Looking to Scotland
Here's an intriguing little aside. (Well, I think it's intriguing, you can judge for yourselves.)
You'll recall that the recent Italian elections produced a victory for Silvio Berlusconi and obliteration for the Communists and a string of minor parties.
Berlusconi's governing coalition includes the Lega Nord, a regional party seeking greater autonomy, especially financial, for the north of the country.
I'm told that Scotland within the UK may well provide one of the role models for efforts to reshape Italian governance in response to that impetus.
Now the Lega Nord, an anti-immigration party of the right, may have little in common with the principal parties in Scotland, including the governing SNP.
But, more generally, informed observers think that Italy will look for a European example of assymetrical devolution - that is, a quasi-federal solution where powers are conceded to one geographical area of the state. Step forward Scotland.
PS: The first act of Berlusconi's new administration is ... to scrap Italy's local authority property tax.