Italy’s G7 venue is a faux medieval luxury resort far from public view

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy (AP) — Leaders of the Group of Seven rich democracies are meeting in a faux medieval town constructed as a luxury resort on the heel of Italy’s boot.

Borgo Egnazia, nestled amid olive groves and prickly pear cacti in the southern Puglia region, has reportedly hosted Madonna and the Beckhams. Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake got married there.

On Thursday, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni waited near the arched entrance and in front of one of Puglia’s famed olive trees to greet the other G7 leaders.

The summit venues have been located far from population centers since police clashed with anti-globalization protesters at the 2001 G8 summit in the northern port city of Genoa. This time, the main press center is in the city of Bari, in a different province two hours away with security checks.

Located next to an archaeological park, Borgo Egnazia features narrow streets of pink-hued cobblestones, villas, restaurants and a town square complete with a clock tower — but has no mayor or postal code.

The borgo, or Italian for village, is constructed out of Lecce stone, a unique limestone called the “marble of the poor,” giving it the same gold and cream glint of the Baroque center of nearby Lecce. The meandering streets are so convincing that visitors have reported having trouble finding their way back from the breakfast dining room.

But this is no medieval town. It was built in 2010, helping to drive Puglia’s tourism boom thanks in part to its 18-hole golf course, which overlooks the Adriatic sea.

Anyone wishing to visit the venue after the leaders leave can book a superior double, with breakfast included, starting at 1,230 euros a night, according to aggregator sites. Guests enjoy two swimming pools, a spa and wellness center as well as three tennis courts. A private beach club is reserved for the resort in Savelletri, 1.5 kilometers (a mile) away.

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