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.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Marina Berlusconi - businesswoman

Tycoon’s daughter who heads two of his companies


Marina Berlusconi has been president of her father's Fininvest company since 2005
Marina Berlusconi has been president of her
father's Fininvest company since 2005
Marina Berlusconi, the oldest of business tycoon and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s five children, was born on this day in 1966 in Milan.

Since 2003 she has been chair of Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy’s largest publishing company, and since 2005 president of Fininvest, the Berlusconi holding company that is also Mondadori’s parent company.

She is or at times has been a director of several other Berlusconi companies, including Mediaset, Medusa Film, Mediolanum and Mediobanca.  Forbes magazine once described her as the most powerful woman in Italy and one of the 50 most powerful women in the world.

Born Maria Elvira Berlusconi, her mother is Carla Elvira Lucia Dall’Oglio, a woman the businessman met for the first time at a tram stop outside Milan Centrale railway station in 1964 and married the following year, at a time when he was an enterprising but relatively obscure real estate broker.

They were divorced in 1985, much to the disappointment of Marina and her brother, Piersilvio, after their father had begun a relationship with the actress Veronica Lario, who would become his second wife and the mother of his third, fourth and fifth children.

Marina Berlusconi has acquired the reputation of a hard-nosed businesswoman
Marina Berlusconi has acquired the reputation
of a hard-nosed businesswoman
After Silvio Berlusconi had made his fortune from Milano Due, a vast residential area built on cheaply-acquired redundant farmland near the city’s Linate airport, Marina was brought up in the family’s palatial 18th century home, the Villa San Martino, in the town of Arcore, about 25km (16 miles) northeast of Milan.

Educated at Leo Dehon high school in Monza, where she obtained her baccalaureate, Marina began studying law and then political science at university but left without completing her degree and instead began to work in her father’s companies.

She was appointed a vice-president of Fininvest at the age of 29 and was said to be closely involved in the development of financial and economic strategies and in the management of the group. At a time when female figures in Italian boardrooms were rare, she began to gain a reputation as a hard-nosed businesswoman not afraid to back her own instincts.

In 1998, working with her brother Piersilvio, she resisted an attempt by Rupert Murdoch to buy a controlling interest in her father’s TV company Mediaset, the Australian-born media tycoon dropping out after failing to negotiate a reduction in the price she felt the company was worth, when it was thought her father might soften.

In October 2005, she was appointed Fininvest president and chair, having already been given control of Arnoldo Mondadori publishing house following the death of Leonardo Mondadori, the grandson of the company’s founder.

Berlusconi addressing a shareholders' meeting at Mondadori
Berlusconi addressing a shareholders'
meeting at Mondadori
According to Forbes, in 2008 she was the ninth richest heiress in the world, in line to inherit a fortune of 9.4 billion dollars.

In the same year, she married her long-time partner, the former first dancer at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, Maurizio Vanadia. They already had two children, Gabriele and Silvio, born respectively in 2002 and 2004.

Marina had been taken with Maurizio after watching him perform in Swan Lake and they met again when he was being treated for an injury by the physiotherapist at her father’s football club, AC Milan.

They were married in a small ceremony in a private chapel within the grounds of the family home at Villa San Martino.

Since 2013, when her father, who has been prime minister of four Italian governments, was barred from public office, there have been several periods of speculation that Marina would move into politics, taking control of her father’s Forza Italia party.

However, she has always denied that she has any political ambitions, despite describing her father as the victim of a witchhunt. In 2017 she said: "I think that the leadership in politics can not be transmitted by investiture or by dynastic succession".

In 2009 the Mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti - a former Berlusconi minister -  awarded her the Gold Medal of the Municipality of Milan as "an example of Milanese excellence in the world and the ability to reconcile professional commitment and family life"

An 18th century painting of the Villa Borromeo-d'Adda
An 18th century painting of the Villa Borromeo-d'Adda
Travel tip:

The town of Arcore in the province of Monza and Brianza probably has Roman origins and two monasteries were established in the area in the Middle Ages. It was not until the 16th century that the town began to develop, when several noble Lombard families, such as the Casati, Durini, Giulini, Vismara, D'Adda, Barbò families, began building villas in the area’s attractive countryside, including the Villa Borromeo-d'Adda, the Villa la Cazzola and the Villa San Martino, which became the Berlusconi family residence. The town’s industrial base developed after Italian unification in 1861 when two railway companies opened stations.

Silvio Berlusconi's palatial home at Arcore, the Villa San Martino, which he bought in 1974
Silvio Berlusconi's palatial home at Arcore, the Villa San
Martino, which he bought in 1974
Travel tip:

The Villa San Martino, on the site of a former Benedictine monastery, was restored as a manor house by the Counts Giulini and substantially rebuilt by the wealthy Casati Stampa family in the 18th century, one of a group of grand farm houses or hunting lodges known as the ville delizie.  It was acquired by Silvio Berlusconi in 1974 when the last Casati owner, having fallen on hard times, decided to sell up and emigrate to Brazil. The 3,500m² villa, complete with art gallery, a library of ten thousand volumes, furniture and a park with stables, was valued at 1.7 billion lire but was reportedly bought by Berlusconi for only 500m lire.

More reading:

The rise of Silvio Berlusconi in business and politics

How Letizia Moratti became the first woman to be head of Rai

The day Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi left office for the last time

Also on this day:

1535: The death of Ippolito de' Medici

2012: The death of Carlo Rambaldi, creator of E.T.

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