Row erupts over bid to rename Milan's Malpensa Airport after Silvio Berlusconi

A row has erupted over a plan to rename one of Milan's airports after the late Silvio Berlusconi.

Transport minister Matteo Salvini, a longtime ally of the three-time prime minister, told a news conference on Friday that Italy's civil aviation authority, the ENAC, had approved the region's request to change Malpensa Airport's name.

Mr Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, said later that day on X: "Seeing as the final decision rests with the transport minister, I really think it will go ahead.

"In memory of my friend Silvio, a great businessman a great Milanese citizen and a great Italian."

Other airports around Italy are named after its most celebrated countrymen and women.

But Green-Left Alliance MP Marco Grimaldi said, outraged: "Who knows if Minister Salvini knows that Rome's Fiumicino Airport is named after Leonardo da Vinci, Venice's after Marco Polo, and Genoa's after Christopher Columbus."

Mr Grimaldi gave a number of examples of "illustrious" Milan-born figures the airport could be named after, including poet Alessandro Manzoni, composer Giuseppe Verdi, actress and dancer Carla Fracci and architect Gae Aulenti.

He added he would be "ashamed to take a flight from Falcone and Borsellino Airport and land at Silvio Berlusconi Airport".

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Mr Berlusconi, who died last year aged 86, was originally from Milan.

He is widely remembered as one of the most divisive figures in Italian political history - and for his 'bunga bunga' parties.

But Licia Ronzulli, a senator for the centre-right Forza Italia Party said giving his name to the airport would pay "homage to the statesman, the businessman, the extraordinary man...the greatest recognition for someone who made the history of the country and the city".

"Only those who are blinded by bad faith and still today is not capable of respecting the memory of President Berlusconi can contest this choice," she added.