Italy confronts its demons with debate over burial of Mussolini

The descendants of Benito Mussolini, Italy's dictator for 20 disastrous years, were locked in tense meetings yesterday as a new argument broke over the fate of Il Duce's remains.

The family were said to be bitterly divided over whether the body should remain in the family tomb in the Adriatic Sea town of Predappio, or moved to a grander location in Rome.

The row came less than two months after an unrelated argument pitted members of the clan against each other over whether the body should be exhumed for clues as to who killed him. The woman behind the initiative to move Mussolini is Carla Puccini, widow of Romano Mussolini, the jazz pianist who died earlier this year.

Speaking to Corriere della Sera newspaper, she said: "It's hard to know which way the decision will go, because members of the family have opposing views. For me, Benito deserves to rest in Rome, in a suitable setting." In two weeks they will assemble in a notary's office to try to resolve the issue.

One nostalgic Mussolini fan close to the family favours the Altar of the Nation, the vast marble monument to Italy in the centre of the capital, across the road from the balcony where Mussolini made his most inflammatory speeches. It is a choice that would rouse furious opposition in a nation still deeply split between Fascism's apologists and its sworn enemies.

If it is decided that Mussolini should leave the family crypt where he lies alongside the wife , Rachele Guidi, and their four children, for a grander and more imposing tomb in the capital, the town of Predappio might heave a sigh of relief. But in the longer term it would be in the soup.

"The presence of Mussolini is vital to the town," said Nicholas Farrell, the British author of a biography of the dictator. "Thousands come here every year, and they come to stand in front of his tomb and pay homage. They could still see the villa where he was born and so on. But there is a cult of Il Duce: we're talking about a man who many still see as semi-divine."

Last weekend, the 84th anniversary of Mussolini's "March on Rome" in 1922 which heralded his ascent to absolute power, some 6,000 black-shirted Fascist sympathisers descended on the town to pay their respects and fill up on souvenirs. Shops have a flourishing business selling items most European countries banned long ago: flags, lighters, beer tankards, bottles of wine, caps and other items emblazoned with Fascist, Nazi and SS symbols.

Would they continue to come if he was moved? It seems unlikely.

The rest of the family was yesterday observing a prudent silence. But one grandchild said: "Il Duce and his wife Rachele must be spinning in their graves".

One of the reasons for a move is the growing tension between the family and the biggest seller of Fascist and Nazi souvenirs in the town, Pierluigi Pompignoli. "For 20 years I've cleaned his grave every day," says Mr Pompignoli. Despite those efforts, he claimed, Mussolini's grave was in a parlous state. "I've offered the family €15,000 [£10,000] to refurbish the tomb." To which Carla Puccini replied: "I wouldn't accept so much as a bent penny from him."

Mr Pompignoli said yesterday: "Mussolini will never leave Predappio. He means everything to this town. This was where he declared in his will that he wanted to be buried.

"Mussolini was the greatest man who ever walked the earth," he added. "Hitler was a criminal, but Mussolini was great. This talk about moving him is the chatter of a few imbeciles."

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
Arts and Entertainment
James Dean on the set of 'Rebel without a Cause', 1955
photographyHe brought documentary photojournalism to Tinseltown, and in doing so, changed the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java, AI)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-Office D...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing