Saturday, May 19, 2018



There are numerous studies and many books about the years when Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, was under Italian rule. Here it is the translation (with my notes) of a related research done for the Italian "Universita' di Genova" in 1979 by Bruno D'Ambrosio and published initially in Italian language by the university's "Istituto di Geografia", under the supervision of the Institute Director prof. Giuliani Balestrino.


'''Mogadishu''' (or '''Mogadiscio''' in Italian) was the capital of Italian Somalia in the first half of the XX century. In Italian language, the city was officially called ''Mogadiscio italiana'' and the inhabitants were called ''Mogadini''. Italian Mogadiscio was under Italian control from 1885 until February 1941: officially it disappeared in 1947 after the "Peace Treaty" following WW2 when Italy lost all the colonies. However the Italians were back in Mogadishu  for another ten years, from 1950 to 1960, with the ONU's  "Amministrazione Fiduciaria Italiana della Somalia"

Aerial view of 1938 "Mogadiscio italiana", nicknamed "White Pearl of the Indian Ocean"

In the more than sixty years of Italian rule, the city grew from a small village of just 1,500 inhabitants in the early 1880s to a vibrant capital of nearly 150,000 mogadiscians after WW2 in the late 1940s.

"Mogadishu (or Mukdishu) is mentioned by Marco Polo and described by Ibn Batuta as an “immense” city. This was in the early part of the 14th century.....In 1892 it was transferred to Italy. The name of the town is spelt in a great variety of ways, including Madeigascar, whence the name of the island of Madagascar. Alfred Grandidier points out that the Portuguese, misled by Marco Polo's description of Mukdishu as an island, fancied they had discovered the land of which he wrote when they touched at Madagascar". 1911 E. Britannica
The first Italian to write about Mogadiscio was Marco Polo, who knew of the city during his merchant travels in Asia. But only in the late XIX century the commerce company "Filonardi" from Italy took control of facilities in the port of Mogadishu.

By 1882, Mogadishu was under the joint control of the Somali "Geledi Sultanate" (which was also holding sway over the Shebelle Valley region in the interior called "Benadir") and the Omani Sultan of Zanzibar. In 1885, the sultan Ali bin Said leased the city to an Italian chartered company owned by Vincenzo Filonardi. This "Compagnia Filonardi" (1893–96) and later the "Società Anonima Commerciale Italiana del Benadir" (1899-1905) was finally taken by the Italian government, that obtained the control of the entire region of Benadir with the port of Mogadishu through an agreement with the British government in 1892. From 3 August 1889 to 15 May 1893 Filonardi was the first Governor of the "Somalia italiana" (he was governor again from 1896 to 1897).
The Kingdom of Italy purchased the city in 1905 and made Mogadishu the capital of the newly established "Somalia italiana". The Italians subsequently referred to the city as ''Mogadiscio''.

The city was soon modernized in the early 1910s with the creation of the first sewage system, the first hospital, the first paved roads and the new electricity facilities. In the 1910s and 1920s the Italians enlarged the "Port of Mogadishu" and created the first airport (initially only for military airplanes). In the 1910s was created the first (radio)telegraph station in eastern Africa, under the supervision of Guglielmo Marconi, that was able to connect Mogadishu directly with "Italian Eritrea" and Rome: it was worldwide celebrated.

Indeed the first radio communications were started by the Italians in Mogadishu in 1911: the same Guglielmo Marconi supervised the radio station messages in the city. Successively a public "radio service" was started (in Italian language) in 1938 called "Radio Mogadiscio", but was limited to broadcast only in the area of Mogadishu-Genale-Villabbruzzi.

The actual "Radio Mogadishu" is the federal government-run public broadcaster; established in 1951 in Italian Somaliland as a follow up of the "Radio Mogadiscio": it initially aired news items in both Somali and Italian language.

In 1937 Italian Somalia was administratively a subdivision of the newly created  "Italian Empire" and was called  the "Governorato della Somalia" -that has been enlarged with the addition of the Ogaden as a gratitude gift to the Somalian soldiers who fought for Italy in the victorious war of 1935/1936 against Ethiopia  (like 1969 - 1991 Somalia president Siad Barre, who was in that war a young  "Zaptie").
All this Somalia governorate in 1939 was fully connected to Mogadishu with a state-of-the-art postal & radio-electrical service, as can be seen in the map to the right.

From 5 April 1908 to 5 May 1936, the Royal Corps of Somali Colonial Troops (''Regio corpo truppe coloniali della Somalia Italiana''), originally called the "Guard Corps of Benadir", served as the territory's formal military corps with headquarters in Mogadiscio.

