Mario Monti's "grey" government of technocrats and professors in Italy may not be so dull after all. Thanks to a transparency drive which compelled ministers to list income and assets online, Italians have discovered to their surprise that the cabinet includes millionaires and fans of Harley-Davidson and Vespa.
After promising to cut tax evasion and endemic fraud, Monti set an honest example by going public with his cabinet's wealth. The results were so intriguing the government's website crashed due to intense traffic when they were published.
Top earner is justice minister Paola Severino, a lawyer, who pocketed €7m (£4.5m) last year.
"I am proud of making money legally and paying my taxes to the last euro," said the minister, who handed over €4m in tax in 2011. This year her ministerial salary stands at €195,000.
Second richest is Corrado Passera, minister for economic development and the former head of Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo, who earned €3.5m before joining the government.
Apart from the odd Jaguar, motor yacht and the Harley-Davidson owned by 65-year-old foreign minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata, ministers favour sensible Japanese and Italian cars.
But while one vice minister gets around on a Vespa and environment minister Corrado Clini nips around in a Fiat 500.
Ministers appear to have splashed instead on real estate, including properties in New York, Brussels, Paris and a ski resort in the Dolomites. Monti is the proud owner of 16 properties, although Piero Giarda, keen to show he is no tycoon, published photos of stone huts he owns in the Alps.
"I had a look at the sites of other G7 leaders and struggled to find anything comparable to our initiative," said Monti.
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