Springtime 1924. In Bosco Santo Pietro, South Sicily, cork leaves are steady as if they are listening to goats grazing behind the church. The green of the grass is dazzling. A small crowd has gathered in the main square, waiting for “Cavaliere” arrival. Suddenly, an echo of cars comes from the road to Caltagirone.
The band begins squawking fascist tunes, while the hierarchs recompose themselves in official pose.
The car door opens and people crowd around it like flies on droppings.
Mussolini appears particularly nervous: he is annoyed by the whistles of the goatherds hidden among the corks.
The ritual operations begin and the procession follows the Prime Minister for the laying of the first stone of the new town of Mussolinia.
“Il Duce” puts for a moment his bowler hat on the wall next to him.
Just a while and he tries to get it back, the bowler has disappeared.
Someone had stolen it in the chaos.
The embarrassed hierarchs begin searching. But there's nothing to do. Though disgruntled, they resume the celebrations.
Mussolini gives a very short speech, trying to conceal his discontent over what had just happened.
Now, everything seems to go the right direction.
It’s time for the laying of the first stone. The parchment has given to Barone De Calboli, chief of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff. But his heart stops for a while: as he puts his hand in the tube case, he realizes that the parchment had disappeared too. He doesn't know how to say it to Mussolini, who has already noticed that something is going wrong from De Calboli's astonished gaze. “Sir”, De Calboli sobbed, “the parchment ...”.
Mussolini understands, asks for a new one and a pen, writing and signing something by himself. The embarrassment is now evident, and the continuous whistles of goatherds in the woods amplify the whole situation. Mussolini makes another speech, greets all the participating people and goes back to his car in a hurry, determined to go back to Rome as soon as possible and forget what just happened.
Later, Sicily, Rome and the fascists seemed to have forgotten Mussolinia's project. In the forest everything went back to its habits: goatherds continued their work and the corks grew undisturbed. It seems that after laying the first stone, no other structure has been erected.
In 1930, six years after that episode, “Il Duce” asked the architect about Mussolinia and how the building works were improving. The architect Fragapane, now member of the Parliament and resident in Rome, was shocked. He rushed to call the comrades in Caltagirone and planned a unanimous response that could save everyone from execution or in a smoother exile. Then, they decided to create a set design, photograph it and send photos to Mussolini: maybe he would not notice the cheat.
And so they did. After two weeks, a couple of shots of the mysterious garden city were on Mussolini's desk. “Il Duce” was very satisfied and decided to include the photographs in Cento Città d’Italia, the atlas published by Sonzogno, with the most amazing achievements built by fascism.
When the Calatini saw the town of Mussolinia in the atlas they were perplexed and felt they were victims of a joke played by the editor.
Then, it seems that some jokers, maybe tired of Mussolini's's politics and repressive methods, decided to deceive him. With the help of a photographer from Caltagirone, they created a photomontage depicting Caltagirone on the sea, with a caption that read: «Caltagirone has its satellite city, its garden city, and now the sea beats at its walls too».
Mussolini saw those pictures and realized that he had been teased by political opposition and by his own hierarchs. He didn't want to admit the defeat and to look like a dummy. He covered up the event and stopped funding for Mussolinia. Caltagirone’s fascists were silently removed, avoiding clamor and, above all, without creating rivalries within the party itself.