At the start of its establishment, the force had 2,600 Italian officers. Between 1911 and 1912, over 1,000 Somalis from Mogadishu served as combat units along with Eritrean and Italian soldiers in the Italo-Turkish War.

Most of the troops stationed never returned home until they were transferred back to Italian Somaliland in preparation for the Second Italo-Ethiopian war in 1935.

"Banca d'Italia" building

In November 1920, the "Banca d'Italia", the first modern bank in Italian Somaliland, was established in Mogadishu. Later were founded in the city the branches of other Italian banks: in 1936 the "Banco di Roma" and in 1938 the "Banco di Napoli" established a branch (Banco di Napoli replaced the "Cassa di Risparmio di Torino", which had opened an office in Mogadishu in 1932). After WW2 from the Banca d'Italia was developed the "Central Bank of Somalia".

On December 5, 1923, Cesare Maria De Vecchi was named Governor in charge of the new colonial administration and promoted the process of complete pacification of the Somalia italiana, with the initial integration of the native population. Italian colonial policy followed two principles in Italian Somaliland: preservation of the dominant clan & ethnic configurations and respect for Islam as the territory's religion.

The Mogadishu Cathedral and the Arch of Umberto were the core of Mogadiscio in the late 1930s

In 1928, the Italian authorities built the Mogadishu Cathedral (''Cattedrale di Mogadiscio''). It was constructed in a Norman architecture with Gothic style, based on the Cathedral in Sicilian Cefalù. Following its establishment, Crown Prince Umberto II of Italy made his first publicized visit to Mogadishu.

To commemorate the visit, the "Arch of Umberto" was constructed. The arch was built at the center of the Mogadishu Garden.

The Mogadishu International Airport was constructed that same year. The facility was regarded as one of the finest in the region.

Furthermore, in 1929 there were nearly 1600 Italian civilians resident in Mogadiscio and the government started to publish daily in the growing city the first newspaper of Somalia: "Corriere della Somalia". Its name was changed in "Somalia Fascista" in 1934 but in 1941 was closed by the British when they conquered Mogadiscio; it was reopened in 1950 with the original name "Il Corriere della Somalia" and lasted until 1969/1970 (read ). Other monthly publications in Mogadiscio were "Somalia Sportiva" (1937-1940) and "Somalia Cristiana" (1936-1941). Of course all these newspapers and magazines were in Italian language until April 1941 (successively the British made the "Somali Courier-Corriere della Somalia" in 3 languages -English, Italian and Arab- between 1945 and 1950).

In the early 1930s, the new Italian Governors, Guido Corni and Maurizio Rava, started a policy of full assimilation of the Somalis. Many Somalis were enrolled in the Italian colonial troops, and thousands of Italian colonists moved to live in Mogadishu.

The city grew in size and some small manufacturing companies opened up. The main industries were food processing and the production of leather footwear and wood products. The Italians also settled in agricultural areas around the capital, such as Jowhar (''Villabruzzi'') and Janale (''Genale''), and developed the production and exportation of the bananas.

In 1937, there were 22,000 Italian civilians living in Italian Somaliland, representing 2% of the territory's population (Read in Italian: The majority resided in the capital Mogadishu, with other Italian communities concentrated in Jowhar (''Villabruzzi''), Adale (''Itala''), Janale (''Genale'') and Kismayo (''Chisimaio''). A few lived also in the northern city of Dante (now called Hafun), while working in the local biggest salt mines of the world (read:

In Mogadiscio in the 1920s and early 1930s there were 4 Italian men for every Italian woman and as a consequence was common the "Madamato" (relationship between Italian soldiers and native girls).

Nearly 7,000 children were born from the Madamato in the Mogadiscio area: they were mulattos who received Italian citizenship when baptized as catholic. But after 1939 the Italian Fascism -since 1938 linked to the German Nazism- imposed harsh racial rules against this Madamato.

By 1935, Mogadishu began to serve as a major naval base/port and airport for the Italians. Then Prime Minister of Italy Benito Mussolini regarded "Greater Somalia" (''La Grande Somalia'') with capital Mogadiscio as the crown jewel in Italy's colonial empire in eastern Africa.

Consequently, from 1936 to 1940, new roads were constructed in the region around Mogadiscio, such as the "Imperial Road" from Mogadishu to Addis Abeba, the capital of the newly created "Italian Ethiopia". New railways (114 km from Mogadishu to Jowhar) and many schools, hospitals, ports and bridges were also built. The biggest salt production company in the world -located in Dante (now called "Hafun") had the headquarters in Mogadiscio.

Indeed Mogadishu airport was established in 1928 with the name ''Petrella-Mogadiscio aeroporto'' ( ), the first such facility to be opened in the Horn of Africa. It served as the main military airport for Italian Somaliland. In the mid-1930s, the airport began offering civilian and commercial flights.

