ITALY: Sir Janitor

Over the ages, counts, princes and marquises have flourished and multiplied in Italy like olive trees. In the Italian view, a fancy title, like oil on a lettuce leaf, lends zest and flavor to a man's name. Italy's House of Savoy doled out titular rank in the Order of the Crown of Italy to almost half a million Italians. A janitor with 30 years' service-in a government ministry was virtually assured of a knighthood, and the right to be addressed as cavaliere.

Italy's postwar constitution neither approved nor forbade titles. Last December, however, the government introduced a bill instituting a...

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