After two and a half millennia of being ruled by men, Rome will wake up on Monday under new management.
Virginia Raggi was Sunday elected as the Italian capital’s first female mayor, sweeping into city hall on the ticket of the populist Five Star movement (M5S) with the backing of two thirds of voters.
A Roman born and bred, the 37-year-old lawyer is a political novice but the campaign saw her grow increasingly assured in her public performances as it became clear she was on course for victory.
According to her website, mountain hikes, swimming and skiing are among the favourite pastimes of the Dire Straits fan who won plaudits during the campaign for her effortless elegance in the style-conscious Eternal City.
Friends say her gentle manner belies a steely core.
Raggi only entered politics five years ago, drawn in by her husband’s support for M5S founder Beppe Grillo’s declaration of war on the establishment and traditional political parties.
The movement’s anti-corruption theme struck a chord in Rome, where the centre-left mayor was forced to resign last year over an expenses scandal only months after it emerged the city had been haemorrhaging cash to organised crime.
In a narrative she exploited relentlessly on the campaign trail, Raggi told AFP it was the birth of her son Matteo that convinced her she had to do something about the dilapidated city, once the capital of an empire, now plagued by potholes and rubbish.
Elected to the city council in 2013, Raggi, a specialist in intellectual property, was quickly noticed for her eloquence and stubbornness.
Growing up in the Saint John Lateran area of Rome, close to the Colosseum and historic centre, she was a studious child — and a stubborn one, by her own account.
“I was a curious young girl, interested in many things, but very focused, as I am today. Determination never failed me,” she said.