A regular Asmara-Assab-Mogadishu commercial route was started in 1935, with an "Ala Littoria" (the official Italian airline) Caproni Ca.133 providing 13-hour flights from the Mogadishu airport to Italian Eritrea. The aircraft had a maximal capacity of 18 passengers, which at the time was a record.

The Petrella airport was located nearly 5 km south of Mogadiscio's port: since 1938 a bus service (one of the first in all Africa) was connecting the airport with the colonial Italian city and its port. 

It served as the main military airport serving the Italian colony: the "36 Squadriglia Mogadiscio" was based there since 1926. In 1936 the "Comando Settore Aeronautico Sud" (with 3 fighting aircraft units)  was headquartered there.

Map of the flight routes from Mogadiscio toward other cities of Italian East Africa & Rome in 1938.

In 1930 the airport of Mogadiscio was worldwide known because the pilot Francis Lombardi flew from Rome to Mogadiscio in the same flight, obtaining an aviation record ( ).

The Port of Mogadishu was created as a modern port (called in Italian Porto di Mogadiscio) with magazines and docks in the late 1920s by the Italian government; in 1930 a protective dike with breakwaters was made in front of the enlarged port, which was connected to the Somalia interior by a railway (until Villabruzzi) and even by a new "imperial road" (from Mogasdiscio to Addis Abeba).
The port of Italian Mogadiscio had an exportation in 1934 of 43.467 tons of agricultural products (mainly bananas) toward Italy and Europe. For this commercial transport were used the service of special container-ships called "RAMB" (that were built with the possibility to be converted to be an auxiliary cruiser). 

The Ramb II was a banana boat ship based even in Mogadishu. Ramb II was the second of four sister ships all built to the same design: the other ships were the Ramb I, the Ramb III, and the Ramb IV. The four ships were built for the Royal Banana Monopoly Business ("Regia Azienda Monopolio Banane") to transport refrigerated bananas from Italian Somalia to Italy.

The Italian ocean liner "Vulcania" was the biggest ship to serve the port of Mogadishu

From 1936 the port started to have a weekly international ship line for passengers, connecting Mogadishu with Massaua in Eritrea and Genova in Italy with the Italian "Lloyd Triestino" and "Italian Line" (read in Italian: The MS Vulcania was a transatlantic ship that served the port of Mogadiscio. 

In 1940 was started a study to enlarge the port and make it an "oceanic port" of big size, with a huge maritime station for international passengers. 

Later, in 1941 the port was heavily damaged by British bombings during WW2.

In the 1930s, Italian authorities began to organize professional sport in Somalia. These sports were initially concentrated only in the capital Mogadishu (read in Italian: In 1931 governor Maurizio Rava created the ''Federazione Sportiva della Somalia'', which organized competences of athletics, tennis and football for the Italian community and promoted the first sport activities among the young native population. In 1933 the first Somalian football championship was created in Mogadishu, called ''Coppa Federazione Sportiva'', with three teams ("Societa' Mogadiscio", "Marina" and "Milizia"). In 1938 the football championship was won by the "Amaruini" team, made up mainly of local Somalians; in 1939 the winning team was the "Araba". In 1938 competitions of other sports, like swimming and cycling, were held.

In summer 1938 was created the ''Circuito Mogadiscio'' (called even "Circuito di Mogadiscio" and in English: "Mogadishu Circuit"), a car race done in the main streets of Mogadishu that was one of the firsts in Africa. The main Italian newspaper of Mogadiscio and of the Italian colonies, "Il Littoriale", reported ( ; p. 5) that on mid-August 1938 was done the first car race circuit of Mogadiscio. Indeed, on August 15 the Governor Francesco Saveno flagged the start of a car race followed by many thousands in the "Corso Vittorio Emanuele" (actual "Somalia Boulevard") of Somalia's capital, where there were the main stands. On Mogadiscio streets many native Somalis enjoyed enthusiastically to the first car race in their country. It was followed even by a motorcycle race, done with 250 cc and 350 cc category. The "Circuito di Mogadiscio" was repeated in 1939, but the edition of 1940 was not done because of the beginning of the war.

Map of the railway Mogadiscio-Villabruzzi (green line), showing the most developed area of Italian Somalia (that was inside the triangle Mogadiscio-Merca-Villabruzzi)

In the late 1930s Italian Mogadiscio was enjoying a bright & huge development somewhat similar -but in a minor scale- to the one of Italian Asmara in Eritrea. The city was also developing as the main industrial & manufacturing center of Italian Somalia: in 1939 there were a textile factory, a preserved meat factory, two tanneries, a shoe factory, an oil mill, a soap factory, a thermal power plant and many mechanical small centers.

