Berlusconi's Enemies

Powerful men have enemies, and Silvio Berlusconi has (had and will always have) loads of them. Some of his best friends turned into his worst foes, for some reasons. We started to enlist them, alphabetically (by first name). Will we ever get to the end of it?

Comedian turned into politician Beppe Grillo
Beppe Grillo
Beppe Grillo

Born 21 july 1948 in Genoa (Liguria region), started his career as a comedian, then turned into politician.

As a comedian Grillo was interdicted from RAI public broadcaster, when he attached swathing Italian Socialist Party's Bettino Craxi (good friend of silvio and godfather of Barbara Berlusconi), prime minister of Italy from 1983 to 1987.

Allegedly the last straw was a joke Grillo told on a TV show. It read: “A member of the Italian Socialist Party asked [Secretary Bettino] Craxi, retuning from a visit to China: «If the Chinese are all socialists, whom do they steal from»?

Beppe Grillo became a gadfly of Italian politics, through his popular blog (according to, it ranks number 3,625 in the world, and number 62 in Italy, with 8,773 sites linking in, as per 4 March 2013. Our link is a 'nofollow' one.).

In 2007, on 8 September, Beppe Grillo organised the V-Day Celebration ('V' for 'Vaffanculo, i.e. 'Fuck-off'), where he projected the names of a couple of dozen Italian politicians who had been convicted of crimes (from corruption and tax evasion to abetting a murder and links to the Mafia). Grillo now leads the M5S (Movimento 5 Stelle, that is the Five Star Movement), that became a fast growing political force in Italy since its foundation in 2009 (the ex-jester co.-founded it, together with internet-guru Gianroberto Casaleggio) and gained about one quarter of the votes in the general election of February 2013 (none of the parties had seen it coming, especially the PD - Democratic Party - which snottily rejected the candidacy of the comedian in the party primary elections, in 2009).

Beppe Grillo calls Silvio Berlusconi (not too affectionately) the psycho dwarf.

Carlo De Benedetti

Silvio Berlusconi and Carlo De Benedetti depart
Silvio Berlusconi and Carlo De Benedetti

Carlo De Benedetti's and Silvio Berlusconi's ways crossed quite a few times in the past, since the italo-swiss entrepreneur entered the media market in Italy, back in the 90s.

De Benedetti has always been close to the centre-left, a side which Berlusconi loathes.

In 2009 Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to pay a compensation of 750m euro to De Benedetti, over a row about the control of Italian publisher Arnoldo Mondadori Editore. Silvio didn't take it particularly well, and his already difficult relationship with judges and courts did not improve at all.

Enzo Biagi

The Italian writer and journalist was accused of criminally misuse the public broadcaster RAI, together with Michele Santoro and Daniele Luttazzi, by a newly appointed prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on 18 April 2002. The burst out has been later dubbed the Bulgarian Edict” (l'Editto Bulgaro in italian) since it took place at a press conference with Simeon-Saxe-Coburn-Gotha (then Bulgaria's prime minister) in Sofia. It  led to the ousting of Biagi and the other journalists from Italian TV.

Biagi's programme Il Fatto (“The Fact”) became a late night show, than disappeared.

In April 2007 he managed to make his television comeback at the age of 86, he died the same year, 6 November 2007.

Italian journalists Enzo Biagi and Indro Montanelli
Enzo Biagi e fellow journalist Indro Montanelli
He was also a columnist of the daily Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, where he had worked since the early 1970s and kept on working until throughout his life, almost until the day if his death.

Indro Montanelli

Journalist and historian, he founded the daily newspaper Il Giornale in 1973, which was acquired by Berlusconi family in 1979.

Montanelli said about Silvio: “He is the most sincere liar there is, he is the first to believe his own lies. That's what makes him so dangerous. He has no shame. Berlusconi [...] has an allergy to the truth, and a voluptuous and voluptuary propensity for lying”.

Indro Montanelli died 22 July 2001, in Milan.

Ilda Boccassini

Born in Naples on 7 December 1949, she's been a member of Italian judiciary since 1979.Ilda Boccassini is sometimes called “Ilda the Red” for her flame-coloured her and for her sympathy towards the left.

