The dictator of Italy, Mussolini, was as keen to find an ally as was Hitler. In June 1934 he invited the German leader to Venice, tactfully including in the tour the Palazzo Vendramin where Hitler’s favourite composer, Richard Wagner, had died. Hitler accepted, but must have regretted the decision the moment he arrived. Hitler landed in Venice dressed in a blue suit and an old raincoat. Mussolini met him in a glittering uniform of gold braid and mirror-polished jackboots and backed by an honour guard in the most gorgeous uniforms the fashion designers of Italy could produce. The world’s press was on hand to take photos which were, at best, unflattering to Hitler.
furious and tried to regain dominance by subjecting Mussolini to a two
hour speech the following day when they were supposed to be making
complimentary statements to each other. Mussolini, in his turn, was now
angry. Little progress was made on the main point of the meeting, which
was to reach some form of agreement over the status of Austria.
the Great War, Austria had ruled substantial swathes of northern Italy,
parts of which had sizeable German-speaking minorities. Hitler had made
no secret of his ambition to absorb Austria into the Reich and to
embrace all ethnically German peoples into the German state. Mussolini
was understandably nervous about his northern borders, particularly the
area around Bolzano and Trent and wanted an agreement with Hitler. At
Venice he got a vague promise from the Germans to respect Austrian
independence, but it was far from being a firm pledge.
from "Hitler: Military Commander" by Rupert Matthews.