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Silvio Berlusconi has died, taking with him a piece of Italy's history

Salvatore Merlo

The Cavaliere did not overcome the consequences of leukemia. He was 86 years old. He leaves behind a media empire firmly in the hands of his children and a political enterprise whose fate is completely uncertain. Now the country will have to come to terms with what is, in all respects, a "turning point in history"

The translation of this text was done using artificial intelligence.


Silvio Berlusconi has died. His condition had been serious for several days when he was once again admitted to the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, this time in intensive care. The clinic, which he had helped found and finance with his friend Don Verzè.


The fatal cause was the consequences of pneumonia, kept at bay but always insidious for an eighty-five-year-old man worn out by a life of excess. He hated talking about death, illness, and advancing age. He disliked funerals, and if he could, he would have gladly avoided his own as well. Once, his personal doctor, later elevated to Parliament, Umberto Scapagnini, said that the Cavaliere was "technically immortal." He leaves behind a media and financial empire in a world that is increasingly less television-oriented and more internet-driven, now entrusted to his children for some time. He also leaves behind a deeply troubled political enterprise whose fate is uncertain. Giorgia Meloni had been considering this problem for some time, believing that the sudden disappearance of Berlusconi could also lead to a sudden collapse of Forza Italia. At this point, that cannot be ruled out. "After me, the deluge" has always been the motto of this man who built his epic of leadership around the monocratic, playful, and cinematic charisma of the grand illuminated stages where a lone Cavaliere on the podium intoned the electoral jingles of "Forza Italia" and "meno male che Silvio c’è (thank goodness Silvio is here)." Silvio Berlusconi's death is one of those events for Italy where the expression "turning point in history" is not rhetoric but factual.


There was a "before" Berlusconi, and there will be an "after" Berlusconi. In society, in its tastes, in its customs, in its orientations. He transformed television and changed the way even Rai looked at its viewers, who became consumers and were no longer the recipients of Christian Democratic and Bernabeian pedagogy. And then he also transformed politics by offering those same consumers a product called Forza Italia. At the Assago Forum in 1998, at the first congress of this "political thing" that seemed everything except a congress, there were confetti and psychedelic lights. The Cavaliere descending from above in a helicopter, singing karaoke, witnessing the laser effects of a cathodic party capable of erasing the memory of the congresses of the '90s, those of the politburo crouching behind the double-breasted secretary. It was the first mass event of that creation that some already improperly called a "party" (Berlusconi never used that word, "it makes me break out in hives"), and for Romano Prodi, it was "nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing." Impeccably unpolitical but unshakable, Berlusconi blazed like a flame in Italy's history.


Consumed by his own nature as a living paradox. A rebellious Titan, half Prometheus and half Antichrist, anomalous because of conflicts of interest, in conflicts of interest because anomalous, destined to impose himself, to destroy, to tear even himself apart in a superhuman battle and suffering. Around him, the Second Republic revolved rapidly, along with the madness of an entire country. Eighty-eight trials in approximately twenty-six years. Once, in the late '90s, he told journalists, "If I tell you what I've spent, I think you'll faint." How much? "About 600 billion lire." His lifelong friend, Fedele Confaloneri, has repeatedly said, "If it had happened to me, I wouldn't have held up. I would have died." Well, in the end, death

  • Salvatore Merlo
  • Milano 1982, vicedirettore del Foglio. Cresciuto a Catania, liceo classico “Galileo” a Firenze, tre lauree a Siena e una parentesi universitaria in Inghilterra. Ho vinto alcuni dei principali premi giornalistici italiani, tra cui il Premiolino (2023) e il premio Biagio Agnes (2024) per la carta stampata. Giornalista parlamentare, responsabile del servizio politico e del sito web, lavoro al Foglio dal 2007. Ho scritto per Mondadori "Fummo giovani soltanto allora", la vita spericolata del giovane Indro Montanelli.