Fascist stain: Italian poet’s DNA reconstructed from 100yo sperm

Gabriele D'Annunzio (Photo from wikipedia.org)
A group of Italian forensic experts say they have reconstructed the DNA of fascist poet Gabriele D'Annunzio from semen stains. The researchers claim they weren’t aiming to clone him, but admit the technique may be used to solve cold cases.

The scientists say they used a handkerchief stained with the semen of the eccentric poet whose ideas influenced Italian fascism and the style of Benito Mussolini. D'Annunzio gave the soiled hankie to his lover Countess Olga Levi Brunner after a night of passion back in 1916.

Now, almost a hundred years, later the DNA of the proto-fascist has been reconstructed without exhuming his remains, police forensic officers said.

They added that the method may be also applied in cold cases.

Along with the handkerchief, police in Cagliari, Sardinia, also analyzed a letter the countess had written to her lover and an ivory toothbrush. Both were stored at the Vittoriale degli Italiani foundation in Lombardy, northern Italy, where D’Annunzio lived in 1922 until his death in 1938.

The experts managed to identify the splotches of sperm on the material and to compare their finding to the DNA of Federico D’Annunzio, the poet’s great grandson.

“Nobody wants to clone D’Annunzio, but nobody knows what changes will take place in science and society. It’s good the DNA has been collected,” foundation chief Giordano Bruno Guerri said, as cited by the Italian media.

D’Annunzio (1863-1938) is often seen as a forerunner of the ideals of Italian fascism. He advocated an expansionist Italian foreign policy and welcomed the 1935 invasion of Ethiopia. In 1919, D'Annunzio seized control of the city of Fiume (now Rijeka, Croatia) to establish an independent state, the Italian Regency of Carnaro.

Some of his works, which are associated with Decadent Movement, remain popular in Italy.