"It is hard to beat the vulgarity and violence of Italian politics today, but this campaign has excelled," said Gian Antonio Stella, a columnist atCorriere della Sera.
Berlusconi has made the job of holding Milan a personal challenge as he confronts plummeting polls and whispers within his coalition that he has lost his populist appeal. Should Milan fall, fearful supporters whisper, Berlusconi may not be far behind.
"If Pisapia wins, Milan will became a Muslim town, a Gypsyville of Roma camps, a city besieged by foreigners," Berlusconi has warned in one of a series of increasingly irate video messages on his website. He told one TV interviewer that anyone voting for the centre-left had "left their brains at home". Meanwhile, young activists brought in from throughout Italyfanned out across Milan telling locals Pisapia would open "injection rooms" for drug addicts.
"If Pisapia wins, there will be a boom in rapes and prostitutes on the streets," said Massimo Corsaro, a Freedom People MP.