Two hundreds works by some of the most famous artists of the time, including Alberto Burri, Cy Twombly, Jannis Kounellis and Sol Lewitt are on show at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni.
The main artistic currents of the time are represented, including Arta Povera and Transavanguardia, as well as the lesser known "Anarchitecture" and "Narrative Art".
"The 1970s were a decade of contradictions, of fear and of death," Rome's deputy mayor Flavia Barca said at the opening, referring to the years of violent political militancy known in Italy as the "Years of Lead".
"But they also evoke words like reform, participation, communication, freedom," she said, adding that Rome at the time was like "a giant creative laboratory".
The show runs until March 2.