The evening of November 7th was a night of complicated emotions. I was overwhelmed: around 100 people gathered together in a basement classroom at Georgetown University. I was confused: It seemed like a huge majority were Italian – and speaking Italian. I was jealous: Italian is such a beautiful language- Annie, WHY?! WHY!? have you not been practicing your Italian!?!? And, of course, I was excited: I had journeyed to Georgetown to see Beppe Severgnini – Italian journalist/author extraordinaire.

Mamma Mia! Berlusconi's Italy Explained for Posterity and Friends Abroad. Photo Credit Annie Erling Gofus

Mr. Severgnini was in Washington, DC  promoting his new book, Mamma Mia! Berlusconi’s Italy Explained for Posterity & Friends Abroad – a thorough and (often) humorous commentary on a situation in its final moments. “I don’t think Berlusconi will be Prime Minister by the end of the week,” Severgnini confided in his audience on Monday night – and lo and behold! Berlusconi has offered his resignation as of Tuesday night (as I write this. Heck, maybe by the time this is published tomorrow he’ll be out… fingers crossed??).

Beppe Severgnini at Georgetown University on Nov. 7th Photo Credit: Ann Erling Gofus

It was particularly interesting to take part in this talk about Italy and Berlusconi (a massive figure in Italian (& European) politics,) considering the room was filled with Italians. “Berlusconi represents some of the best and much of the worst of our beloved country,” Severgnini reminded the crowd. The crowd laughed at jokes about Berlusconi’s womanizing and salesman skills, nodded and looked at each other knowingly when Severgnini discussed possible reasons behind Berlusconi’s rise to power, and groaned collectively when an audience member asked Severgnini to compare Italy to Greece.

Beppe Severgnini discussing his book, "Mamma Mia! Berlusconi's Italy Explained for Posterity & Friends Abroad". Photo Credit Annie Erling Gofus

Severgnini  discussed Italian culture, psyche, economy and politics, but what would an open discussion about Berlusconi be without talking about sex? Severgnini said that he was once asked by an Al Jazeera English correspondent, “How do you explain Bunga Bunga to the Arab world?” I’d tell you to Google Bunga Bunga if you’re not familiar with the term, but that might reveal some questionable search results. The explanation Severgnini offered the Arab world was: “Bunga Bunga is not what you think. Bunga Bunga is the collective sound of thousands of Italians banging their heads against the wall in disbelief.” That, and it’s a Berlusconi sex party. Pleasant, huh? Yes – Berlusconi coined this term himself. Classy.

“I love my country,” Severgnini said, “and I really think we deserve better.” And if Severgnini’s predictions are correct, Italy might have better soon. Very soon.

I haven’t read Severgnini’s new book yet (I only got it two night ago), but Severgnini is smart, funny and approaches Berlusconi with honesty and a sense of humor – so I’m assuming this new book is going to totally rock.

Take One. And yes, I smile like that. Photo Credit Annie Erling Gofus

Take two. Much better. Photo Credit Annie Erling Gofus

After Severgnini wrapped up his talk he signed copies of his new book in the hallway. The queue to meet Beppe was a wonderful finale to my night: the Italian majority in the crowd queued in a distinctly Italian way – not queuing at all. During my 5 months spent living in Milan, this drove me mad – I love order, darn it! But on Monday night, after spending an hour and a half hearing about a country I love so much, surrounded by people whose culture I adore, and listening to one of my favorite writers speak, I didn’t care.
Line? What line? I’m just enjoying view.
Awwww, Italy. Oh, and Berlusconi too.

– Annie Erling Gofus