Foro Boario

Piazza Foro Boario, Municipality of Forlì, Emilia-Romagna Region, Italy
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Year of build:
1932 - 1935
Original name:
Foro Boario
Arnaldo Fuzzi
Past and Present Ownership of the Building/Site:

Municipality of Forlì

Degree of preservation and status of protection

Today the building is partially used, while the area behind it has no intended use. Its spaces, freely accessible but without ordinary maintenance, are slowly falling into decay as well as the large green areas that are not adequately exploited.

The building has not undergone substantial changes and the external surface retains the metal structure of the canopies and partially the arrangement of the stalls. The entire complex is surrounded by a fence wall.

Architectural Description

The project was entrusted in 1932 to Eng. Arnaldo Fuzzi, former federal secretary of Forlì and approved directly by the Head of Government.

The building "... architecturally in tune with the services for which it is intended ..." consisted of three bodies of which the main one was divided from the lateral ones by two large porches for the passage of livestock.

In the main body a large full-height hall, intended for bargaining for the sale of livestock, was flanked by rooms arranged symmetrically on two levels and containing on the ground floor the rooms of the bar and the postelegraphic office and on the first floor the offices for use of the trading room and commissions for banking services; the lateral bodies, lower than the main one, contained respectively the offices and the home of the veterinarian.

A.Fuzzi, after having conceived the building as the door of entrance of the great market, opted for a monumental architectural party: a giant order built from columns and semi-columns crowned by a Tuscan capital, and made of concrete treated with imitation stone and stripped by mirrors in cotto, with specific reference to the architecture of the nineteenth-century forum within the city.

The building has not undergone substantial changes and the external surface retains the metal structure of the canopies and partially the arrangement of the stalls.

The monumental nineteenth-century entrance, built as a barrier to adapt the aesthetics to the building development of the neighbourhood, was built between 1932 and 1935. The building has not suffered of substantial changes and the external surface retains the metal structure of the canopies and, partially, the arrangement of the stables. The entire complex is surrounded by a fence wall.

History and Historical Context

Since Roman times, the Forum Boarium has indicated the square dedicated to the trading of cattle.  Over the centuries, the word has been handed down and now stands for any large livestock market – of all types of meat – in Italy. In Forlì, this market was born in 1927, just outside the city centre, in the surroundings of ​​via Ravegnana.

The livestock market, owned by the municipal administration of Forlì, was built in 1930-1931. It was extended in 1932, by the engineer Arnaldo Fuzzi from Forlì: an influential technician and politician, member of the Administrative board, federal secretary for some years and friend of the Mussolini’s.

Other important public buildings will be later on designed by Fuzzi, in the region.

Fuzzi designed a facility, divided into three buildings, joined by large arches that allowed the transit of livestock and which consisted of: veterinary housing; a building for custodians and roadmen; manufactured bag with reception halls and bars; writing rooms; building weighs; exhibition area with five roofs, eight uncovered and tree-lined cordonate. It was totally enclosed by a wall with brick pillars at regular intervals and had a loading surface, a small public latrine, meat washing platforms and a reinforced tank made of concrete, supplied with water from two wells of 8 meters deep and a diameter of 3 meters. The market was connected to the railway station.

In October 1943, the German Plastzkommandantur requisitioned Foro Boario to establish a park where the Army and the O.Todt could store the accumulated explosives, metal artifacts, stakes, barbed wire. Therefore, from June to November 1944, the Foro became a target for bombers, who partially demolished the roof, where the explosives were stored.

Other bombs from high-altitude bomber aircraft, which attacked the railway, fell within and in the immediate vicinity of the hole, digging deep craters that damaged the sewer, the railway connection and totally demolished the surrounding walls.

Other bombs fell at the caretaker's house, where the engineering office was located and demolished it. Other bombs and some grenades demolished the veterinarian's house. The representative building was, instead, slightly damaged. The allied troops occupying the City on 9 November 1944, while removing the Germany Army materials left around, used the area as a parking lot for tanks and other heavy tracked vehicles, which - with their continuous transit - turned the square into a quagmire. The Allied troops tried to face the problem, by placing the rubbles from the collapsed building (as well as from the demolished surrounding houses) trying to build a ballast that could withstand the significant weights of the vehicles passing by, to have an excess of ballast which prevented the regular flow of surface water above the footpaths and over the whole area. Due to the transit, wells and sewers were destroyed and trees were teared down. The few remaining were used as firewood by the soldiers. The water lifting system’s motors, the asbestos sheets and the wooden planking forming the roofing of the canopies were also removed.

The Municipality of Forlì, listed all the above-described damages and drafted a report, dated 12th May, 1947. The appraisal included all the necessary works for the total restoration of the complex. The updated expenditure is ITL 95,556,000.

Since 1950, the Foro has been the reference point for the supply of meat for food consumption and in the golden years it constituted one of the five pilot markets in Italy, in which the national price list of live cattle was decided. The negotiations began at the first light of dawn, with a market crowded with insiders and housewives: in the basement floors stood the purchase department’s office, the chief veterinarian’s office and, behind it, a meeting room, furnished with red velvet armchairs. Severely damaged by the 19th of May 1944’s Allied air raids, the Foro Boario was rebuilt immediately after the war. In those years, it became one of the five most important markets in Italy: up to 2.500 head of cattle were traded and the price list of the national cattle market was defined there.

