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From pilgrim destination to site of critical reflection

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Predappio

From pilgrim destination to site of critical reflection

Predappio, Italy

Once a pilgrimage site for Fascists and later for neo-fascists, today Predappio is making great efforts to promote a critical reflection on the dissonant heritage left on the streets of the small town.

A new town for the Mussolini myth

During Italy’s Fascist period (1922-1943), Benito Mussolini carried out a vast political project “modernising” the region of his origins. With the construction of Predappio Nuova, the regime created a pilgrimage site as a tribute to the Mussolini myth, boasting all the symbols that characterised the celebration of power.

Landslides putting at risk the original village of Predappio were the perfect occasion for the construction of a new town on the site of Mussolini’s birthplace, a nearby hamlet. Along the county road, the new town developed between two symbolic focal points, the house where Mussolini was born and Palazzo Varano, where he had grown up

One town, many styles

Unlike the so-called città di fondazione (planned towns), Predappio Nuova was constructed earlier and over a much longer period, between 1925 and 1942. A real open-air museum, the town displays the whole spectrum of architectural styles of the Fascist period employed by some of the most important Italian architects of the time.

Florestano Di Fausto, responsible for the overall planning of the town, shaped the image of Predappio Nuova by introducing a unique eclecticism, visible in the elementary school. The monumental Church of St. Antonio was designed by Cesare Bazzani. With the construction of the former Casa del Fascio e dell’Ospitalità, Arnaldo Fuzzi added the monumental and celebrative stile littorio. Finally, Cesare Valle’s former GIL building is a perfect example of rationalist architecture.

Transforming Predappio into a window on Fascism

Today, the buildings left on the streets of the small town represent a historical and artistic heritage of great value, but also a great challenge. To avoid the arrival of neo-fascist groups, the Municipality of Predappio is promoting a project for a documentation centre on the history of Italy during the Fascist period, to be housed in the abandoned ex Casa del Fascio. The centre is supposed to be an instrument to enable a critical reflection and interaction with this unsettling history.