News came in yesterday of a possible solution to the “Bigio” statue controversy in the Italian city of Brescia. A town in Hungary has expressed interest in buying the fascist era statue, currently stored in a warehouse in the city.
Tiszavasvári, a town in Hungary plans to display the statue in the town centre as a tribute to Mussolini who is regarded as a hero by city mayor Erik Fülöp.
As some readers may recall, the northern Italian town was rocked last year by controversy over the 1930’s statue which portrays a young muscular and naked athlete. The then centre-right administration of Brescia had decided to replace the statue in its original location in the city’s Piazza della Vittoria – Victory Square.
The statue was dedicated to “All’era fascista” – the “Fascist Era” – by late Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who unveiled it personally in 1932. Italian partisans removed the statue in 1945 after the fall of Mussolini. It has languished in storage ever since.
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The Guardian newspaper ran a story on the issue last year. Such was the resulting furore that former mayor Adriano Paroli decided to postpone a decision on the future of the statue until after elections.
Mayoral elections held in June 2013 saw Paroli’s defeat, and brought a new centre-left administration into power in Brescia.
The new mayor, Emilio Del Bono of Italy’s Democratic Party, pledged to find an alternative solution to the Bigio statue issue, but made it clear he would not place the “Fascist Era” statue in the location it occupied during the years of Mussolini’s regime. More recently, however, vice mayor Laura Castelletti surprised many in Brescia when she called for this statue to be restored to its original location in Piazza della Vittoria. Ms Castelletti is not known for her nostalgia of fascism, or wasn’t.
A New Home in Hungary?
Alderman Lajos Halász, a member of Tiszavasvári town council close to mayor Erik Fülöp, learned about the “Bigio” statue from the article in the Guardian, and thought it reflected “the image that we favour for our youth”. He added that the sculpture would boost tourism to Tiszavasvári.
One source in Brescia confirmed that the current administration is considering the idea to idea of selling the controversial statue. Proceeds from the sale, if it goes ahead, would be used to restore Brescia city hall.