The Punta Canna beach club in Chioggia was decorated with signs and posters harking back to the period of Fascist rule, including images of dictator Benito Mussolini and memorabilia from the era, as revealed by Italian daily La Repubblica on Sunday.
One sign at the entrance to the beach read: “Anti democratic, regime-run zone. Don't break our balls.”
“The law of justice comes from the barrel of a gun,” said another. On one white beach hut hung a sign saying “Gas chamber, do not enter”.
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The beach has space for 650 guests, who were given twice-hourly broadcasts from the establishment's manager, 64-year-old Gianni Scarpa.
Speaking through the beach's loudspeaker system, Scarpa was recorded calling democracy “disgusting” and speaking of the need to fight “the human filth of the world, which is 50 percent and luckily is not allowed here”.
“Fascism is neither freedom of thought nor of opinion; fascism is a crime.”
On Monday, Venice prefect Carlo Boffi signed an order stating that the club must “immediately remove all references to Fascism on signs, posters, and banners”.
Punta Canna manager Scarpa was also ordered to avoid “the further release of anti-democracy messages”, and may face charges of apology for fascism.
File photo of Chioggia, the Veneto town where the beach is located. Photo: Kassandra2/Depositphotos
The uncovering of the beach sparked a backlash on social media, with several critics leaving one-star reviews on its Facebook page. One wrote: “Unacceptable and ridiculous attempt to rehabilitate the sad tools of fascism in a carefree, holiday way.”
Plenty of others leapt to Scarpa's defence however, claiming that the Fascist theme of the beach was a joke and was well appreciated by its guests. One repeat visitor who had been frequenting the beach for six years said Scarpa “makes pseudo-political speeches but is a quiet person”.
But the Chioggia branch of Italy's National Partisans Association (Anpi) criticized Scarpa's “provocative and dangerous behaviour”.
There is nothing to joke about regarding the era of fascist internment camps,” wrote Anpi in a statement in which it also said that the Italian Constitution was “born of the anti-fascist resistance” and that Scarpa was obliged to comply with Italian law.