History of fascism museum to open in Mussolini’s town

Predappio already attracts neo-fascists, but its mayor wants to remind visitors of the dictator’s violent and bloody past

Arts Correspondent

Benito Mussolini might seem an unlikely subject to be the focus of a new cultural centre, but the mayor of Predappio, where the dictator was born, is taking the unusual step of building a museum dedicated to the history of fascism, in the hope of reclaiming his town from supporters of “Il Duce”.

The northern Italian town, known for neo-fascist pilgrimages, already maintains the home in which Mussolini was born in 1883, as well as the mausoleum where he is buried. The museum will be located in the now-abandoned Casa del Fascio, which was built in the 1930s as part of an urban renewal programme, to accommodate visitors and to glorify Mussolini.

Mayor Giorgio Frassineti said his aim was to remember a “fundamental piece of our history”. “Predappio would become a place for reflection – cutting the town from the hands of those who want to misuse it,” he added.

Mr Frassineti, who is a member of the centre-left Democratic Party, is running for re-election next month. He added: “Obviously, our little town cannot do such a large project by itself.”

One reason for the move is to restore the Casa del Fascio, which covers 2,400sq m and was built as part of a plan by Mussolini to glorify his birthplace. Casa Mussolini, the house in which he was born, still attracts visitors.

The dictator is commemorated in Predappio three times a year – on 29 July, the day of his birth; 28 April, the day he died; and on the anniversary of the 1922 “March on Rome”, which is held in October.

Mussolini founded the National Fascist Party in 1919, organising unemployed First World War veterans into armed groups called the Black Shirts who intimidated political opponents. He came to power after the March on Rome and made himself dictator three years later, taking the title “Il Duce” (“the leader”). He was killed by Italian Partisans in 1945 as he tried to flee the country. His body was hung upside down on meat hooks in a public square in Milan, where it was attacked.

He was buried in an unmarked grave in the northern city, but neo-fascists dug the up body the following year and hid it in a convent in Lombardy. In 1957, it was given to his widow Rachele Mussolini, who buried the remains in the family crypt in Predappio. The tomb receives up to 100,000 visitors a year.

Benito Mussolini with Adolf Hitler in 1937 Benito Mussolini with Adolf Hitler in 1937 (Getty Images)
Messages left in guest books there are archived in the “House of Memories” – a museum in what was his summer home that focuses on Il Duce’s life. In perhaps a foreshadowing of the new museum, Domenico Morosini, who opened the House of Memories in 2001, said it was hard to advertise as left-wing activists kept knocking down the street signs. Shops in Predappio’s main street sell Mussolini memorabilia, including calendars and hats.

Although Mussolini has been dead for almost 70 years, he continues to make headlines. Earlier this month, Turin’s city council voted to strip him posthumously of his honorary citizenship, which was granted by royal decree in 1924. The council said in a statement: “Mussolini was responsible for quashing civil, political and social liberties and for ethnically and politically motivated torture and assassinations. He also made Italy a protagonist of the Second World War alongside Nazi Germany, with the shameful co-responsibility for the Holocaust of 13 million people.”

Yesterday was Liberation Day, a public holiday in Italy which commemorates the end of the war and the Nazi occupation of the country. Milan and Turin were the first two cities to be liberated.

Mussolini’s granddaughter Alessandra, a former actress turned politician, is standing in the European elections next month, representing Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen