The man nominated as Italy’s prime minister may be respected in the legal and academic realms but he is far-removed from the complex, messy world of Italian politics – something that is of mounting concern to his parents.
“They are a little worried,” Vittoria Macchiarola, a childhood friend of his mother, told the Guardian. “He is already very important in his career, but look what happens when you get into politics: they throw mud.”
There was a lot of mud thrown this week when Giuseppe Conte, 53, emerged as the surprise pick to lead a coalition of Luigi Di Maio’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League, headed up by Matteo Salvini.
The lawyer and professor at the University of Florence was accused of embellishing his university studies on his CV, while reports emerged that he had supported Stamina, a discredited stem cell therapy invented by the disgraced former professor Davide Vannoni.
Beppe Grillo, the comedian who founded M5S, slammed the claims as “malicious gossip”. Conte’s ex-wife, with whom he has a 10-year-old son, also leapt to his defence, saying accusations over his CV and Stamina were “rubbish”.
Patrizia Giunti, a friend and colleague at the…