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Brindisi as Capital of Italy
September 10th 1943 to February 11th 1944

the king Vittorio Emanuele IIIDuring the afternoon of Friday September 10th 1943, the commander of the naval base of Brindisi, Admiral Luigi Rubartelli received a radio message, inviting him to go to sea and meet the warship "Baionetta" which was on route to the port of Brindisi.

The Admiral never imagined that he would be meeting the King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele III, his wife Queen Elena, Prince Umberto, the head of government, Badoglio and other ministers and officers of the Italian military.

The "Baionetta" had departed from the port of Pescara with its prestigious passengers, who had embarked there, coming from Rome, from where they had escaped in fear of being detained by the occupying Germans forces, after the armistice between the Italian government and the Allied forces.

the queen ElenaOnce they were reassured that there were no German soldiers in the city of Brindisi the King and his family disembarked and took up residence in the city, residing in the Admiral's quarters which were the 'Swabian Castle'. The ministers were housed in the submarine barracks and the Officers in the Hotel Internazionale.

Due to their hurried departure, the royal family were lacking in clothing and therefore shops and military warehouses were made available and at their disposal.

From the city of Brindisi, the high ranking officers tried to bring order back to the Italian army that at that stage was much disorganized and without command, starting with the troops stationed in the peripheries of Brindisi and Taranto, whose duty was to guard the naval bases.

After this difficult period, the government came together on the November 24th and finally the wheels of functionality began to turn.

The king in a hangar at the airportDuring these five months, the King remained in his residence, seldom going out. One of these few times he was seen it was in December, when he attended mass in a hangar at the airport.
The Queen, on the other hand, spent much time with the nuns at of Cathedral Square, doing charity work.

With the liberation of many regions of Italy, the capital moved further north to the city of Salerno, Naples in anticipation of the allied forces liberating the city of Rome.

With this, the city of Brindisi, returned to its normal way of life.

Images (from the top):
The king Vittorio Emanuele III
- The queen Elena
- The king in a hangar at the airport

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» Giuseppe Teodoro Andriani, Brindisi, da capoluogo di provincia a capitale del Regno del Sud. 2000
» Lionello Maci, Il Novecento. 2001

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