Thursday, May 10, 2007

Some odd facts about Mussolini

By Richard Owen

BENITO Mussolini, Italy's Fascist dictator, suffered from an ulcer yet could not resist "shovelfuls" of raw garlic, according to an account of his domestic habits by his daughter-in-law. Maria Scicolone said the accepted view that Mussolini survived on chicken broth and indigestion powders because of his delicate stomach was a myth. In fact, he "munched away on garlic", which he claimed was "the elixir of life" and "good for my heart".

Ms Scicolone, 66, the younger sister of the actor Sophia Loren, married Romano Mussolini, the dictator's youngest son and a noted jazz musician. They were separated in 1970 and divorced five years later, but Ms Scicolone - whose daughter Alessandra Mussolini is a Far-Right politician and women's rights campaigner - has remained close to the family. She recently published a memoir, My House Has Many Mirrors. In her new book, A Tavola con Il Duce (At Table with the Duce), she recalls spending "long hours in the kitchen" with Donna Rachele, Mussolini's widow, who died in 1979. Donna Rachele had described grand state dinners, including a banquet given by King Victor Emmanuel III for Hitler on the Nazi dictator's visit to Rome in May 1938. "Donna Rachele said Hitler, who was a vegetarian, found all the dishes unacceptable, while Mussolini, who was clearly bored to tears, complained that the menu was in French and kept muttering that Italian regional cooking was more appetising than 'all this pretentious and indigestible French stuff'."

Ms Scicolone said Mussolini was not much of a bon viveur. Domestic rituals were important to him, and despite his government duties and assignations with mistresses, he always had lunch and dinner with his wife and children, "like any Italian man". He never drank alcohol, and instead drank "litres of herbal teas and tisanes". He also drank copious amounts of milk until a German doctor finally told him in 1945, near the end, that it was making his ulcer worse. The Duce "ate lots of fruit, but hardly ever ate cheese, salami or sausages".

The Italian newspaper Il Messaggero said the revelations about Mussolini's "human side" were part of a gradual rehabilitation of the dictator, who almost 60 years after his gruesome death is increasingly seen by Italians as having been more benign and less totalitarian than Hitler or Stalin. Last month Romano Mussolini published an affectionate memoir, entitled Il Duce, My Father, in which he said the family had "many Jewish friends" and it was his father's sense of compassion and honour that enabled him to prevent a bloodbath when he was deposed. RAI, the state television channel, is making a TV drama about the marriage of the dictator's favourite daughter, Edda, to his Foreign Minister, Count Ciano.

This article originally appeared here on October 23, 2004 and was apparently a reprint from "The Times" of London

1 comment:

Lynda said...

I became close friends with an Italian family. The father was divorced and their were 2 wonderful children. I asked them what their mother's maiden name was. The daughter told me it was Mussolini. She said Benito Mussolini was her great grandfather. We used to enjoy going Ten Pin Bowling together. This was in 1989,1990 when the children a boy was 9 and the girl 14 going on 15. They were serious but fun, affectionate and loving children, I found them profound and straight to the point like myself. I was 26 and their father 42. The son won a trophy in soccer and was very proud of his trophy as we all were. The girl was very close to her mother's family and showed me her wedding chest her mother's family the Mussolini's had sent out to Australia from Italy. It was beautifully hand painted and inside was needlework that the Mussolini woman had worked on for her. She mentioned her grand mothers work, Benito Mussolini's wife's beautiful work. I felt honoured she would show me. As I held it gently in my hands I saw how perfect they had worked on the tablecoths and dollies for her. She said they were a close knit family. I said they made this with their love for her. She said she knew. I told her what a lucky girl she was to have such a loving family. She told me they were a very private family. I miss the children and their father. I never met their mother. I found them such gentle caring people. I wish I had never lost contact with them. I am now 45, the children's father in his early 60's and the boy now late 20's and the girl early 30's. I found them laid back and We would often talk about stuff. They inspired me to want to be a woman's rights Activist. I have been responsible for a Bill being passed in Australian Parliment for Woman's Rights. The right for all Australian Woman no matter where they live in Australia to have medical treatment by a Doctor for free before they have their baby. I am also now fighting for an Australian Human Rights Act as Australia is the only first World Country that does not have one. There is nothing in place in Family Law to protect people's Human Rights when they are poor and are refused legal representation. The Discrimination Act in Australia does not protect the poor using Family Law in Australia also. It is unbelievable but true that Benito Mussolini's great grandchildren inspired me to fight for people's rights in Australia and help to bring new law reforms to Australia. The children showed an intelligence beyond their years, they we positive, courageous, and believed in speaking your mind when compassion was needed for others.
They called me Lynda. I would love them and their father to contact me again.It has been 20 years since we last saw each other, I always remembered them with great fondness.

My email contact is