Preserving and Transforming the Past in Interwar Italy – National Histories, Imperial Memories Session 4

This event has unfortunately been cancelled due to illness. We will aim to reschedule it for January 2022. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.


Session 4 of our online seminar series National Histories, Imperial Memories: Representing the Past in Interwar Central Europe will take place at

18.00 CET on 16 November 2021

on Zoom, featuring papers by

Klaus Tragbar (University of Innsbruck)


Jelena Barić (Independent researcher, Opatija)

Moderator: Matthew Rampley (Masaryk University, Brno – CRAACE)


The event is free and open to all, but you need to register. Click here for the registration form. See the full seminar schedule here.



Klaus Tragbar (University of Innsbruck)

The Station and the Landscape: Two (Different) Buildings by Angiolo Mazzoni

With the end of the First World War, the former Austro-Hungarian crown land of Tyrol was divided up. South Tyrol and Welschtirol, today’s Trentino, fell to the Kingdom of Italy, which was thus able to assert part of its territorial claims and now develop its state sovereignty in the newly acquired territories. In order to effectively stage the seizure of the new territory, among other things, in 1928 the former k.k. railway station of Bolzano was rebuilt by the chief architect of the Ferrovie dello Stato, Angiolo Mazzoni. The individual building sections and their heights correspond with South Tyrolean landscape elements: The Rosengarten, a characteristic mountain formation in the Dolomites east of Bolzano, is effectively framed as a landscape by the tower and the connecting wing of the new station and so visually becomes part of the newly acquired territory.

In contrast to Bolzano, the Austrian railway station in Trento was demolished and rebuilt from 1934 to 1936 consistently in rationalist forms according to Angiolo Mazzoni’s design. After the controversially discussed Stazione Santa Maria Novella in Florence, the station in Trento was the second new station building that was explicitly considered a sign of modernità and italianità. A representative pillared portico lends the station a certain monumentality; the widely projecting flying roofs emphasise its dynamism and lead the eye to the monument to Cesare Battisti, a so-called Fascist martyr, built 1935 on the Doss Trento hill opposite the station. The paper will outline the design of the two railway stations in Bolzano and Trento and analyse both their architectural language and their reference to the landscape against the background of the different appropriation strategies of the Kingdom of Italy in the newly acquired territories of South Tyrol and Trentino.

Klaus Tragbar is Professor of History of Architecture and Preservation of Monuments at the University of Innsbruck and Head of the Institute of Theory and History of Architecture. He studied architecture at the University of Technology of Darmstadt, and subsequently became an academic assistant at the Department of Building History (1990–1996). He earned his doctorate at the same university in 1997. He worked as a lecturer at Darmstadt and at the University of Mainz (1996–1998, 2002), he was a Visiting Professor of Cultural and Architectural History at the University of Applied Sciences of Frankfurt (1997/98), and has served as General Secretary of the Deutsche Burgenvereinigung (1998–2001). His research has been supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2001/02). From 2002 to 2013 he was Professor of History and Theory of Architecture at the University of Applied Sciences of Augsburg. His research interests include medieval and twentieth-century architectural history, especially architecture within Fascism in Italy; the role of the historical city in the early twentieth century and the Multiple Modernity; and Historical Building Research (Historische Bauforschung) on St Peter in Salzburg and on the baptistery in Aquileia.


Jelena Barić (Independent researcher, Opatija)

The Remains of the Imperial Past in Italian Territory in the Interwar Period: Opatija’s Tourist Infrastructure during Italian Governance

Opatija is a small coastal town in Croatia, situated on the Kvarner Gulf, part of the Adriatic Sea. In the nineteenth century it became a well-known winter health resort and vacation spot for central European nobility and royalty. Opatija represented one of the most prosperous parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so it became renowned as the second most famous European health resort. After 1918 and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the territory fell within Italian borders which meant changes in management, population migration, adjustment to Italian laws, change of the language in use, changes in citizen and toponym names. As tourism had already been the leading economic activity of the Opatija region before World War I, its revitalisation continued during Italian governance. Opatija was envisioned as a new tourist destination for Italians.

The paper analyzes the attitude of the new authorities and owners towards the Austrian tourist infrastructure (accommodation facilities, medical facilities, park landscapes, etc.), which remained preserved in Opatija (in Italian Abbazia) after the First World War. This implies the use of existing facilities, investing in the renovation or neglect of certain parts of the tourist infrastructure. The Italian government did not invest much in the development of tourist infrastructure and to most part existing tourist facilities were used during the interwar period by the Italian tourist administration. The paper shows how the new social and political circumstances did not harm the appearance of the town.

Jelena Barić studied at the University of Rijeka, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (Department of History and Pedagogy). In March 2021, she received her PhD from the University of Zadar (Humanities, History) for her dissertation Tourism in Opatija Between the Two World Wars. Her main field of research is Croatian history between the two world wars, especially the territory of Western Croatia under Italian administration. She focuses on the impact of fascist rule on everyday life, tourism, leisure and culture. Another research interest is the nineteenth-century history of the wider area of the city of Opatija. As an independent researcher, Jelena Barić has published several scientific papers and regularly takes part in national and international conferences. Since September 2013, she teaches at the Ugostiteljska škola Opatija.


This seminar is part of a project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 786314).

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