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.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Alessandra Mussolini – politician

Controversial granddaughter of Fascist dictator


Alessandra  Mussolini is an Italian MEP
Alessandra  Mussolini is an Italian MEP
The MEP Alessandra Mussolini, niece of actress Sophia Loren and granddaughter of Italy’s former Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, was born on this day in 1962 in Rome.

Formerly an actress and model, Mussolini entered politics in the early 1990s as a member of the neofascist Movimento Sociale Italiano, which had its roots in the Italian Social Republic, the German puppet state led by her grandfather from September 1943 until his death in April 1945.

Her views have changed in more recent years and she has become known for embracing modern issues including abortion, artificial insemination, gay rights and civil unions from a progressive standpoint that has more in common with left-wing feminism.

She has left behind her association with the far right and serves on the European Parliament as representative for Central Italy under a centre-right Forza Italia ticket.

However, she is not without some admiration for the policies of her grandfather.  Only recently she caused consternation when asked her opinion on what to do about an escalating Mafia war in the Roman seaside resort of Ostia by claiming that “granddad would have sorted this out in two or three months.”

Mussolini in her days as an  aspiring young actress
Mussolini in her days as an
 aspiring young actress
The daughter of Benito Mussolini’s fourth son Romano, a jazz pianist who married Sophia Loren’s younger sister, Anna Maria Villani Scicolone, also an actress, she was taken under Loren’s wing as a child and was only 14 years old when she appeared with her aunt (in the role of her daughter) and Marcello Mastroianni in Ettore Scola’s award-winning movie Una giornata particolare (A Special Day).

After studying at the American Overseas School and then Sapienza University in Rome, where she graduated in 1986 and then obtained a Master’s in medicine and surgery, Alessandra returned to the cinema, winning acclaim for her role in another Loren hit, Sabato, domenica e lunedi (Saturday, Sunday and Monday), directed by Lina Wertmüller.

Somewhat ironically, given her ancestry, she had a part in the American-made film The Assisi Underground, which focussed on the efforts of a Franciscan priest to rescue Jews from the Nazis

She also recorded an album of romantic pop songs, albeit released only in Japan, and twice posed for Playboy magazine shoots.

She was elected to the Italian parliament in 1992 for a Naples constituency as a member of MSI, which would later evolve into the Allianza Nationale.  The following year she ran for Mayor of Naples, although she was beaten by the former communist, Antonio Bassolino.

Alessandra has inherited some of her grandfather's talent for passionate speeches
Alessandra has inherited some of her
grandfather's talent for passionate speeches
At the time she did not shy from associations with her grandfather’s politics.  At an MSI rally in Rome in 1992, during which supporters defied party instructions not to wear blackshirts and give Fascist salutes, she stood on a balcony at the Palazzo Venezia, from which the self-proclaimed Duce had delivered many speeches, and shouted “Grazia, Nonno!” (Thanks, Granddad!) as supporters marched past.

Later, she quit the Allianza Nationale after its leader, Gianfranco Fini, in an attempt to move the party away from its perceived position at the far right, made a visit to Israel in which he apologised for Italy’s role as an Axis Power in the Second World War and described Fascism as part of the “absolute evil” that brought about the Holocaust, although she conceded that the world should “beg the forgiveness of Israel” for what had happened.

When she then formed the Social Action party and organised a coalition named Social Alternative, it was expected she would continue to propagate a far-right ideology, so it came as a surprise that she chose to campaign on progressive policies usually associated with the left.

After the Italian general election of April 2008, Mussolini served as a member of the Italian parliament within Silvio Berlusconi's alliance of right wing parties, The People of Freedom.

In the election in February 2013, she was elected to the Senate for The People of Freedom, which was rebranded in November 2013 as Berlusconi relaunched Forza Italia, which had brought him huge success in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, including an unprecedented nine years as prime minister, the longest-serving Italian leader since Benito Mussolini.

In the 2014 European Parliament election, Alessandra Mussolini was elected for Forza Italia, a position she still holds.

The Palazzo Venezia looks out over the Piazza Venezia and the Via del Plebiscito
The Palazzo Venezia looks out over the Piazza Venezia
and the Via del Plebiscito
Travel tip:

The Palazzo Venezia, formerly known as the Palace of St. Mark, is a palace in central Rome, just north of the Capitoline Hill. Originally a modest medieval house intended as the residence of the cardinals appointed to the church of San Marco, in 1469 it became a residential papal palace. In 1564, Pope Pius IV, to curry favour with the Republic of Venice, gave the mansion to the Venetian embassy to Rome on condition that part of the building would remain a residence for the cardinals. Today, the palace, which faces Piazza Venezia and Via del Plebiscito, houses a museum. Its association with Benito Mussolini, who had an office in the palace, led to the balcony from which he made his speeches remaining covered up for many years amid fears it would become a place of pilgrimage for Fascist sympathisers, but it has recently been renovated and opened to the public.

Roman ruins at Ostia Antica
Roman ruins at Ostia Antica
Travel tip:

The seaside resort of Ostia lies 30km (19 miles) to the southwest of the centre of Rome, yet is part of the Rome metropolitan area and thus the only part of the city on the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Situated just across the Tiber river from Fiumicino, home of Rome’s largest international airport, it adjoins the remains of the ancient Roman city of Ostia Antica. Many Romans spend the summer holidays in the modern town, swelling a population of about 85,000.










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