Writing political commentary and analysis for a fortnightly magazine such as Wanted in Rome is always a risky business. The final deadline for articles is ten days before publication, after which it is impossible to change or amend the content. One has to hedge bets and hope either that nothing changes or that the political merry-go-round stops where it was when the article was written.

Ten days are a long time in Italian politics.

In the 23 January issue, I thought that I had been both clever and careful; but I had reckoned without the seemingly minor character of Clemente Mastella, then minister of justice, and his family. Mastella is the leader of the Unione Democratica per l