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Italy’s Oldest Pet Cemetery Is Where Mussolini’s Hen Is Interred

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Italy's Oldest Pet Cemetery Is Where Mussolini's Hen Is Interred

Few people know that Mussolini kept a pet chicken, despite Rome being known throughout the globe as the resting site of emperors, popes, martyrs, and monarchs from Augustus to Saint Peter.
The hen is interred in the oldest pet cemetery in Italy, which this year celebrates 100 years of burying much-missed cats, dogs, and other four-legged friends in an unusual graveyard southwest of the city.

More than 1,000 dogs have been laid to rest in “Casa Rosa,” where headstones and beautifully painted wooden shrines with stuffed animals and sculptures coexist in the shade of palms and pines.

Many had pedigree owners, including Federico Fellini, the creator of “La Dolce Vita,” Anna Magnani, an Oscar-winning actress; and Brigitte Bardot, whose poodle passed away when she was pregnant.

But the most famous was the late Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

“It all started with the hen of Mussolini,” Luigi Molon, the cemetery’s owner, 73, told AFP.
“Not having the land to bury her… he brought her here, where Mussolini’s kids would come with flowers to remember the happy times they spent together.”
The children’s playmate came to the Mussolini family as a chick after being won at a fair and was buried in the plot of land owned by Molon’s father, the trusted veterinarian for the Great Danes of “Il Duce.”

When asked where the hen’s grave is, Molon chuckles and replies that he has no idea where it is.

However, the burial of the most famous bird encouraged others. Soon, the older Molon’s garden turned into a pet cemetery that was later granted a permit by the government of Rome.

Most animals at Casa Rosa now have less distinguished ancestry, from Lord Byron the Irish setter to Carlitos the Shih Tzu, but they are no less cherished.

Ringo, a German Shepherd who passed away in 1979, is commemorated on a granite grave marker with the words, “The house is lonely and sorrowful without you.”

The tattoo of Ruga the turtle, who passed away in 2017, reads, “I love you.”

Many of the graves have pictures of the departed on them. For example, a picture of Jack the shepherd as a puppy is next to a picture of him as a grey-in-the-muzzle hound. Billo, the black and white spaniel, is portrayed in the arms of his loving family.

The earth also has a lioness named Greta, horses, rabbits, monkeys, a hamster, turtles, ducks, pigeons, parrots, a sparrow, and other animals.

According to Molon, some bereaved see their old friends daily or weekly.

With his yippy white terrier Jenny at his side, he said that the custom of paying a visit and sending flowers or stuffed animals “is nothing more than the continuing of brushing him or taking him for a walk.”

Many of the graves have pictures of the departed on them. For example, a picture of Jack the shepherd as a puppy is next to a picture of him as a grey-in-the-muzzle hound. Billo, the black and white spaniel, is portrayed in the arms of his loving family.

The earth also has a lioness named Greta, horses, rabbits, monkeys, a hamster, turtles, ducks, pigeons, parrots, a sparrow, and other animals.

According to Molon, some bereaved see their old friends daily or weekly.

With his yippy white terrier Jenny at his side, he said that the custom of paying a visit and sending flowers or stuffed animals “is nothing more than the continuing of brushing him or taking him for a walk.”

The memorial for Giotto the tabby, who passed away in 2020 at age two, reads, “A charming little pest who went around, you left us too soon.”

You are now free to run and scale the clouds.

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