Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Duce's Hotel

"Let's go and see Mussolini's hotel," Giovanni said when we were planning a motorcycle ride together. Huh? And indeed there it is, the bedroom used 56 times by the Duce ('leader' from the Latin dux, ducis) on his way from Rome to his home town in Emilia Romagna.

We dropped Layne off in the regional capital of Perugia and got going.

Our first stop after we men consulted our paper GPS was to head to the ancient city of Gubbio to stretch our legs.

We wanted to make the Palazzo dei Consoli was still standing after 800 years. It was.

Seen from the rear and underneath you get a better idea of what an architectural and engineering feat it was to build such structures on a slope.

After that hike up and down vertical streets we got riding into the mountains and we weren't alone as we discovered when we paused for a break.

The river and the gorge were our goal.

I had never previously heard of the Furlo Pass in the Marche and Giovanni hadnt been here for decades but other people have been busy.

We rode the gorge for a few miles and curves alongside the river, which has been dammed to make electricity, then we decided to turn back.

This was the longest traffic light I met in Italy. Giovanni had got off ahead and I was left to cool my heels for what seemed forever. However the good news was in could pull around the excruciatingly slow Dutch car thatched been holding me up by sightseeing and driving at the same time.

Back to e village in then pass where we were to have the worlds most expensive lunch.

It was a great ride under a warm sun with the unusually cool summer air that has hit Italy this summer.

They call it the Furlo Antico but itbis still known as...

...the Duce's hotel. "Hospitality prize for the Duce's hotel" reads the newspaper cutting.

It was magnificent dining room where we intrepid motorcyclists repaired for refreshment. The Duce was an avid supporter of motorcycle gatherings, and I remember my great uncle telling me about his trips on group rides on his 175cc bike organized by his workplace at the Terni steelworks where he was an accountant.

The rock on the hill was bombed by the allies during World War Two. Why bomb an empty mountain?

Because it was cut to resemble the Duce's features, that's why.

This picture of Benito Mussolini's wife, Donna Rachele shows the mountain before it was carved. She was a fairly tragic figure who married her husband before his climb to fame (via the Socialist party at first weirdly enough) and stuck by him through the Fascist years despite his known womanizing. She survived his execution, alongside his long time mistress Clara Petacci, on the road to safety in Switzerland. Though Donna Rachele and their children never made it to Switzerland she was allowed to live out her long life in their family home in Emilia Romagna. Her granddaughter is now running the rump of the Fascist Party and so it goes in Italy, land of second chances.

I suppose this is something of an ironic shrine to the man who led the country from 1922 to 1943 into a disastrous war that he himself knew was not going to end well. Yet he was no Hitler despite the fact the Nazi Fuhrer liked and admired the Duce. Fascism in Italy up to 1943 was a grossly corrupt way of rewarding stupid incompetent and petty people who abused their power as such people do which would have made me an anti-fascist had I lived then. Too often I find people speak of nazism and fascism in the same breath as through they were the same. Had Mussolini stayed out of the war like Franco, the Cold War might have looked quite different. But as it was he didn't and much misery ensued for all. Ego is a terrible thing just watch the current political posturing in Washington to get a nice illustration.

This decoration contains empty eggs Mussolini sucked dry. He believed eggs increased virility, which goes to show he wasn't that smart.

We ordered omelette truffles for lunch, not in homage to the Duce's notions of virility, but because it was the cheapest item on the menu. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

They were quite delicious and we lingered and and talked as one does. We talked about the economy and the good and the bad of Fascism. My mother hated growing up a Fascist, they made her wear black school uniforms, and she hated black and they made her learn to use her right-hand instead of the left even though she was born a left-hander. She was fierce in protecting my right to grow up in school as a left hander.

Giovanni wishes Italy were more disciplined, though he himself has no Fascist yearnings. He's not particularly political but he can see how things could be better if people pulled together, much as I do in the US. Meanwhile we had pudding to eat, he had boring ice cream and I had a nouvelle cuisine apple pie which was delicious. At €69 ($100) for lunch it should have been.

We asked to see the Duce's room and the waiter (who struck me as being a poof therefore not acceptable to Fascists who were boring narrow minded people) was very accommodating and reverently led us to The Room.

They had a conversation about History and the Passage of Time and the dark shade of Mussolini's taste in furniture while I hovered about taking pictures. The room is available and other occupants have seen fit to scratch their usual egotistical graffiti in the walls which I think is in gross bad taste as always.

Then we went to the terrace to digest our lunch.

"Even though it was a light lunch," Giovanni mused, "I feel quite full." I would not call it terribly light. I enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed the riding to get back to my wife in Perugia who had a very good day of her own, walking, checking out museums and people watching. She did not get to see the eggs the Duce sucked. That was a treat reserved for we mens.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Chuck and the Pheebs said...

It always seemed to me that Italians were able to participate in politics, but were able to disconnect and live life properly with a long lunch and vino tavolo to masticate the issues of the day.

We, on the other hand, race pell-mell though the day, giving each other nary a thought and eating lunch standing up. Only when we come home do we partake in drink - and then it's oft to the point of stupor as if to kill the pain of a life lived in soundbites.

Italy, accustomed to hardship, will endure far better than a nation with a plethora of the entitled...

We will see, won't we?

Great, great posts. loved every photo - every description.

Conchscooter said...

The closer they get to bankruptcy the more I think about Mussolini.