I have been living here since 2012, and it always brought me a kind of uncomfortable feeling when I had to talk about my town, a very nice one, indeed but with a very bad name coming from the fact that it was the birth town of Mr Mussolini, the man who caused many sufferance to the Italian people.
Predappio: architecture and history
Every year thousands of nostalgic people come here to pay a visit to Mussolini grave; sometimes they even get dressed with military clothes and it’s like living a jump back into the past. Not so pleasant even for me who didn’t live at those times.
Last year I had the chance to meet the team of Atrium, a European project recently recognized as an European Cultural Route, and started to see it in a different way. The bloggers of the Atrium Blog tour helped me a lot in having a new perspective. Sometimes you just need new eyes to really watch what’s around you.
Predappio,as you visit it now, did not exist before the ’30. It was a little country village, with a few houses, named Dovia. The original borough was up on a very strong rock where the Ordelaffi family built a fortress, one of the many ones you can find in the Apennines of the Pianura Padana.
The borough, now called Predappio Alta (High Predappio) is a very charming nice place to go in the Summer warm nights, to enjoy a tasty dinner in one of the traditional restaurants such, La Vëcia Cantêna d’la Prè Cà de Sanzvés, which means the Old cellar of Predappio, (http://www.laveciacantena.it/), where Barbara and Riccardo welcomed us.
Arriving to Predappio from Forlì is very easy, just need half an hour by car or by bus (take the line 96a from the Piazza Saffi and then step out in the center town, just in front of the church).
Rationalist architecture: a treasure to unveil in Romagna
After a pleasant trip enjoying the hills just outside Forlì, along the Rabbi River valley, you suddenly enter the main boulevard of the town, large enough to host military shows celebrating Mussolini at his time, but also to create a stunning impression to all the people arriving, so as to show them the power of his leadership.
From both the sides of the boulevard you see still the houses and buildings built to host the workers of Caproni Aviation Industries, for children and young people, and for people who did not have a house until then. All the apartments had their own private bathroom inside (not so common then!) and had all the facilities no one could get in normal houses. The system of “Case Popolari”, popular houses, was invented at that time. Workers had to live with dignity to tell that the Regime was caring about people.
The Caproni Industries and their wind gallery are now under restoration; they will be opened in 2015 and will host a university research center.
It’s a long sight that ends with Sant’Antonio Church who dominates the huge square. This is really a surprise considering that Predappio is a very small town, but you may understand that it was also the birth place of a leader and, for many years, almost a sacred town. Now turn your eyes to the right to have a beautiful view of Palazzo Varano, the headquarter of the Major.
Mr.Frassineti, the major, welcomed us in the Municipality hall, introducing us to the history of the place. In these years his work was focused on giving Predappio a new soul, trying to consider it not only as the birth town of Mussolini, but rather an open air museum done with important architectural example of a style, leaving alone all the politic ideas.
The hall is still as it was in the ’30 and it’s quite astonishing to think that this place was one of the centers of Italy for a long time. Even the idea of Romagna was born here: Dante’s grave, the house of Oriani (a famous writer) the monument to Baracca (a famous Ist World War aviator) the Tevere River Springs became a “must see” for all the Italian people.
Imagine what happened after the war: the town almost disappeared. No one wanted to come anymore. Adone Zoli, who was major in the fifties, started a very long reconciliation process, bringing the corpse of Mussolini back to town.
Palazzo Varano was the second home of Mussolini, he moved here because on the first floor, the building housed the school where his mother, Rosa Maltoni taught for a long time.
Not very far, the Rocca delle Camminate, a medieval fortress, recently restored and once Summer mansion of The Mussolini family.
Florestano di Fausto, one of the architects of the regime, projected the town and the buildings. Walking along the boulevard you can understand the philosophy and the main concepts, but also understand that very little changed in the years.
The House of Fascio at the end of the main boulevard (now closed) is maybe the best example together with the Carabinieri Station, just in front of it, at the opposite corner.
With the bloggers of Atrium Blog Tour, we had the chance to visit the permanent exhibition about Mussolini, called the Young Mussolini. A very important historical journey to understand the origins of the man and of his political evolution.
Predappio is also a very important wine production center. The Union of the Sangiovese di Predappio has about 10 producers, that every year give birth to a red, cherry, intense wine, called the Sangiovese. We didn’t visit any vineyard but you can trust any of the ten and be sure to taste a very good wine.
We ended our staying with the typical tradition of Romagna: good, simple and healthy food.
Predappio can be a starting point to visit the Rabbi River Valley. If you need info or a guided visit, just contact the Tourism office, which is in the main square.
Daily from 10,30 to 12,30. Form 15,30 to 18,30
Feastly from 10,30 to 13.00 and from 14,30 to 18,00
Sunday and feastly from10,00 to 12,30 and from 14,30 to 17,00
Phone number +39.0543.921768 or +39.0543.921766
Disclosure: this post is a part of the Atrium Blog Tour, sponsored by the Forlì Municipality and the Atrium Association, http://www.atrium-see.eu/.