Two more Italian women have stepped forward to allege Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi entertained them privately, perhaps paying for sex or accepting a suggestion of bribery for sex.

CHNN’s Harlan Harrington has been hop-scotching around Italy in the CHNN flying boat – from Rome to Naples to Sardinia and Milan – trying to stay abreast of these breathless developments.

Harrington reports allegations made by 23-year old Barbara Montereale may crack the facade of denial by Berlusconi on questions about his relationships with many young Italian women, some of whom he has promoted as viable political candidates.

Montereale, described in news reports as a “beautiful, ambitious starlet,” last week told Italian reporters she met Berlusconi at his Rome apartment in November.  She said she also spent a January night with the prime minister at his Sardinia retreat;  and on the way out at sunrise, she said she was given a bag stuffed with 1,000 Euros.

Montereale denied having sex with Berlusconi in Sardinia but conceded she may have accepted other payments for what were called “hostessing” duties.

Italian officials are looking into allegations of abetting prostitution in connection with activities at the Berlusconi vacation retreat.

Montereale says she traveled to Sardinia with Patrizia D’Addario, a 42-year old former escort and model.

D’Addario said she has pictures showing herself in the prime minister’s Rome residence last November, adding that she turned the material over to police.

Montereale said D’Addario told her she had sex with Berlusconi on the night of Barack Obama’s election as U.S. president, even though the prime minister was scheduled to attend a election night rally.

An Italian newspaper last week published excerpts from D’Addario’s tapes, purporting to show the prime minister urging the woman to “Go and wait for me on the big bed” -  to which D’Addario replied, “Yes, the big bed.”  While there, D’Addario alleged, Berlusconi, reclining in a bathrobe, gave her a diamond-encrusted tortoise, and said, “The tortoise is a special gift I give only to you.”

D’Addario said she went public with her story, in part because the prime minister falsely promised to help her with a hotel she wanted to build.

Harrington says Berlusconi and his aides are responding to these latest allegations at near operatic pitch.

Harrington says recent media appearances by the 72-year old Italian leader have assumed an aggressive, even hysterical tone, in an effort to debunk all stories about his relationships with young women.  A few weeks ago, Berlusconi’s wife, 42-year old Veronica Lario, said she intended to file for divorce.

Harrington reports the prime minister, mopping his tanned brow and hair-plugged pate in the summer sun, said last week, “I’ll not be swayed by these attacks and will continue to work for the good of the country.”  The fresh claims made by women coming forward are “trash and falsehoods,” he said,

“We have no comment; we have nothing to say,” Marco Ventura, a Berlusconi aide,  said Saturday.

Late last week, Harrington left an interview with investigators in Sardinia, flying hurriedly in the CHNN news craft and landing near a rented slip in Genoa harbor, then rushing in a dusty, beat up Fiat taxi to another Berlusconi media event in Milan.

Harrington says Berlusconi denied rumors that he might resign and have a governor of the Bank of Italy head an interim regime.

At a political rally, Berlusconi took on hecklers, shouting, “You disgust me and repel me.  But you communists without dignity will never bring me down.”

Yet at another appearance on Friday, Berlusconi tried to banter his way around reporters’ questions.  One female reporter, whose sweater had slipped a bit from her shoulder was told, “Are you trying to get invited to one of my dinners?  I used to do one a month; now I need to organize three or four a week.”

A few weeks ago, at the end of the EU leaders’ summit, Berlusconi commented on his situation, “It’s all rubbish.  I already got rid of the rubbish in Naples and I’ll do the same with this.”

But Berlusconi’s political opponents are also sharpening their attacks.

“Either Berlusconi explains what happened or he must go,” Rosy Bindi, deputy house speaker, said last week.

Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the Italy of Principles party called for a no-confidence vote in parliament.  Di Pietro cast  Berlusconi as a modern-day Nero and said he has been exposed to blackmail because of his “weakness” for women.

In Rome, Berlusconi’s lawyer, Nicolo Ghedini, steered around the Nero reference, rolling his eyes at reporters as they waited in his marbled lobby.

Ghedini addressed the allegations of prostitution and said his client was “rich in money and likeability” and didn’t have to pay women to come to his house.  “I think he can have great quantities for free,” Ghedini said, adding that even if the allegations were true, Berlusconi was only an “unwitting subject,” an “end user, and so not punishable.”  Ghedini suggested some of Berlusconi’s male guests bore responsibility for the presence of other unexpected or unannounced persons at the prime minister’s residences.

