To non-Italians, Premier, Mussolini may seem a little ill-at-ease in his new role of champion of peace and quiet, but the native sons realize that it is another proof of his profoundly sympathetic nature. When a proposal was made recently to motorize the gondolas of Venice, Mussolini said nothing, but when little Mariapia Cafagna of New York presented him with a petition of her own composition, signed by four hundred Americans, the superlative "human-interest" side of the thing pierced through his gruff exterior, and touched the great although little-known heart of the man.
Without stopping to cancel the contracts for motorizing the gondolas, chiefly because none had been made, Mussolini hastened to assure his juvenile petitioner that nothing could persuade him to "destroy the peace and quiet which forms one of the chief charms of this wonderful city."
Mussolini might have gone on to remark that the Bridge of Sighs would still be audible, and that no gasoline fumes would make the lions of Saint Marks sneeze, but the chose instead to draw inspiration from the petition. "As the appeal justly says" (and Mussolini repeats it) "There are some things so holy that no material gain can justify their sacrifice."
And as everyone knows, one of the most sacred things in Europe is the tourist trade, which might fall off if the romantic gondolier were replaced by a less melodious motor.