Ilda boccassini in 2011, talking to a Italian law enforcement agency official
Ilda boccassini in 2011

In 1982 she was subjected to disciplinary proceedings of the Superior Council of the Magistracy as Ilda was caught exchanging sentimental effusions with a political reporter of the far left wing newspaper Lotta Continua ("continuous struggle", in Italian) in front of the Palace of Justice in Milan. The disciplinary procedure was cancelled because the fact was considered irrelevant to the profession of magistrate.

In 2010 she helped launching one of the largest police operation against the Calabrian Mafia, when 3,000 police officers 400 members of the 'Ndrangheta.

Also in 2010 the investigating of a case relating to the custody of a young Moroccan woman - Karima El Mahroug (aka Ruby the Heart Stealer) – lead to the former President of the Council of Ministers Silvio Berlusconi, who, according to the prosecution, would put undue pressure on police in Milan to obtain the release of the 17-year-old girl and that he paid money in exchange for sex when she was still a minor. It's the Rubygate, an inquiry that will reveal Berlusconi's bunga bunga parties.

After the prosecutor's ways crossed with Silvio's, she has been target of mockery by Berlusconi's newspapers and media, especially as far as her multicoloured socks are concerned.

In December 2011 the USA magazine Foreign Policy ranked Ilda number 57 in the list of the most influential people in politics, economy and foreign affairs.

Marco Travaglio

Born in Turin (13 October 1964), he is an investigative journalist, writer, blogger and opinion leader, he is vice-director of the daily newspaper il Fatto Quotidiano (“the Daily Fact”).

Italian journalist Marco Travaglio
Italian journalist Marco Travaglio, "Absolute Evil" according to SB
His main areas of interest are: judicial reporting and politics, dealing with issues ranging from the Mafia to corruption cases. Needless to say, Silvio Berlusconi was at the centre of Marco's interests quite often

The former prime minister of Italy sued Travaglio for defamation. More than once.

He worked under Indro Montanelli (hence he is representing the second generation of Silvio's foes) at Berlusconi's Il Giornale and La Voce, Italian daily newspapers.

Montanelli wrote about him: «He's a Grand Inquisitor, to embarrass Vyshinsky, the grim instrument of Stalin's purges. It does not kill anyone. With a knife. He uses a weapon much more refined and not a criminal offence: the archive. Imagine the dossier that such a sleuth may have compiled on Berlusconi, who at lunch has completely forgotten what he said at breakfast.».

Since 2006 he has been working with Michele Santoro, as a guest in the TV programmes AnnoZero and Servizio Pubblico.

During a confrontation with Travaglio, on Michele Santoro's "Servizio Pubblico" ("Public Service") TC show, on 10 January 2013, Silvio Berlusconi said: «The difference between Marco Travaglio and me is that he thinks I am the absolute evil, and I think he is the absolute evil».

Michele Santoro

Journalist Michele Santoro larger than life
Michele Santoro, the communist

Born in Salerno (2 July 1951), he is an Italian journalist, anchorman, opinion leader, television host and presenter. Briefly he was a politician as well, since he was elected to the European Parliament, by getting a whopping 730,000 votes.

After working for a series of Italian daily newspapers and magazines (Il Mattino, L'Unità and Epoca) and a number of radio stations, he was hired by public TV broadcaster RAI.

Whilst working for Italian RAI he became popular as a staunch left-wing anchorman, creating a number of programmes like Samarcanda, Il rosso e il nero (“The Red and the Black”) and Temporeale (“Realtime”).

In 2002 Silvio Berlusconi denounced “the criminal use of public television” made by Michele Santoro and others (namely Enzo Biagi and Daniele Luttazzi), in his famous Bulgarian Edict, and declared that it had to come to an and. As it did.

Santoro's contract wasn't renewed, and he left the RAI.

He met again with Silvio Berlusconi for an epic clash, on 10 January 2013, on his new TV show Servizio Pubblico (“Public Service”), broadcast by Italian La7 channel.

Once Michele Santoro said: «Silvio Berlusconi has an excess of power and therefore must allow an excess of criticism against him.». That's what he's been doing so far, giving Silvio Berlusconi an excess of criticism.

Nanni Moretti

Nanni Moretti portrays Silvio Berlusconi in the film "The Caiman"
Nanni Moretti portraying Berlusconi in The Caiman

Born in Bruneck, South Tirol (19 august 1953), former water polo player, Giovanni Moretti (commonly known as Nanni) is a film director, producer, screenwriter and actor. Was the Cannes Film Festival's president in 2012.

