Ads are being blocked

For us to continue writing great stories, we need to display ads.

Un-block Learn more
Back

Whitelist

Please select the extension that is blocking ads.

Ad Block Plus Ghostery uBlock Other Blockers
Back

Please follow the steps below

Photos

Exploring Mussolini's Secret Bunkers

The city-owned Villa Torlonia will now offer tours inside the former dictator's hideouts.

A passageway is pictured inside a secret bunker of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini that was built between 1942 and 1943 under his private residence at Villa Torlonia in Rome. (Reuters/Remo Casilli)

A typical visit to the Villa Torlonia in Rome involves a picnic and a stroll along pine and palm tree-dotted grounds. Starting this weekend, tourists can explore the secret hiding grounds beneath their feet that Il Duce built for himself.

Built in the early 20th century, the Villa Torlonia housed Benito Mussolini and his wife and children from 1925 to 1943. In 1940, one year into World War II, the Italian dictator had an old wine cellar at his Neo-Classical estate turned into an air-raid shelter.

Since a trip from the mansion to the former wine cellar involved a brief sprint outside, Mussolini also ordered construction of a separate bunker, connecting to an underground kitchen that sealed itself off with anti-gas, double-steel doors.

A third bunker, 20 feet underground, was still being built at the time of the dictator's removal from office and subsequent arrest in 1943. It was never completed. Mussolini was killed three years later after attempting to flee the country.

Another unfinished Mussolini bunker was discovered in 2011 underneath the Palazzo Venezia in central Rome. During the war, the fascist dictator said publicly that he'd wait on his balcony for any bombs to strike rather than seek refuge underground. Speaking last weekend from one of the Villa Torlonia bunkers, historian Laura Lombardi, told the Telegraph, "In fact, we know that when there was an airstrike in Albania, at the very first sound of a bomb he went to seek shelter in a bunker!"

Visitors can take a look inside the now city-owned bunkers starting on October 31. From last weekend's media tour, here's a look inside:

A telephone is seen inside a secret bunker of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini that was built between 1942 and 1943 under his private residence at Villa Torlonia in Rome. (REUTERS/Remo Casilli)
A plate that says "door antigas" inside a bunker. (REUTERS/Remo Casilli)
A passageway inside a bunker. (REUTERS/Remo Casilli)
Helmets and gas masks inside a bunker. (REUTERS/Remo Casilli)
A passageway inside a bunker. (REUTERS/Remo Casilli)
A bathroom is inside a bunker. (REUTERS/Remo Casilli)
A view of Benito Mussolini's residence Villa Torlonia, in Rome. The city of Rome now owns the villa. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Benito Mussolini's first air-raid shelter, created in old wine cellars at Villa Torlonia.  (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Another view of Mussolini's air-raid shelter. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

About the Author