The Italian Almanac

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mayor Walter Veltroni

Italian News - November 16

Mayor Walter Veltroni is used to speaking his mind every day while running Italy's biggest metropolis. But the first citizen's latest project has him talking turkey in a very different sense of the term. Veltroni is the voice of one of the characters in the Italian version of Disney's latest animated movie, Chicken Little. Appropriately, his role is that of Turkey Lurkey - the mayor of the town that the film's hero, Chicken Little, tries to save when he discovers the sky is falling in. The voice-over is the cinema debut for the centre-left mayor, who is a big movie buff and used to be a film critic with a national daily.

Veltroni, 50, is also one of Italy's most highly respected politicians and is tipped by many as a future premier. The moonlighting is for a good cause. "At the end of July I spent an hour and a half dubbing the Disney film with my daughter," he explained. "In a short spell of time I earned 5,000 euros which I donated to a children's Down syndrome charity. I try to do all I can for the less fortunate, both as a mayor, and as a human being."

This is not the first time a high-profile Italian politician has done a cartoon voice-over. A few years ago Ignazio La Russa, the House whip for Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini's right-wing National Alliance party, joined Homer, Bart, Marge and company in the Simpsons. The Sicilian MP was the voice of an evil sugar-company owner, Garth Motherloving, in an episode called Sweets And Sour Marge.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi was a cruise-ship crooner before he built up his massive business empire. He still enjoys airing his vocal chords in public from time to time. Welfare Minister Roberto Maroni plays saxophone in a band called Distretto '51. Life Senator and seven-time Italian premier Giulio Andreotti, meanwhile, has recently shown a flair for acting, starring in a series of comedy TV commercials for a mobile telephone company.