At first glance, Giardini Naxos, Sicily, doesn’t appear to be on the brink of anti-globalist chaos. Families gallivant on the beach. Men with torsos the colour of burnt umber play volleyball nearby. Tourists debate the relative merits of dinner and pre-dinner sundowners. The lido hangs suspended between the twin pillars of crassness and luxury that seem to define resort towns the world over.
And then, out of nowhere, two helicopters come buzzing low over the Mediterranean like insects bearing viral infections and head towards the picturesque town on the cliffs to the north-east: the impregnable, inaccessible Taormina, where this year’s G7 summit begins today. A fighter jet makes a similarly ominous pass, more like a bird of prey than an insect, swooping and roaring and giving one the impression that it may yet dive into the ocean and come out having murdered a shark. A shopkeeper boards up his windows as though preparing for a hurricane. A police car passes and then another. Three more do the same by the end of this sentence. The people watch with a mix of boredoms. Then one hears that talismanic place name, uttered in either anxiety or anticipation, and not only when one brings it up in conversation: Genoa. It’s not far from anyone’s mind.