In 1940 Italian Somalia nearly all the development was concentrated in the triangle "Genale/Vittorio - Villabruzzi - Mogadiscio" and this triangle area was one of the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa. The sanitary conditions in this area were improved to European standards with eight hospitals (half of them in Mogadiscio): the best were the Hospitals  "De Martino" and "Maurizio Rava" in eastern Mogadiscio, with the newly created Hospital only for native Somalians "Principe di Piemonte"( ).

Since 1925 the currency in Mogadiscio was the "Lira Somala", that was in use (with the AOI lira) until 1941 and that after WWII -with the Cassa per la circolazione monetaria della Somalia in 1950- was to develop into the "Somalo", the only currency of Somalia with a name -by orders of the Italian government- not related/associated to a foreign money (like rupia, lira or shilling).

The "Somalo" was the only currency in Mogadiscio & Somalia with no reference to foreign money
After the conquest of Ethiopia and the enlargement of Italian Somalia with the addition of the Ogaden, the Viceroy Amedeo d'Aosta wanted to create a huge manufacturing area in southern Mogadiscio.

So, between the port and the new "Petrella" airport an area with mechanical facilities was developed: later there were assembled the first Fiat trucks to serve all Somalia.[ In 1939 in this area was also established the headquarter of the biggest salt mine of the 1930s world: the "Saline Dante".

Indeed Italian Somalia exports were booming before WW2 and relied mainly on four products: bananas, cotton, salt and leather. Mogadiscio was the financial center of this activity, with banks & trade companies located in the city.

Furthermore, Prince Amedeo d'Aosta promoted in early 1940 the construction of a Somalian coastal road (similar to the Via Balbia in coastal Libya) from Chisimaio (now Kismayo) up to Dante (now Hafun), but WW2  blocked his proposal. However he was able (together with Francesco Saveno Caroselli, governor of the Somalia Governorate) to get asphalted all the roads of Mogadiscio and its outskirsts for the first vehicles circulating in Somalia (3,026 in December 1939, using the tag Som ). It is noteworthy to pinpoint that Prince Amedeo d'Aosta, after his conquest of British Somaliland in summer 1940, requested  also a study for the continuation of this Somalian coastal road from Dante until Cape Guardafui and Berbera & Zeila (in order to reach Djibouti/French Somalia by car from Mogadiscio).

In the first years of the XX century there were only one hundred Italian civilians (mostly members of the colonial administration with their families) in Mogadishu, but soon started to arrive thousands of colonists (with some merchants and entrepreneurs) from Italy: by March 1940, over 33,000 Italians (including the military residents) lived in Mogadishu, representing nearly 40% of the city's total of approximate 100,000 residents (and making Mogadiscio the second most "Italian" city -after Asmara- of the Italian East Africa). They frequented local Italian schools that the colonial authorities had opened, such as a local "Lyceum" called 'Ginnasio-liceo Emilio De Bono'.

So, in early 1940 "Africa Orientale Italiana", Mogadiscio was second only to Asmara as a city used to live an Italian way-of-life with plenty of café-bars, shops and restaurants for people strolling in the afternoon ( ).

Seven cinemas were built in the city, the biggest (called "Supercinema" and shown in the photo to the left) had a capacity of nearly 1600 spectators and had theater structures in order to show operas.  

In Mogadiscio there were the following 7 cinemas in early 1940, before the start of the war:

1) Cinema "Supercinema"   (1550 seats)

2) Cinema-Teatro "Hamar" (1200 seats)

3) Cinema "Italia" (750 seats)
4) Cinema "Nazionale" (700 seats)
5) Cinema "Benadir" (580 seats)
6) Cinema "Centrale" (500 seats)
7) Cinema "Missioni" of the Catholic Mission (300 seats)

Italians also developed in the late 1930s the first tourism beach in northern Mogadiscio, called now "Mogadishu Lido Beach" (see ).

They also started the first championships of local football/soccer with teams (like the "Societa' Calcio Mogadiscio" and "Amaruini", that played amateur football in the Italian Somalia from 1936 until 1941 and that later become in 1947 the "Lavori Publici (LLPP calcio)" now called "Jeenyo United (LLPP) FC") in the first stadium of Mogadiscio called 'Stadio Municipale di Mogadiscio' (now 'Banadir (CONI) stadium').

year Italians Mogadishu population %
1905 100 5,000 2%
1914 900 18,000 5%
1930 17,000 50,000 30%
1940 30,000 90,000 33%
1945 40,000 100,000 40%
1960 9,000 118,000 <10%
1970 1,962 230,000 <1%
1989 500 800,000 <0,1%
The Italian population in Mogadishu, from 1905 to 1989,
including the military residents.

