European leaders grieve for David Sassoli at state funeral in Rome – POLITICO

ROME – European politicians, heads of state and leaders gathered in Rome on Friday for the funeral of European Parliament President David Sassoli, who died on Tuesday.

The pallbearers of Sassoli, flanked by the sword, the Carabinieri, carried a casket draped in the European Union flag to the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels and Martyrs designed by Michelangelo.

Mourners, who were socially distant and wearing masks, filled the church, which is located within the ancient ruins of the Baths of Diocletian – a site traditionally used for government and military funerals.

During the proceedings, friends, family and colleagues paid tribute to the journalist-turned-politician, who rose unexpectedly to become President of the European Parliament in 2019 after 10 years as a European legislator. They exchanged memories and praised Sassoli for his courage, remembering how he tried to make the European Parliament a place for the needy, distributing food to the homeless and making space for women in difficult situations.

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, a school friend who also led the service, said that politics for Sassoli “was and should be for the common good”. He wants “a Europe united and based on its founding values,” Sassoli said.

In Italy, Sassoli is fondly remembered as a longtime news anchor on state television’s TG1 channel. Zubi described him as “a journalist of quality, that quiet face who has accompanied many television news programs showing respect and credibility.”

In addition to ministers and party leaders, fellow EU presidents Sassoli, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council President Charles Michel were among the attendees. There were also Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Spanish leader Pedro Sanchez, as well as prominent figures from the Italian Democratic Party, which Sassoli represented in the European Parliament.

News anchor Elisa Anzaldo said that Sassoli’s Night Greetings, “Good evening(Good evening), it was broadcast to living rooms all over Italy “as if he didn’t want to disturb people while they were having dinner.”

Sassoli’s subsequent success in Brussels surprised colleagues who thought he was too kind to the cynical world of politics.

“You have all the lexicon of virtues,” said Anzaldo. We thought you wouldn’t go very far in politics. What a joke she played on us.”

Despite being a famous face in Italy, Sassoli “blushed,” as his son Giulio recalls.

“You taught us that fame and popularity only make sense if you do good things with them,” he said.

Sassoli’s wife, Alessandra Vittorini, who met her future husband when they attended school together, was reflected in the extraordinary outpouring of grief, seen in the 4,000 people who paid tribute to the deceased European leader Thursday at Rome’s City Hall.

Vittorini said her family had always been with Sassoli in his work. But the fact that they shared it “has yielded the extraordinary recognition of the past few days, through rows of people, flowers and cards.”

Vittorini recounted that in recent weeks, Sassoli told his wife that he had lived a wonderful, “albeit sometimes complicated” life.

But she remembers him adding, “Going at 65 was too early.”

“It was really early,” she said. “There are so many things we still have to tell you, projects to design and a future we can envision together.”

Vittorini said she knew that “turning the void of loss into passion, values, and love would be very difficult, but you taught me that nothing is impossible.”

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