Berlusconi: From sex scandal to song

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IOL pic nov17 italy silvio berlusconi Reuters Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi

Rome - Italy's former prime minister and cruise-ship crooner Silvio Berlusconi released an album of love songs on his last day in office on Wednesday.

The self-declared Latin lover, who often boasted that he single-handedly kept large groups entertained for hours on end with his charm and silky voice, wrote the lyrics for the album entitled True Love.

His singer friend Mariano Apicella performs the sensual Neapolitan songs, which tell of tormented love, featuring lyrics such as “another day of wind and rain, another night without you”, or “Stay, and leave me your heart”.

Berlusconi, now 75, has written other albums with Apicella, though this is the first that includes Samba tracks.

“I run my hands down your side, because it's you. I adore you and I already miss you,” says another lyric.

The irrepressible crooner, who still performs for friends at intimate dinner parties, also could not resist having the last word at a ceremony to mark the handover of power to Italy's new premier Mario Monti.

As he handed Monti a bell rung at cabinet meetings, Berlusconi flashed his trademark smile and quipped: “I used to ring it when I was an altar boy.”

The scandal-plagued ex-premier, who is on trial for buying sex from a 17-year old girl at one of his dinner parties, has spent his last days in power packing up gifts - a sword from Kazakhstan and a vase from China.

A report in La Repubblica daily said the larger-than-life billionaire, who has been in power for 10 of the past 17 years, had chosen the two objects as having particular sentimental value out of hundreds of gifts received.

When receiving the vase he shocked diplomats by pretending to drop it and then quipped: “I like the flowers on it, but next time bring one with pictures of the kama sutra” - an erotic art that has nothing to do with China.

The report said he was also packing away three framed photos of himself with former US president George W. Bush, Pope Benedict XVI and the late pope John Paul II, as well as returning priceless artwork borrowed from museums.

Berlusconi was mocked last year when he ordered art restorers to attach a new penis to a 2nd-century marble statue of the Roman god of war Mars on loan from a museum which was exhibited in his official palace in Palazzo Chigi.

His architect fended off the controversy saying the penis was “removable”.

Berlusconi's personal cook and butler are also leaving along with spokesperson Paolo Bonaiuti and loyal secretary Marinella Brambilla, as the altogether more sober Monti takes over the reins of power, the report said.

“The most delicate clear-up operation - the deleting of all traces on PCs, the copying of data and documents - was completed with dozens of memory cards on Saturday night by cabinet staff in a very rapid blitz,” the report added.

Berlusconi submitted his resignation on Saturday as the nation grappled with a major debt crisis, to scenes of jubilation among thousands of people in the streets of Rome. - Sapa-AFP