During WW2 Italian Mogadiscio was conquered by the British in February 1941: nearly all the Italians in Somalia took refuge in the city -for security reasons- during those war years until 1945.

Because of these refugees Mogadishu in those years had a population that was nearly half Italian, when added the 7,000 descendants of Italian soldiers who had illegitimate offsprings with Somalian girls.

According to historian Tripodi, in Somalia nearly 10,000 children were born from Italians (mainly soldiers) and Somalian native girls during the half a century of colonial presence in Italian Somalia. Most of them lived in the Mogadishu area.

In 1945, at the end of the war, the Italian colonists were allowed by the British authorities to administer the city, now ruled by the Allies. However in 1943/44 there were their first departures to Italy with the ships -like the Vulcania- from the Mogadishu port.

A huge Italian family in 1940 Mogadiscio (In their free time, Italian colonists could choose among several leisure clubs and a theatre/movie house annexed to the Italian East Africa Company storehouse in the city)

The Italian community in Mogadishu started to diminish consistently mainly after 1948 when there was the killing of Italians by the "Somali Youth League", and practically disappeared a few decades later. 

Indeed somali nationalist agitation against the possibility of renewed Italian rule reached the level of violent confrontation in 1948:  on January 11, large riots -promoted by the 'Somali Youth League' & supported by some of the British authorities ( )- broke out that left fifty-two Italians (and 14 Somalians pro-Italy) dead in the streets of Mogadishu and other coastal cities in which many more were injured ( ).

In 1949-1950 the “Conferenza della Somalia”, a coalition of parties supported by Italy & the Italian colonists before the arrival of the UN Four Power Commission in those years, was at the core of the acceptance (by the Somali population) of the temporary return of Italy in Mogadishu for ten years under the ONU's "Amministrazione Fiduciaria Italiana della Somalia"

It is noteworthy to pinpoint tha Siad Barre (president of Somalia for decades after 1969, who spoke fluently Italian and who decided the use of the latin script for the somalian language) in 1947 supported this  'Somali Conference' ("Conferenza Somala"), a political group of parties and clan associations that were hostile to the 'Somali Youth League' and were supported by the local Italian farmers: the group presented a petition to the "Four Powers" Investigation Commission in order to allow that the administration of the Trust Territory of the United Nations could be entrusted for thirty years to Italy. 

However only ten years were granted, but this was something unique in world history, because never a colonial power defeated (Italy) had received back from a winning colonial power (United Kingdom) a colonial  territory lost in war a couple of years before: many Mogadiscians (and Somalis) appreciated that Italy was back only 3 years after the Peace Treaty of 1947, when Rome was forced to surrender all the colonies ( ).
Despite the initial unrest, the 1950s were something of a golden age for the nearly 15,000 remaining Italian expatriates in Italian Somaliland & Mogadishu after WW2 . With United Nations funds pouring in and experienced Italian administrators who had come to see the territory as their home, infrastructural and educational development blossomed. Relations between the remaining Italian settlers and the Somalis were also generally good: even the Somali Youth League accepted since 1956 to govern the country with the Italians. This decade passed relatively without incident in Mogadishu and was marked by positive growth in many sectors of local life. The economy was controlled by the Bank of Italy through emissions of the Somalo shilling, that was used as money in the Italian administered region from 1950 to 1962.

Student girls & teachers of the Italian Liceo "Duca degli Abruzzi" of Mogadiscio in the late 1950s

Even if there was an important community of nearly 10,000 Italians in Mogadishu in the late 1950s, when Italy administrated the country for the last years with a ONU mandate, in the early 1980s practically there were no more Italians in Mogadishu. One of the reasons was that Italy experienced a huge economic boom ("miracolo economico") in the 1960s and early 1970s and consequently many remaining members of the Italian community in Mogadishu preferred to return to their homeland. The old generation of colonists passed away, while the young was worried by the deepening crisis of somalian politics in those decades and so moved away.


The legacy of the Italian presence in Mogadishu is mainly related to the decision to develop this city as the capital of actual Somalia: in 1885 the Italians found a small city/village with nearly 2,000 inhabitants living in ruined medieval buildings and in just half a century the city was transformed in a modern colonial capital (of one of the biggest countries in eastern Africa) with nearly 100,000 inhabitants, that was nicknamed ''the White Pearl of the Indian Ocean'' in 1938.

However some other legacies of the Italian presence in Mogadishu still remain: from the diffused use of pasta (''baasto'') such as spaghetti and of polenta (''mishaari''), that comes from the Italian Somalis families, to the latin script in the Somalian language and to the architecture of the city.