With all the frenzied reporting on the Berlusconi story, including the intense, gripping, fact-filled dispatches filed by CHNN’s chief world correspondent, it’s still not known how many women have been involved with the prime minister.

Harrington – unused as he is to women in sunglasses and slitted skirts waving at him as he buzzes over Italian villages in the CHNN flying boat, or to busty matrons offering juicy anecdotes from ancient balconies in  bustling cities – says the estimates are wildly unreliable.  But, he says, everywhere he goes people are talking.  Harrington says there is no choice but to press on.

Some women caught in the maw of the Berlusconi story seem to have been shunted aside.  Still others may have chosen to step away from the spotlight.

Noemi Letizia, the 18-year old Naples resident mentioned as a favorite of the prime minister, is said to be irked at the sudden attention paid to older woman who’ve been linked to Berlusconi.  Friends of Letizia say she’s in seclusion, practicing her karaoke routine, and preparing for lucrative modeling assignments in Rome – which she has told friends she was promised by Berlusconi.

Another woman linked to Berlusconi, Sabina Began, has reportedly “gone to ground” in recent weeks.  Began, known to observers of the Berlusconi social scene as the “queen bee,” was well known as a regular organizer of the prime minister’s parties in Rome and Sardinia.

Next month Berlusconi will host the G-8 summit in the Italian town of L’Aquila.  President Obama is scheduled to attend.


  1. cocktailhag says:

    Great piece, Dirigo…. Glad the boat was up to the challenge. “End user?” I’ve never heard it called that before. Montereale upgraded from “hostess” to “starlet?” Her ambition seems to be paying off already.
    See if Harlan can get a picture of the diamond-studded turtle; I bet that would look great on a turban.

    • Evviva l’Italia! Non ci sono uomini negli Stati Uniti così forti, così amabili, così audaci….

      If I had to choose between a dour Nazi like Bush, and a carefree camicia nera like signore Berlusconi, well, amici, I’d be hard pressed to choose. (Well, not really. One merely has to compare linguine alla vongole to freedom fries with ketchup to understand that not all authoritarians are created equal. Plus, what’s a little castor oil when compared to waterboarding?

      • Steven Rockford says:

        “Politica Italiana”, che bellissima.

        I wish our political discourse could be this simple. The Italians know how to base everything on the important elements: Wine, women, and song.

    • dirigo says:

      I didn’t include the fact that Ghedini apologized for some of what he said, including the “end user” reference.

      It’s so good I felt it had to stand alone – erect as it were – in a made-up comic piece, such as this one.

      I think the Berlusconi story – leaving aside the “serious” business of statecraft, and issues that attend to that – is so grotesquely funny that mere words don’t do it justice.

      It could be a theatrical piece: high – very high, comic opera.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    I’m with you WT…. in that I’d rather have a libertine than a moral scold running things, and Silvio has started no wars. Still, I find that owning al most all the media and running for office is pretty sleazy and authoritarian, and this is the kind of impunity it breeds. Do the taxpayers cover his Viagra? I’m sure they do.
    Good editorial sensibility on the “end user” thing, Dirigo. Why make something up when the facts are so much better? What I like most about this story is how it points up, to a comical extent, how stiflingly puritanical Americans are compared to Italians about these types of shenanigans. They’re the ones with the Pope down the street, not us, but you’d never know it.

    • Hagele, it’s precisely because they have the Pope down the street, and the little wooden box with the curtains and red light in every church, that they can be so worldly. Protestants have no one to confess to. The sin just festers, as it were, until their rigid little minds can bear no more. (As a child of a Presbyterian/Anglican mésalliance, I know whereof I speak.)

    • Molto cattivo, caro dirigo, molto cattivo. Was it Eric Hoffer who said that the essence of civilization was maintenance?

      • dirigo says:

        Yeah, as in, “She’s high maintenance.” Imagine that and multiply it by five, or ten, or …

        Boom !!!

        Be careful what you wish for.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Oh, I am. My “hostessing duties” today included mopping the deck and dusting the piano… (the keys were dusty from disuse) I anxiously await my envelope.

          • dirigo says:

            I don’t know if this translates easily from Irish to Italian, but it might fit Silvio:

            “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”

            — Oscar Wilde

  3. Meremark says:

    This is not appropriate here, maybe. I love the Berlusconi burlesque and better. Good great wordwork, Dirigo.

