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  • Assailed by a hailstorm of legal troubles, one-time Premier and Senator Silvio Berlusconi, 79, was kicked out of the front door of the Senate thirteen months ago. This week Berlusconi returned, albeit through the back door, thanks to his year-old political agreement – some are now calling it an embrace – with Premier Matteo Renzi known as the Nazareno Pact. Together the two, formally adversaries, have defied their own minority factions to pass an important new election law.
  • Former President Giorgio Napolitano left office definitively Jan. 14, returning to his home in Rome’s colorful, ancient Monti quarter, a stone’s throw from Trajan’s Forum. His departure after nine turbulent years in office was moving to watch as, in the great courtyard of the Quirinal Palace, he received the formal farewell salute of a horseback brigade in full regalia. Now, with that ritual behind, the less elegant horse trading to elect a successor begins in earnest. Two years ago Napolitano agreed to succeed himself only to break a long political stalemate. The question is whether that stalemate will be repeated, without a Giorgio Napolitano to smooth over a difficult transition