Mussolini’s shrine town will get €5m fascism museum

The Italian government is reportedly ready to break a 70-year taboo by funding a controversial museum dedicated to fascism in Benito Mussolini's hometown of Predappio - a place of pilgrimage for modern-day fans of the wartime dictator.

Mussolini's shrine town will get €5m fascism museum
The museum will be located in the town where Mussolini was born. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

In the past, Italy has been criticized for never fully condemning the darkest episode in its recent political history.

As a result many people across Italy still hold some respect for the fascist dictator

And according to La Stampa, the Italian government is readying €2 million to keep that episode alive by way of a museum in Benito Mussolini's home town of Predappio. 

Critics say it will provide yet another focal point for neo-fascists, who already flock to the town each year in their droves. 

Pro-Mussolini messages fill the visitor's book at his grave, while fascist pilgrims have spurred a roaring trade in all manner of right-wing paraphernalia, from Mussolini calendars to baby grows.

SEE MORE: Revealed: the Italians who worship Mussolini

Some fear that the new museum will amount to nothing more than an expensive endorsement of fascism funded by public money – but organizers say they are keen to avoid this happening.

The museum is being pushed by Mayor Giorgio Frassineti, who told La Stampa that the project was not about celebrating Italy's notorious fascist dictator, but an attempt to “do something important for the history of our country.” 

Luca Lotti, the under-secretary of state for the centre-left Democratic Party, visited the town in late January to assure local officials that the museum could count on government funding. 

The museum would be housed in the former seat of the fascist party, a derelict building located 500 meters from the home in which Il Duce was born. 

The site is just over a kilometer from Mussolini’s crypt, a place which already attracts thousands of neo-fascists each year.

Fascist memorabilia on sale in Predappio includes 'I Love Il Duce' t-shirst. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The total cost of the project comes in at some €5 million – of which another €2 million is expected to come from EU money, while the rest will be financed locally and through a private investment fund.

Organizers are keen to stress that the museum won’t take a positive view of the late dictator.

“We have collaborated on the project too,” said Carlo Sarpieri, president of Anpi, the national partisan's association which commemorates the men and women who fought against fascism during the Second World War and is advising on the project.

“We hope our presence can eliminate all celebratory aspects of the museum,” Sarpieri added. 

“We will be keeping an eye on things to make sure it's done with the due historical and scientific rigour.”

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?