Lunch with Mussolini

Lunch with Mussolini

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Actually it would be pretty hard to to have a lunch with Mussolini since he has been dead for 67 years, killed by partisans near the Swiss border while trying to escape from Italy. The lunch in question took place on the holiday here commemorating the liberation of Italy near the end of WWII. The location of the trattoria was in Predappio (a little town in Emilia-Romagna)  just across the street from where he was born. It was the usual group lunch with a bunch of italians: Barbara and Vittorio and 21 of their friends (including me). There was a pasta course (the primo), a main course (the secondo) accompanied by side dishes of veggies (contorni), dessert (fantastic strawberries with lemon cream for me), lots of wine and bottled water and of course a bottle of grappa afterwards. Lots of debates about whatever subject all around the tables at increasingly loud volume. It always seems that if an Italian doesn’t feel that he has satisfactorily gotten his point across then he just raises the volume for the next round of discussion. Maybe we Americans are much the same. After lunch we strolled across the street and up a little hill to his birthplace. There is a little museum there but I wasn’t that interested in paying the 5 euro entrance fee. We then proceeded up the road for a relatively short distance to a cemetery where we visited the crypt of Il Duce.

It felt a little strange to be visiting the crypt on Liberation Day of all days and I mentioned that fact to Cesare. He started off on a winding statement that; first of all it was all just history (granted) and that no other country celebrates their defeat. “But Cesare, it has nothing to do with a victory or defeat.” In fact, I wish that I had presence of mind to mention the fact that near the end of the war Italy was, in fact, occupied by the Germans and that I thought that was the point of Liberation day. Anyway I could not deter him and this sparked another discussion among the Italians which I couldn’t follow very well and feared that I had become a pariah due to what I thought was a fairly innocent comment. Anyway everything passed and I did have a pretty good discussion with Vicenzo who did understand what I meant by my comment. I must say that Italians seem a little sensitive about certain points in their history.

Back in our caravan of cars we then visited a store that was completely devoted to Mussolini memorabilia. Another somewhat strange experience. I was really tempted to buy a baseball cap with the statement “Non me ne frega” which roughly translates as “I don’t give a damn”. It was a famous statement of Mussolini’s. It would be fun to wear in the states but I would never consider wearing it in Italy!

I did buy a postcard at the store and also received a giveaway calendar with his smiling face on the front ; well, he’s almost smiling. Plus at the restaurant someone found a pile of business cards for the store saying ” Duce you are always in my heart”.

8 Responses to “Lunch with Mussolini”

  1. Debby Says:

    Joe, your posts get more and more interesting. The parts about Il Duce were fascinating. I really like that baseball hat but it reminded me of the movie, Gone with the Wind. ” I’m curious as to why the strawberries were inedible? Your shopping experiences were very much like mine in Germany. although they did not have plastic gloves for the handling of produce. It sounds like your backpack is a real necessity there. Thanks for the pictures. They say volumes. I think your Italian speaking ability must be growing by leaps and bounds. Patricia, her friend, an Italian from Bergamot and i hiked in Armstrong woods today amongst the redwood trees. We spoke a lot of Italian, I spoke some! I finish Italian 1b in about 3 weeks and then make final plans for a trip to Italy. My first. I think what you are doing is wonderful. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Debby

  2. Joe Says:

    The strawberries were INCREDIBLE (not inedible). I looked for that mistake and didn’t find it. Perhaps I did it on one of the previous posts.


  3. Ralph Says:

    “I must say that Italians seem a little sensitive about certain points in their history.”

    With good reason.

    The country was basically at civil war until the late 80s… Bologna is where the biggest (fascist) atrocity took place… the Red Brigades even assassinated a guy there this century… so they have much to be sensitive about…

  4. Joe Says:

    Well, yes every country has it’s issues. As you may recall we had a president assassinated along with his brother and … well, the list gets pretty long. BTW Bologna has a long history of being on the left so if there was a fascist atrocity then it probably wasn’t the locals. Still it seems to me that we Americans tend to have a different perspective on our history – a water under the bridge sort of thing.

  5. Debby Says:

    Waiting for your next post.

  6. Joe Says:

    Your wait is over.

  7. Ralph Says:

    I meant this

    You will find a monument by the City Hall which also lists the victims of two further attacks. Bologna was targeted precisely because it was a Red city.

    It’s why the clock on outside of the station always tells the wrong time, incidentally, because it stopped at the moment the bomb went off.

    The Years of Lead accounted for around 2000 deaths

    including, yes, the Prime Minister, although the violence continues – only this week an industrialist was shot.

    Do you really think the US got over JFK? I don’t think so, and in any case this was not as part of an on-going civil war, unless you include the Mafia/CIA.

    Has the US got over 9/11? I haven’t visited since, but it seems to me no.

    I suspect you’re immediate reaction might be – but 9/11 was different!

    Only if you’re American. Everybody everywhere feels just the same about terrorism when it happens to them.

    So I resist the interpretation that Americans are somehow less hung-up about the past than other people. Shock: they’re just the same as everybody else 😉

  8. Joe Says:

    I agree that the impact of terrorism is quite subjective although memories do fade. I no longer think much about JFK, RFK or MLK. Of course there are die-hards in the U.S. who have not gotten over the civil war and you know where they reside. I don’t know of anyone that still laments the Vietnam war. Perhaps it’s because we have a shorter history, who knows. So someone was shot, it’s a country with 60 million people. Shit happens. How many people are shot EVERY day in the U.S?

    So enough of this subject.

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