Genua, before the G8-summit, preparations (in German; all informations in this entry come from there).
For security reasons, all invited dignitaries with the exception of George Bush stay in a luxury cruiser in the harbour of Genua. Genovese aristocrates provided paintings and other antiques from their private collections for beautifying the ship. Palm trees were ordered from Egypt in order to decorate the harbour promenade. Apparently this had already been done centuries ago, when Genua was a powerful sea trade city.
Beautification: a central concern of Italy’s new prime minister, Mr. Berlusconi.
Berlusconi travelled to Genua several times before the summit, just to check whether everything looks allright. Paint this building, he must have said, and do something about the rats. Get rid of these black guys hanging out in the streets, he would have ordered. Then he must have noticed that ugly building from the 60s right across the street from the Palazzo Ducale, where summit meetings are to take place. Do something about that, he must have commanded. First, TV antennas were removed. That was not enough. Then a huge canvas was installed in front of the building, on which was painted an image of two picturesque palazzi. Mr. Berlusconi was immensely satisfied.
He seems to have been less satisfied with the many clotheslines hanging from windows and balconies throughout the city. Do something about that, he seems to have complained. But nothing could be done. The left-wing major of Genua, Mr. Pericu, ordered not to hang up laundry in a way that would “decoratively impair” the historical buildings. Violations of this order, he added, would not be persecuted. Since then there seem to be even more clotheslines. At least the plethora of secret service guys roaming the streets will have something to look at.