Benito Mussolini, known for being a powerful orator, loved to address his crowds of followers. He did so many times from the balcony above the Piazza Venezia, a public square in Rome where throngs of Italians would gather to hear Il Duce speak.
It is from this very balcony that the fascist dictator delivered some of his most famous speeches that would determine the course of history, including the declaration of the Italian Empire in 1936, and a declaration of war on France and Britain in 1940.
The Piazza is named for the ornate palace, Palazzo Venezia, that dominates one side of the square. Mussolini’s office was located in the Sala del Mappamondo in the palace throughout the 1930s, and the balcony off the room overlooked the square just below.
After World War II, the Italians were a little sensitive about this fascist chapter of their history and sealed off the balcony. The historic landmark sat abandoned behind closed curtains for decades. In more recent times the sensitivities have faded, and now the palace is a national museum home to a wonderful collection of medieval art. The balcony is once again open, as is Mussolini’s office in the palace.