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WORLD | 11-06-2024 11:27

G7 to meet in luxury Italian oasis favoured by Madonna

Borgo Egnazia, a complex built from scratch in the style of a traditional village, is located on Italy's Adriatic coast near Bari in Puglia.

A luxury southern Italian resort frequented by Madonna and Justin Timberlake will host the G7 leaders this week, a secluded oasis far from the public, media and any potential protesters.

Borgo Egnazia, a complex built from scratch in the style of a traditional village, is located on Italy's Adriatic coast near Bari in Puglia, the region which forms the "heel" of the boot-shaped country.

From Thursday to Saturday, it will host discussions between leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations and other invited guests, from US President Joe Biden to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pope Francis.

Equipped with several swimming pools and its own village square, Borgo Egnazia -- whose motto is "Nowhere Else" -- allows guests to move freely around the strictly private complex.

Set among olive trees and boasting its own private beach offering an array of water sports, the complex is made up of traditional-style buildings and cobbled streets lined with flowers.

Within its walls are bars, restaurants – including one with a Michelin star – shops and spa facilities, meaning that if they choose, guests never need leave.

Pop megastar Madonna has stayed here three times, including to celebrate her birthday.

US singer and actor Justin Timberlake married Jessica Biel on Borgo Egnazia's main square in 2012, in front of approximately 80 guests.

The experience does not come cheap, however, with a double room costing around 2,000 euros (US$2,170) for a weekend night in June.

Although eclipsed for years by Italian regions such as Tuscany, Puglia offers pristine beaches, local delicacies, heritage and centuries-old olive groves, which have made it a top tourist destination in the past decade.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the host of the G7 summit, is among those who holiday there.

A long way from Rome or Milan, Puglia is, however, served by two international airports in Bari and Brindisi as well as high-speed train service – although exploring the southernmost parts still requires a car.

Borgo Egnazia has been expressly chosen for being a little out of the way, a pocket of luxury in the countryside more easily locked down than a more urban location.

The high-profile guest list means security at G7 summits is always extremely tight, and even the media this year are being kept well away.

The hundreds of journalists descending on Puglia to cover the event will be kept in a media centre in Bari around 60 kilometres away, and only bussed in for press conferences.

Demonstrations are similarly expected to be confined to nearby towns and cities.

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by Gildas Le Roux, AFP

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