Palazzo VeneziaThe Palazzo Venezia, which is located on the right of Piazza Venezia, was
built in 1455, for a Venetian cardinal, Pietro Barbo, who later became Pope Paul II (1464-1471). The palazzo was
the first Renaissance building in Rome and was used as a summer residence of the Pope until the Quirinal Palace was built in 1573. The building was later given to the Republic of Venice, by
Pius IV, in 1564. It was later passed on to the Austrian monarchy, in 1797, following the Treaty of
Campoformido. It remained under Austria, as its embassy to the Holy See (Vatican City) , until World War I.
Mussolini's HeadquartersIn 1916 the state repossessed the building, where it became the seat of the
head of government between 1929-1943. Mussolini used the palace as his headquarters (on the first floor).
Many of Mussolini's famous speeches were made from the central balcony that had been added in 1715, by the
Venetian ambassador.To impress Hitler, Mussolini had the medieval quarter demolished, so the Colosseum could
be seen from his balcony. The palazzo is now used for art exhibitions.
In 2002 an Italian newspaper, Il Messaggero, reported that a secret tunnel, 4.6m beneath the city of Rome, had
been discovered. The secret tunnel is thought to have been built during the 1930's, by the Fascist leader
Mussolini. The tunnel is approximately 400m long and runs below the Roman Forum and emerges near the Colosseum. A
maze of tunnels leading from Mussolini's office in the Palazzo Venezia connects to the tunnel .It is believed the
tunnel (large enough for a car) was built by Mussolini, as an escape route during World War II. The tunnel was
discovered by architect, Massimo Bruno during the 1980's when he was exploring the service corridors of the
Vittorio Emmanuel II Monument, which had been used as bomb shelters during World War II. Areas of the tunnel were
still wired for telephones and radio transmitter-receivers when Bruno made the discovery.