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By K. Ferris

This booklet explores the day by day 'lived adventure' of fascism in Venice throughout the Thirties, charting the makes an attempt of the fascist regime to infiltrate and reshape Venetians' daily lives and their responses to the intrusions of the fascist nation.

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30 Many of these immigrant groups, including the Friulani, maintained strong internal links: Campo San Bartolomeo, just off the Rialto, was known to be the location of the Friulians’ meeting-point on their Sunday day off. 31 Even those born Venetian, or resident there before the war, did not stay still. 32 Less wealthy Venetians were also on the move. 33 But it was the Venetian popolani who faced the greatest physical upheaval after the war. The increase in unemployment and decline of the Venetian islands’ industrial base accompanied what has been termed a ‘forced exodus’ of the Venetian ‘popular classes’ from the overcrowded and unsanitary housing stock of the historic centre.

18 The group’s unspoken leader, Giuseppe Volpi (later Count of Misurata), born in Venice to a family from Bergamo, married into one of the Serenissima’s patrician families and inherited the mantle of ‘unofficial doge’ in the 1930s thanks to his hegemonic dominance of much of the political, economic and cultural life of the city. Volpi made his fortune as an industrialist before turning first to local and then national politics, where he served under Giolitti as a delegate to the Versailles and Rapallo peace conferences and as Governor of Tripolitana and later as Minister of Finance for Mussolini.

Over these ‘two red years’ of 1919–20, angry, often violent encounters frequently took place in the city’s streets and squares, in its bars and ‘Elbow to elbow’: Venetian life between the wars 35 osterie and on its walls (in the form of graffiti wars). 74 Between 1919 and 1922, approximately 200 violent encounters took place involving fascist squadristi and, variously or simultaneously, socialists, communists and the police. 75 Despite the notable level of political violence, there were relatively few factory occupations in the city.

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