Fiercely opposing restrictions imposed by Rome after the coronavirus pandemic hit Italy, some of the country’s super-rich including ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi have now fallen prey to the Covid-19 “curse of the Emerald Coast”.

Berlusconi and two of his children tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, the latest among Italy’s jet-set to be hit after holidaying along Sardinia’s exclusive coastline, often called the country’s “most glamorous vacation resort”.

Speaking to an election rally in Genoa on Thursday, Berlusconi reassured activists of his centre-right Forza Italia party that he had “no fever, no pain”.

“I want to reassure you: I’m doing pretty well,” he added, saying he had been moved by all the messages of support he had received.

Taking its name from the beautiful waters that surround the Mediterranean’s second-largest island, the Emerald Coast has recently built a reputation as a place where the super-rich often flouted Rome’s strict face-mask policies, local papers said Thursday.

Medics perform swab tests for incoming ship passengers from Sardinia at Civitavecchia port near Rome. Photograph: Riccardo Antimiani/EPA

Italy was one of the first countries in Europe to be hit hard by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and Rome insists on people wearing face-masks when entering enclosed spaces such as restaurants.

“The curse of the Emerald summer doesn’t forgive,” wrote Milanese daily Corriere della Sera, while La Repubblica called it “the August curse of the Emerald lifestyle”.

The coastal region is dotted with luxury homes, exclusive restaurants and discotheques, and Italian news reports often abound with stories about parties there with glamorous models, top class champagne and expensive caviar.

One of the best-known hangouts for the rich and famous is the “Le Billionaire” nightclub which belongs to Italian businessman and former managing director of the Benetton Formula One racing team Flavio Briatore.

The nightclub was closed down in August after Briatore and employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ten days before, Briatore met Berlusconi at his home along the same coastline, according to local news reports.

Several other celebrities spotted at the nightclub also tested positive for Covid-19, including Bologna football club manager Sinisa Mihajlovic – who underwent treatment for leukaemia last year – reports said.

Local television personalities, some 10 footballers, a boxer and one politician were also infected, the Corriere della Sera reported.

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