Ida Dalser
Ida Irene Dalser was a lover and possibly the first wife of Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...

 dictator Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....


Early life

Ida Dalser was born in Sopramonte, a village near Trento
Trento is an Italian city located in the Adige River valley in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. It is the capital of Trentino...

, the capital of the ethnically Italian Trentino region, at that time within the borders of the Tyrol region Austro-Hungarian Empire
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

. The daughter of the village mayor, she was sent to Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 to study cosmetic medicine, and when she came back she moved to Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, where she opened a French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

-style beauty salon.

Marriage and motherhood

It is unclear whether Ida Dalser first met young Benito Mussolini in Trento (where he had found his first job as a journalist in 1909) or in Milan (where he had moved soon afterwards). The two started a relationship and when Mussolini was refused work on the basis of his fervent socialist
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 political activity, she financed him with the revenues of her beautician job. According to some sources, they married in 1914, and in 1915 she bore him his first child, Benito Albino Mussolini. However, there are no records of this presumptive marriage.

Estrangement and start of legal dispute

The reasons why Mussolini and Dalser grew estranged at some time between their presumptive marriage and the birth of their son remain unclear, although his affair with another woman, Rachele Guidi
Rachele Mussolini
Donna Rachele Mussolini was the mistress, wife, and widow of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.-Biography:...

, may have played a role. When World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 broke out, Mussolini decided to enlist. On December 17, 1915, while an inpatient at a hospital in Treviglio
Treviglio is a town and comune in the province of Bergamo, in Lombardy, northern Italy. It lies 20 km south of the capital city, in the lower territory called "Bassa" marked by the Adda and the Serio rivers....

, Mussolini married Rachele Guidi. When this became known to Ida Dalser, a legal dispute began between her and the new couple.

Immediately after his second marriage, Mussolini left Italy to fight in the First World War. While he was on service, the Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 regularly paid Dalser a war pension, and when Mussolini was injured by a mortar shot in 1917, she received a visit from the Carabinieri
The Carabinieri is the national gendarmerie of Italy, policing both military and civilian populations, and is a branch of the armed forces.-Early history:...

 notifying her that her husband was wounded in action.

Persecution and death

In 1917, Mussolini came back from the war. His political career accelerated: in 1919 he went on to found the Fasci italiani di combattimento
Fasci Italiani di Combattimento
The Fasci Italiani di Combattimento were an Italian fascio organization, created by Benito Mussolini in 1919. After World War I had ended, he reconstituted the Milan fascio, renaming it Fasci Italiani di Combattimento. In 1921, this fascio would be transformed into the Partito Nazionale Fascista,...

, which became the National Fascist Party
National Fascist Party
The National Fascist Party was an Italian political party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of fascism...

 in 1921; in the latter year he was also elected to the Chamber of Deputies
Chamber of Deputies
Chamber of deputies is the name given to a legislative body such as the lower house of a bicameral legislature, or can refer to a unicameral legislature.-Description:...

. With the 1922 March on Rome
March on Rome
The March on Rome was a march by which Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party came to power in the Kingdom of Italy...

, Mussolini seized power and became a dictator officially recognised by the then ruling House of Savoy
House of Savoy
The House of Savoy was formed in the early 11th century in the historical Savoy region. Through gradual expansion, it grew from ruling a small county in that region to eventually rule the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 until the end of World War II, king of Croatia and King of Armenia...


Once Mussolini was in power, Ida Dalser and her son were placed under surveillance by the police, and paper evidence of their relationship was tracked down to be destroyed by government agents. She still persisted in vocally claiming her role as the dictator's wife, and even publicly denounced Mussolini as a traitor, stating that during his years in Milan he had accepted a bribe from the French government in exchange for political campaigning in support of the involvement of then neutral Italy in the war on the side of France. Eventually, she was forcibly interned in the psychiatric hospital
Psychiatric hospital
Psychiatric hospitals, also known as mental hospitals, are hospitals specializing in the treatment of serious mental disorders. Psychiatric hospitals vary widely in their size and grading. Some hospitals may specialise only in short-term or outpatient therapy for low-risk patients...

 of Pergine Valsugana
Pergine Valsugana
Pergine Valsugana is a comune in Trentino in the northern Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 9 km east of Trento...

, and then transferred to that of the island of San Clemente in Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, where she died in 1937. The cause of death was registered as "brain haemorrhage".

Benito Albino's fate

Benito Albino Mussolini was abducted by government agents, told his mother was dead, and was adopted as an orphan by the fascist ex-police chief of Sopramonte. Initially educated at a Barnabite
The Barnabites, or Clerics Regular of Saint Paul is a Roman Catholic order.-Establishment of the Order :It was founded in 1530 by three Italian noblemen: St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria The Barnabites, or Clerics Regular of Saint Paul (Latin: Clerici Regulares Sancti Pauli, abbr. B.) is a Roman Catholic...

 college in Moncalieri
Moncalieri is a town and comune of approximately 58,000 inhabitants about eight kilometers directly south of downtown Turin , in Piedmont, Italy. It is notable for its castle, built in the 12th century and enlarged in the 15th century, which later became the favorite residence of Maria Clotilde...

, he enrolled in the Italian Royal Navy
Regia Marina
The Regia Marina dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 after Italian unification...

, and always remained under close surveillance by the fascist government. Still he persisted in stating Benito Mussolini was his father, and was eventually forcibly interned in an asylum in Mombello
Limbiate is a comune in the Province of Monza and Brianza in the Italian region Lombardy, located about 15 km north of Milan.- Immigration : - Demografic Stats-External links:*...

, Province of Milan
Province of Milan
The Province of Milan : /) is a province in the Lombardy region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Milan. The provincial territory is highly urbanized, resulting in the third highest population density among the Italian provinces with more than 2,000 inhabitants/km2, just behind the provinces of...

, where he died in 1942, aged twenty-six.

Rediscovery and Dalser's life in film

The story of Benito Mussolini's first marriage was suppressed during fascist rule, and remained generally unknown for years afterwards. It was uncovered in 2005 by Italian journalist Marco Zeni
Marco Zeni
Italian journalist Marco Zeni was the first to uncover the suppressed secret of Benito Mussolini's first marriage to Ida Dalser, in which the two had a son, Benito Albino Mussolini. His story was publicized through a documentary and two books, L'ultimo filò and La moglie di Mussolini ....

 and made public through a TV documentary on state television
RAI — Radiotelevisione italiana S.p.A. known until 1954 as Radio Audizioni Italiane, is the Italian state owned public service broadcaster controlled by the Ministry of Economic Development. Rai is the biggest television company in Italy...

 as well as two books (L'ultimo filò and La moglie di Mussolini).

Vincere is a film that is based on the life of the first wife of Benito Mussolini. It stars Giovanna Mezzogiorno as Ida Dalser and Filippo Timi as Benito Albino Mussolini. It was filmed under the direction of Marco Bellocchio, who also wrote the screenplay with Daniela Ceselli, and it was released...

, a biopic on Dalser's life, under the direction of Marco Bellocchio, was screened at the 2009 American Film Institute Festival and in competition at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival
2009 Cannes Film Festival
The 62nd annual Cannes Film Festival was held from May 13 to May 24, 2009. French actress Isabelle Huppert was the President of the Jury. It was announced on March 19, 2009, that Pixar's film Up would open the festival...

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