National Geographic : 1937 Mar
IMPERIAL ROME REBORN r - U Photograph by Acme CHINS HIGH, SHOULDERS SQUARED, BOY BLACK SHIRTS EMULATE IL DUCE'S POSTURE "Eyes left !" is the command as jaunty Balillas quickstep with toy rifles and blanket rolls during a review at Rome. Their corps is named for an 18th-century boy hero of Genoa who threw a stone at an Austrian soldier, thus starting the revolt that freed the city from foreign rule. wall, traveled on narrow Via Campania, then returned to the newer, wider Corso. "This wall is inhabited," averred my guide. "Even a few artists have studios in the hollow interior. See the entrances, and high windows." I saw much of old Rome in that wall, bits of sculptured white marble and thin, ancient bricks. I am glad it is not yet a quarry. "That heroic statue commemorates Rome's fall, in 1870, to Victor Emmanuel's bersaglieri, the soldiers with bunches of wavy hat feathers. That wide street you see through Porta Pia is named for the day they entered it, the 20th of September. Then Italy was reunited. "Now we pass Castro Pretorio, a mili tary post. Plumed golden helmets are copied from armor of ancient legions. "Here is the station. Amazing as that trip of less than an hour seems, you've glimpsed only a few fragments. How much more there is! "I hope," was my companion's parting professorial advice, "you do some close-up studying." My next lessons, self-assigned, were Rome today. I went afoot to classes. I roomed in a little pension, or boarding house, on a dark street, but did not eat there. Tired, I rested sometimes chatting with a friend whose home was in a mag nificent hotel. ALFONSO OF SPAIN IS GENIAL We often saw former King Alfonso of Spain, who lived there incognito, safe under a strong government. He greeted genially all who spoke, talked little except to inti mates. "I heard him mention himself once," re marked a clerk to me. "He saw troubled Spanish headlines. 'My country was hap pier,' he murmured, 'when I was King.' " Rome is haven for many an alien. I talked with Jews running busy auto wreck ing shops and wondered how many old cars America would scrap if metal jumped to war prices and four gallons of gas cost five dollars. "There are perhaps 25,000 of us in Rome," remarked the father of a large fam ily whose younger members watched him melt babbitt from bronze bearings.