RE-OPENED - The balcony from where Mussolini know as "Il Duce" gave rabble-rousing speeches to his Black Shirt supporters and declared war on Britain in 1940 was reopened to the public in February 2011 after decades of neglect.
WHY IT WAS CLOSED FOR DECADES - According to the U.K. Telegraph newspaper, it was shuttered for decades, partly out of embarrassment for its historical connotations and because of concerns that it would become a place of pilgrimage for modern-day fascists.
The balustrade has been cleaned up along with the rest of the facade of the imposing Palazzo Venezia, a Renaissance palace built in the 15th century by Pope Paul II. The palazzo houses a museum and visitors will be able to step out onto the stone balcony as part of their visit.
MUSSOLINI FACTS YOU MAY NOT KNOW
1. Mussolini had a penchant for violence even as a youth.
Born on July 29, 1883, Mussolini gained a reputation for bullying and fighting during his childhood.
Born to a socialist father, Mussolini was named after leftist Mexican President Benito Juárez.
3. Italy’s leaders never called on the military to stop Mussolini’s insurrection.
From 1920 to 1922, armed fascist squads faced minimal interference from the police or army as they roamed the country causing property damage and killing an estimated 2,000 political opponents.
4. Contrary to popular belief, Mussolini did not take power in a coup.
5. Mussolini did not become a true dictator until 1925.
After becoming prime minister, Mussolini reduced the influence of the judiciary, muzzled a free press, arrested political opponents, continued condoning fascist squad violence and otherwise consolidated his hold on power.
6. Mussolini was anti-Church before becoming pro-Church.
7. Mussolini sought to establish an Italian empire.
Mussolini launched his first military action in 1923 when he bombarded and briefly occupied the Greek island of Corfu.
8. Italy’s army performed disastrously during World War II.
9. Mussolini was deposed without a fight.
Having already snatched away Libya and Ethiopia, Allied forces invaded Italy proper in 1943 and began dropping bombs on Rome. On July 25 of that year, King Victor Emmanuel informed Mussolini that he would be replaced as prime minister. Il Duce was then arrested and imprisoned