Rachele Mussolini - Wife of Benito Mussolini

Photograph of Rachele Mussolini who was the wife of Benito Mussolini

Donna Rachele Mussolini had five children with her flamboyant husband, Benito.  She, however, preferred to stay out of the limelight.  

How did she meet Italy's future leader?  According to an interview which she gave to LIFE magazine - published in its February 11, 1966 edition - he was a substitute teacher at her school:

...she first met a wild-eyed young Socialist named Benito Mussolini from the town of Predappio, when he appeared as a substitute teacher at her school.  She retreated to Romagna with her growing family every time her husband got put in jail for some civil outrage during his days as a journalist and fledgling rabble-rouser, or whenever things got sticky in his years as the Duce.  (LIFE, February 11, 1966 edition, page 40.)

Her husband was a notorious womanizer and died with another woman - Claretta Petacci.  How did she view his philandering ways?

She undoubtedly got fed up with the situation from time to time.  Once she went looking for Clara Petacci with a pistol but the encounter ended before a shot was fired when Clara fell in a faint.  The folks around Predappio still talk about the time the Duce and his family were home on a visit and Rachele got so mad at him for some reason that she kicked him out of the house and made him eat on the front steps.  "The Duce was more afraid of her than he was of the Germans," says a former neighbor admiringly.  (LIFE, February 11, 1966 edition, page 42.)

Consistent with her desire to be low-key, and at home, Donna Rachele described her life as the wife of a head of state:

"I was never close to my husband when he was high," she says.  "I was always near him when he was down.  The good times were when he was a journalist.  After he became head of state, è crollato tutto [everything crashed down]."  (LIFE, February 11, 1966 edition, page 42.)

After Mussolini's execution, his wife and two children had a drastically changed lifestyle:

The crash ended, of course, with his death.  Afterwards she and the children, Romano and Anna Maria, were confined to an internment camp where she volunteered to cook for the 40 patients in the camp hospital and then was placed under a form of house arrest on the island of Ischia...Eventually the family of three moved to a rented apartment in Rome, where they subsisted mainly on handouts from friends and on the proceeds of a couple of quickly ghostwritten memoirs.  On the wall of the apartment was a picture of her husband which Donna Rachele had torn from one of the magazines that published her reminiscences.  (LIFE, February 11, 1966 edition, pp 42-43.)

Donna Rachele Mussolini died on the 30th of October, 1979, at the age of 89.

Click on the image for a better view.

Media Credits

Article, depicted above, from the August 31, 2001 edition of Quotidiano Nazionale.

Quoted passages from LIFE magazine's February 11, 1966 edition.


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"Rachele Mussolini - Wife of Benito Mussolini" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. May 21, 2019.
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