Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi waves from his car as he
arrives at his home in Arcore, Italy. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Four days after being attacked at a political rally,
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was whisked away from a Milan
hospital with his face covered in bandages, an unusual sight
from a politician and media mogul long obsessed with
controlling his image.
The grim-looking Berlusconi waved weakly to photographers as
he entered his car, a stark contrast to the premier's usually
ebullient appearances filled with broad smiles and autograph
During one such foray into the crowd on Sunday, a man with a
history of psychological problems hurled a souvenir statue of
Milan's cathedral into the premier's face, breaking
Berlusconi's nose and two teeth.
The 73-year-old leader, who has used plastic surgery and hair
transplants to keep a fresh look on his perma-tanned visage,
sported a large bandage that covered part of the left side of
his face and his nose as he left the San Raffaele hospital.
His attacker, identified as 42-year-old Massimo Tartaglia,
remains in a Milan prison.
Berlusconi, who is fending off a sex scandal and legal
troubles, had previously lamented that he was the target of a
"climate of hatred." His injuries stirred public sympathy but
groups praising Tartaglia mushroomed on Facebook after the
Berlusconi said in a statement released by his office that he
would go on "with more strength and determination than
"I will remember two things about these days: the hatred of a
few and the love of many, many Italians," the statement said.
Though different in character, Berlusconi's brief appearance
outside the hospital still felt staged to project an image of
dignity and martyrdom, said Maria Laura Rodota, a political
and social commentator for top daily Corriere della Sera.
"He remains a great stage man," said Rodota. "This Berlusconi
who leaves the hospital looking like the Shroud of Turin is a
Known for his seemingly boundless energy, Berlusconi was
ordered by his doctors to cancel or reduce public appearances
through the Christmas season.
A Cabinet meeting in Rome was held without the premier's
presence. Berlusconi was also skipping the last days of the
climate change conference in Copenhagen.
"This could be hard for a man who gets revved up with
thousands of activities," said Rodota. "It could damage his
On the other hand it could be a chance to work on his
appearance and emerge as good as new, she said.