Predappio hopes to attract a different kind of visitor with a museum that shows dark period for what it was


"We're treated like we're the Chernobyl of Italy, like we're contaminated," says Frassineti, a member of the centre-left Democratic party.

Now the town is hoping a long abandoned Fascist centre can provide salvation.

Standing outside the towering curved edifice that, when built in 1937 was called The House of Fascism and Hospitality, Frassineti explains his plan to foil efforts to make the town a Fascist pilgrimage site by transforming the building into Italy's first Museum of Fascism.

The monument would not be to celebrate the political regime that murdered thousands and cooperated in the deportation of Italy's Jews to death camps, but to educate Italians about radical authoritarian nationalism at a moment when many fear it's on the rise again.


Giunchi explains the rooms will be transformed into a spiralling exhibit modelled on Dante's Circle of Hell to educate visitors about the loss of rights — and thousands of lives — under fascism, though the organizers still need to raise $8 million if it is to open by 2019.

"Our plan is similar to what Germans have done with their Nazi past," he says. "Instead of destroying buildings that represented their Nazi past, they kept them and used them to challenge those symbols and that past, by setting up places of memory right there."


But many historians and members of Italy's Jewish communities have expressed great hesitation, if not opposition, to a Museum of Fascism, arguing it risks committing the same mistake of good intentions that allowing the small stores to hawk Fascist and Nazi paraphernalia did and fuel far-right support.

Renowned historian Carlo Ginzburg, whose Resistance-member father was tortured to death by the Nazis, expressed concern that a museum in Predappio would further conflate fascism with Mussolini and in doing so let off the hook the millions of Italians who actively supported the regime.

"The historical references need to be clear and unequivocal," he wrote about the proposition. "Also because it would mean Italy has a National Museum of Fascism without a National Museum of Resistance."