Rome wine cellar-turned-air raid shelter for Mussolini aopens its steel doors to public

A Roman villa's wine cellar, which was converted into an air raid shelter for Benito Mussolini and the Italian dictator's family, is opening its anti-gas steel doors to tourists.

The shelter was quickly constructed in 1940, after the outbreak of World War II, in what had been the wine cellar of a noble family, who lived there before Mussolini took up residence during his Fascist rule.

The city of Rome now owns the villa, and Mayor Ignazio Marino toured the shelter Saturday. Visits for tourists with reservations begin on Oct. 31.

Visitors can see the iron-rung ladder used for an emergency exit and an apparatus to purify air in case of a gas attack, said archaeologist Giuseppe Granata. A later-constructed, reinforced-concrete wartime bunker under the villa can also be toured.