Palazzo Castani

The palace where the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento were founded on 23rd March 1919. From 1921 to 1943 this was the headquarter of the Partito Nazionale Fascista di Milano and from 1943 to 1945 of the Partito Fascista Repubblicano.

In the meeting room of the Alleanza Industriale of Palazzo Castani in Piazza San Sepolcro – a period building dated back to the 15th century – Benito Mussolini founded the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento on 23rd March 1919. Two days before this, an assembly made up of Mussolini, Ferruccio Vecchi, Enzo Ferrari, Michele Bianchi, Mario Gianpaoli, Ferruccio Ferradini and Carlo Meraviglia had founded the Fascio di Combattimento of Milan. About three hundred people participated to the assembly of the 23rd, most of whom were veterans and arditi of the Great War, nationalist futurists, revolutionary unionists, anarchists and republicans. The premises of the first headquarter in Milan, rented from the Associazione Lombarda degli Industriali, showcased the obvious Fasces and, most of all, the symbols of the arditi: the dagger, the banner, the skull. On the 24th of March, the newspaper “Popolo d’Italia” published their “programma di San Sepolcro”. The organization, a self-proclaimed “anti-party”, filled the program with a number of claims: a redemption of the “mutilated victory”; a fight against neutralists and pacifists; fierce opposition to socialists; universal suffrage, women’s right to vote, eight-hour working day, fight against the “sharks”; the overthrow of the monarchy and establishment of a republic. It was program, then, which mixed elements coming both from the nationalist right and the extreme left. The same day, the 23rd March, on the pages of the “Popolo d’Italia”, Mussolini unveiled that “bivalence of formulas” which would be critical to his success: “We can afford to be aristocratic and democratic, conservative and progressive; reactionary and revolutionary, legalitarian and illegalitarian, according to the circumstances of time, place and environment”. A few weeks later, on the 15th April, the members of the Fasci in Milan were the protagonists of the first, serious act of violence in post-war Italy: a clash with a socialist demonstration ended with the arson of the headquarter of the“Avanti!”, a socialist newspaper which had been previously managed by Mussolini himself. Palazzo Castani later became, between 1921 and 1943, the headquarter of Milan’s Partito Nazionale Fascista and, during the German occupation between 1943 and 1945, the headquarter of the Partito Fascista Repubblicano.
Roberta Cairoli