For a few days in the middle of January Rome was without a city government. As work resumed after the long Christmas-New Year break the city's mayor, Gianni Alemanno, asked all his councillors to hand in their resignation; four days later he had his new cabinet ready.

The best thing about the reshuffle was its speed. Perhaps it was because Alemanno, along with other local dignitaries, had an audience with the pope on 14 January so he couldn