Modernity, Myth and Memory
Chapter 1 - The Nation’s Guide and Conscience? Turin and Italy, from Enlightenment to Fascism 17
Chapter 1 The Nation’s Guide and Conscience? Turin and Italy, from Enlightenment to Fascism By the time that Gobetti was growing up in the early twentieth century, Turin was no longer the sleepy town it had seemed in the last decades of the previous century. By then the city was crowded with a new working-class population and its outskirts bustling with the noise and steam of factory work. However, being home to the Fiat factories was only Turin’s most recent claim to fame, and the city’s more complex past was easily betrayed by its splendid baroque architecture, royal palaces and wide, elegant boul- evards, all fitting for a capital city. The Gobetti family home, as well as the grocery shop that was their livelihood, was located on Via XX Settembre; a wide, elegant street and one of the main arteries of central Turin. It was just a couple of minutes walk from the vast public space of Piazza Castello, the paved central square that opened onto the former palace of the Savoy monarchy. Although it had sunk brief ly into provincial torpor in the late nine- teenth century, Turin had been a capital city for almost four centuries, and had played a leading role in the unification of Italy in the 1850s and 1860s. Capital of the small alpine duchy (and later kingdom) of Piedmont since the sixteenth century, it was not so much a provincial Italian city, as the urban centre of a small state hemmed in between France...
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