Italy’s dubious relationship with far-right politics is in the spotlight again with news that an unabashed neo-Nazi doctor has been reported to the country’s health ministry.
Dr Gianantonio Valli, who has 1,400 health service patients on his books in the village of Cuveglio, near Varese, keeps a bust of Hitler in his library and subjects patients to swathes of racist propaganda in the waiting room.
The holocaust-denying medic, whose surgery posters warn of the "scourge of immigration", a “third-world invasion ", and the "globalism led by the Jewish lobby," has apparently been able to practise for years in the extremely conservative Varese area, near the Swiss boarder, without causing outrage.
Patients appeared unconcerned that nestling among the motoring and cookery magazines were revisionist texts such as “The Auschwitz Lie” and leaflets denigrating black people.
When his liberal expression of far-right views were finally reported this month in the local section of La Repubblica newspaper, centre-left parliamentarians led by the Jewish MP Emanuele Fiano, demanded action from the government.
The health minister Beatrice Lorenzin has now called for a report on the situation.
Dr Valli talks openly about his Nazi views – even if, like many on the extreme right, he attempts to apply a veneer of intellectual and cultural credibility. He has told reporters: “I am completely fascist, ie. Nazi. I see myself in the tradition of the pagan realism and I’m radically opposed to all aberrant Jewish religion and philosophy.”
Mr Fiano asked the health minister if employing Dr Valli, “one of the leading Holocaust deniers in our country who publicly expresses xenophobic, racist and anti-Semitic ideas is compatible with the health system’s medical profession."
News of the neo-Nazi GP comes just two weeks after the deputy speaker of the Italian Senate. Roberto Calderoli, refused to resign after he compared Italy’s only black minister, Cecile Kyenge, to an orangutan.
And now further of Italy’s ambiguous position on far-right politics has come with the appearance of a local petition defending the Dr Valli. One patient -- who presumably isn’t isn't a Jew seeking a sex-change operation -- declared: "He's an excellent doctor, always ready to help."
Dr Valli was not available for comment. Neither was anyone available at the National Federation of the Order of Physicians and Surgeons (FNOMCeO), which is reported to have launched an investigation.