London, Aug.8 : Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi apparently is not too bothered about the credit crunch woes of his fellow Italians, for he has gone ahead and purchased a neo-classical villa at Lesa on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy.
According to The Times, 71-year-old Berlusconi already owns a mansion in Milan - which he is expanding - luxury seaside villas in Sardinia and Bermuda, and a Renaissance palace in Rome, among other properties. The family that launched the Campari drinks empire formerly owned the latest buy.
Berlusconi, is currently renting the thirty-room Villa Correnti - named after Cesare Correnti, a hero of the nineteenth century Risorgimento, the struggle to unite Italy - while the deal goes through. No price has been disclosed.
Reports said the villa - known locally as the Villa Campari because it was owned by the Garavoglia family, which created the famous aperitif - was being bought in the name of Marina Berlusconi, the Prime Minister's daughter by his first marriage and an executive in his media empire.
He is retreating to Lake Maggiore, he has told his aides, because the privacy of Villa Certosa, his Sardinian estate at Porto Rotondo, is invaded not only by paparazzi but also by "a stream of visitors".
Roberto Grignoli, the mayor of Lesa, said he welcomed Berlusconi "with open arms" and hoped he would hold summits at the villa - rather overlooking the fact that the idea is to obtain peace and quiet.
It is not clear whether Berlusconi's wife, the former actress Veronica Lario, who has her own villa near Milan and takes separate holidays, will also use the Lake Maggiore retreat.
The marriage is said to have been under strain, not least since last year when Mrs Berlusconi demanded - and got - a public apology from her husband for his flirtations with other women, including the former TV showgirl Mara Carfagna, now a minister in his government.
Opinion polls give Berlusconi, who took office for the third time in May, an approval rating of 63 percent, with a majority of Italians agreeing he has moved fast in his first 100 days to pass decrees on crime and illegal immigration and to clear the centre of Naples - although, not its suburbs - of rubbish.
Last week, it emerged that he is to double the size of Villa San Martino, his mansion and 50 acre estate at Arcore, outside Milan, where he has built a marble mausoleum for himself, his family and close aides.
New buildings will provide accommodation for his children and grandchildren as well as housing his paintings, the archive of his Mondadori publishing house and a foundation named after his late father, Luigi, a banking official.