Silvio Berlusconi Saluted With State Funeral as Mediaset Transmission Tower Reads ‘Ciao Papà’ and ‘Grazie Silvio’

Italians on Wednesday bid farewell to TV tycoon and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi with a national day of mourning and a state funeral in Milan’s Duomo cathedral attended by top local political and business leaders and some foreign dignitaries, aired live across all the country’s main media outlets.

After the hearse with Berlusconi’s flower-draped casket drove slowly through Milan streets amid cheers, tens of thousands of people outside the Duomo erupted in applause as pallbearers solemnly carried the coffin through the crowd. Inside the cathedral his five children, Marina, Pier Silvio, Barbara, Eleonora and Luigi, and his 34-year-old girlfriend Marta Fascina, shed tears as the casket was placed in front of the altar and the Archbishop of Milan, Monsignor Mario Delpini, began the service.

Berlusconi died on Monday at age 86 at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan due to complications from leukemia. The man who created the concept of private television in Italy, rising to become a media mogul before going into politics as a right-winger in 1994 and serving as Italy’s longest serving postwar prime minister, remains divisive even after his death.

While other former Italian premiers in the past have been given state funerals, Berlusconi marks the first time that a national day of mourning has been called as well. And it didn’t sit well with everyone.

Former center-left minister Rosy Bindi, whom had been the object of sexist remarks on Berlusconi’s part, said that an “inappropriate sanctification” of Berlusconi was taking place and called the national day “disrespectful towards the majority” of Italians who she claimed opposed the late leader.

Italy is currently ruled by a right-wing coalition headed by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her party the Brothers of Italy, allied with Matteo Salvini’s League and Berlusconi’s former party Forza Italia.

The day of mourning is not a public holiday, but a symbolic tribute in which flags fly at half mast from public buildings. The European Parliament also paid its respects to Berlusconi in this way.

Besides most of Italy’s upper echelons, the funeral ceremony was attended by EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Iraq’s Premier Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani.

At least 700 journalists from many parts of the world covered the event. Since Berlusconi’s death there has been plenty of speculation swirling about the future of Berlusconi’s Mediaset TV empire that has now been partly rebranded MediaForEurope. But during the funeral commentators mostly steered clear from this topic. Mediaset, meanwhile, paid tribute to its founder in every possible way.

A banner on one transmission tower at Cologno Monzese, Mediaset’s headquarters, read “Ciao Papà” (Bye, Dad) and “Grazie Silvio” (Thanks, Silvio), and a big billboard on a nearby building read: “All of Mediaset embraces with love and infinite gratitude its founder Silvio Berlusconi.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *