Italian dictator Benito Mussolini maintained relationships with several mistresses – as many as 14 at a time, according to some – but none stuck by him quite as ardently as Clara Petacci. Petacci, his preferred paramour, kept a diary about her time as Mussolini's mistress that provides intimate insights into her lover's life and sexual behavior. Although never married to Mussolini, she was the woman behind one of the most powerful leaders of the twentieth century and died alongside him as a result. even perished by his side.
Petacci Was Infatuated With Mussolini As A Child
Clara "Claretta" Petacci was the daughter of a doctor who worked first for the Papacy and later for Mussolini's government. Born in 1912, Petacci was enamored with Mussolini from a young age. She sent him frequent poems and letters, a practice that accelerated after Mussolini was almost killed in an assassination attempt in 1926.
The Two Met When She Flagged Down His Car
Petacci, almost three decades younger than the dictator, met him by accident in 1932 when they both happened to be riding down the same road.
Twenty-year-old Petacci was with her family, including her fiance, and spotted 49-year-old Mussolini's Alfa Romeo. She seized upon the chance to meet the man she worshipped from afar and urged her driver to follow Mussolini's vehicle while she shouted from the window, "Il Duce, Il Duce." Mussolini stopped, the two met, and, according to Petacci, they both fell in love at first sight.
Petacci Was Mussolini's "Principle And Permanent Concubine"
The attraction between Mussolini and Petacci started immediately. Although she was reportedly invited to his villa for dinner when they met, accounts differ as to the exact nature of their relationship.
According to some, Mussolini – who at the time was married and a father of five – and Petacci shared nothing more than a friendship at first. Petacci married her fiance, a military lieutenant, but later left him, only then becoming Mussolini's lover. Another account – Petacci's own diary, in fact – indicates that she sent him love letters and that the two entered into a clandestine sexual relationship within weeks of meeting. By still another account, Mussolini pursued Petacci, calling her house dozens of times every day and eventually asking her mother, Giuseppina, for permission to court her.
Despite the specific circumstances, Petacci became Mussolini's favorite lover and one whom he returned to often. Although his propensity for one night stands was well known, Clara remained a constant presence in his life.
Her Diary Reveals What Sex With Mussolini Was Like
"I hold him tightly. I kiss him and we make love with such fury that his screams seem like those of a wounded beast ... We made love with such force that he bit my shoulder so hard his teeth left a mark."
Mussolini's own letters to Petracci also provide glimpses into their relationship. He wrote to her on one occasion to "Be afraid of my love. It's like a cyclone. It's tremendous; it overwhelms everything. You must tremble."