This is the revised text of a paper delivered at a meeting in Turin. The participants in the meeting were asked to present their respective topics in the light of their biographies. Accordingly the author, whose topic was "The history of Italy and fascism", tells what personal reasons prompted him to study the origins of fascism and how, later on, he thought necessary to reexamine extensively the course of Italian history after the unification. His purpose was on one side to understand the reasons why liberal institutions were in Italy so weak and, on the other side, why Mussolini could so easily gain a large support. At the end the author casts some remarks about the dispiriting situation surrounding today Italian historical studies on account of the reluctance to look at the dark sides of our recent past in ways disagreable to the rhetoric of the official version.