Italians may be yawning more than chattering about the sudden appearance late last week of pictures of nude Italian women, published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais and reportedly taken at Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Sardinia retreat.

The pictures, also distributed widely on Italian news websites – and in defiance of legal threats issued by lawyers for Berlusconi – show two topless women ‘cavorting’ at a party hosted last year by the prime minister.

Berlusconi has been seeking to block the release of some 700 similar images, even as this week-end’s European parliament elections hit their peak.

CHNN Chief Correspondent Harlan Harrington, on assignment in Italy, says opinion is split among many Italians on the pictures and their possible impact on Berlusconi’s chances with voters.  Harrington reports Berlusconi supporters have scaled down previous projections for their leader and are now saying a forty percent pro Berlusconi vote would be a “good result.”

The pictures and the accompanying El Pais report, continue to circulate among voters at polling stations and among ordinary Italians, including those taking the sun at beaches, or mingling at espresso cafes, chat rooms,  and villages across the country.

In El Pais, writer Miguel Mora described a scene at the Berlusconi retreat as one of “uninhibited routine” amidst “infinite gardens, artificial lakes, sexual organs exposed, lesbian games, and special effects.”  The report goes on to explain the comings and goings of women in G-strings, mini skirts, and go-go boots, and some naked men, including one said to be a former Czech prime minster.  All faces in the pictures were pixelated to protect identities.

Mora quotes an unidentified Sardinia businessman, commenting on the pictures taken through a “long lens” by photographer Antonello Zappadu:  “Those who are invited to court, those who sleep there count a lot; those who spend a holiday there are in Caesar’s heart.”

“No question, this looks like Berlusconi’s opponents upping the ante,” said Harrington, via Internet phone to the CHNN World Desk.  “It’s definitely a – pardon the expression – finger in the eye of the prime minister.  But I’m also getting reports of counter-demonstrations, possibly in support of Berlusconi, centered in Naples – hometown of Noemi Letizia.  We’re trying to nail that down, even as we, unhh, look at these pictures … uh …  more closely.”  Harrington added, blushingly: “I’m from the Dakotas.  We don’t get much stuff like this back there.”

Questions about Berlusconi’s sex life and alleged philandering with underage women erupted several weeks ago when the prime minister’s wife said she wanted a divorce.  The center of the sexual storm since has been Letizia, an 18-year old aspiring model and politician.  Berlusconi’s wife, Veronica Lario, also a former model and actress, criticized her husband for attending Letizia’s 18th birthday party in Naples, where, wth Noemi’s family present,  the 72-year old prime minister gave the young woman a $10,000 diamond-studded necklace and, according to witnesses, an enthusiastic peck on the cheek.

Aside from gifts and attending Letizia’s birthday party, Berlusconi has steadfastly denied having an affair with the young woman.  Nothing “spicy” has gone on he has said, while pledging to step down if there is proof of a mutual taste for hot peppers, or evidence of a time-share sail boat between them.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” said Rome urban planner Vezio De Lucia, outside a polling place near the Vatican.  De Lucia said recent reports and the pictures “confirm the negative view I have of the prime minister.  It’s simply ridiculous.  I mean, you know he’s had several hair plug jobs don’t you?  What a clown!  I mean,  it would be like Joe Biden robbing cradles in America.”

Silvia Filasto, a lawyer, said Berlusconi “has committed no crime as far as we know.  His only defect is he’s simpatico, with an eye for pretty women.”

As for Noemi, she has suggested Berlusconi encouraged her to get into politics, along with several other young women.  None are reported to have any political qualifications, but that doesn’t faze Noemi.  “I want to be a showgirl.  But I’m also interested in politics.  I am flexible,” she said.  “I often sing with Papi Silvio at the piano, or we do karaoke.”  It’s unknown what political tutoring beyond singalongs has been offered to Noemi by the prime minister.

CHNN’s Harrington elaborated on the activities in Naples, apparently undertaken in support of Noemi’s political ambitions.  In the last day, Harrington reported passing over Naples beaches in the CHNN flying boat while noticing scores of young women in bikinis, wearing cheap sunglasses.  Harrington noted that all of the women had blonde hair, but he said he could not determine if all were real blondes or whether some had wigs.  But Harrington said they all displayed face fans with an image of Noemi on them, and CHNN’s intrepid correspondent said each time he flew over a beach, the women stood provocatively in the sand, looked up and waved, and placed the Noemi fans over their faces.

Harrington’s last filing from Naples to the CHNN World Desk seemed to suggest a planned rather than spontaneous beach action by the bikini blondes, perhaps as a show of indifference to the ” la affair de Berlusconi” brouhaha in mainstream news reporting.

