Friday: Sordid Tales: Claretta and Benito

Sitting in a tree, kis…  Well actually in one of the first pictures I saw of them, they were hanging upside down from the rafters surrounded by thousands of onlookers.

Benito Mussolini claimed no fame for having great relationships with women.  One biographer reported that he stabbed a girlfriend in the arm.  In 1914 at the age of 31, he began his marriage tour.  His two wives were Ida Dalser and Rachele Guidi (a former mistress from before his first marriage).  Although Benito had several mistresses and brief sexual encounters, Claretta Petacci is probably the best known mistress. He died in her arms as she tried to protect him.  (Wikipedia)

Claretta was just 14 when she started writing to Benito.  It didn’t take her long to get his attention.  Here is the first paragraph from one of her first letters, translated by a fellow blogger, GioHAOT, from Italy.  I’m not going to show the entire letter, which gets more shocking because you can read the entire letter on her blog.

Dux. For the second time they have cowardly made an attempt on Your person. A woman! What infamy, what cowardice, what disgrace! But she’s a foreigner and that’s enough! Beloved Dux, why have they made another attempt* to take you away from our strong and safe love? Dux, my very great Dux, our life, our hope, our glory, how can there be a soul so wicked to attempt to the bright destiny of our beautiful Italy? O, Dux, why wasn’t I there!  

-Claretta Petacci

Attention!  Attention!  Benito!  …  He soon contacted her, and they corresponded.  One article says that even though she began writing to him when she was 14, they were not introduced until she was 20.  Since I haven’t read any well documented books, just the internet, I can’t comment on the veracity of that statement.  You might expect that a leader of a country would encourage this young woman to do well in school, and get a good education.  But history tells us that was not the advice he gave her.


I love her last statement, “O, Dux, why wasn’t I there!”  Isn’t that just like a kid to think they could have changed the course of the world simply by asserting their presence into the situation.  Apparently her mom wouldn’t let her run to his side to help, or these blotched assassination attempts in 1925 and 1926 would never have happened!  Claretta became his mistress, and protectorate, in the 1930s for about 9 years.  Claretta WAS THERE to protect him when they tried to flee Italy after the war was lost, and Allied folks were looking for him.   She proved her ineffectiveness.  He died shortly after she did, shot in the chest, at his request, after the first several shots didn’t kill him.

According to internet sources I read, Benito was more of a ladies’ man that even Claretta could handle.  I haven’t read them, but Italy released Claretta’s diaries, and she did not hold back her descriptions.  One of my sources stated that It was not unusual for him to entertain 4 women a night, and I don’t think that included his mistress or his wife.  Apparently he could string along about 14 women at a time.  What a guy!  🙂

Five feet tall, bald, patronizing and cruel, the perfect specimen of a man.
Isn’t he adorable?  Five feet tall, bald, patronizing, and cruel, BM was the perfect specimen of a man.

Claretta tried to clean up his act by screaming at him about his encounters.


In April 1938, she records their exchange after she caught him with 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 conceded.

‘Twenty-four!’ screamed Claretta.

‘All right, 24 then, so it was a quick thing,’ grumbled Il Duce.

‘Who cares? She’s past it. After 17 years there’s no enthusiasm; it’s like when I take my wife.’

I taught California and American History, so I’m not a world history expert.  As I read about his historic drama, my questions were:

  1. Where was her mother when she was writing letters like this to the leader of the country?
  2. Why was this the kind of guy anyone would choose to lead ANY country?
  3. What did she and other women see in this man?  (I LOVE that his initials are BM! hahaha  🙂  )

What are some of your questions?

If you want more sordid details, you’ll have to look at some of these sites.  I’ve had about as much of Benito as I can take!  🙂


Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. For thirty-five years, I lived in the most beautiful area in Central Valley of California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains minutes from the Sequoia National Park. As a child I moved from Indiana to Oregon. With my first husband I moved from Oregon to Colorado to California. Every time we moved, it hurt so much to leave friends. I never wanted to move again. After Mark passed, I married again. I told Vince that I could never budge from my roots in California. He said he loved the high desert. I don't think he ever thought he would realize his dream. In November, 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

18 thoughts on “Friday: Sordid Tales: Claretta and Benito”

  1. Benito Mussolini was a very powerful man .. and he was dangerous and evil – of course that attracted women to his side – his friendship with Hitler made him very powerful and influenced. He was on the same track as Hitler and he killed for no reason and he was hated by his people – but good friend with the Vatican, which made him even more powerful.
    He wasn’t a leader …. he had only powerful friends – and Italy, the poor country never had any strong leader, there is no other government that had so many changes as Italy had so far.
    The Italians don’t really care who is in power so long, they can dress well, drive nice cars … eat good and enjoy great wines.
    Did you parents know who you wrote to when you were in that age ?????
    Do you know that they hanged Mussolini’s body next to his mistress Clara Petacci and other executed fascists in Milan 1945 in Piazzale Loreto, the same place where the fascists a year earlier had hung 15 Milanese insurgents????


          1. The older we get – yes, there is so much more out there TO learn. That’s the fun of living. What are we going to do with all that knowledge when we get it anyway? I’ve got a ton I can’t even access, buried deep within the many folds of my brain. I’m accumulating more and more folds, I think, and doing less and less! 🙂 hmmm What’s up with that?


    1. You know, Hitler and Stalin did so much damage, that, truthfully In history books, Mussolini doesn’t get much space. I came across one of her letters on a blog, and I just thought if was a perfect example of sordid. When I read more about Mussolini, I decided the he was definitely sordid. I know he was evil, but at this point I hope the world can stand it if I dole him out a bit of disrespect!


      1. BM – men like him – don’t deserve any repect .. the thing is that there is men just like him out there today ruling their countries and people with fear … terrible.


        1. We complain about our president (s), but we don’t know what it is like to worry about your very breath, and now know why you might get shot or knifed. We have lived our entire lives pretty much saying what we like, when we like it without fear of reprisal, and have no idea what it means to worry! Thanks for reminding me, how lucky I am, Viveka. 🙂


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