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Mussolini villa up for sale

- by Jeremy Guest

Luxury villa on Rhodes on the market after 50 years.

A Greek luxury holiday villa on Rhodes, built for Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, has been put on the open market after lying derelict for more than 50 years.

The cash-strapped Greek government is offering a 50-year lease on the abandoned Villa de Vecchi as part of an extensive sale of government property in order to raise cash.

The timber and stone Villa De Vecchi was built in 1936 by Count Cesare De Vecchi, a Mussolini loyalist who was appointed governor of the Dodecanese islands when they were seized by Italy from the Ottoman Turks in 1912.

Mussolini never set foot on the island and the villa was abandoned when Rhodes was ceded to Greece in 1947. The villa has lain derelict ever since and is now covered in graffiti.

The two-storey villa, built in the Alpine style, is located on the hillside of Profitis Elias near the east coast village of Archangelos about 25 kilometres south of the port capital of Rhodes.

The Hellenic Republic Assets Development Fund (HRADF) has the task of raising as much cash as it can from state property sales in a bid to reduce the Greek government debt.

The dictator's villa is just one of 13 empty properties that are being offered as prospective small luxury hotels. Three for sale only with the remaining 10 offered for leasehold from 50 to 99 years.

The Greek government is though to own more than 80,000 properties and real estate, from a castle in Corfu to a former US army base on Crete. Sales of real estate could rake in a significant amount of cash to help pay off its international debts.

But the sell-off is not without its critics and some argue that Greece is too keen to put its national heritage on the open market.

Among the potential luxury hotel sites for sale in Greece and the Greek Islands are eight 'Xenia' hotels, the result of a failed attempt by the Greek government to provide accommodation for a growing tourism industry. Abandoned hotels on the islands of Thassos and Andros may well appeal to international buyers.

The fund's biggest deal was the sale of the old Athens airport site to a Chinese-Arabian backed development company for € 915 million following two years of negotiations.