Harrington also reported other Naples beach-goers appeared to support their hometown girl outright as a political figure, with hand-lettered signs held aloft, aimed at the CHNN flying boat.

Passing over the beaches, Harrington noted the signs said:  “WE’RE AGOG OVER NOEMI – SHE’S OUR VIRGIN PRINCESS”.


  1. rmp says:

    Hey why are you picking on Berlusconi? I know a guy who just ran as a Repug candidate for president who after his wife waited 5 1/2 years for him while he was a POW and subsequently became disabled, was dumped for a much younger very rich, sexy blonde. No one cared about this McShameful behavior so I see no reason to jump on Berly.

    • dirigo says:

      It’s opera. Only Italians can do opera, and it’s wonderful.

      American pols can’t recite Mother Goose, never mind do opera.

      • dirigo says:

        By the way, unless we get an immediate infusion of cash into the Cocktailhag News Network World Desk budget, we might soon be on the downside of the imminent crash of the Brown government in Great Britain.

        Hag, this cheapskate CEO, has got to juggle the accounts to cover this impending disaster in London. He said he was going to sign MoDo!!!

        Brown, appearing Saturday at the D-Day ceremonies in Normandy, fidgeted and twitched as though he had a hot poker up his butt; and reports by the day indicate he’s not long for this world.

        It’s not possible for CHNN’s crack correspondent Harlan Harrington to peel off in the network’s flying boat and land in the Thames to cover this disaster. There’s too much at stake in the ratings to leave Naples now. Besides, Noemi’s definitely a comer. And considering Silvio and his hair plugs, she may eventually bite the hand that feeds her.

        Absent a fat contract for MoDo, we need another intrepid journalist to deal with this mess, preferably another Dakotan with his feet on the ground and a sensible eye on the expense account.

        How about it, RMP?

        “This … is London!”

        • dirigo says:

          Late reports from Italy show Berlusconi with a two point lead over his nearest center-left opponent.

        • rmp says:

          I don’t know how qualified this Dakotan is. I do know that money and those who have too much and want more are not the kind of chaps that Brown should have hung with. There were very few of those types in North Dakota. Love of the land and the hard work of farming prepares people for cooperation, success, failure and survival not Brown’s expertise. Berly wouldn’t fit in very well etither. Though in my younger days, skinny dipping was considered very normal and practical.

        • Lying down with dogs. As with New Democrats here, so also with New Labour across the pond. Trading coal smoke for the glitter of electrons and promises to pay didn’t work out any better for them than it did for us, and sadly, they can’t afford Change You Can Believe In.

          They’re more likely now to get something like Ian McKellan playing Richard III. (Am I not right, intrepid Dirigo, in thinking that Now is the winter of our discontent… is just a genteel English equivalent of that old slogan of Mussolini’s: Credere! Obbedire! Combattere!?)

          • dirigo says:

            Oh yes, William, Gordon Brown is going to suffer a thousand cuts as he staggers out the door at Number 10.

            What will come after – during England’s winter – is the Shakespearean question.

            Remember also, during a recent interview with Lawrence Wilkerson (former aide to Colin Powell) he blurted: “This is so Shakespearean” – as he talked about the continuing fallout over the Iraq War, torture and the Cheney truth tour. So it may take a while for our “green shoots” and “shovel-ready” projects to bear fruit, or jobs.

            Long live the Bard …

            Back to Silvio, a NYT writer (Rachel Donadio, 6/6) described today’s Italy under his plugged-head rule as a “highly evolved feudal society,” one still very much prone to the whims of the “padrone” leader.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Rumors of CHNN’s cheapness and penury are greatly exaggerated. Granted, my assistant didn’t have time to alert me to this post until now, but due to a welcome restructuring of liquor store debt, CHNN will promptly be paying several of the expenses, including but not limited to those to which you allude. Negotiations continue with unsecured creditors like various airlines and Nude Maids and are proceeding fruitfully.
          The life insurance policy, air conditioner, and short term apartment lease filed in expenses under “MoDO” had nothing to do with hiring her, I promise you.

          • dirigo says:

            I think you’ve got a few too many hair plugs too.

            Awww hell … Harlan’s used to flying on fumes. He’ll be okay as long as he doesn’t have to vector out of Naples air space on alert and fly over France and the Channel, only to ditch in the Thames.

            Sure hope it doesn’t come to that.

  2. rmp says:

    An update on another Brit, Susan Boyle
    BRITAIN’S Got Talent star Susan Boyle has bounced out of rehab to tell the world: “I feel bloody fantastic.”
    Simon Cowell has a lucrative contract ready for her to sign-but he has also told her that he will CANCEL the deal if she would rather return to her old life.

