Villa Carpena: Residents of rural Italian mansion say it’s haunted by ghosts of Mussolini family

Editor’s Note – Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel series that sheds light on some of the most fascinating topics in the world of travel. In October, we’re focusing on the quirky, spotlighting everything from (allegedly) haunted spaces to abandoned places.
(CNN) — Showcasing fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s military uniform, his beloved motorbike, an iron cradle and a creepy bedroom mirror, Villa Carpena is clearly a museum unafraid of the dark side of history.

But if the disgusting factor of visiting a place linked to Adolf Hitler’s wartime ally isn’t enough, the owners of this mansion in the Emilia-Romagna region of northeastern Italy, claim that there is also a good chance of running into his ghost.

Located in Carpena, a small neighborhood in the city of Forlì, the property is said to be haunted by several Mussolini family ghosts, including the late Italian leader. And locals also claim to have proof of this.

Filled with all sorts of personal items and works of art that once belonged to the family, Villa Carpena was the Mussolini family’s country retreat.

Today, the Liberty-style yellowish mansion, also known as “The House of Memories”, attracts history buffs and the awe-inspiring.

Since it was purchased by an Italian businessman in 2000, its new owners and other guests claim to have experienced intense paranormal activity and supernatural occurrences, some of which a team of self-proclaimed ghost hunters say have been witnessed and recorded.

The face in the mirror

“This place is alive with their presence, they are all still there and we can feel them, they are constantly watching us,” says Domenico Morosini, current owner and operator of Villa Carpena with his wife, Adele.

“I feel they respect us. We are not afraid but we don’t want to disturb these spirits, so I avoid entering the villa when it is dark.”

The couple, who live in an adjacent new building on the mansion estate, have spent years on a global treasure hunt to find and recover lost original pieces that once belonged to the Mussolini family, which they used to furnish the Villa.

Italian interest in Mussolini, who held his country in thrall from 1922 to 1943, until Italy’s failures in World War II led to his overthrow and arrest, has intensified these last years. While many continue to condemn his fascist legacy, he remains a figure of fascination, for better or for worse.

After buying one of Mussolini’s historic uniforms at an auction in the United States, Morosini says he took it back to the mansion, spreading it on the bed Mussolini shared with his wife, Donna Rachele, the same bed in which she died.

“That day there was a medium with us, and the person felt sick, had to sit down and whispered ‘there he is’. Right after that, the dark shadow of Mussolini’s face appeared in the dressing table mirror in the bedroom and has been there ever since, as if imprinted on the glass, more than just a reflection,” adds Morosini.

Villa Carpena family dining room.

Marco Buonasorte Moriconi/Villa Carpena

Tourists on guided tours of the villa are also encouraged to peer into the dark face for a glimpse of the distinctive square jaw, high forehead and prominent nose of the infamous dictator, who was executed as he tried to flee the country with his girlfriend in the final days of World War II in 1945.

Morosini says he also witnessed other strange occurrences: “I heard strong gusts of wind inside the villa during the day, and footsteps along the hallways.”

Rachele Mussolini and several of her children lived in the villa for decades after returning from post-war exile on the island of Ischia.

Morosini says he has a passion for “memories of the past” and bought the mansion from one of Mussolini’s sons, renovating it extensively with antique furniture and decor.

Skis, socks, vintage motorcycles

Regardless of their beliefs in the paranormal, visitors can see the bedrooms where Mussolini’s children slept, Mussolini’s iron “baby” cradle built by his cobbler father, his skis, his violin, his private studio and a number of lavish gifts he received during his reign. , including a tapestry by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and a sacred rock from Mount Fuji donated by Japanese Emperor Hirohito.

Also on display are family clothing such as handmade socks and hats, chandeliers, artwork, old photos of Mussolini on a bicycle, the Mussolini couple’s vintage scooters and cars, and the tractor used by Rachele, who came from a humble farming family.

Benito Mussolini, from the nearby village of Predappio, built Villa Carpena in 1924 after marrying Rachele, who lived on an adjacent farmhouse deemed by the newlyweds too small for a growing family with children.

One of Mussolini's children's bedrooms.

