Via Rasella was the site of a brave show of resistance against the Nazi occupation during WWII. Here is the story:
In broad daylight on March 23rd, 1944, a group of 16 partisans carried out a sensational action against the ruthless occupiers. As an armed division of S.S. marched along Via Rasella, a partisan disguised as a street cleaner pushed an innocuous garbage-cart into position. A fuse to a bomb hidden inside the cart was lit when the Germans were seconds away, causing an explosion in the middle of the column of soldiers. Other partisans nearby launched bombs and fired machine guns into the rear of the unit.
They succeeded in killing 32 Germans and wounding 38. Thinking the attack had come from above, the Germans reacted with reckless and random firing, peppering the buildings with gunfire.
Today, unless you knew the street’s history, this infamous block looks like any of the other nearby blocks — a nondescript street with buildings and parked cars — that is, unless you look up at the corner building where Via Boccacio meets Via Rasella.
There you can easily see the walls on both sides of the corner riddled with bullet holes — spray from Nazi machine guns.
Awed, we continued on towards our next Nazi site.
Our route took us conveniently close to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Eager to shake the dark images still in our minds, we stopped for a quick detour inside.
The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore was constructed in the early 400’s with some of its components (columns and mosaics) dating back even earlier. It still retains its ancient layout, standing as one of the five great ancient basilicas of Rome. One of the largest of the 26 churches in the city dedicated to Mary, the interior is dripping with gold and glitter. The walls are coated with glinting 5th century mosaics depicting biblical scenes.
Our eyes dazzled and our hearts a bit warmed, we resumed our trek to Il Museo Storico della Liberazione di Roma,Via Tasso 145. We braced ourselves for more darkness.