Italy mourns and asks who will succeed Berlusconi

Italy is marking the death of ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with a spectacle befitting the grand soap opera of his life.

The one-time cruise singer who led Italy with no prior political experience built a media empire and had a string of wives and girlfriends.

The Archbishop of Milan will lead Berlusconi’s state funeral in the city’s grand cathedral on Wednesday.

Italy is holding a day of national mourning.

All Italian and European flags on public buildings have been lowered to half-mast.

This kind of tribute is unprecedented for a former prime minister. A state funeral is a privilege usually reserved for popes, war heroes and serving ministers.

Milan is a city deeply associated with Silvio Berlusconi – this is where he was born and where he started his career, selling vacuum cleaners.

Maxi-screens have been set up in the main square, which is expected to fill up with thousands of people who will come to say a final farewell.

Behind the scenes, a true succession story is also playing out.

During his lifetime, Berlusconi amassed a vast empire that spanned media, real estate, finance, cinema and sport – as well as a powerful political party that is part of Italy’s current government.

He was one of Italy’s richest men. According to Forbes, his business assets are worth about €6bn (£5.15bn).

But he never publicly indicated who should lead his business empire after his death and there are also big questions over the future of the Forza Italia party he created.