    Please do not be upset with me, for going off-topic. I mean no detraction from the post. Indeed, if there are miracles, maybe the following item can be bolster and double-BOFFO, in the ‘Variety’ sense.

    This item is the capstone after a week of dribs and drabs, lies damn lies and sissy tricks, in news about the no-news where the Gov. of S.C. could be. I’m sorry, I only wanted to tell someone. Now, he-er-r-r-r-r-re’s Phony:


    Will Republicans ‘Ask Questions’ Of Sanford, Rather Than ‘Circle The Wagons For One Of Our Tribe’?

    After days of speculation and misinformation, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) today admitted that he had spent the past week in Argentina — not on the Appalachian trail, as his staff originally told the press — with a woman with whom he has been having an affair.

    As the New York Times notes, the press conference “began rather oddly, with Mr. Sanford rambling about his love for the Appalachian trail, his exhaustion from a legislative battle over the federal stimulus and a need to get away from the public eye.” Sanford, who is married and has four children, eventually admitted that he has been having an affair with an Argentine woman. He also announced that he would be resigning as head of the Republican Governors Association. Watch it:

    While serving as a U.S. congressman, Sanford was incredibly critical of his colleagues’ marital misdeeds, including the affairs of former congressman Bob Livingston and President Bill Clinton:

    “The bottom line, though, is I am sure there will be a lot of legalistic explanations pointing out that the president lied under oath. His situation was not under oath. The bottom line, though, is he still lied. He lied under a different oath, and that is the oath to his wife. So it’s got to be taken very, very seriously.” [Sanford on Livingston, CNN, 12/18/98]

    “We ought to ask questions…rather than circle the wagons for one of our tribe.” [Sanford on how the GOP reacts to affairs, New York Post, 12/20/98]

    “I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign). I come from the business side. If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he’d be gone.” [Sanford on Clinton, The Post and Courier, 9/12/98]

    “The issue of lying is probably the biggest harm, if you will, to the system of Democratic government, representatives government, because it undermines trust. And if you undermine trust in our system, you undermine everything.” [Sanford on Clinton, CNN, 2/16/99]

    Sanford has also been an opponent of same-sex marriage, saying in 2004, “As Jenny and I are the parents of four little boys, we’ve always taught our kids that marriage was something between a man and a woman.” [The Post and Courier, 2/11/04]

    - -

    Update A Fox News chyron listed Sanford as a Democrat.

    Update Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) — who has also been floated as a potential 2012 candidate — has taken over as head of the RGA.
    UpdateJim Geraghty at the National Review writes:

    There will be an effort to impeach Sanford, a Republican strategist with ties to South Carolina tells me. “He’s going to have to resign. It’s South Carolina.” His rivals in the state legislature were among those fanning the flames of “Where the hell is he?”questions yesterday.

    Update Former South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson today said that there will likely be heavy pressure on Sanford to resign. “That call will come at a fevered pitch shortly,” he said, adding, “It’s important to hold our leaders accountable, and Gov. Sanford has flunked that test.”

    • dirigo says:

      Meremark, don’t worry about going OT, or off the reservation for that matter. This is all covered under the category: “Berlesquecronies”.

      What concerns me, as under-chief of the CHNN World Desk, is we might have to recall Harlan Harrington from Rome to cover the Sanford story, and run the risk of missing the denouement in the Berlusconi story.

      I don’t think CHNN can afford such an error; and therefore, I call again on Mr. Hag, the tightwad CEO of this ragtag bunch of journalists, to cough up some dough for proper coverage of these momentous public, sexual peccadillo sagas. This is no time to squeeze nickels, since, as a matter of fact, this space has been ahead of the New York Times on the Berlusconi story, Only today the Grey Lady finally got its lazy butt around to doing something on this momentous event, supported by yet another tepid take on this ‘n that by MoDO. MoDo, in her usual tiresome manner, had to tie her piece on the Italian prime minister to President Obama and his “sin” of being a closet smoker. Well, Maureen, it’s all relative isn’t it.

      By the way, Harlan called me earlier today, expressing concern that Gov. Sanford has not been pressed on whether he is a better tango dancer than Appalachian fisherman (and he said a stop has been put on his credit card for fuel for the CHNN flying boat, as well as for rent on its private slip in Naples harbor). Harlan feels there is a distinction with a difference here with Sanford that must be fleshed out, else American journalists will continue to be open the charge of habitual fecklessness.

      Here’s one for office pools around the country: Who will resign first, Gov. Sanford or Prime Minister Berlusconi?

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