I have two very vivid memories of my first G7, Naples 1994. That of the presidential couples hand in hand in Piazza Plebiscito: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Silvio and Veronica Berlusconi. For the UK there was a faded John Major, for Germany a monument of contemporary history like Helmut Kohl. For me, a very young journalist from the TG1 foreign editorial office, it was an incredible world, which I was only then learning to observe and tell. Second memory: I start for the live broadcast of TG1 in the evening. Very armored Castel dell’Ovo. Wrong route, I open a door to orient myself and I see the rulers sitting at the discussion table in the room. Just them, all of them. It wouldn’t be possible today. Room with no guards at the door. Questioning looks from the security officers inside, ready to intervene. I was saved by the red badge with which I could circulate even in “off limits” areas. I arrived at the live broadcast station a little shaken.
My second G7 was actually a G8, that of Birmingham in 1998, also extended to Russia. I was still Junior, a young Correspondent. I worked in support of well-known RAI faces such as Fabrizio Del Noce and Antonio Caprarica. But breathing again the air of a great international event gave me the sense of professional and personal growth. Flash memory: the pint of beer they enjoyed together, like two old friends, Clinton and host Tony Blair. Beautiful May day, standing outside a pub, in spite of the safety regulations that obviously advised against being so exposed. Nervous bodyguards.
Video: G7 summit armored and tested for the post-pandemic (Ansa)
My third G7, indeed still G8, did not actually exist. Scotland, 2005. We were all in Edinburgh waiting for the shuttle buses to take us to the Press Center. The meeting took place at a golf hotel, Gleaneagles, in the Perth County countryside. Luckily we hadn’t moved yet: dramatic news of underground attacks began to arrive from London. With my colleague Caprarica we rushed to the airport. Delays and chaos to return to the capital. We managed to get there for the evening news. The terrible attack on three subways and a bus, 56 dead, overwhelmed all other news for days and days.
My fourth G8 was that of Heiligendamm, in the far north of Germany. Beautiful hotel on the Baltic. The pier was a catwalk for group photos, from Merkel to Putin, from Bush junior to Blair, from Prodi to Sarkozy. On that occasion, as a correspondent from Berlin, I followed the No Global demonstrations outside. Very efficient German police. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, including hundreds of feared Black blocs, were scattered across the countryside. Impossible to get close to the summit venue. After the 2001 Genoa incidents and the tragic death of Carlo Giuliani, all the organizing countries are now choosing isolated places. Certainly it was curious, returning to Berlin at the end of the summit, to see young antagonists, Black bloc, anti-system groups, chatting, laughing and socializing with policemen in the bars of the motorway restaurants. Perhaps the suspicions of infiltrators among the extremist movements weren’t all that crazy.
And now here I am at my fifth summit. Still in the British presidency and the G7 returned, after the exclusion of Russia due to the invasion of Crimea and sanctions following the dispute with Ukraine. The venue is a wonderful corner of Cornwall, on the remote western tip of the British island. Here too a hotel, that of Carbis Bay, the pride of coastal tourism. This time not only the demonstrators will struggle to get close. Journalists are also kept at a safe distance. The Media center relegated to about sixty kilometers, in the town of Falmouth. An hour’s drive along the narrow Cornish roads. Thus the first post-pandemic summit will remain very virtual for us journalists. We hope that from Biden to Johnson, from Draghi to Macron and Merkel all agree in giving concrete answers to the two key issues. First: vaccinations for all countries, not just the rich ones. Second: relaunching the fight against climate change. The change in the White House certainly creates a more profitable climate for collaboration between the major industrialized countries.