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Milan Mired in Crisis of Money and Spirit

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The days when Milan could call itself a bastion of growth and progress in Italy seem to be gone. As the crisis swells the ranks of the poor, members of the city's business elite are jockeying for foreign investors while squabbling with courts over various legal entanglements.

Beppe Severgnini is renowned for his unique way of describing Italy in his best-selling books, and for his unusual titles, such as: "Surviving in Italy without Getting Married, Run Over or Arrested."

Severgnini is a popular figure, and not just in Italy. Even the BBC and the Economist appreciate the quirky columnist, and Queen Elizabeth II awarded him an OBE 12 years ago. On this rainy November day, the well-traveled writer is sitting in Milan. The white-haired author shakes his head and says he doesn't understand the world anymore. "Within a day, they sold both my football club and the home of my newspaper."

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