Stressed-out cabinet to unwind in Tuscan retreat

Stressed-out cabinet to unwind in Tuscan retreat
Italy's new Prime Minister Enrico Letta (C) delivers a speech next to his ministers on April 30th at the senate in Rome. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
Italy's new grand coalition cabinet will hold a two-day retreat in a former monastery in Tuscany this weekend as it comes under pressure after less than a month in power, the government said on Thursday.

Ministers will have to pay their way at what is now a luxurious conference centre near Siena, the Abbazia di Spineto built in the 11th century. 

The closed-door consultations, hosted by Prime Minister Enrico Letta with 21 other ministers present, will start on Sunday and wrap up on Monday, the government said in a statement.

Letta said he wanted a "changing room" atmosphere at the retreat – like a football team.

The 46-year-old premier, who is one of the youngest prime ministers in Europe, faces a difficult balancing act in holding together his Democratic Party and its historic rival, Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party.

Ominously, the day the government was inaugurated on April 28th was marred by a shooting by a lone gunman outside the prime minister's office in which three people were injured.

Letta, a former youth political activist, has long been involved with the think tank world and is fond of US-style retreats, including by his own group VeDro which holds football tournaments during its summer gatherings.

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