Hidden treasures

The vaporetto in Venice, the Jewish Margerita Sarfatti and the Dux

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The vaporetto in Venice, the Jewish Margerita Sarfatti and the Dux

For many years, the vaporettos - the water buses that every day carry residents and millions of tourists along the Grand Canal, or to the lagoon islands - have been a symbol of Venice. Although they all run on a diesel engine and no longer on steam, the ancient name vaporetto (‘vapore' means steam) has remained.

Perhaps not everyone knows that the founder of the first vaporetto company in Venice was the Jewish contractor Amedeo Grassini, a prominent personality who was a lawyer and councillor.  With the collaboration of Giuseppe Musatti, he founded a financial group to give start to the transformation of the Lido into a tourist destination. The prestige of the Grassinis grew further when they left the ghetto to move into the historic Bembo palace on the Grand Canal (1894).

Amedeo Grassini is also famous for being the father of Margherita Sarfatti (1880- 1961) a renowned art critic and discoverer of new artists, lover of Benito Mussolini and his first biographer.

Socialist activist during the Great War and journalist for the magazine ‘Avanti', in 1922 she founded, with the gallerist Lino, the so-called ‘Gruppo del Novecento', among whom the famous surrealist painter Mario Sironi.

Widowed in 1924, Sarfatti devoted herself to writing Mussolini's biography. The text - thoroughly revised by Mussolini himself - was first published in 1925 in England with the title 'The Life of Benito Mussolini' and the following year in Italy with the title 'Dux'. For the notoriety of the character and the author's familiarity with the dictator, the book had a tremendous sales success and was translated into 18 languages, including Turkish and Japanese.

The relationship with Mussolini went on for a decade, until 1936, when Sarfatti opposed to the alliance with Hitler and to the colonial missions.

If you want to learn about the life of this famous woman in greater detail, you should visit the exhibition at the Palazzo Ducale di Venezia 'Venice, the Jews and Europe'. The exhibit is organized on the occasion of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Ghetto in Venice and open to the public from June 19th to November 13th 2016. The last part of the exhibition is dedicated to the figure of this beguiling Venetian Jewish lady.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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