Fragments of Legacy: Berlusconi’s death

Italy | June 2023

The passing of Silvio Berlusconi on June 12, marked the conclusion of a remarkable chapter in Italian politics, characterized by its duration, significance, and vibrant nature. It provoked strong sentiments from devoted supporters and steadfast opponents alike, who regarded his influential life as a defining juncture that divided Italian history into distinct periods: pre-Berlusconi and post-Berlusconi.

His persona deeply divided Italy between those who loved him and those who hated him; Berlusconi was controversial in life and even in death. His funeral was held at the Milan Cathedral, a venue reserved for state funerals granted to individuals who held or have held important political positions. Additionally, the government led by Giorgia Meloni, whose party Forza Italia is part of, declared a national mourning period for his passing. As I mentioned, much has been said and written about Silvio Berlusconi these days. I leave you with an article written by Gabriele Romagnoli for Repubblica about the day of the funeral, marking the end of an era that has already become history.

Click HERE to read the article in Italian.

It was an unexpectedly sunny afternoon. The carabinieri, stiff in their uniforms, had postponed for as long as possible the moment of placing the lantern with the plume on their foreheads. The chin strap had been lowered onto their already sweat-glistening chins. Their gaze sought an intense fixedness, one that wouldn’t falter in the presence of too many cameras. No amount of discipline ever prepares enough for the exceptional nature of events unforeseen by any calendar or rule. The people, they had already been there for hours. Under light-colored umbrellas, behind dark sunglasses. Wearing their best attire or just as they were. Out of affection and criticism. Out of inertia and will. Dragged, as often happens, by a centripetal force, futilely seeking the body at the center of the trajectory. Searching for a center that doesn’t exist. Praying, even, on their knees on the pavement, having passed the barriers, brandishing a sacred image as a pass: “May the Lady of all nations reign on Earth, and may the Holy Spirit descend to preserve them from degeneration, disaster, and war.” Amen. And repeat, for it to work. So that even those who continue to send messages from their cell phones, take photos, and upload them to their profiles, talk, even shout when it should be an occasion for silence—one minute, one hour—until a new signal.

There, the famous ones weren’t staying. They passed and went. Into the island of shade conquered through years of sacrifices for the cause, reciprocated dedication. Or by election, appointment, inheritance. Slipping in like in any corridor. The square was for others, men and pigeons. So alike, if you observe them closely, in their movements. They gather, flee at the first noise, reunite. And ascend, upward, onto the pedestal, the statue, the horse. On the unsheathed sword, a sharp perspective. Tell me, what do you see from there?

Do you see him coming? Do you see the horizon shifting, the ultimate gate opening wide? Will we need to make room, prepare for the unimaginable, or is it just a ceremony like any other, with its schedule, times not to be exceeded, codes to be respected? Then why were those happy as gypsies young boys there, able to chant the slogan of their triumphant youth for the last time when they were not kings but had a king, and for some, it’s not a consolation, it’s the same thing: the result counts. Champion of Europe, capital of the world, Milan is no longer far from your land.

There is no fog, nor rain. Those exhausted from waiting didn’t show it. Fatigue is a secret to be kept. Standing, the entire crowd. Dissent flashes in a fist that opens and immediately closes again. One hand among thousands. An anomaly in a survey that assures unanimous consensus. Yet a doubt was creeping in: What are we waiting for? A final or the end? The definitive victory or the inevitable surrender? Watch the big screens, the match is being played elsewhere. The referee has blown the whistle three times, captured at the center of the field, a block of wood remains, not allowing any light to pass, regardless of interventions on cameras or judgments.