Porto Lago

The decision to build the town of Portolago was taken by the Dodecanese Governor Mario Lago.

As the aeronautical base Gianni Rossetti was expanding and the personnel numbers grew, the need for accommodation grew accordingly. 

Mario Lago

Thus, in 1932 begun the planning of a new city, capable of housing 30,000 inhabitants that included the Municipality, the officer’s club Casa Littoria, the hotel Albergo Roma, the cinema Roma, the municipal market, the school, the hospital, the church of St. Francesco, the commercial part of shops, officer’s houses, labourer’s houses and a residential area. ​

The city's eastern part was a military zone and included the Marine's barracks (Caserma Marinai), infantry barracks (Caserma Regina), hospital, warehouses and other secondary buildings. The constructions were interrupted by WWII and the original plan was never completed.

Cinema Roma

The building forms a single complex with the adjacent Albergo Roma. During 1938 the works were completed and the opening of the new cinema-theater took place in October, underlined by a speech given by De Vecchi (in the meantime appointed governor) from the balcony of the adjacent hotel.

The internal provides for both theatrical and cinematographic needs. The entrance leads into the atrium and then into the stalls bounded by the orchestra pit and the stage; on the upper level are dressing rooms and the projection booth.

During WW2 the building was bombed and suffered serious damage to the roof. It was therefore converted to an open-air cinema that operated until its rennovation in 2008. 

Today it is fully restored and operational as both a cinema and a theater.

& Casa Littoria

This was a multifunctional building on the central square facing the sea, called Piazza Littoria.
The building was used as the municipality, pharmacy and post office. The part facing the sea was designated as Casa Littoria and was used as the headquarters of several fascist associations.
During WW2 the building was bombed and Casa Littoria was completely destructed, never to be rebuilt.
Today the building belongs to private individuals and is used for various purposes including cafe, restaurant and shops. The “Municipio di Portolago” coat of arms is preserved on the side of the building.

Albergo Roma

The hotel was built together with the adjacent cinema-theater, with which it forms a single block. As reported to Mussolini in November 16, 1932 – the governor Mario Lago states: “A cinema and a small hotel-restaurant-cafe will enliven the center of the city, attracting and amalgamating the military of the various arms and the civilians. They will be immediately profitable”.
The hotel faces the central square Piazza Littoria. The newspaper “Il Messaggero di Rodi” in the 7th February 1938 issue describes the hotel as “built in a modern style”, has 19 rooms with 29 beds, 6 bathrooms, a restaurant, a billiard room, a reading and writing room, a bar and two reception rooms.

The bulding has two floors: the ground floor has a portico facing the sea and a garden on the back.
When the Dodecanese became Greek in 1948, the building re-opened as a hotel renamed “Hotel Leros” which operated until the mid-eighties. Today the hotel is under reconstruction.

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Fortification of Leros

Among the islands of the Dodecanese, Leros, due to its geographical position in the eastern Mediterranean and its special morphology, was chosen for the creation of Italy's main air and naval base in the Dodecanese.

The purpose was purely strategic: the fortification of Leros and the creation of a large military base ensured the Italians control of an area of ​​vital interest to the Great Powers. This Base, according to the planning, would have facilities for the Navy, the Air Force and the Army, as well as the necessary workshops of private companies manufacturing military equipment.

The main construction projects of the Italians in Leros, for the fortification and defense of the island, were carried out as early as 1923 and were completed at the end of the 1930s.

Among these are:

  • "Gianni Rossetti" Seaplane Base in the area of ​​Lepida 
  • Submarine Base in the adjacent area of ​​Aghios Georgios
  • New town of Portolago (nowadays Lakki), created in order to cover the housing needs created by the construction of the Aeronautical Base
  • Centro Radio Lero – the installation of the Italian telecommunications center in the area of ​​Aghios Nikolaos in Lakki
  • The headquarters of FAM - DICAT, the “FAM -  Fronte A Mare” - Coastal Defense Command and the “DICAT - Difesa Contraerea Territoriale” -  Anti-Aircraft Land Defense Command on Mount Patella, with the unique installation of the Aerophone and the Acoustic - Parabolic Wall

Along with the other defense installations of Leros, the fortification of the island with artillery began already in the mid-1920s, initially mainly for naval defense. Gradually, until the middle and mainly at the end of the 1930s, 103 guns of caliber from 76mm to 152mm were installed on almost all the heights of Leros, most of them from decommissioned battleships and cruisers of the Italian Navy from WW I, composing a network of 25 batteries, responsible for the defense of the island, both from the sea and from the air. Along with the construction of the gun emplacements, other military facilities were developed in each artillery barracks, such as material and ammunition storages, shelters, barracks and logistics buildings, as well as various other facilities. The defense network of Leros is considered a model of interwar fortification architecture (1918 – 1939).

Especially since 1936, when military zones were officially created on the island, fenced with barbed wire, the mountains and heights of Leros acquired a purely military character. The granting of compensation stops, since the cutting of the bushes was first prohibited by decree, and thus the fields were turned into forest land, and by extension they are considered the property of the Italian State. Thus, livestock breeders and farmers, losing their properties, are forced to resort to day labor, since there is indeed a lack of labor force, due to the excessive number of projects in progress. For the construction of the defense and public works of Leros, artisans are transferred from Italy, with a daily wage of 40-50 italian lire, while the Greeks receive 6-10 italian lire.

The outbreak of World War II led to the expansion and improvement, on a large scale, of military installations, but this was opposed to economic criteria and above all the lack of availability of means and the difficulties in maritime transportations. The serious shortcomings of the hasty Italian military preparation led to the dispersion of the scarce available means in many areas, all of them of high importance and therefore did not allow the care imposed on any of them.

Thus, in the Dodecanese, although the level of preparation could be described as satisfactory, in relation to infrastructure and logistics facilities, the field of armaments, and especially that of Artillery, lagged far behind, since the Dodecanese had been sent almost exclusively old-style and dissimilar weapons caliber, which did not allow the organization of defense to develop to a sufficient and satisfactory degree, which will have a huge impact on the events of September - November 1943.

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