Duce!

The Rise and Fall of Italian Fascism

  • Open the door of Mussolini’s bedroom during our visit to Villa Carpena, furnished exactly as it was
  • Special private appearance by Rachele Mussolini, youngest grandchild of Mussolini 
  • Visit Mussolini’s birthplace museum as well as his family tomb, where his body was interred in 1957
  • Gaze in awe at the fantastical Vittoriale degli Italiani, an opulent and eccentric lakeside villa

Most notorious in Hitler’s Nazi Germany, the creed of Fascism dominated the mid-20th-century history of Europe and of the wider world. But it was Benito Mussolini, who ruled Italy as its dictator from 1922 until his downfall and violent death amid the chaotic last days of World War Two, who created it. Visit his birthplace and tomb in Predappio, now a controversial neo-Fascist shrine; see the remote Apennine mountains hotel where Nazi commandos staged a glider-borne rescue of the deposed dictator, and contemplate the extant examples of Fascist art and architecture in Rome.

At many points throughout our journey, our idyllic surroundings belie the dark deeds that were undertaken there. We refresh ourselves in the luxury Lake Garda hotel that, in the dying days of the war, served as the HQ of Mussolini’s radical Italian Social Republic, and retrace the desperate Duce’s last journey along the shores of Lake Como to the site of his summary execution in April 1945. This highly original tour, a twin to our acclaimed Face of Evil tour of Nazi Germany, aims to give our guests a penetrating insight into Mussolini the man, his regime, and his doctrine, which still has uncomfortable echoes across contemporary Europe.

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

Introduction
After a late-morning flight, we arrive in Rome and transfer to our hotel. Here, we enjoy our first dinner as a group before welcome drinks.

Overnight: Rome

Day 2

Oratory Architecture
Today, we take a tour of the EUR district, home to many examples of Fascist modernist architecture intended to showcase the 'progressive' nature of the regime. As well as paying a visit to the Piazza Venezia, and the balcony from where Mussolini delivered his speeches to ecstatic crowds of his admirers, we end the day with a visit to the Villa Torlonia. This grand Neoclassical beauty was Duce's Rome residence, rented by him from the 1920s onwards for a nominal one Lira a year!

Overnight: Rome

Day 3

Parallels and Pretensions
In contrast to the contemporary architecture we found yesterday in the EUR district, we begin our day with a visit to the Foro Italico sports complex, which strove to emphasise Fascism's spurious continuity with the glories of ancient Rome. We then visit the sombre site of one of Fascism's darkest deeds: the massacre of 335 innocents in the Ardeatine caves carried out by the Nazis in March 1944 in reprisal for a partisan attack on a German column. The site is now a national memorial and museum. We then climb high into the spectacular Apennine mountains to view the hotel where, in 1943, German paratroops and Waffen SS commandos, led by the notorious Otto Skorzeny, staged a glider raid described by Churchill as 'of very great daring' to rescue Mussolini after he was deposed and arrested by his own Fascist Grand Council.

Overnight: L’Aquila

Day 4

Predappio: Past & Present
Today, we drive to Predappio, Mussolini's hometown and, finally, his burial place. Along with nearby Forlì — where we stay this evening — the town was named ‘La Città del Duce’ or ‘the city of the Leader’. Here, we see Mussolini's Casa Natale, or birthplace museum, and the family tomb where, after many vicissitudes, his body was eventually interred in 1957. Mussolini's granddaughter, Rachele, herself a politician for the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia (‘Brothers of Italy’) party, will meet our tour and address us and answer questions on living with the legacy of her infamous forebear. Afterwards, we have the opportunity to explore the shops on Predappio’s main street, controversially still selling souvenirs and relics that celebrate the town’s most infamous son.

Overnight: Forlì

Day 5

Glorious Garda
We return to Predappio today, where we visit the Villa Carpena, a museum of Fascism still part-owned by the Mussolini family. We then drive to Verona, where we visit the scene of the trial and execution of Mussolini's son-in-law — and former Foreign Minister — Count Ciano, before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, we continue to the glorious scenery of Lake Garda, centre of the Italian Social Republic run by Mussolini under German 'guidance' in the last days of the war. After checking into our hotel we have an evening meal at another historic hotel: the Villa Flordaliso in Gardone, where Mussolini cavorted with his mistress Clara Petacci.

Overnight: Lake Garda

Day 6

Grand Designs
In Salo, the lakeside resort that lent its name to Mussolini’s radical regime — set up in 1943, while northern Italy was still controlled by the Germans and their Fascist allies — we visit the Mussolini museum. Then, after a lakeside lunch, we visit the eccentric Vittoriale, the grandiose home of poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, a prophetic forerunner of Fascism and a rival to Mussolini. An amazing combination of taste and kitsch, the house and grounds, with their sunken ship, have to be seen to be believed! We end the day with refreshments at the luxury Villa Feltrinelli Grand Hotel, Mussolini’s home and headquarters during the Salo republic.

Overnight: Lake Garda

Day 7

Last Movements
We drive to Lake Como, rivalling Garda in the beauty of its scenery. After checking into our hotel, we replay the Duce's final hours as he desperately drove north towards Switzerland in April 1945. Disguised in a German uniform, he was arrested in the lakeside town of Dongo and executed with his mistress Clara Petacci by partisans at the gates of the nearby Villa Belmonte. This evening, we have free time to spend on Lake Como.