Another legacy are the 300 words of the Somalian language that come from the Italian language, like the months of the year:

Indeed the most used loanwords from the Italian in actual Mogadishu are "Ciao" as a friendly salute, "Dimuqraadi" from Italian "democratico" (democratic), "Mikroskoob" from "microscopio (microscope), "Sabti" from sabato (saturday), "Jalaato" from "gelato" (ice cream), "Baasto" from "pasta" (pasta), "Bataate" from "patate" (potato), "Bistoolad" from "pistol" (pistol), "Fiyoore" from "fiore" (flower), "Garawati from  "cravatta" (tie),  "Raadia-ha" from "radio" (radio) and "Injinyeer" from "ingegnere" (engineer)

Furthermore it is noteworthy to pinpoint that Catholicism in Mogadiscio greatly increased under Italian rule. In the 1950s journalist and history writer Indro Montanelli wrote on magazine "Il Borghese" that Italian Mogadishu in 1942 -after the arrival of the British- was an African capital where most of inhabitants were Catholics.

He indicated that of the 95,000 inhabitants more than 40,000 were Italians, while inside the less than 55,000 Somalis there were nearly 8,000 Catholics including the many illegitimate sons of Italian soldiers and Somalis native girls, who were baptized in order to get Italian identification. This meant to him that more than half of the Mogadiscio inhabitants were Catholics in that year, but soon they started to disappear (since the late 1970 practically there are no more catholics in Mogadishu:)

The last legacy of Italy to Mogadishu was the creation of the successful  "Fiera della Somalia" (Somalia Fair), with the "Festival del Cinema africano" (Cinema Festival) and the "Mostra artigianato" (Artisan Exhibition) in the 1950s. The Fiera della Somalia was  started in 1952 and in 1959 was one of the most important in Africa with stands from nearly 40 countries, promoted also by the newly created "Somali Airlines" (a company that was linked to "Alitalia"à%20economiche%20in%20Somalia.pdf ).


''The story of Mogadishu’s Modernist buildings begins during the time of Italian colonial rule. Unlike Asmara in Eritrea and Tripoli in Libya, where the Italians built their colonial city alongside the native walled town, in Mogadishu the walls of the old medina were torn down and the occupiers’ buildings imposed in the city centre.''Rakesh Ramchum

In 1905 was started a plan to develop the city, that the Italians found divided in two medieval areas: Amaruini and Scingani. In the middle was built the new "Corso Vittorio Emanuele III" (the main avenue) and governmental buildings with a garden area (that in 1934 was beautified with the "Arch of Umberto"). In 1928 was created the "Piano regolatore di Mogadiscio", the first urban planification for the city, when the medioeval Scingani was demolished and was created a modern area with new buildings and tree lined roads.

Since then in Mogadishu were made many architectural improvements before WW2 (read The most inportant are:

1) the "Villa Somalia". It is the official presidential palace and principal workplace of the President of Somalia. It sits on high ground that overlooks the city on the Indian Ocean, with access to both the Port of Mogadishu & the harbour and the Aden Adde International airport.

Villa Somalia in 1938

The edifice was built -in partially modern art deco style- by the colonial authorities in Italian Somalia, serving as a residence for the Governors.

Villa Somalia sits on high ground that overlooks Mogadishu on the Indian Ocean, with nearby the first athletic structure for sport in Somalia ( ). It was originally a large, squarish stucco building with a modern tiled roof.

Villa Somalia was built in the new section of the city created by the Italians in the late 1930s.
It was a famous symbol of modernist (art deco) architecture and one of the few in all Africa.

2) The "Governor's Palace of Mogadiscio". In the 1930s it was the seat of the governor of Italian Somalia, and then of the administrator of the "Trust Territory of Somalia" after WW2. It was built during the colonial period (in the late 1920s) in the capital city of Mogadishu: in those decades the city was improved with Italian architecture and urbanism: this palace was one of the most representatives of the colonial fascist architecture.

Image of the Governor Palace
It was located on the "Corso Umberto", the main street of Italian Mogadiscio, and overlooked the ocean & the port. The architecture was a mixture of Italian and Arab styles, with the second floor decorated with Italian Renaissance furniture. A huge garden was created in front of the main entrance.

In the Palace, among other things, there were the following halls in the lower floor:

* Arab hall with decorations, which were derived from the Islamic architecture of the old Mogadishu.
* Rooms of "Queen Elena of Italy" with tapestries.
* "Sala della Giustizia" with furniture in the Gothic style of the Aosta Valley.
* Hall of deliberations, with the wall-scenes taken from the classical style of the Italian architecture and with a huge panel showing "San Giorgio".

