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Monday, 27 October 2014

Wine cellar that became air raid shelter for Mussolini!

A wine cellar that was turned into an air raid shelter for Italian dictator Benito Mussolini is to open to the public for the first time.

The shelter is located at Villa Torlonia near Rome, which was the home of a noble family before it became the fascist leader’s private residence in the 1920s.

The wine cellar was converted to an air raid shelter in 1942 and into 1943 as Allied forces moved out of North Africa and began to invade Italy from the south.

The bunker is only 60 metres long but has various niches to accommodate cots and a desk and is also fitted with telephones, gasmasks, blast doors and a ventilation system.
What became of the wine history, sadly, does not appear to relate.

Formerly owned by the Torlonia family who built it in the early 19th century, the house was designed by Giuseppe Valadier with gardens in the “English-style” (one of the only examples of its kind in Rome) by Giuseppe Jappelli.

Various buildings and alterations to the grounds were added during the family’s century-long tenure in a profusion of architectural styles and include a theatre, a “Swiss” cottage and Moorish conservatory.

Mussolini rented it for one lira a year in the 1925 when he became head of state as the family were no longer using it. The only addition he made to the villa was the air raid shelter.
After Mussolini’s deposition in 1943 it was used by the Allied High Command in Italy until 1947 whereupon it was largely abandoned.

Bought by the city of Rome in 1977 it was made into a museum but the buildings and grounds were in a poor state so restoration work began in the 1990s.

Now open to the public, the air-raid shelter/wine cellar will open to the public on 31 October.
For more information about the museum click here and for more pictures of the air-raid shelter click here.

Source: http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/