  3. cocktailhag says:

    Well, if he does, all publicity is good publicity. Just spell CHNN right, and I’m happy.
    As for Ms. Boyle.. Send her to Palm Springs where she can be outfitted with a turban, some bourbon, a caftan, and some big sunglasses, and she’ll have a ball. And be ready for Vegas in no time.

  4. sysprog says:

    Silvio and his nude amici are just trying to become more presidential.
    Home > News > World > News > Europe > Italy

    Unrepentant Silvio Berlusconi remains envious of Barack Obama’s ‘tan’

    By Nick Squires in Rome
    Published: 8:01PM GMT 23 Nov 2008

    Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister, has brushed aside international outrage from earlier this month, referring again to US President-Elect Barack Obama’s “suntan”, saying that he is equally “envious” of British supermodel Naomi Campbell’s skin colour.

    Far from backing down from his description earlier this month of America’s first black president as “young, handsome and also sun-tanned”, he reiterated the bizarre remark, again insisting that although it sparked international anger and ridicule, it was intended as a compliment.

    Mr Berlusconi, 72, who is famous for his year-round caramel complexion, said on Sunday: “We would all like to be tanned like Naomi Campbell and Obama.”

    He said he was “a little envious” of Senator Obama for his skin tone, adding that he had a “long, cordial” telephone conversation with the president-elect on Nov 7.

    The self-made billionaire was speaking during a press conference in the town of L’Aquila, in the Abruzzo region of central Italy.

    Mr Berlusconi made his initial “suntan” remark in Moscow during a press conference in which he said he hoped that Mr Obama’s relative youth would herald a new era of cooperation with his Russian counterpart, President Dmitry Medvedev.

    He was castigated at home and abroad, with critics saying the comment was at best in poor taste and at worst racist.

    One opposition MP called it “an insult loaded with dangerous ambiguity”.

    But Mr Berlusconi dismissed his critics as “imbeciles” who lacked a sense of humour.

    France’s First Lady, Italian-born Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, said at the time that she was so appalled by Mr Berlusconi’s ill-judged comment that she was “happy” to have taken French citizenship.

    - – The Telegraph


    The White House doesn’t seem to be holding a grudge.

    For Immediate Release
    June 6, 2009

    Statement by the Press Secretary on the visit of Prime Minister Berlusconi to the White House

    President Obama will welcome Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy to the White House on Monday, June 15th. The United States and Italy, a NATO ally, have strong bilateral relations and partner together around the world to promote peace, prosperity, and democratic freedoms. The President looks forward to discussing preparations for the G-8 Summit that will take place in L’ Aquila, Italy in July, and consulting with the Prime Minister on a broad range of strategic issues of mutual concern.


    - – The White House

  5. dirigo says:


    By Nick Squires in Rome

    The Italian prime minister had hoped that his centre-Right People of Freedom Party would attract up to 45 per cent of the vote, but instead it won just over 35 per cent.

    Italian voters appeared to have punished the self-made billionaire for a series of controversies, including his favouring of showgirls and starlets, his divorce from his long-suffering wife and questions over his relationship with an 18-year old blonde lingerie model.

    Mr. Berlusconi, 72, has had to publicly deny that there was anything ‘spicy’ about his relationship with Noemi Letizia, an aspiring showgirl from Naples.

    The prime minister was also embarrassed on the eve of the election by the publication of photographs showing topless models and naked men at his villa on Sardinia’s exclusive Emerald Coast.

    Reacting to the result, his spokesman said the prime minister had been hurt by the Left-wing opposition’s exploitation of “gossip” and “personal stories”.

    “Silvio Berlusconi is doing very well. I’m not saying he’s satisfied,” Paolo Boniuti said on Italian television.

    … from The Telegraph/UK, 6/8/09, 4:25 BST

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, if he isn’t satisfied, what is he? How many 72-year olds are repeatedly hip-deep in teenage pootie? I bet he lost the frustrated geezer vote.

      • dirigo says:

        Congratulations to CHNN’s Harlan Harrington, his team on the ground in Naples and Rome – and the CHNN flying boat – for bringing this sucker home.

        Now, what about that thin worldwide coverage budget?

        London is calling …

        • cocktailhag says:

          The liquor store must be paid first, before such extravagant forays be considered.
          Correspondents prepared to comment about London and the “Browning” are of course welcome to step forward, but no additional No. 10 Downing St stakeouts are currently budgeted.
          Things are tough all over, as Harlan surely is aware.

  6. Karen M says:

    I don’t think I have anything to add here, except to say that I was entertained.

  7. Taps Polowy says:

    Susan Boyle is an exceptionally talented lady who’s been subjected to considerable ridicule in the media. IMHO she deserves every bit of success that she is having.