Re-inhabiting The City of Colonies through politics of pleasure

The City of Colonies


Sveva Crisafulli

On the east coast of Northern Italy, in the small fraction between the cities of Rimini, Riccione and Cesena, more than two-hundred fascist colossal buildings are left to perish along the seaside; the site has recently been named the City of Colonies.
Originally built as nursing houses in the late 1800s to help cure breathing pathologies for children, the Colonie Marine – literally ‘seaside colonies’ – went through a reorganization in the 1920s, when they were transformed into holiday camps to give the nation’s young people a character-forming experience under fascist ideologies. By the mid 1930s all the Colonie Marine were under the management of the Fascist National Party for young people – the Opera Nazionale Balilla – which was linked to the Ministry of Education for male and female children from 6 -18 years old. At the beginning of summertime, children from working class families and more deprived parts of the cities would leave their hometowns to take part in the Colonie Marine for the fascist youth – as part of an experimental pedagogical program of hegemonic fascist education. The young Balilla children had to perform the fascist salute in front of the Italian flag twice a day, actively participate to the “fascist Saturdays”, recite the Balilla vows: “in the name of God and Italy I swear to follow the Duce’s orders and to serve with all of my powers, and if necessary, my blood, the cause of Fascist revolution.”. The strict education into fascist ideologies involved exercising and performing as militaries from the age of eight years old for male children. The female children were educated into sports activities to be “healthy, robust, and fecund” – namely to be able to provide, in the future, children for the fascist nation. At the core of the Colonie Marine’s project was that of building people that would believe, fight, and obey for fascist causes – as it was those young people who were destined to become the regime’s foot soldiers, or that would provide progeny for the Italian nation.
In the decades following the Second World War and the fall of the regime, the Colonie Marine that were not damaged by the bombings were briefly re-qualified into hotels and small holiday pensions. Today most of the Colonie are left abandoned, the terrain that surrounds them hasn’t been cultivated for decades, wild plants have taken over the buildings and the ground on which their standing has turned into a swamp. In complete desolation the colossal architectures stand visible, impossible to be missed by yet deemed to not exist – in a haunted atmosphere that crystallizes fascist hegemonic power.


[1] Diligenti, La scuola durante il Fascismo. “Nel nome di Dio e dell’Italia giuro di eseguire gli ordini del duce e di
servire con tutte le mie forze e, se necessario con il mio sangue, la causa della rivoluzione fascista”

[2] Antonella Mauri, Sane, robuste, feconde. L’educazione sportiva delle giovani fasciste