The second floor was for private use, with rooms for royal guest.

It was inaugurated by Italian governor Cesare Maria De Vecchi, who ruled from 1923 to 1929. He ordered excavations in the gardens in front of the Palace that proved to be the ancient Arab palace of "El Muzaffar". In 1975 the Palace was completely razed to the ground (for political reasons) and the site was dedicated to the new construction of the luxurious "Al Uruba" (Curuuba) Hotel.

3) the "Garesa Museum" (actual "National Museum of Somalia") . In 1933, the building that used to be the "Garesa" residence of the Zanzibar Sultanate was totally reconstructed by the Italian governor Rava and adapted to the Somalia Museum.

It was the most important cultural place in Italian Mogadiscio.

The "Museo della Garesa" (as was called by the Italian colonists) was officially opened to the public the next year 1934 by Governor Maurizio Rava. The museum suffered heavy damages during WWII.

The just reconstructed white building of the "Garesa Museum" (in the center of photo)

After WWII, the old Garesa Museum was turned into the ''National Museum of Somalia''.

The National Museum was later moved in 1985, renamed as the "Garesa Museum", and converted to a regional museum.

After shutting down, the National Museum later reopened: it holds many culturally important artefacts, including old coins, bartering tools, traditional artwork, ancient weaponry and pottery items.

4) the "Mogadishu Cathedral". Known as the ''Cattedrale di Mogadiscio'' (when inaugurated on March first, 1928), was constructed in a Norman "Gothic Revival architecture" style, based on the Cefalù Cathedral in Cefalù, Sicily. It was built in nearly six years by the Italian authorities in their former Italian Somalia, in a central area of the capital not far from the Governor's Palace of Mogadishu

Indeed the Cathedral was built as the biggest in eastern Africa by order of Cesare Maria De Vecchi, a catholic
governor of "Somalia italiana" who promoted the "Missionari della Consolata" christianization of Somalian people. It was built between 1923 and 1928 and was used as a model the "Cathedral of Cefalu" (in northern Sicily), created to commemorate the Christian reconquest of Sicily from the Arabs in the X century.

The Cathedral was done in "Norman" Gothic style, designed by architect Antonio Vandone. The facade, with an impressive appearance, was delimited to the sides by two towers, each 37.50 meters high. The plan of the building was a Latin cross; inside was divided into three naves separated by piers with pointed arches.

The church was entrusted to the "Consolata" missionaries, then replaced by the Franciscans (Friars Minor).

The altar had a huge statue -done by sculptor Cesare Biscarra- of the Virgin Mary of Consolata, that looked at the parishioners in an impressive way like a statue of Roman Gods inside an ancient imperial temple (

5) the ''Fiat's Boero Building''. In 1939 Mogadishu was created a building that was judged as a masterpiece of the "Italian-Arab architecture".

The 'Fiat Boero' building 

The "Officine Boero" had their headquarter in the building and were the best mechanical industry in Somalia.

Indeed in the surrounding manufacturing area was created the "Inataree" Somali version of the famous Fiat 650 truck.

It was  assembled near the "Porto di Mogadiscio"

6) the "Lyceum De Bono". It was the best school institution in Italian Somalia, with the official name: "Ginnasio-Liceo Emilio De Bono" ( ). It was built in Italian colonial "Art Deco" style, not far away from the "Mogadiscio Stazione ferroviaria" (railway station). Later changed the name to "Duca degli Abruzzi" and had a floor added.

It is noteworthy to pinpoint that in September 1954 the Italian administration of Somalia (by ONU mandate) created in the building of this Lyceum the "National Institute of Legal, Economic and Social Studies" (Istituto Superiore,+Economic+and+Social+Studies+in+1954+mogadishu&source=bl&ots=mP42GvAq5x&sig=yOpgFHBoJy27ENMYV3us-68jnJ4&hl=it&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjOgafixZ_bAhUILKwKHc4RB3MQ6AEITTAF#v=onepage&q=National%20Institute%20of%20Legal%2C%20Economic%20and%20Social%20Studies%20in%201954%20mogadishu&f=false), as post-secondary school for pre-university studies, that was the beginning of the university presence in Somalia: In 1969, the Somali Government – in cooperation with the University of Padova- established from this Institute the "Departments of Law and Economics" , founding  the first university in Somalia (the  "Somali National University" ).

7) the "Casa del Fascio". The biggest and tallest building in Italian Mogadiscio was inaugurated in 1938 as the local offices of the National Fascist Party (later it was the headquarter of Somalian Parliament in the 1960s)

The building was considered a masterpiece of the "fascist architecture".

