Berlusconi Seizes Italy’s Attention Even in Death

Details of Mr. Berlusconi’s state funeral, which will be held Wednesday afternoon, were doled out throughout the day alongside televised feeds in front of Milan’s Gothic cathedral, where the ceremony will be held. The authorities declared Wednesday a national day of mourning, with flags flying at half-staff from public buildings, though arguments brewed in some places where officials said they would not join in the grieving.

By law, former prime ministers can be given state funerals, but the decision to hold a day of national mourning was made by the government. It was a choice that some, like Rosy Bindi, a former minister and Democratic Party leader, said was “inopportune,” given what a “divisive person” Mr. Berlusconi had been.

Tomaso Montanari, the rector of the University for Foreigners of Siena, said in a letter to the university community that the institution would not join the national mourning for a man who may have made history, but “did it leaving the world and Italy much worse off than how he found it.” The decision was immediately censured by Mr. Berlusconi’s supporters, but an online petition supporting Mr. Montanari got more than 17,000 signatures in just a few hours.

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