The Italian Almanac

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the Ara Pacis museum

Ara Pacis Museum

Rome's newly appointed mayor said that he intends to stick to a old election promise to tear down Rome's Ara Pacis museum. Gianni Alemanno initially pledged to uproot the controversial museum and dump it in the city suburbs during his unsuccessful mayoral election campaign against incumbent Walter Veltroni in 2006 - the same year the museum was unveiled.

The sleek stone-and-glass complex - central Rome's first piece of modern architecture since Fascist days - was designed by American architect Richard Meier and was championed by Veltroni from the start. But it met with fierce opposition from conservatives and Italian 'name' architects who said the monument was an effort to 'Los Angelise' Rome.

Vittorio Sgarbi, Berlusconi's culture undersecretary from 2001 to 2003, burned a model of the building and accused the American architect of ''knowing Rome like I know Tibet''. ''Meier's glass case is to be removed,'' Alemanno said on Wednesday, although he added that pulling down the structure was ''obviously not the first priority'' as he takes office.