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Top Italian Education Official Mistakes Dante For Mickey Mouse

Top Italian Education Official Mistakes Dante For Mickey Mouse
Alessio Perrone

Shortly before being appointed Undersecretary for Education, Rossano Sasso dashed off for Rome, amid around-the-clock negotiations in the capital to form Italy's new government. And Sasso made sure to share the moment with his Facebook followers.

"He who stops is lost, a thousand years for every minute," the 45-year-old politician from the southern Puglia region posted, together with a selfie taken in a car. (Here's the Italian original: "Chi si ferma è perduto, mille anni ogni minuto".)

Sasso, a teacher-turned-politician for the far-right Lega party, proudly declared in the post that he was quoting the father of the Italian language, unparalleled national icon and most revered of poets: Dante Alighieri.

The only problem: that quote doesn't come from Dante's Divine Comedy epic, but from a Mickey Mouse comic book.

In 1949 and 1950, Disney published a series of comic books that simplified and summarized Dante — Mickey Mouse's Inferno. In the books, Mickey plays Dante as he visits hell and sees the sentence Sasso cited on a sign, Rome daily La Repubblicaexplained.

Rossano, who was appointed undersecretary for Education on Wednesday night, did not explain how he confused Mickey Mouse and Dante. Speaking to La Repubblica, said he didn't want to comment on "frivolous things' and that he was now focused on improving Italian schools. The Facebook post has since been deleted.

Dante is a sizable component of the national curriculum in Italy, where high school students spend three years studying the Divine Comedy, which helped fuel the irony and rage against Rossano.

But the blunders surrounding Italy's new government, headed by the respected new Prime Minister Mario Draghi, do not stop with Rossano. On Thursday, Italian social media users resurfaced a 2018 interview given by Lucia Borgonzoni, another Lega politician. In the interview, Borgonzoni said she hadn't read a book in three years.

Her post in the newly formed government? Undersecretary for Culture.

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