Europe - Issue 21 - Magazine | Monocle

thumbnail text

Me and my motorcade: No. 05

Around the block


Billionaire businessman and prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been criticised for his luxurious travel arrangements but you can’t fault him on style; he has been spotted in a vintage Lancia Flaminia and uses the same airbase as the Pope.

When media mogul Silvio Berlusconi returned to the prime minister’s job last year, it’s unlikely he was that excited about being reunited with the state motorcade. The government may provide him with an Airbus A319 to attend G8 summits, but he bought (and later sold) the same model in 2007 for his corporate fleet.

Yet he has not always had an easy ride. During his first turn as PM (he’s now on his third) in the 1990s, he had to slum it on the state’s ageing fleet of DC-9s. However, the long-haul fleet was switched from Boeing to Airbus when Romano Prodi had a spell as PM. Another bump in the road came in 2004, during Berlusconi’s second stint in office, when he was criticised for using foreign cars for official events and the annual cost to transport him and his cabinet peaked at €65m. These days he may have to run a tighter ship.

For official trips, Berlusconi relies on the 31st Wing of the Italian Air Force based at Rome’s Ciampino airport. The unit also often looks after Pope Benedict XVI when the Holy Father travels within Italy. For long haul, there’s a trio of Airbus 319CJ corporate jets. On shorter hops, a Dassault Falcon trijet (the 50 or 900 version) is used. All planes sport a white livery with a single blue cheatline and roundel on the fuselage. A pair of Agusta SH-3D/TS helicopters serve mostly to ferry the pontiff between the Vatican and his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

Berlusconi hasn’t been loyal to the Made in Italy brand, preferring the Audi A8. Maserati tried to tempt him by donating to the government an armour-plated Quattroporte, but Berlusconi rarely uses it. At parades he has been seen in a vintage Lancia Flaminia convertible that belongs to the motor pool of Italian president Giorgio Napolitano.

If Berlusconi is spotted on a boat near Portofino or at his summer retreat on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, it is invariably one of his family’s yachts. As for trains, “Il Cavaliere” avoids them at all costs.

Relative values


This year is the 200th anniversary of Finland and Sweden becoming separate countries. A long joint history has made their people pretty similar; when a recent study asked what people thought would raise or lower their social status, it found that both nations value education, language skills and financial success, as you’d expect. But there were also some odd and interesting differences.

Finland — High status
- Being a skilled handyman - Having a long and stable marriage - Having a unique style

Low status
- Being friendly with the boss outside work - Featuring in the gossip press - Being a skilled horse rider

Sweden — High status
- Being funny and entertaining - Being able to decide your own work hours - Being able to take time off

Low status
- Knowing someone in the Wallenberg family or in the Swedish Academy - Owning a fur coat - Going to church every Sunday

Share on:






Go back: Contents



sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio


  • The Continental Shift