ROME (AP) -- Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has resigned, ending a 17-year political era and setting in motion a transition aimed at bringing the country back from the brink of economic crisis.
A chorus of Handel's "Alleluia," performed by a few dozen singers and classical musicians, rang out in front of the president's palace as thousands of Italians poured into downtown Rome to rejoice at the end of Berlusconi's scandal-marred reign.
Hecklers shouted "Buffoon, Buffoon!" -- Italian for buffoon -- as Berlusconi's motorcade entered and exited the presidential palace, where he tendered his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano.
Respected former European commissioner Mario Monti remained the top choice to try to steer the country out of its debt woes as the head of a transitional government.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)