Il Vittoriano

Victor Emmanuel II Monument

Il Vittoriano, Rome, ItalyThe Il Vittoriano was built between 1885 and 1911, in honour of King Vittorio Emmanuel II, the first Italian King after unification. The Monument was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi and built in white Brescian marble and is located in the Piazza Venezia near Palazzo Venezia (Mussolini's headquarters for 14 years). During construction, the northern side of the Capitoline hill was cleared and several Roman ruins and medieval churches destroyed in the process.The monument was nicknamed the "piano" after Mussolini held military parades in the piazza. The Fascists, dressed in black contrasted with the white marble looked like piano keys. Genuinely thought of as a piece of insensitive architecture, the monument is often referred to as the " Wedding Cake" or the "Type Writer". In front of the monument is the 40 foot (12m) bronze equestrain statue featuring the king on his steed.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Il Vittoriano, Rome, ItalyBelow the statue of Victor Emmanuel is the Tomb of the Unknown Italian Soldier of World War I and is marked by an eternal flame. The tomb often called " The Alter of the Nation" was designed by Alberto Sparapani and completed in 1924. The tomb contains the remains of an unidentified soldier selected by the mother of an Italian soldier that was missing in action. A two-man honour guard is changed throughout the day to include a ceremony similar to that of the changing of the guards at Arlington Cemetery in America.

Lest We Forget

Il Vittoriano, Rome, ItalyIn 2003, following the death of eighteen Italian soldiers who were killed in Nasiriya, Iraq the Vittoriano was closed for several days as a mark of respect. During the closure a sea of flowers were placed around the monument by the public.In 2005 Italian secret service agent , Nicola Calipari, was killed whilst shielding freed kidnapped journalist, Giuliana Sgrena, from bullets in Iraqi. Calipari, who was instrumental in negotiating her release, was awarded the Medal of Valor and his body lay in state at the Vittoriano where tens of thousands of people paid their last respects.