Sardinian separatists crash Berlusconi's villa
The most prominent separatists in Italy have long been the right-wing Lega Nord, who want to create an independent state called "Padania" in the prosperous Po Valley (yet are, ironically, part of Italy's ruling coalition). But now word comes of a separatist movement in an impoverished (by European standards) corner of Italy, with an apparent ecological sensitivity as well as an antipathy to the ruling oligarchy. From the Sofia News Agency, March 19:
About 100 Sardinian separatists have broken into Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's luxury villa to protest against symbols of the Italian state on the Mediterranean island.
The activists reached the villa's swimming pool before being thrown out by police, said Gavino Sale, head of the Indipendentzia Repubrica Sardigna (IRS) movement.
Some Sardinians want independence from Italy which they accuse of smothering their culture and their widely spoken local language, Sardo.
Berlusconi, Italy's richest man, has also come under fire from environmentalists for building a replica Greek amphitheatre at Villa Certosa, his mansion on the largely protected Sardinian coast.
The government says the additions to Berlusconi's villa, which has hosted leaders including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Russia's Vladimir Putin, were authorised because it is used for official functions.
However, Rome would doubtless be ultra-intransigent on the question of indepedence for arid and economically marginalized Sardinia if only for symbolic reasons. The House of Savoy, first rulers of a unified Italy in the 1860s, began over 500 years earlier as the ruling dynasty of Sardinia.