Berlusconi's son on growing up in Italy's first family

BerlusconiPier Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's eldest son and a top official in his media empire, says his father was "always there for me."

Berlusconi, 40, is vice chairman of Mediaset SpA, the Italian commercial television network founded by his father and now own by the Berlusconi family through the holding company, Fininvest.

He's held several positions at the company since joining in 1992, at the age of 23, following a serious motorcycle accident. He started in the marketing department of Publitalia, the company's advertising group. Four years later, he was appointed director of scheduling and program coordination for Mediaset's three channels.

In an interview with CNN's Hada Messia, the younger Berlusconi says his father, Italy's longest-serving prime minister, was "always a very present father" even though there were periods he saw him more and times he saw him less.

"He was always a busy man," Pier Silvio Berlusconi says of his 73-year-old father, who besides being the Italian head of government, is also a billionaire media entrepreneur, real estate and insurance tycoon, bank proprietor, sports team owner and song-writer.

"I never felt like something, or even more the father figure, was missing," he said.

The younger Berlusconi, the prime minister's second child, says he grew up in a "totally normal family ... at least until my father began to go into work in politics. It was a normal family, a healthy family."

Asked what makes a normal Italian family, the younger Berlusconi replied: "A normal Italian family is where certain values are always very present. Some of these values are connected to being a family. Being closer to each other and respecting certain traditions, being there for one another."

Pier Silvio and Marina Berlusconi, the prime minister's oldest child and also a top official in his media empire, the billionaire entrepreneur's children with first wife, Carla Elvira Dall'Oglio.

The couple divorced in 1985 and Berlusconi went on to marry actress Veronica Lario, with whom he had three more children.

In May of this year, Lario announced she was filing for divorce after the Italian press reported the prime minister attended the birthday party of an 18-year-old Neapolitan model.

Asked what he learned from his father, Pier Silvio Berlusconi said that as a young boy, his father taught him normal father-son things like "how to swim" and play tennis.

The most important thing he taught him in life though, he told CNN, was "respect for other people. I am impressed by how much respect he always has for the other person."

The younger Berlusconi said he got into his father's business by accident in 1992 after suffering a terrible motorbike accident.

"I had a very bad motorbike accident when I was 20 years old," Pier Silvio Berlusconi told CNN. "I couldn't walk for one year. After that, I decided I wanted to do something more than just being in college." He then joined Mediaset, which was not listed on the stock market at the time.

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