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Berlusconi’s French Connection

Well, he has billions, virtually runs every aspect of Italy, and claimed that he wanted to save Alitalia for Italy, even if, after all the tooing-and-froing, one of Alitalia’s original suitors, namely Air France, mysteriously appears to have fallen back into favour.

Yes, that archetypal Italian, Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi, has decided to hand over part of Alitalia to the French.  Strange in a way, because many Italians are not great fans of those who hail from the land of snails and h’orderves, but then what do you expect from someone who appears to shun Italian cars?  And I bet you can’t guess what make one of Berlusconi’s first cars was.

Cars Not Made in Italy

According to a little article I recently read in Italian magazine, Capital, which is devoted to Italy’s well dressed entrepreneurs, Berlusconi is not a Ferrari fan, nor does he love Maseratis or even that most red blooded of Italian marques, Lamborghini.  Nope, the champion of Italy and all things Italian, prefers Teutonic might.

For those official functions, Italy’s perma-tanned PM can be found wafting along in armoured Audis A8s and bulletproof Mercedes’ 600s, not to mention the odd BMW.   By all accounts, Il Cavaliere’s love of German motors put Ferrari and Maserati head Luca Montezemlo‘s nose rather out of joint.  To right this perceived wrong, the head of the FIAT group gave Berlusco a brand spanking new Maserati Quattorporte back in 2004.  Said Maserati appears to spend more time gathering dust than it does representing its country, though.

A Magnificent Maserati Quattoporte
A Magnificent Maserati Quattoporte

Of course, a man of status is far too busy to actually drive, so, you might be thinking:  ‘At least Berlusconi’s drivers will be Italians.’  Well, partially.

Chauffeurs Made, but not Trained, in Italy

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Aside from not being overly enamoured of Italian autos, Italy’s first man does not even appear to trust Italian drivers too much.  His chauffeurs are all sent off to Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt to be taught how to drive properly.

This is probably a decision well taken, from what I’ve seen of the general standard of Italian driving here over the years.  Maybe Berlusconi’s drivers do not consider pedestrians as targets.

The Crux of the Matter

Aside from all the Teutonic armoured executive expresses lying around Berlusconi’s driveway and garages, you may be surprised to hear that tucked away in a corner is what was probably the man’s first car.  Ah, he’s sure to have had a Fiat 500, I hear you utter, after all, every Italian has had one at one time or another.

But no, even Berlusconi’s piece of automotive nostalgia is not Italian.  It’s a Citroen Dyane.  In case you cannot remember what they look like, here’s one:

Berlusconi's Citroen Dyane?
Berlusconi's Citroen Dyane?

So now you know why Berlusconi decided to sell off Italy’s ailing airline to Air France, even after all the song and dance about striving to keep Alitalia good and Italian –  Berlusconi is French.  Not ‘Il Cavaliere’, but ‘Le Chevalier’!

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