When I am in Rome I always stay at the Hotel Julia in Via Rasella, number 29. It is well priced, in an excellent location and the staff are very welcoming. It is nice to be greeted by a friendly face after a long flight. Say hello to Rosa for me if you stay there.
The hotel is just a short taxi ride from Termini (Rome’s central railway station). It should cost around €10 for the fare. If you don’t have heavy bags you could walk or take the Metro.
It is a short walk to the end of the street, across the road, and another short walk and you are at the Trevi Fountain. A short walk is a slightly different direction will have you at the Piazza di Spagna, and then Rome’s attractions are nearby.
The hotel is beside the Quirinale, where the Prime Minister stays when in Rome. I’m not sure if this is a selling point, but the building itself is most impressive.
It is hard to believe that quiet little Via Rasella has a bloody and tragic history. In WWII this was the scene of a booby trap by the Italian resistance in one their earliest ventures. A home made bomb was planted in a rubbish cart and the partisans, aided by lookouts, waited until a troop of German soldiers marched along the narrow street and the bomb was set off. Dozens of unsuspecting soldiers and 2 civilians were killed. When Hitler learned of the incident he vowed revenge against the Italian people. For every German soldier killed there were to be 10 patriots killed. This was to be repeated many times during the war, but it began with the Via Rasella killings.
335 people were rounded up and taken to Fosse Ardeatine where they were shot in the back of the head, placed in piles, buried under rubble and the caves were sealed off with explosives. The 10 – 1 rule didn’t quite work out exactly. Five extra people were murdered just because they were unlucky enough to be selected, and because they had witnessed the killings, they were shot with the others. Many of the German soldiers who were charged with this dreadful duty were very reluctant participants. After the liberation in 1944 the bodies were discovered and given a proper burial.
Two films have been made about this horrible incident. Deici Italiani per un Tedesco in 1962 and Massacre in Rome in 1973, starring Marcello Mastrioanni and Richard Burton. As awful as these events are, we need to remember them so that, hopefully, they never happen again.
I walk down the Via Rasella often, and I can’t help but think about what happened here. Even though buildings in the street have been renovated since the war, bullet holes are still visible on the upper floor of one house as a permanent reminder.