Dear Italian opposition member,

I thought of you often and with mixed-feelings at the Reuters Memorial Lecture 2009 in Oxford on Monday. You might have been too busy finding yourself and exploring the meaning of life, so I thought I would send you a sum-up of a truly remarkable event, which might give you some (Italian) food for thought.

It emerged that Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister,  is one of a kind — but you may hardly regard this as as news. He stands out so much in the grey political crowd that most UK people, even those not passionate about politics, would be able to identify him, an achievement of which Herman van Rompuy can only dream.

And it is only fitting that a man as colorful as Signor Berlusconi should have a suitable nemesis — someone every-inch as conspicuous: Carlo De Benedetti.

No, do not stare in disbelief at this, I am not telling you Ingegnier De Benedetti, the owner of the daily la Repubblica and weekly L’ Espresso, the editorial equivalents of a thorn in the side of the PM, is founding a party promising to save Italy.

Does this promise sound familiar? I should hope so, because this is your role — to provide the useful opposition to Mr Berlusconi’s policies.