic success and wide-ranging corruption scandals which touched many a politician, public official and businessperson. The public reacted with perverse moral indignation in 1994 by electing a stridently right-wing coalition headed by a billionaire media magnate, Silvio Berlusconi. Amid claims of corruption, the government fell, and after some years of typically Italian political musical chairs, Berlusconi returned from the desert to win the 2001 national elections, promising 'few words and plenty of action'. Despite the landslide victory, his right-wing government's activities have regularly been greeted with large-scale protests. As late as December 2002 he was again under suspicion of corruption, but he seems to have a way with the legal system and may just yet again avoid trouble.
The Jubilee Year in 2000, during which around 16 million Catholic pilgrims visited the city, gave Rome impetus to clean up her act. Billions were spent cleaning church and palazzo facades, improving roads and transport, and reclaiming public spaces from the car parks they'd become. At the start of the new millennium Rome had never looked more beautiful. Meanwhile, Rome proper ostensibly remains, as it has always been, an administrative and tourist centre, without much sign of industry or trade, but lots of political intrigue.