Autumn was exceptionally warm and Crimea at this time of year is particularly reminiscent of Italy in both landscapes and climate. The two-day visit to the peninsula began in Sevastopol, where Putin and Berlusconi first visited the Italian cemetery near Mount Gosforth and laid flowers at the memorial to the soldiers of the Sardinian kingdom who died in the Crimean War. During the first defense of Sevastopol, 2,200 Italian soldiers were buried in the vicinity of the city. And then, in 2015, the idea was born to create an “Italian-style park” on this site.
The tour continued to Yalta, where the guests were taken to the cellars of the famous “Massandra”, which contains the largest collection of wines in the world – more than a million bottles. They say Senor Silvio was struck by the fact that this is not a museum, but a living production, replenishing the collection every year. He himself showed a wine rack in 1891 and asked: “Is it possible to drink? I want to drink!”. Of course, what is a visit without a tasting. The guests tasted several varieties of Crimean wine. According to rumors, Berlusconi was especially fond of Alushta wine, which under Nicholas II was grown in the only Crimean vineyard and served only at the table of members of the imperial family. By the way, this dry red wine is still not easy to find in stores.
It is almost a legend, and the real details of the visit to RG were told by the mayor of Yalta, Yanina Pavlenko, who at that time worked as the general director of the Massandra association. It was she who led a tour for distinguished guests through the famous wine cellars, then organized a tasting for them.
– This is one of those meetings that remains in the memory for life. A bright and charismatic person with an amazing sense of humor. On the one hand, a large-scale, but at the same time surprisingly simple and open personality in communication, – Yanina Petrovna shared her memories. – Wine connoisseur. It was very important for the Massandrovites to have their opinion on our wines. And it was very high. Berlusconi was shocked by the Collection, by the fact that the wines are not museum pieces, but alive. Rated “Red Table Alushta” 1990 and 2000. He was very touched by the meeting with his “peer” – not a tasting, among other wines, he was served “Madera Massandra” harvest of 1936, that is, say the year of his birth…. Of course, this visit will remain in the annals of Massandra and Crimea. And the memory of this incredible man is in our hearts.
The prominent Italian politician remained in the memory of the Crimeans not only as a connoisseur of wine, but also as a friend of Russia.
– Berlusconi was a rich man. I remember him as a great successful entrepreneur, author of many books on entrepreneurship. He managed entire companies, had recognized experience in this area. But at the same time he did not lose his human qualities, – Vladimir Konstantinov, head of the Crimean parliament, shared his thoughts on Italian politics. – Unfortunately, often people who reach great heights, gain power, money, lose a lot in themselves, but he retained the human perception of the world. I think that’s what we’ll remember first. He loved Russia, and for a Westerner that alone is a very important quality.
But on this day a real stir was made by a walk of two politicians along the embankment of Yalta. For eight years, this event has been able to acquire legends that different eyewitnesses tell in their own way. The guards definitely got wet after this impromptu action by the two statesmen. It was September 11, the height of velvet season in Yalta, and suddenly Putin and Berlusconi came out onto the embankment. At first, no one believed their eyes, because the visit was not announced anywhere.
As they now remember, Vladimir Vladimirovich added even more excitement, leaning over the fence of the embankment towards the sea and asking vacationers: “How is the water? Not cold?” After the shock of the unexpected meeting, everyone realized that it was indeed the president and his Italian guest. Both were in excellent spirits and Berlusconi joked a lot, although only the translators guessed it. When doubts about the identity of the guests were finally dispelled, the politicians were given a standing ovation.
“We love you! Come to Donbass!” the crowd shouted.
The crowd literally surrounded the politicians, handshakes began, kisses, requests to be photographed as souvenirs. And yes, a few lucky ones were really lucky, they printed themselves alongside distinguished guests. Berlusconi, who wore a black jacket, protested himself, but hugged the residents of Yalta and guests of the station, then took a little girl in his arms. Not without curiosities. Berlusconi himself turned to a stranger and, pointing to his belly, said in English: “Too big!” To which he replied, “You are a southerner, and I am a northerner.”
From the embankment, the politicians went to an open terrace nearby, where the visit continued with a meeting with the Italian diaspora in Crimea. The Italians, who were deported from the territory of the peninsula in 1944, asked the President of Russia to correct the historical injustice committed 71 years ago. Which was finally done. Literally a day later, the Decree of the President of Russia dated April 21, 2014 No. 268 “On measures for the rehabilitation of the Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Crimean Tatar and German peoples” was completed, the Italian people were included in the rehabilitation list.
The next day, Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi visited the Tauric Chersonese Museum-Reserve and St. Vladimir’s Cathedral. Then we visited the Khan’s Palace in Bakhchisaray. Returning to his homeland, the Italian politician, addressing his associates, called Crimea the most beautiful place in Russia. Perhaps he simply reminded Señor Silvio of his homeland.
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