Getting roped into World War II
The demagogue Benito Mussolini came to power after World War I and did much to improve Italy’s infrastructure—at least on the surface—and in the process won the respect of many Italians.
His Fascist regime accomplished the improbable: drumming up national sentiment in a country where most people, far from normally feeling any sort of patriotism, still looked on the folk in the village five miles down the road as foreigners.
Then Mussolini got caught up with Hitler’s World War II egomania, believing that Italy should have a second empire as great as the ancient Roman one.
Although the Tuscans certainly had their share of collaborators and die-hard Fascists, many Italians never bought into the war or the Axis alliance. Partisan movement was always strong, with resistance fighters holed up, especially in the hills south of Siena.
Tuscany became a battlefield as the occupying Nazi troops slowly withdrew across the landscape in the face of American and Allied advancement.