Human Interest

Italy’s oldest pet cemetery turns 100 since Mussolini’s hen burial

Rome, Apr 26 (EFE).- Italy’s oldest pet cemetery, with nearly 1,000 animals – including a lion – have been buried, is celebrating 100 years since its first and surprising burial: a hen belonging to the children of the country’s former leader, Benito Mussolini.

The Casa Rosa, on the outskirts of Rome, dates back to 1922, when Mussolini’s veterinarian, Antonio Molon, gave the Fascist dictator’s children a hen that became their pet until she died shortly after.

“Mussolini asked my father, since he had land, to bury it so that the children could go leave flowers and remember the days they spent together,” Luigi Molon, Antonio’s son and the current owner, tells Efe in an interview in his office, which is decorated with photos of his father next to “Il Duce’s” dogs.

The burial, which took place the same year that Mussolini took power, led to a cemetery being established in the back garden of the Molon house for all kinds of animal species.

“Then came the pets of the Savoy -the last royal house in Italy-, of actors such as French Brigitte Bardot, of prime ministers, magistrates and other celebrities,” adds Molon, who is reluctant to reveal the identities of his famous clients.

A hundred years on, nearly a thousand pets have been buried there.

The cemetery is home to an eclectic range of tombs, from simple grave stones to grand mausoleums filled with photos, stuffed animals, lights and colored garlands.

“What the tombstones do is nothing but continue the routine that their owners had of combing the pets, washing them, playing with them… it is a thread that is not interrupted”, Molon says.

The 78-year-old, who since 1984 has had the only license in the country to bury animals, takes pride in the unique history that this cemetery embodies. “It’s a hundred years old. Who’s going to take it from me?”

Therefore, and despite his advanced age, he says he will continue his life’s work at the historic Casa Rosa cemetery until the end, and that his children will continue his legacy after him: “The generations will continue”. EFE

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