Overnight: Lake Como

Day 8

Conclusion
Today, on the last day of our tour, we drive to Milan to visit the two city squares that bookend the beginning and end of Italian Fascism. On the Piazza san Sepulcro on March 23rd 1919, the Fascist party was founded. In the Piazza san Loreto on April 29th 1945, the executed bodies of Mussolini, his mistress, and his closest collaborators were displayed and degraded. After visiting these sites and lunching in Milan, we drive to the airport for our afternoon return flight to London.

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

After our flight, we arrive in Rome and transfer to our hotel. We have dinner and enjoy welcome drinks.

Day 2

Today, we take a tour of the EUR district, home to many examples of Fascist modernist architecture intended to showcase the ‘progressive’ nature of the regime. As well as paying a visit to the Piazza Venezia, and the balcony from where Mussolini delivered his speeches to ecstatic crowds of his admirers, we end the day with a visit to the Villa Torlonia. This grand Neoclassical beauty was the Duce’s Rome residence, rented by him from the 1920s onwards for a nominal one lira a year!

Day 3

We begin our day with a visit to the Foro Italico sports complex, which strove to emphasise Fascism’s spurious continuity with the glories of ancient Rome. We visit the sombre site of one of Fascism’s darkest deeds: the massacre of 335 innocents in the Ardeatine caves carried out by the Nazis in March 1944, in reprisal for a partisan attack on a German column. We climb high into the spectacular Appenine mountains, arriving at the Hotel Campo Imperatore on the Gran Sasso. Here, we visit the same hotel where, in 1943, German paratroops and Waffen SS commandos staged a glider raid, described by Churchill as ‘of very great daring’, to rescue Mussolini after he was deposed and arrested by his own Fascist Grand Council. 

Day 4

Today, we drive to Predappio, Mussolini's hometown and, finally, his burial place. The town was named ‘La Città del Duce’ or ‘the city of the Leader’. Here, we see Mussolini's Casa Natale, or birthplace museum, and the family tomb where, after many vicissitudes, his body was eventually interred in 1957. Mussolini's granddaughter, Rachele, herself a politician for the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia (‘Brothers of Italy’) party, will meet our tour and address us and answer questions on living with the legacy of her infamous forebear. Afterwards, we have the opportunity to explore the shops on Predappio’s main street, controversially still selling souvenirs and relics that celebrate the town’s most infamous son.

Day 5

Visit the Villa Carpena, a museum of Fascism that was the home of the Mussolini family. We then drive to Verona, where we visit the scene of the trial and execution of Mussolini’s son-in-law - and former Foreign Minister - Count Ciano, before lunch. After, we continue to the glorious scenery of Lake Garda, centre of the Italian Social Republic run by Mussolini under German ‘guidance’ in the last days of the war.

Day 6

In Salo, the lakeside resort that lent its name to Mussolini’s radical regime — set up in 1943, while northern Italy was still controlled by the Germans and their Fascist allies — we visit the Mussolini museum. Then, after lunch, we visit the eccentric Vittoriale, the grandiose home of poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, a prophetic forerunner of Fascism and rival to Mussolini. An amazing combination of taste and kitsch, the house and grounds, with their sunken ship, have to be seen to be believed! 

Day 7

We drive to Lake Como, rivalling Garda in the beauty of its scenery. After checking into our hotel, we replay the Duce’s final hours as he desperately drove north towards Switzerland in April 1945. Disguised in a German uniform, he was arrested in the lakeside town of Dongo and executed with his mistress Clara Petacci by partisans at the gates of the nearby Villa Belmonte. This evening, we have free time to spend on Lake Como.

Day 8

Today, we drive to Milan to visit the two city squares that bookend the beginning and end of Italian Fascism. On the Piazza san Sepulcro on March 23rd, 1919, the Fascist party was founded. In the Piazza san Loreto on April 29th, 1945, the executed bodies of Mussolini, his mistress, and his closest collaborators were displayed and degraded. After visiting these sites, we fly back to London.

What's Included

  1. Tour Manager & Guide Lecturer
  2. Meals - 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 6 dinners
  3. Transport - Return flights and all local travel
  4. Hand-picked hotels throughout the tour

Revolution in the air, war afoot…

The 20th century saw the world dominated by war. It was a time of unknowing atrocity and dubious morality; an age of resistance, risk and revolution.

Take an alternative look at 1940, examining what could have been, had Operation Sea Lion  gone ahead. Uncover the Nazis’ Face of Evil, following their beginnings in Munich’s beer halls to the Nuremberg trials.

In this modern era, victims of war are more distant and responsibility more dubious. Travel with us as we examine whose hands are stained with innocent blood; and question who is to blame for the horrors inflicted upon mankind...

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To book your tour without flights from the US, please call our team on 888-591-0830

2019 Tour Details

$4,345

inc.

London based departure

  • 8 Days
  • 1st Oct - 8th Oct 2019
  • Code: QRF19B
  • Available
  • sgl supp: $435

Tour Guide