November 22, 2009
Benito Mussolini sex diaries reveal he 'had 14 lovers at a time'
Mussolini's wild sex life was documented by his mistress
John Follain in Rome
The fascist dictator Benito Mussolini boasted of keeping 14 lovers at one time, according to an eye-popping account of his sex life which has emerged from the diaries of his long-term mistress.
The journals of Claretta Petacci, a Vatican doctor’s daughter who met Mussolini in 1932 at the age of 20 and became his lover four years later, were published last week. Held in the Italian state archives, they cover the period from 1932 to 1938 and were released under Italy’s 70-year rule.
Petacci was so jealous of the other women in Mussolini’s life that she made him call her at least a dozen times a day, and every half hour after he got home in the evening, because she — correctly — suspected him of betraying her. She wrote down the times of the calls and their content.
“The diaries are an intimate chronicle, minute by minute, of the daily life of the founder of fascism,” said Mauro Suttora, who edited the diaries for his book Secret Mussolini.
Petacci unsparingly recorded her rows with Mussolini, 29 years her senior, who was married with five children, over his philandering. In April 1938, Petacci described their exchange after she caught him having sex with his former girlfriend Alice De Fonseca Pallottelli.
“All right, I did it. I hadn’t seen her since before Christmas. I felt like seeing her; I don’t think I committed a crime. I spent 12 minutes with her,” he admitted.
Petacci interrupted to exclaim: “Twenty-four!”
“All right, 24 then, so it was a quick thing. Who cares? she’s past it. After 17 years there’s no enthusiasm; it’s like when I take my wife,” he said. He told her that the idea of sleeping with only one woman was “inconceivable” to him. He said: “There was a period in which I had 14 women, and I’d take three or four every evening, one after the other ... That gives you an idea of my sexuality.”
Again and again he talked about her rivals. One mistress, Cornelia Tanzi, was “frigid, so cold it’s incredible ... Imagine, she never felt anything, not even with me”. Of Giulia Brambilla Carminati, he said: “I met her in 1922 and then I didn’t see her again for more than 10 years ... I never loved her; it was purely physical.”
He swore “on my five children” that he had never loved Romilda Ruspi: “It was a purely physical, sexual attraction ... Every so often, when I felt like it, I’d have her. I took other women in front of her.”
Later, a contrite Mussolini told a tearful Petacci that he had slept with Ruspi again: “My love, don’t cry. I adore you. I’m bad — hit me, hurt me, punish me, but don’t suffer. I love you. I think about you all day, even when I’m working,” he said.
The dictator frequently declared his passion for Petacci. “Your flesh has got me — from now on I’m a slave to your flesh.
“I tremble in telling you, but I have a feverish desire for your delicious little body which I want to kiss all over. And you must adore my body, your giant.”
In February 1938, he told her: “Be afraid of my love. It’s like a cyclone. It’s tremendous; it overwhelms everything. You must tremble.” He added that if he could have done, he would have had sex with her on horseback that day.
The diaries include her descriptions of their embraces: “I can feel that all his nerves are taut and ready to spring,” she wrote. “I hold him tightly. I kiss him and we make love with such fury that his screams seem like those of a wounded beast. Then, exhausted, he falls onto the bed.”
After another encounter, she wrote that he had hurt her: “We made love with such force that he bit my shoulder so hard his teeth left a mark. He’s mortified; he sits on the bed looking a bit pale and panting: ‘My love, what have I done to you, look at that mark. One of these days I’ll tear a shoulder off’.”
He boasted of the “sexual education” he had given her and lectured her on the benefits of orgasm: “Orgasm is good for you: it sharpens your thoughts, it widens your horizons, it helps your brain, makes it vivid and brilliant.”
In a prescient exchange in March 1938, Mussolini told Petacci: “You know why I’m sorry to die? Because I’m sorry to leave you. But after at least two years you’ll get another lover. You’ll belong to another ... And I’ll be dead. It’s terrible. I won’t survive you; I’ll follow you. I was born for you; I will end with you.”
Seven years later, after he had been deposed, Mussolini and Petacci were caught by partisans as they tried to flee Italy, shot dead and strung up by their heels at a petrol station in a Milan square.