At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Ivanoe Bonomi – statesman

Liberal socialist was a major figure in transition to peace in 1945


Ivanoe Bonomi was prime minister of Italy on two occasions
Ivanoe Bonomi was prime minister
of Italy on two occasions
The anti-Fascist politician Ivanoe Bonomi, who served as prime minister of Italy both before and after the dictator Benito Mussolini was in power, died on this day in 1951.

He was 77 but still involved with Italian political life as the first president of the Senate in the new republic, an office he had held since 1948.

Bonomi had briefly been head of a coalition government in 1921, during which time he was a member of one of Italy’s socialist parties, but his major influence as an Italian statesman came during Italy’s transition to peace after the Second World War.

Having stepped away from politics in 1922 following Mussolini’s March on Rome, he resurfaced almost two decades later when he became a leading figure in an anti-Fascist movement in 1942.  He founded a clandestine anti-Fascist newspaper and became a member of an elite committee who would meet in the Seminario Romano, which was owned by the Vatican and therefore considered neutral territory.

Bonomi was one of a number of political figures who urged the King, Victor Emmanuel III, to abandon Italy’s alliance with Germany and remove Mussolini from office.  After Mussolini was arrested in 1943, and by then a member of the Liberal Party, Bonomi became part of the new government led by Marshal Pietro Badoglio, chairing the National Liberation Committee.

He was appointed prime minister for a second time, in succession to Badoglio, in 1944, because he was seen as a moderate and had the approval of the Allies.

King Victor Emmanuel III
King Victor Emmanuel III
His premiership lasted one year, ending when he tended his resignation in June 1945 after the liberation of northern Italy from the Germans, two months after Mussolini, who had been freed from house arrest in the Gran Sasso raid, was executed by Italian partisans.

Bonomi remained a key figure on the path to peace, however, as one of three Italian negotiators at the talks that led to the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty.  

Born in Mantua in 1873, Bonomi obtained degrees in natural sciences and law and after a short period in teaching he turned to journalism, writing for the socialist newspaper Avanti and other left-leaning publications.

He joined the Italian Socialist Party and was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1909, representing Mantua, yet he was expelled from the party in 1912, partly because he was an advocate of reform and moderation, but mainly because of his support for the Italian invasion of Libya, which he hoped would create new economic opportunities for Italians and stem the migration to North America and other European nations.

Bonomi then joined the Italian Reformist Socialist Party, and supported Italy's participation in the First World War on the side of the Triple Entente.  He volunteered for the army.

He entered government as minister of public works from 1916 until 1917 under the Liberal prime minister Paolo Boselli and was minister of war in the government led by the Radical Party's Francesco Nitti and the Liberal Giovanni Giolitti from 1920 until 1921, helping to negotiate a treaty with Yugoslavia via the Treaty of Rapallo.

Bonomi's moderate views made him an acceptable post-War prime minister
Bonomi's moderate views made him an
acceptable post-War prime minister
After becoming treasury minister under Giolitti, he became prime minister of Italy for the first time – the first socialist to hold the post – in a coalition government, although the grouping collapsed after seven months and he was replaced Luigi Facta, another Liberal and the last prime minister before the Fascist insurgency seized power.

Unable to prevent the rise of Fascism and amid an atmosphere in which opponents of Mussolini were subjected to intimidation and sometimes violent attacks, Bonomi chose to withdraw from public life and concentrate on historical studies.

He attracted criticism for appearing to be a weak figure at the time but risked his own safety by joining forces with other opponents of Fascism during the war, narrowly escaping arrest when a Fascist military unit raided the Seminario Romano, in violation of Germany’s purported respect for the sovereignty of the Holy See.  Bonomi was among 110 anti-Fascists who were inside the seminary. Most escaped, although 18 were captured.

The Palazzo della Ragione in Piazza delle Erbe in Mantua
The Palazzo della Ragione in Piazza delle Erbe in Mantua
Travel tip:

Mantua has been made effectively safe ever from being spoilt by progress by the three artificial lakes created almost 1,000 years ago that form a giant defensive moat around the Lombardy city. It means that little has changed about Mantua in centuries, its dimensions and its population remaining almost constant. Italians refer to it as La Bella Addormentata – the Sleeping Beauty. It’s architecture is the legacy of the Gonzaga family, who ruled the city for 400 years and built the Palazzo Ducale – Ducal Palace – which is not so much a palace as a small town, comprising a castle, a basilica, several courtyards, galleries and gardens. At the centre of the town, life revolves around Piazza delle Erbe, an old marketplace with arched porticoes, fashion shops and lively bars, and Piazza Sordello, with grand palaces and a white marble Baroque cathedral.

Compare Mantua hotels with TripAdvisor

The Seminario Romano provided shelter for anti-Fascists
The Seminario Romano provided shelter for anti-Fascists
Travel tip:

The creation of a seminary in Rome for the education of priests was promoted by Pope Pius IV and Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, his nephew. The Seminario Romano, in Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, was housed in several buildings until 1607, when it was moved to a palace belonging to the Gabrielli family. In 1824 Pope Leo XII assigned the building to the reconstituted Jesuit Order and it is now a residence for Jesuit priests and brothers studying for advanced academic degrees.

Rome hotels from Hotels.com

More reading:


How Mussolini had his own son-in-law executed

The Fascist thugs who murdered socialist politician Giacomo Matteotti

Alcide de Gasperi - the prime minister who rebuilt Italy


Also on this day:


1949: The birth of politician Massimo d'Alema, Italy's first communist prime minister




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