THE WORLDPOST
03/25/2013 02:57 pm ET

Mussolini's 'Last' Bunker Revealed; Unfinished Structure In Rome Will Open To Public (VIDEO)

Nearly 70 years after Benito Mussolini's death, new images and video of what the Italian media are calling Mussolini's last bunker have emerged, revealing a hideaway underneath the dictator's Palazzo Venezia headquarters in Rome.

The nine-room bunker was originally discovered during the renovation of the historic Palazzo in 2010, according to Italian paper La Stampa. During the work, city superintendent Anna Imponente spied a small wooden hatch that led down into a concrete structure nearly 50 feet below the surface.

La Stampa, which toured the structure last week, speculated the hideout was probably designed for only a few people, maybe Mussolini and his mistress, Claretta Petacci. Rough-hewn walls and clearly unfinished floors and ceilings attest to the structure's unfinished nature. The bunker was never used by the dictator, who was known as "Il Duce."

Mussolini's bunker is scheduled to be opened to the public in the fall.

Brutal and power hungry, Mussolini had reason to fear for his safety during World War II. The leader of the Italian Fascist Party aligned himself with the Axis powers in 1939, and in 1942, the British Royal Air Force drafted plans to bomb his residences, the Telegraph notes.

That plan was later scrapped, but Palazzo Venezia was one of the structures that would have been targeted, according to The Telegraph. The discovery of the bunker suggests Mussolini was worried about his well-being.

Last year, a similar shelter -- this one built beneath Mussolini's Villa Torlonia residence -- was also opened to the public.

The public treatment of Mussolini's bunkers contrasts sharply with the handling of Adolf Hitler's last hideaway.

According to the BBC, German authorities refused to mark the site of Hitler's infamous last day until 2006, when a historical society put up a simple information panel at the spot. The bunker is now buried beneath a nondescript Berlin parking lot.

View the video below to tour Mussolini's last bunker.

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