ITALY: Our Future Is Temporary

Every Aug. 15, when Ferragosto rolls around, all Italy takes a holiday. For 24 hours newspapers go unpublished, garbage uncollected, milk undelivered; banks, offices, shops and restaurants shut. Nothing earnest happens on the 2,000-year-old holiday, not even official business; it is Italy's seventh-inning stretch.

Last week, when Ferragosto rolled around, there was unwonted activity in one household: President Luigi Einaudi's summer villa at Caprarola, 40 miles from Rome. For 48 days Italy had been without a government; passage of the budget was long overdue. That afternoon, frail, 79-year-old President Einaudi closeted himself with Giuseppe Pella, Italy's able finance minister for...

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