Letters show Mussolini's daughter love for Communist

Fri Apr 17, 2009 2:06pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Eliza Apperly

ROME (Reuters) - Thirty-six passionate letters discovered on the Italian island of Lipari have revealed an illicit love affair between the daughter of former Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and a prominent Communist partisan.

Written in French, English and Italian, the secret correspondence has inspired a new book: "Edda Ciano and the Communist. The unspeakable passion of the Duce's Daughter."

"There is no novelistic embellishment," said author Marcello Sorgi, who describes his book as a "journalistic reconstruction" of the romance.

The letters, dated from September 1945 to April 1947, chart the affair between Mussolini's eldest child and Leonida Bongiorno, a regional Communist leader and son of an influential anti-Fascist.

Edda had previously been married to Galeazzo Ciano, a loyal Fascist who rose to become foreign minister but executed by his father-in-law after dissenting in July 1943. Despite Edda's appeals, Mussolini had Ciano tied to a chair and shot.

After the Fascist regime fell toward the end of World War Two, Edda was held in detention on Lipari, off Sicily.

There she met Bongiorno at the end of a demonstration and he afterwards described how "she looked like a wounded little swallow with shattered wings."

The love affair which ensued is chronicled in the letters, hidden along with annotated mementos, photographs and locks of hair in an old wardrobe in the house of Leonida's son Edoardo.   Continued...

<p>Posters bearing the profile of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini are plastered on walls in central Rome April 28, 2002. REUTERS/Vincenzo Pinto</p>