The Senate of the Kingdom of Italy was once the assembly of the highest echelons of the country. According to Article 33 of the Statute of the Kingdom, its members were appointed by the King choosing between “Archbishops and Bishops, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, deputies after three terms or six years in charge, Ministers and State Secretaries, Ambassador and Extraordinary Envoys after three years in charge, First Presidents and Presidents of the Supreme Court and of the Chamber of Accounts, First Presidents of the Courts of Appeals, Advocates Generals and Attorney Generals to the Supreme Court after five years in charge, Bench Presidents of the Court of Appeals after three years in charge, judges of the Supreme Court and of the Chamber of Accounts after five years in charge, Advocates General to the Courts of Appeals after five years in charge, general officers of the land or sea forces, provided that major generals and rear admirals have held the rank for five years, members of the State Council after five years in charge, President of Divisional Council after three years in charge, Chief Tax Collectors after seven years in charge, members of the Royal Academy of Science after seven years from their appointment, full members of the Higher Council of Public Education after seven years in charge, whoever glorifies the Motherland with eminent services or merits, people who have paid for three years three thousand liras of revenue taxes for their goods or their enterprises”.
Today the Italian Senate is simply elected, but it still retain some sort of aristocratic component: the senators for live. According to the Italian Constitution, every former President is automatically a senator for life. Moreover, Presidents can appoint no more than five senators for life at their own discretion.
For example, President Giorgio Napolitano just appointed the musician Claudio Abbado, the genetics scientist Elena Cattaneo, the architect Renzo Piano and Physics Nobel Prize Carlo Rubbia.