It was in marble and red bricks, with a tower  (called "Torre Littoria") of 30 meters capped by a fare.

The hall of entrance was fully in marm, while nearly 60 offices were created in a 1970 m2 area.

The building -inspired to the Florence's Renaissance buildings- was one of the first in reinforced concrete in Somalia. (read for further information:

8)  The "Palazzo degli Uffici" (neoclassical Italian style administrative building, that after WW2 was the headquarter of the Italian administration of Somalia by ONU mandate in the 1950s).

One of the most significative and enduring architectural building created by the Italians in Mogadiscio was the "Benadir regional administration" building , created in the late 1920s.

Later in the 1950s it was the headquarters of the Italian administration of Somalia by ONU mandate: it was called "Palazzo degli Uffici dell' Amministrazione Fiduciaria Italiana della Somalia" (AFIS), as can be seen in the postcard to the right.

) Other important architectures & buildings were: 

* the ''Albergo Croce del Sud'' (a modern "Art Deco" hotel, created by worldwide famous architect Carlo Rava; 
* the ''Arco Trionfale'' (made in 1928). Called also the "Arch of Umberto". Crown Prince Umberto II of Italy made his first publicized visit to Mogadishu. To commemorate the visit, the Arch was built at the center of the enlarged "Mogadishu Gardens".

In the late 1920s an 'Arch of Triumph' was built for the first visit of a "Savoia" member to Somalia: the visit of Prince Umberto (future King Umberto I). The Arco was  designed by the Piedmontese sculptor Cesare Biscarra, with a single cast of concrete. The dedication still resists on his forehead: "A Umberto di Savoia Romanamente".

* the "Arco del Re", called "Binocolo" due to its particular shape that remembered a Galilean binocular, was created  in 1934 by the architect Carlo Enrico Rava and built by the company "Ciccotti" near the port in order to celebrate the visit of the King Victor Emmanuel III.

The shape of this arch was based on the architectural motif of the nearby minaret of the Ali Jama mosque

* the "Scuola Regina Elena" (the first educational building in Mogadiscio, see bottom photo); 
* the "Monumento ai Caduti" (initially created in the 1930s to honor the unknown soldier of the Italian Army including the Somalian colonial troops (  ) and rebuilt in the late 1970s as "Victory Monument" (  )  of the Somalia republic; 
* the ''Cinema Italia'' . It was the first cinema theater in Mogadishu (followed by the "Cinema Benadir" for native Somalians and the  huge "Cinema-teatro Supercinema" )

It was renamed as "Cinema Nazionale" in the 1940s and enlarged. It had electric lightning (with air conditioning) and cushioned seat with balconies like the best cinemas in Europe.
* the "Palazzo De Vincenzi" ( ), one of the main social centers with its famous "Caffé Nazionale";  
* the new "Mercato" (market) with villas Italian-style ( hash=item51e3439b9e:g:bWcAAOSw0QFXC276 ). In 1940 were also built in the surroundings 17 new modern buildings ( pages 270-272); 
* the "Palazzo delle Poste" (a modernist building  created in 1935 ) ;


There were many institutions of the Italian government in Mogadiscio, all concentrated in the area centered around the Mogadiscio cathedral and the Governor's Palace.

The following were the official Institutions created by the Italians and their government in Mogadiscio (for further information read Institutions & Educational organizations in AOI):

* Schools for Italians:
**Scuola elementare mista • Ginnasio-Liceo Emilio De Bono
**Missione cattolica dei Cappuccini
**Asilo d’infanzia e scuola elementare parificata mista Regina Elena

* Schools for Native Somalis:
**Missione cattolica orfanotrofio Guido ed Elisa Corni e scuola parificata
**Scuola speciale per i figli dei notabili somali

* Associations, Media and Cinema/Theaters:

**Casa del Fascio

**Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro
**Museo della Garesa 
**Biblioteca pubblica
**Laboratorio chimico-batteriologico
**Regio Automobile Club d’Italia
**Consociazione Turistica Italiana
**Compagnia Italiana Turismo (CIT)
**Circolo Duchessa d’Aosta
**Circolo del Tennis
**Associazione Motociclistica Mogadiscio
**Associazione Sportiva Mogadiscio
**Unione Sportiva Mogadiscio
**Cinema Impero
**Cinema Italia
**Supercinema (with theater installations)
**Istituto Luce
**«Bollettino ufficiale e foglio d’ordini e di comunicazioni del Governo della Somalia Italiana»
**«Bollettino della Federazione dei Fasci di combattimento»
**Newspaper «Il Littoriale» (edizione Somalia)
**Newspaper «Somalia Fascista»
**Magazine «Somalia Sportiva»
**Magazine «Somalia Cristiana»