Monitor: Italian press comment on the Blair family's holiday in Tuscany

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BLAIR HAS made no secret of his love of the high life and luxury holidays. Last year he was the guest of Prince Girolamo Strozzi at Cusona, and in 1997 he was the guest of a wealthy but controversial Labour minister. During the winter he was invited, with his family, to visit another wealthy friend in the Seychelles. Girolamo and Nerina Strozzi have become friends of the Blair family, and several months ago the Prime Minister offered them hospitality at his country house in Sussex. As soon as this unfortunate holiday at San Rossore is over, the Blairs will be only too happy to return to their friends at Cusano, where they will be free from criticism and suspicions. But for now, they are under siege.

Il Giorno

WHAT IF behind the British complaints there is some hostility towards Italy? Should we be offended? Do we really need to explain that, in a Europe that is united by trade, by currency and by cellphones, this holiday nationalism is ridiculous?

Certainly not. But what these controversies reveal is a healthy dose of envy which we should pin on out chests like a war medal. Isn't it wonderful?

For once there are no condescending lectures bad jokes or worrying analyses of our finances - which are indeed something to worry about.

The seaside air has defeated the big brother attitude of our Euro partners. Summer becomes us.

Corriere della Sera

BLAIR IS at the villa with wife and kids at our expense. Beyond the controversy, the arrival of Tony Blair has been hailed by Vannino Chiti, president of Tuscan regional government, as a big victory. Strangely enough, while Blair has chosen Tuscany, Chiti is taking his holidays in Scotland. He won't be staying in any publicly-owned villas but in bed and breakfasts.

"I don't understand all this fuss about the Blairs, holiday. No newspaper has rebuked me because I'm not taking my holidays in Tuscany." But how much will it cost us to have the British Prime Minister as a guest?

La Nazione

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