Sunday, 2 October 2022

Postcards From Rhodes - Mussolini's Mansion

Kalimera! Ready for more of our Greek adventures?


The mountain village of Profitas Ilias is a 28km drive from Stegna and the location of the infamous Villa De Vechi, also known as Mussolini's Mansion. Built by Count Cesare de Vecchi, an adviser to Benito Mussolini from 1936 until 1947, El Duce never actually spent summers here, as was the original intention, but Vecchi himself lived in the Italianate mansion when he was governor of the Dodecanese until 1947 when the islands were ceded to Greece and the house abandoned.






Some say that the building was deliberately allowed to fall into disrepair as a permanent reminder of the Count’s cruelty to the local people and of Italy’s failure to “Italianise” the Dodecanese. The Villa De Vechi isn't signposted but for those who can find it, its free to explore  but, be warned, do watch your step if you decide to pay a visit, it really is in a bad way.

A few months ago, we'd seen photos of Mussolini's Mansion posted on a derelict spaces site and, as you well know, neither of us resist a dilapidated building or exploring unusual places away from the well-trodden tourist trail. 


Daubed with almost a century of graffiti and with littered with the detritus of squatters, Mussolini's Mansion has a haunting beauty that stayed with us for the rest of the day.
























The mansion even has it's own chapel.


You can see why they chose this location, you can see the island of Symi and the coast of Turkey from the French windows.





In the shadow of Mussolini's Mansion stands a former lodge, built by the Italians in 1929 to accommodate their army officers. It was named Albergo del Cervo (Deer’s Hotel) after the rare and strictly protected deer species of Dama Dama which inhabits the forest surrounding the hotel. During WW2, when the island fell to the Nazis, it was used as a military hospital and, after decades of dereliction, was eventually restored and is now a posh hotel.




Lying twenty kilometres from the village of Ilia Profitas you'll find Epta Piges (the Seven Springs), a more positive legacy from the Italian occupation. In 1931, these naturally occurring springs were channeled into an 186 metre long tunnel leading to a man-made lake which served as a reservoir for the neighbouring town of Kolumbia and continues to provide fresh water for the residents today.


Tranquil and shady, admission is free and is a delightful place to escape for an hour or two. You can drink the water (and top up your recyclable bottles) and the wild peacocks are more than happy to amble alongside although, try as we might, we only managed to find two of the seven springs. 








Visitors are welcome to wade through the tunnel but Jon didn't fancy it and I didn't want to ruin my leather sandals!









And we were still only halfway through our day!

Stay tuned to see where we visited next....

38 comments:

  1. Hello Vix, I'm here with coffee for a wee bloggy catchup. Mussolini's Mansion - what an eerily fascinating place. The seven springs look beautiful. I'm off to see your first post, after another biscuit.... x

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    1. Hello Lulu! Enjoy your biscuit and ta very much for reading! xxx

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  2. What an interesting story. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Interesting to see and read the background. Vanity and wanted power mixed.

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    1. It's a fascinating visit. I like how it's been left to decay, it leaves a powerful message. x

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  4. I am fascinated by derelict spaces like Mussolini's Mansion. I'm glad you and Jon didn't fall through any floors! The springs are lovely too.

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    1. Jon was a bit jittery standing on the balcony but it was worth risking life and limb for those views! x

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  5. I would totally have gone in that tunnel!!! I love springs!
    Mussolini's mansion is so atmospheric! Eerie!!
    Kx

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    1. You're a braver woman than I! I loved being accompanied by all those peacocks.
      I was so pleased to find the mansion, I wasn't sure if the images I'd seen online had been photoshopped but it was just as spooky in real life! xxx

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  6. I would have loved exploring Mussolini's Mansion, what an atmospheric place!
    The Seven Springs look delightful as well, particularly with your visit being accompanied by peacocks. I have to admit I wouldn't have fancied that tunnel either. Apparently, vertigo and claustrophobia often go hand in hand! Can't wait to see what you did next! xxx

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    1. You would have loved the mansion, Ann. I bet it was magnificent back in the day.
      That must be why Jon didn't fancy the tunnel, hee's like you when it comes to heights. xxx

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  7. I'd have done the tunnel but there's no way I
    would have gone up that flight of stairs at Mussolini's mansion. You're both lucky to get out without something giving way.

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    1. I was more scared of spiders than anything giving way in Mussolini's mansion! xxx

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  8. I would have liked to explore the tunnel (last experience of tunnels was Vietnam which was a tight squeeze!) however I wouldn't want to ruin my sandals either. Your dress is so very pretty and Jon has taken some really good pics. The Villa de Vechi is beautiful even in its state of disrepair, would make a fabulous guesthouse :)

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    1. I remember when you braved those tunnels in Vietnam, you were very brave! Maybe if I was wearing my Crocs I'd have ventured inside (but, knowing me, I'd have ended up lost and miles away from Jon.)
      The Greek government are offering to lease the house - even foreigners are allowed to apply. I'd love to turn it into a guesthouse but think the repairs would bankrupt us! xxx

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  9. Thank you for sharing such an interesting post about places off the tourist trail. I haven’t been to Rhodes but you are selling it well. X

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    1. Thank you! It's easy to overlook these easy to get to destinations but there's so much to see and do - and often for free! xxx

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  10. So interesting to read about this place I admit to having no idea it existed. The fact that it had deliberately been left to deteriorate makes such a statement. Glad you ventured carefully. No way I would have ventured into the tunnel even in the right shoes. Look forward to your next post. xx

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    1. Thanks, Jill. I had no idea about Mussolini's Mansion until I spotted it on that site, it's not in any of the guide books. There's another interesting discovery in my next post which we stumbled upon quite by accident. It's amazing to think that such a popular European island has so many hidden gems. xxx

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  11. Oh, I LOVE that dilapidated mansion. I have always loved old buildings and I can see so much beauty in that faded, neglected splendour. That broom in the corner is looking very hopeful isn't it :-)

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    1. I was tempted to have a go with that brush but I might have still been there now!
      There's something about dilapidated old buildings, isn't there? I much prefer the National Trust properties that are a bit shabby around the edges. x

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  12. Replies
    1. It's a great place to visit of ever you're on Rhodes. x

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  13. Goodness, two completely contrasting buildings and both so atmospheric. As Sue says, the faded, neglected splendor of Mussolini's place can only hint at what it would have been like when completed. I am not surprised the feel of the site stayed with you.

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    1. Back in 2014 that lodge was in a similar state. I suppose the association with El Duce has - unsurprisingly - put anyone taking up the Greek Government's offer to lease it. I wonder if we'd get a Golden Ticket if we put in an offer?! xxx

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  14. Hope all is well
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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    1. All's good here, thanks Dora. I must pop over for a coffee. x

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  15. Oh, that is so beautiful - I love the look of things that are worn and weathered like that mansion. Gorgeous pics, Vix!

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  16. Oh I would have been in my element in that mansion - that floor is stunning! Fabulous pics! What an exciting time you had! xxx

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    1. I might have to go back with my screwdriver and liberate a couple of those tiles for my collection! xxx

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    1. I wish we could have found the other five - we'll have to go back! x

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  18. Great photos. I'm sure that this abandoned fascist villa is an interesting sight to be seen. That tunnel, though...It looks a bit scary to be honest.

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    1. I wasn't keen on the thought of walking through that tunnel, I'm glad Jon didn't fancy it either! xxx

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Lots of love, Vix