The Naples Summit / G7 Diary: Pasta, porn and political football

PRESIDENT Francois Mit terrand, the doyen of the corps with 14 summits under his belt, celebrated the opening of his last G7 yesterday by accepting an honorary degree from Naples' Oriental University. It was not an entirely glorious occasion. A demonstrator protesting at the charade of politicians basking in the limelight while the Third World dies of war and famine threw an iron bar at the French motorcade.

THE WIVES have really let the side down this year. The only ones who bothered to turn up were the hostess, Veronica Berlusconi, whose past soft-porn film career has recently been aired in its entirety on Italian television, and Hillary Clinton. The culmination of the wives' programme was to have been a gala performance of Swan Lake last night in one of Naples' more splendid theatres. But the presidential partner said she did not wish to spend the evening at any ballet. Mrs Clinton went instead on an outing in order to avoid shaking hands with Alessandra Mussolini, grand-daughter of Il Duce, who wanted to meet her. Miss Mussolini then announced she would skip the ballet in sympathy with the seven sailors knifed to death in Algeria, some of whom were Neapolitans.

TONIGHT'S dinner with President Yeltsin, meanwhile, promises to be either an extremely dour or extremely raucous occasion, for the hosts at least. Italy's make-or-break World Cup game against Spain takes place just before, at 6pm. With an injured Roberto Baggio, Mr Berlusconi knows that things are not looking hopeful. It might be even worse for Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who will have to sit through the meal trying to focus on affairs of state even as the holders do battle with plucky little Bulgaria.

Neapolitan caterers are having a field day. Every restaurant worth its name has a 'G7 pasta' course on the menu. Le Ciro in Via Santa Brigida has an intricate variant. If you stare at it hard enough you are supposed to see Italy's G7 logo. I had to ask the indignant patrone for help. 'Can't you see, that is a seven, that is the sea, and that bit on top is Mount Vesuvio.'

Comments