Duce with the Laughing Face
Understandably. As Hitler's brash and brutal ally, Il Duce shipped thousands of Italian Jews to Nazi death camps and led his country to ruin in World War II. By 1945, Mussolini was a name many Italians never wanted to hear again. But five decades later, with rightist nostalgia on the rise, the moniker was magic at the polls. "I'm proud to be Alessandra Mussolini," said the political neophyte who favors miniskirts and high heels and rides a motorbike. "I'll never change my name."
Supported by the far-right Movimento Sociale Italiano party, Alessandra dwells on the sunnier side of her grandfather's legacy. "I like to get on with things, and so did he," she says. "I don't like wasting time. For instance, I prefer to eat a meal quickly, like Grandfather did."
The daughter of Mussolini's youngest son, Romano, a jazz pianist, and his ex-wife, Maria Scicolone, who is film star Sophia Loren's sister, Alessandra studied medicine while pursuing an acting career of her own. After appearing in a few low-budget films, she turned to politics last year. "In the movie world," she says, "the tendency is to be left wing, and the name Mussolini was not a help."
Married to Capt. Mauro Floriani, 30, a customs policeman, Alessandra will take her seat in the 630-seat Parliament this week. "I'll show people what a Mussolini is worth," she vows. It is a promise many of her compatriots do not find reassuring.