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The Plenary hall

The History

A masterpiece of Art Nouveau; the plenary hall in which the sessions of the Chamber of Deputies and the joint sessions of Parliament are held retains intact the decorative elements, furnishings and structures designed by Basile and the artists who assisted him. The overall view reveals a striking harmony between the amphitheatre formed by the benches sloping down towards the President's bench, the imposing arches of the galleries running around the entire hall and the glass and iron velarium above, which brightly illuminates the room.

The pictorial frieze by Aristide Sartorio

The pictorial frieze by Aristide Sartorio located above the galleries for the authorities, the press and the general public runs round the entire hall and is dedicated to the history of the Italian people and their civilization. The central part of the plenary hall is occupied by the President's bench and, just below this, by the two rows of government benches.
On the same bench, to the right of the President, sits a deputy secretary who is in charge of reading the report and other communications during the session. To the left is the Secretary General and officials in charge of the various technical activities that accompany parliamentary sittings.

The square table

The verbatim reporters sit at a square table in the centre of the plenary hall, the best position for hearing everything, including interruptions and speeches made without the aid of a microphone. The semicircular table in front of the government benches is occupied by rapporteurs and deputies representing the Committee that was appointed to report to the House on the matter being debated. From the President's seat it is possible to take in at a glance the ten sectors of benches on which the Deputies are seated.

The decorations

According to a longstanding tradition dating back to the French Revolution, the parliamentary groups sit in the House on the right, in the centre or on the left according to which position they consider best reflects their political identity or historical tradition. In clear view on the President's bench, beside the folder containing the documents referring to the sitting, stands the bell rung by the President to attract the MPs' attention and a precious silver inkwell. However, there is also sophisticated electronic equipment such as the electronic voting system and the audio amplifying equipment. Each Member has a fixed seat from which he or she normally speaks (through a microphone adjusted to suit the quality of the voice) and votes (using a terminal that can recognize his or her voting card).
Discreetly hidden from view among the benches and the decorative elements, these high-tech instruments dwell side by side with more ancient ones, such as the two Art Nouveau clocks installed by Basile on each side of the Chamber and still working.

Photo album