Berlusconi party racks up hefty food bill

Politicians from Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party in Emilia-Romagna have squandered three times as much on their lunch and dinners as their counterparts from the Democratic Party (PD).

Berlusconi party racks up hefty food bill
Councillors in Emilia-Romagna have been exposed for squandering public money on everything from expensive dinner to trips to the loo. Photo: Dinner Series/Flickr

PdL members of the Emilia-Romagna regional council each claimed an average of €18,000 in food expenses over a 19-month period, La Repubblica reported.

Meanwhile. penny-pinching politicians from Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s party, the centre-left PD, claimed just €6,000 a head in comparison.

Marco Monari, the head of the PD in the region, was forced to resign over the scandal on Monday after it was revealed he claimed five times more in expenses than his political allies. This included expensing €30,000 for food and €1,100 for two nights in a hotel in Venice – far from both Emilia-Romagna and the central government in Rome.

Smaller political parties have also been put under the spotlight for their pricey dinners.

Two councillors from the Five Star Movement (M5S) party claimed €9,000 each, despite belonging to a party which has repeatedly criticized other politicians for wasting public funds.

Councillors from the far-right Northern League party enjoyed lunches and dinners worth €13,000 each, the newspaper said.

The new revelations come two weeks after the council was formally put under investigation over the expenses scandal, which also include claims for toilet trips and a hairdryer.

READ MORE: Politicians exposed for toilet trips and cheese

Financial police examined around 40,000 documents, before accusing the council of misusing public funds.

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La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you’ll find in Italy

From Italian podcasts to surprising delicacies and our favourite overlooked travel destinations, new weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you'll find in Italy

La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or follow the instructions in the newsletter box below.

A cornerstone of Italian culture, the tabaccheria is used for much more than just buying cigarettes. In fact, these little shops are pretty central to everyday life and anyone who moves to or just spends time in Italy will need to become as familiar with them as they are with the local coffee bar.

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Why the tabaccheria is essential to life in Italy – even if you don’t smoke

For Italian language learners: listening to podcasts is a great way to immerse yourself in a new language. Luckily there’s a vast range of audio shows for people wanting to learn Italian, whether you’re studying at an advanced level or learning from scratch. Here we’ve selected a few of our favourites, plus readers’ suggestions:

Some of the best podcasts for learners of Italian

Italy is known worldwide for pizza and gelato, but Italian cuisine is incredibly diverse and visitors are often surprised by some of the local delicacies on offer. I know rustic Tuscan cuisine didn’t exactly match my expectations when I first arrived in Italy. I quickly learned to love it – but my mother-in-law’s homemade chocolate cake made with pig’s blood (sanguinaccio is a delicacy in Puglia…) was a step too far!

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Visitors can find more than they bargained for at a traditional Italian food market. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

As regular visitors know, there’s much more to Italy than just the glamour of Rome, Venice or Florence, but some destinations suffer – we think unfairly – from negative reputations. From Caserta to Reggio Calabria and beyond, here are some of the overlooked Italian towns that are home to incredible sights that everyone should see at least once.

Nine overlooked Italian towns you should visit

If you’re planning a visit to Italy (or to another part of Europe from Italy) this year but want to cut down your carbon footprint, train travel is a great option and there are more routes than ever connecting Italy’s major cities to other parts of the continent.

Here are some of the main direct international train services you can use for travel between Italy and other European countries this year.

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Is there an aspect of the Italian way of life you’d like to see us write more about on The Local? Please email me at [email protected]