Benito Mussolini in Locarno Ticino

The Locarno Treaties were seven agreements negotiated in Locarno from October 5 till October 16 1925 and were formally ratified in London on 1 December 1925.

The treaties defined how the Western European Allied powers and the new states of the Central and Eastern Europe sought to secure the territorial settlement after the end of the First World War, normalizing relations with defeated Germany under the Weimar Republic.

The treaties stated that Germany would never go to war with other countries dividing the borders of Europe into two categories: the Western borders were guaranteed by Locarno treaties, and the Eastern borders (of Germany with Poland) were open for optional revisions.

Benito Mussolini (Predappio 1883 – Giulino di Mezzegro 1945) arrived in Ticino on 15 October 1925 from Stresa. He joined the Locarno negotiations during the final day.

Mussolini was hosted in the Villa Farinelli (Muralto), which was not far from the Train Station of Locarno. The arrival of Mussolini in Locarno was enthusiastically welcomed by the Swiss population. It was also the last time when Mussolini ever visited Switzerland.

But, previously, he had already had a personal connection to this country; for example, in 1902, Mussolini emigrated to Switzerland to avoid partly his military service in Italy. He worked briefly as a stonemason in Geneva, Fribourg and Bern but was unable to find a permanent job. It is interesting to know that in 1936, Mussolini got an Honorary Degree (honoris causa) from the University of Lausanne, this Doctor title was then granted to him by the University delegation in Rome. Even at present, Mussolini still owns the Honorary Degree from Lausanne.

The villa Farinelli, situated, at present, in Via Sempione 3 – Muralto, was built by architect Paolo Zanini (1871-1914) for Giuseppe Farinelli (1867-1938), a wealthy trader from Intra, also Italian vice-consul in Locarno. 

Sources:

Rodolfo Huber, “Locarno Ville de la Paix: Villa Farinelli” (Link)

Peter Martig, “Mussolini und die Schweiz”, Berner Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Heimatkunde Nr. 45 – 1983, (Link)

Hanspeter Born, “Genosse Mussolini in der Schweiz”, Weltwoche, Ausgabe 9 2013 (Link)

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