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 Mussolini’s secret bunker opens to the public in Rome

Mussolini’s secret bunker opens to the public in Rome
28 Oct 2014

A significant piece of history has been opened to the public in Rome as a secret World War Two bunker where Benito Mussolini lived with his family is now available to tour for the first time.

Built under the 19th century Villa Torlonia parks and gardens in Rome, the bunker housed the Italian politician and journalist between 1925 and 1943, during his rule as prime minister.

The underground bunker was built to protect Mussolini and his family from any possible air raids or gas attacks and covers more than 2,000 square feet.

Mussolini’s bunker, which was originally a wine cellar underneath the grounds of his private villa, includes an anti-gas chamber that has air ducts and showers and is protected by a double set of airtight doors.

The bunker itself was built in 1940 following the outbreak of the Second World War, with the date apparent by a label that is still featured on one of the bunker’s items which had the date November 1940 written in Roman numerals. It is believed that Mussolini used this as a way of invoking the ancient Roman empire’s days as an inspiration for his own rulership.

Visitors who wish to experience this fascinating part of Italian history will also be able to see an iron-rung ladder which was used for emergency exists, as well as a contraption which was used to purify air in case a gas attack should happen.

As well as serving as a tourist destination, Rome’s department for culture highlighted a stark and sobering purpose of opening the site: it serves as a reminder to locals as well as tourists of “one of the darkest pages of our history”.

Mussolini was in power from 1922 until 1943 and when the War broke out he supported Adolf Hitler, passing various race laws under which there were thousands of Jews persecuted. The dictator was killed while fleeing Allied forces in April 1945, with his body strung up by the feet in Milan for public viewing.

Tours will begin this Friday October 31st and will also take visitors to see a separate underground bunker that was built directly under the villa at a later date.ADNFCR-408-ID-801756930-ADNFCR

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