Naples wary of rich pickings

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The Independent Online
NAPLES (Reuter) - The Royal Palace has put some of its treasures beyond reach to prevent damage or theft when leaders of the world's richest nations meet at the weekend for their Group of Seven (G7) summit. The rooms that have been most heavily protected seem to be those reserved for the Russian delegation who will also be at the summit.

'We have had to remove some paintings and vases. We really couldn't afford the risk of accidental damage during the summit,' said Mima Sardella, director of the 17th-century palace that was the seat of the southern Italian city's former Bourbon kings.

The palace serves as a museum as well as the city's National Library, with a collection of 1.5 million books and 17,000 manuscripts.

'We have tried to remain as faithful as possible to the palace's original decoration, but we could not leave a painting where the door of a translator's booth might smash into it and the same goes for the vases,' Ms Sardella said.

Special glass panels have been installed to prevent books being removed from the main room that will be used by aides of Russia's President Boris Yeltsin. Ms Sardella confirmed the panels had been fitted, but said that that part of the museum was not her direct responsibility.

Other organisers, who asked not to be identified, said the Italian government commission which ordered the panels had been worried that some of the precious volumes might be stolen. The glass panels cannot be removed except by a carpenter.

G7 dollar wrangle, page 27