Saturday, 18 January 2014

Predappio, Italy - where you can bump into Mussolini's cousin

On the way to San Marino, Ravenna or Cesena you will pass through numerous picturesque paesini (villages) pleasuring the eye with greenery, myriads grape vine fields and occasional Automobile parks. What you will discover if you stop for a while is a small unpretentious town that affected the course of the history in the beginning of the 20th century, is worth the time. Do you remember the Second World War? Yes, so the name Benito Mussolini rings the bell, right?

Predappio Panoramic View, province Forli - Cesena, Italy
          Predappio Panoramic View                                                                                                                                                                                         Image Source 

Well, he was brought up in a relatively poor family in the small town of Predappio. The controversial leader made his March to Rome in 1922 and forced the government to resign and the new Fascist government took over. Among the famous quotes attributed to il Duce is “Many Enemies Bring Much Honour”.

Birthplace of Benito Mussolini in Predappio, Emilia Romagna, Italy

I overheard a rumour on my trip, but I cannot attest whether it is true. The whole region and especially Predappio was like a nest of communists/socialists so imagine how the “greatest enemy” of the left wing policy had had his socialist neighbour and even father. His birthplace is now turned into mausoleum, showing his background and ancestors.  
Let me tell you a funny episode that took place after our visit in the Mussolini’s tomb.
When we went outside the building, near the car park we were approached by a blond lady. What she said made me burst into laughter, helplessly. “I am Mussolini’s cousin, so if you want you can buy these calendars.”  My jaw dropped, I refused to believe what I have just heard. For Christ’ sake the next moment I can be speaking to his grandson offering me his zippo.
The next logical step was to go and check the souvenir shop not so far away from the mausoleum. Two really stubborn guys were in charge of the counter. To be honest I thought to myself I will not go out alive from the place (got you - just kidding). It won’t be genuine if you don’t buy a Second World War like helmet or alarm clock with Mussolini’s head, Zippos and whatever your imagination can think of. His fellow German counterpart Hitler is also to be found on a cup, watch or other small gifts.

Palazzo Varano in Predappio, Emilia Romagna, Italy

Don’t get the wrong impression, Predappio (as in fact most of the villages around) can boast with the typical Italian scenery and flavour. Among the local attractions is Palazzo Varano, alternatively you can take a small stroll in the woods around the village to breathe the fresh air of the modest and at the same time seducing Italy.
 So try to be original and go off the beaten track. I bet half of your friends have been to Venice or Rome. This is just part of following the trend, the real Italy is in the countryside.

 Oh yeah, and don’t play with the mafia.

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