In 1960s, a great transformation led Italy from the post-war period to the economic boom. A social metamorphosis that saw the definitive decline of the”rural civilization” with the entry into the modern “consumption society”. The Western free market’s model became the driving economic and social force, supported by the American aids and the membership within the Atlantic Alliance.

Year after year, the ranks of laborers and sharecroppers dwindled, tractors replaced oxens, the introduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, new machines and intensive farming changed the economic logic of the agricultural sector. Cities, industries and commerce took the command. Young people fled from the countryside and the highlands of Romagna to go to the urban areas, where new popular housing districts were replacing former fields and farms. Meanwhile, migrants from southern Italy were moving north, looking for a job. In these twenty years, Forlì expanded from 77 thousand inhabitants (1951 City’s census) to over 100 thousand in 1971. Many country houses ended up being abandoned. There were still some places where the ancient rural world tried to survive. One of these was definitely Foro Boario, its monumental complex and its strange fate: not enough time to go into business that having to deal with two huge battles. The first, which it survived, was the Second World War. The second, fatal, was the post-war cattle crisis.

From the 1960s onwards, urbanization and the economic boom led to a conversion of the area and its dedication to the secondary sector; the market started to experience a phase of difficulties that ended in 1987, with its definitive closure.

Values of the Building

At the beginning of 1900, the area became the new point of reference for the few pre-existing factories, which, initially located in the historic center, moved nearby, increasing production, and for a whole series of new craft and commercial activities located in the same area. In those years, Foro Boario was one of the most important livestock market place in Italy: up to 2.500 head of cattle were traded and the price list of the national cattle market was defined there. In addition, the necessary collateral services arose near the station: taverns, manure and various deposits. Later, still on the spot, factories were built such as the Eridania sugar factory, the Bartoletti, the Forlanini, the "Società dei Fumisti", the furnace of Villa Pianta, the new headquarters of the Foro Boario, Mangelli’s tobacco drying house.

Description of the Urban Context and Development

From the Middle Ages until the end of the 1700s, the market for cattle, horses and pigs was located directly on the Abbot's field. In the end, sanitation problems prevailed: in 1816, Podestà Gaddi ousted the market from the city, identifying a temporary area on the bed of the Montone river, outside Porta Schiavonia. The “fluvial” solution was not liked, because it was far from the historical lines of breeders, all attributable to the north-eastern outskirts of the city. The following year, the definitive transfer of de e 'marchè - the market - took place in the municipal square of 16,000 square meters, called e' Marlinò, found outside Porta San Pietro, the same one that a century later will be given to Count Orsi Mangelli to set up the new artificial fiber industry.

In 1925, with the almost free assignment of the Marlinò to Count Paolo Orsi Mangelli, è marchè dal bès-ci - the market of the beasts - moved of four hundred meters towards Ravenna, in another open space of 50,000 square meters on the Via Ravegnana: the current Forum Boarium.

After a few years from the move, the Municipality decided to give tone and dignity to the new headquarters. Bounded by via Pandolfa and Macero Sauli, the area was fenced and redesigned by the municipal engineer Virginio Stramigioli in 1927, with the construction of a canopy, a water tower for drinking troughs, a room for weighing and, finally, a tanks for washing herds.

Then came the idea of ​​building a multifunctional structure overlooking the widening on via Ravegnana. For over 60 years the Foro Boario represented the pinnacle of the provincial supply of meat for food consumption. The Foro Boario hosted in its rooms the veterinary headquarters of the AUSL Forlì-Romagna until 2016. Still, inside the area are located: a bar, a nursery and the neighborhood committee, as well as a meeting hall that hosts various cultural events.

New Cultural Tourist Offer Focused on Selected Building/Site

The Foro Boario is included in the FAI's (Italian environmental Fund) list of the most beloved places In Italy, aimed at generating interest, in order to renovate and restore the chosen sites.

The intervention aims to give a new identity to the Foro Boario, transforming it into a city park with a green area through the restoration of tree-lined avenues, the creation of a new lighting system, and an equipped playground with bushes and benches. The request, presented by the Municipality of Forlì, is part of a new urban plan promoted by the Administration and aimed at the recovery of the entire neighborhood: a peripheral but densely populated area where the Forum represents a place for socializing and sharing. The project was nominated by the Municipality for the ministerial announcement "degraded suburbs" with a request for funding of 250,000 euros.

In 2019, the restoration works began, with the aim of giving to Foro Boario and its area its original identity as an important spot for the City’s socialization and aggregation policies. The interventions included the facade and the green area, involving an area of ​​about 18 thousand square meters.

The Foro Boario is also part of the itinerary "Lavori in Tras-corso" within the cultural project IN LOCO, the Widespread Museum of Abandonment, by the cultural association Spazi Indecisi.