Areas in the Republic of Salo'
The second world war affected the whole of Italy, splitting the country in two: from Rome downwards the army supported the Anglo-American forces, while in the north there was a large resistance to the advance. Thus the Italian Social Republic came about, with its government headquarters set up to the south-west of Lake Garda. Its capital was Salò, where Mussolini and Hitler attempted to reorganise fascist Italy.
The presence today of this historical period is still felt strongly, in this natural landscape setting, unique in the world, integrating monuments and testimonies of the many cultures that have passed through.
Mussolini took up residence in Gargnano, in the fantastic Villa Feltrinelli, furnished at the time in a simple and modest style. Bogliaco was the home town of Giovanni Dolfin, the head of the "Segreteria Particolare" (Special Secretariat), the guards of Mussolini in the Alpine Barracks and the troops of the R.S.I on the golf course. Palazzo Bettoni became the headquarters of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
Maderno was host to the officials closest to Mussolini, while Gardone Riviera was divided into both a prestigious resort (thanks to the many lakeside villas) and hospital centre (neutral zone according to the International Geneva Convention).
Salò was the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Policy and Popular Culture, and also host to the Salò Police Force and the National Republican Guard (formerly Arma dei Carabinieri). From Salò to Desenzano, via Portese and San Felice del Benaco, there are many villas and residences of ministers and partners who worked closely with Mussolini.
The Republic was distributed across the entire territory of Lake Garda, and it was practically impossible for the various Ministers to communicate with one another. When the bombings started and the conflict worsened, all members had to face days of walking to reach Mussolini and make important decisions.
Italy remained divided until 1945, the year of Liberation, and the year of the end of the Social Republic of Salò. Mussolini and his highest officials died on 28 April near Lake Como.