At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Letizia Moratti – politician and businesswoman

First woman to be Mayor of Milan and head of RAI


Letizia Moratti was a government minister and the first female Mayor of Milan
Letizia Moratti was a government minister
and the first female Mayor of Milan
Letizia Moratti, one of Europe’s best-known businesswomen and a successful politician, was born on this day in 1949 in Milan.

Married to the oil magnate Gianmarco Moratti, she was chair of the state television network RAI between 1994 and 1996, a minister in former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s second and third administrations and Mayor of Milan between 2006 and 2011.

Born Letizia Maria Brichetto Arnaboldi, her antecedents are the Brichetto family from Genoa, who founded the first insurance brokerage company in Italy, and the noble Arnaboldi family from Milan.  Her grandmother, Mimona Brichetto Arnaboldi, was a society hostess in the 1930s and an outspoken opponent of Fascism.

Letizia attended a private school in Milan and had classical dance classes at the Carla Strauss Academy in the Brera district.  She attended the University of Milan and graduated in political science.

At around the same time, she met Gianmarco Moratti, an oil contractor whose brother, Massimo, a petrochemicals tycoon, is the former chairman of Internazionale.

With funding from the Moratti family, Letizia launched her first business at the age of 25 when she founded GPA, an insurance brokerage which eventually became a subsidiary of the Moratti Group.  In 1990 she joined the board of the Italian Commercial Bank.

Moratti with the president Giorgio Napolitano on the occasion she was honoured by the state
Moratti with the president Giorgio Napolitano on
the occasion she was honoured by the state
It was during Silvio Berlusconi’s first administration, in 1994, that she became the first woman to be chair of RAI. During her two years in the role, she supervised radical internal reorganization turned losses into a significant profit.

Moratti joined Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party and served as Minister for Education, Universities and Scientific Research from 2001 to 2006, during which time she introduced reforms in the Italian schools system and in university teaching.

After leaving national government she stood for mayor of her home city in 2006 and won with a 52 per cent share of the vote, which opened the way for her follow her own ideals, particularly in terms of the environment.

The first woman to be elected mayor of the city, she introduced measures to encourage Milanese citizens to ride bicycles, increasing the number of secure places to leave bicycles and making available 5,000 bicycles to rent, and to discourage the use of cars by introducing a congestion charge based on emissions.

During her period in office, she also made a successful bid to have Milan host Expo 2015.

Moratti has been a fervent campaigner against drug abuse
Moratti has been a fervent campaigner
against drug abuse
Moratti failed to win a second term, losing to a left-wing candidate who, ironically, was supported by her brother-in-law, Massimo, who could never quite reconcile his support for his sister-in-law with his opposition to Berlusconi, owner of Inter’s city rivals, AC Milan.

Away from politics, Moratti has been a fervent anti-drugs campaigner. Since 1996 she has been a member of the steering committee of Rainbow - the International Association Against Drugs – and in March 2000 she was appointed Civic Ambassador of the United Nations against Drugs and Crime.

She is the founder of the San Patrignano Foundation, which aims to help drug users find a different path.

Since February 2012, Moratti has been developing microcredit projects aimed at helping disadvantaged people who do not qualify for traditional bank loans.

In January 2014 she was awarded the honour of Grande Ufficiale al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.

She has two children, Gabriele and Gilda, and is currently chair of the management board of UBI Banca.

A typical narrow street in the trendy Brera district of Milan
A typical narrow street in the trendy Brera
district of Milan
Travel tip:

The Brera district of Milan is so named because in around the ninth century, for military purposes, it was turned into a ‘brayda’ – a Lombardic word meaning ‘an area cleared of trees’.  Today, it is one of Milan’s most fashionable neighbourhoods, its narrow streets lined with trendy bars and restaurants, and has been home to artists and writers traditionally, giving it a Bohemian feel that has brought comparisons with Montmartre in Paris.  The Brera is home to the Brera Academy of Fine Arts and the Brera Art Gallery.

Bicycles to rent are a feature of Milan today
Bicycles to rent are a feature of Milan today
Travel tip:

Visitors to Milan by car should note that access to the centre of the city is subject, like London and other major cities, to a congestion charge, introduced during Letizia Moratti’s time as mayor.  The area covers about 8.2 square kilometres and is controlled by entry gates with cameras.  Charges vary for residents and non-residents and the vehicle’s pollution rating. Whereas hybrid and electric cars have benefitted from exemptions, some diesel vehicles are banned.  There are a number of out-of-town car parks with transport access to the centre, where many visitors take advantage of the bicycle rental scheme, also introduced by Letizia Moratti.







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