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Plans to turn Benito Mussolini’s birthplace into a hub for antifascist historians "analysing" Italian fascism have been blocked by a Nationalist mayor, who is supported by Il Duce’s descendants.

A Left-wing mayor had secured €3.5 million (NZ$5.8m) in private and state funding for the plan and assembled a team of antifa historians, claiming that serious study of Mussolini’s leadership and racial laws was the "antidote to a rising tide of nostalgia for fascism in Italy".

In mayoral elections in Predappio in May, Giorgio Frassineti lost to Roberto Canali, who was backed by the anti-migrant League party and three members of the Mussolini family.

Canali has now stopped the centre project, on the grounds that architectural heritage inspectors objected to plans to demolish a staircase and add a floor in the building.

‘‘It is difficult to confront a debate of that kind without exacerbating polemics and arguments,’’ Canali said. ‘‘There are fans on either side.’’

Frassineti said a debate about fascism was needed. ‘‘The risk is that Predappio remains a place of celebration of fascism rather than of critical reflection.’’

Since his election, Canali has called for Mussolini’s tomb to be opened permanently to increase tourism. At present, it is opened only to mark his birth, death, and 1922 ‘‘March on Rome’’. Busloads of fascists descend on the town on the three days.

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The new mayor also refused council funding for a student who was going on a trip to former contentration camps in Poland. Canali said the trip overlooked the victims of communist oppression.

 

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