One of Mussolini’s children’s bedrooms.

Marco Buonasorte Moriconi/Villa Carpena

Rachele’s former home now houses the museum’s ticket office and gift shop, which sells Mussolini-brand gadgets and postcards of old family photos.

The mansion, which Morosini defines as “large but simple, reflecting the daily life of what was in fact a fairly ordinary family”, is set in sumptuous grounds with gravel paths.

The garden includes a gazebo where Mussolini read the morning paper at a stone table, and the straw and drywall “children’s playhouse” with kitchen and bathroom he built for the children.

The park, where a wisteria planted by Mussolini survives, was once a patch of rural land used by Rachele’s family to grow vegetables, fruit trees and raise cattle. His old aviary is still there, teeming with doves.

Ghostbusters and Delicate Minds

After Morosini bought the place, he says strange things started happening. Word quickly spread that the area was haunted, attracting the curiosity of paranormal professionals.

In 2013, a group of ghost hunters asked to visit and reportedly stayed the night, claiming to have captured disturbing events in the dark.

“We tape-recorded what sounded like the faint voice of a woman. When we played it, the elderly villa caretaker panicked and jumped out of his chair, whispering that he had recognized Rachele’s voice. “says Andrea Pugliese of Ghost Hunter Padova. , a group of Italian paranormal investigators.

The sound of an airplane was also recorded, Pugliese says, noting it could have been linked to Mussolini’s son Bruno, who was an aviator and died prematurely in a plane crash in 1941.

Thermal images were also taken that night, he adds, showing several red spots on the handlebars and tank of Mussolini’s favorite motorcycle, which the investigator says could be a sign that his mind touched him, moved by nostalgia.

The owners of the villa claim that the dark shadow of Mussolini's face appears in this vanity mirror.

The owners of the villa claim that the dark shadow of Mussolini’s face appears in this vanity mirror.

Andrea Pugliese/Ghostbuster Padua

“The most incredible event happened when we placed a torch on the dining table where the family was eating; we asked for a sign and at our requests it suddenly turned on and then went out,” says Pugliese.

When the team of ghost hunters arrived and started setting up the equipment, he says he perceived an “ambient of hostility as if we were not welcome, but in the evening the atmosphere changed and became less tense”.

Pugliese prefers not to speak of “ghosts”, but rather of “anomalities” and “presences” that are still attached to the house where they have lived happy moments and do not want to abandon it.

“They stayed connected to that past, away from atrocious things, and it’s no secret that Rachele herself was an esoteric woman who held seances and kept pots of salt in the house to ward off evil” , explains Pugliese.

Morosini confesses that after allowing the Ghostbusters inside the villa he felt ill for an entire year, noting that it only hit him much later that perhaps the spirits were unhappy of intrusion.

But Villa Carpena is not the only place in Italy said to be haunted by Mussolini.

On the ancient Via Appia road linking Rome to Latina, a city founded during Fascism, locals often claim to hear and see Mussolini’s ghost pass by on his red Moto Guzzi – goggles and leather cap included – on his way to meet his lovers the night .

“You can breathe history here”

Marco Buonasorte Moriconi, who runs Villa Carpena tours, says visitors are curious to discover “the human and private side of Mussolini” who escaped to the mansion to spend time with his family. He apparently never invited any of his fascist buddies.

“You can really breathe history here, and the people I accompany all perceive it, beyond their political credo,” he says. “What is striking is how everything in the villa seems frozen in time.

“You can see Rachele’s retirement notebook hanging on the kitchen wall, the telephone used by Mussolini to call the seat of government in Rome, and even the bomb shrapnel removed from her body during the Great War (WWI).

“There are so many original historical pieces and each one has its own story; we urge people to explore this amazing place,” adds Moriconi.

The upper floor of Villa Carpena houses a cultural research center which contains over 5,000 historical documents and vintage magazines for those interested in learning more about the Fascist era and the Mussolini family.

Villa Carpena, Via Crocetta, 24, 47121 Forlì FC, Italy; +39 333 305 2908

Top image: Villa Carpena, the country house of the Mussolini family. Credit: Marco Buonasorte Moriconi/Villa Carpena

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