He is known to be a left-wing, in 2002 he decided to organise a street protest called the Ring a Ring o' Roses (i Girotondi, the protest was also addressed to the Italian left, unable to challenge Silvio Berlusconi).

Funny enough, one of Silvio's staunch defenders - journalist Augusto Minzolini - had a small role as an extra in two of Nanni Moretti's films, Io sono autarchico (I am Self Sufficient, 1976) and Ecce Bombo (Ecce Bombo, 1978).

Moretti portrayed Silvio Berlusconi in his film The Caiman, released just before Italy's general elections in 2006 (and perhaps contributing to the narrow defeat of Berlusconi's coalition to Romano Prodi's Union).

Roberto Benigni mocks Silvio Berlusconi on a public TV show on the Italian Constitution
Roberto Benigni talks about the Constitution
(and Silvio)
Roberto Benigni

The Italian actor and director (whose film Life is Beautiful won three Academy Awards, for Best Actor, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Foreign Language Film) has always been a leftist and an outspoken critic of Silvio Berlusconi, as Italy's prime minister.

Roberto's always been a comedian, in 1986 David Letterman introduced him on his Late Night's Show as "the funniest man in Italy".

It's been very popular a sketch of the comedian, mocking Silvio's win of the first term, when he was hosted by anchorman Pippo Baudo on public Italian TV, RAI (click here to watch the video, on our YouTube's channel).

His favourite politician was Italian Communist Party's (PCI) secretary Enrico Berlinguer (in 1977 Roberto starred in Giuseppe Bertolucci's film Berlinguer I love You).

In 1995 Roberto Benigni, during a stand-up comedy session, dedicated a short but poignant song to Silvio Berlusconi. Here's the video.

In October 2005, as the media tycoon resigned from the head of Italian government post, Roberto celebrated the event by performing a series of striptease on Italian TV

Recently the Italian comedian mocked Berlusconi's comeback on a live show about the Italian constitution.

Silvio Berlusconi and Romano Prodi on TV
Silvio and Romano, after a TV debate
Romano Prodi
Romano Prodi is an Italian statesman and politician, he was president of the European commission from 1999 to 2004.

Silvio Berlusconi never liked Romano Prodi, the professor, who beat him in the general election of 1996.

But after the 2006 elections, when the latter narrowly defeated him (Prodi's Olive Tree gained control of the Chamber of Deputies by a difference of 24,755 votes out of more than 38 million) - the incumbent prime minister -, he simply learned to loathe him.

Prodi-led coalition comprehended the Communist Refoundation Party, the Party of Italian Communists, Silvio Berlusconi arch-enemy Antonio Di Pietro's Italy of Values: virtually anything Berlusconi reckons to be evil.

Rupert Murdoch, the last tycoon
Rupert Mudoch

Media tycoon Silvio and media mogul Rupert had a couple of clashes, since Sky has been a player in the Italian media environment.

In 2009 the Australian tycoon sued two of Silvio's companies, accusing them of refusing to allow Sky Italia (the Italian satellite broadcaster of Murdoch's News Corp.) advertise on the Italian (at that time) prime minister's terrestrial network.

On 2 January 2013 Sky TG24 interviewed Silvio Berlusconi, but there was no sign of Murdoch's aggressivity in the programme, which resulted in a undisrupted monologue from the former prime minister.

Umberto Eco

Born in Alessandria on 5 January 1932, Eco is an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist (source: Wikipedia), in Italy best known for the 1980 novel The Name of the Rose, which became a film in 1986, starring Sean Connery.

Umberto Eco, author of the novel "The Name of the Rose "
Writer and philosopher Umberto Eco
He highly dislikes Silvio Berlusconi, he thinks that the billionaire and politician is a bewitching person, a communication genius, using his powers to TV-watcher elder people, the writer used to participate to protests against the politician.

Umberto Eco was so mad at the then Italian prime minister, that once (it was January 2011) compared Silvio Berlusconi to Adolf Hitler, in a sense that both politicians rose to power with free elections (and both were blameworthy, of course). The resignation of Silvio Berlusconi in November 2011 was definitely good news for him, whilst the return of the Knight was definitely not welcomed.