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Il Duce Bags

Ever heard of a place called Predappio? Wow, it's weird. We came across it by accident when travelling through central Italy on holiday last month.
Κείμενο Lele Saveri

ver heard of a place called Predappio? Wow, it’s weird. We came across it by accident when travelling through central Italy on holiday last month. It’s a small, backward, rural village that really isn’t that different from any other small, backward, rural village in central Italy apart from the fact that its economy is based on being a living, breathing tribute to the inventor of fascism; their most famous son, Benito Mussolini! That’s kind of like if the place where Hitler was born (Braunau, Austria) had a water slide park in the shape of a swastika, or if London had a statue of Bomber Harris, the guy who firebombed Dresden. Oh wait, it does. The locals in Predappio are divided into two groups. There are those who do their best to ignore the blood-soaked history of the village they live in, and those who are very happy to milk the fascist cow for all its worth, selling cute little trinkets and souvenirs such as Nazi flags, white-power wine, Hitler snow globes, or Mussolini batons with which to hit people. We ended up spending a couple of days there, and we even convinced the locals to give us a tour of Mussolini’s private residence. We had to promise not to take pictures and all that, but luckily for you guys we have no qualms about lying to people’s faces. Especially if they are crazy, fascist assholes!

Because the local government doesn’t want to explicitly attract fascist tourism, be it of the modern, “historical interest” type, or the old-school “skinhead” type, the only sign in the vicinity of Predappio that gives you an idea of where you’re going is this one.

A detail of the shop window of Predappio Souvenir, the first store to say “fuck it” and try to make money off the Mussolini-nostalgia. These pins sell for 2 euros.

These are the billy clubs and truncheons with fascist slogans on them. When we went to pay for our Eau de Toilette Mussolini Nostalgia, the owner asked us where we came from. “Milan?” he replied. “With all the communists you have in your town you should buy one of these, not some perfume.”

The owners were so kind and sweet that we were almost fooled into thinking we had just stepped into a Hello Kitty store. The swastikas and SS logos snapped us back to reality. The Mussolini busts ranged from 8 to 120 euros.

These paintings in the background were all works by Mussolini’s son, Romano, who on top of being a talented jazz sax player, was also quite an artist, apparently.

These hats belonged to the Duce himself and weren’t for sale. They were part of the owner’s huge collection of Duce memorabilia. We asked him if there were any Il Duce Bags for sale but sadly there weren’t.

This is Mussolini’s tomb. The small marble box on the left holds the Duce’s brain. The Allied forces took his brain to the U.S.A. to analyse it for possible signs of malformation. It was handed back to the Mussolini family years later, along with a certificate that stated “Mussolini Benito’s above-average mental capacities.” No joke.

We managed to talk the keeper to let us in Villa Carpena, the Mussolini family’s private retreat. The garden looked like a typical, normal garden in a normal, modestly-sized country house owned by a typical, normal family. It was all so tranquil and weekend-y that in the morning sun even the axe-bundles used as tablelegs and the busts of the Duce didn’t bother us. Then we realised what was going down and thought: “These people are totally mad.”

Every year, the Mussolini family organises a get-together for the best fascists in Italy. About 50 people gather for Mussolini’s birthday and eat and drink in his honour. They also watch movies of his speeches on this TV.

This is the entrance hall, inside Mussolini’s house. We managed to convince the keeper to let us in, once we promised we would not take pictures. The guy was deaf in his left ear, so, as long as we didn’t step to his right, he couldn’t hear the shutter of the camera. The two golden figures here are Mussolini’s parents. In the middle is the original “fascio” which inspired all the fascist symbols and iconography.

This is Benito’s bedroom, which he shared with his wife Rachele. The uniform laying on his bed was bought by his son only two years ago, during an auction in the United States. Ever since the uniform was returned to its home, the mirror in front of the bed has started showing a faint outline of Mussolini’s profile. We saw it with our own eyes. It was verrrrrry creepy.

At the end of our stay most Predappians were sure we were 100 per cent original fascists. They all started saluting us. This guy lives 30 miles from Predappio and is an alcoholic. Every day he rides his bike from his parents’ house, where he lives, to come and pray at Mussolini’s tomb. He took a shine to us and he followed us to the town border, then he stopped and gave us a teary Roman salute. OK Angelo, see you soon. Let’s get the fuck out of here!!!!