ITALY: Express to Nowhere

On a February day in 1937, Benito Mussolini sent a pickax crashing into the pavement of the Piazza Bocca della Verità to break ground for Rome's first subway. A world war and his own inglorious death interrupted the work Mussolini began. When these greater events were not threatening its progress, Italy's archaeologists poked into the subway excavation and held up the work, to make sure that the tunnelers were not destroying any buried relics of antiquity. But somehow, despite all handicaps, Rome's subway got built. Last week, after 18 years and $20 million, it was opened to the public.

The...

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