Within the space of a few weeks Lucca played host to some public figures that may or may not have a direct influence on most people’s lives and in this respect can be considered VIPs. To me the term is almost meaningless, as is the much over-used term celebrity. In my opinion, in a democratic world people ‘in power’ are given an opportunity to serve the public who have given them a greater voice to make choices for the common good of the vast majority of people. Generally, VIP status gives the unwarranted impression that they are more deserving of special attention than the rest of society that can often lead to an inflated opinion of themselves.
Lucca became the focus of attention of Sergio Mattarella, who as President of the Italian Republic and as head of state represents national unity in foreign relations and guarantees that Italian politics comply with the Constitution. The President’s term of office is for seven years and as a former Constitutional judge he appears well qualified and as a former Minister for Education and former Minister for Defence is politically well experienced for the role. Mattarella was born in 1941in Palermo, Sicily and is the first Sicilian to become President. As a member of a prominent Sicilian family both he and his brother Piersanti entered politics and helped to found the Christian Democratic party. His brother became President of Sicily in 1978 but was killed by the Sicilian Mafia in 1980. He has three daughters with his wife Marisa Chiazzese who died in 2012.
His itinerary for the day included addressing the youth of Lucca in Teatro Giglio, a typical Tuscan lunch at ristorante Buca San Antonio and a visit to the birthplace, now a museum, of Giacomo Puccini. As I live next to the museum I had a bird’s-eye view of the President who enjoyed talking to the small crowd that had gathered in Via di Poggio despite the natural security of the diplomatic protection officers.
The other important event to attract VIPs to Lucca was the summit meeting of Foreign Ministers of the G7 Group of countries that included the UK’s Foreign Minister Boris Johnson. The agenda for the meeting obviously included the importance of foreign relations with other countries involved in the war in Syria such as Russia and Iran, and the threat of global terrorism in other parts of the world. It is too early to speculate whether there was any useful outcome to the talks.
For those of us living in Lucca it meant a small amount of inconvenience as security was understandably tight and one needed to prove residency to be able to move in and out of the city. Those who did not have residency but needed to move around secured areas were able to obtain a pass to get through policed barriers. As there were no major incidents, the event was considered well managed by the local police and carabinieri. It was interesting to see and hear Lucca reported on UK news programmes and Boris did have time to stroll through the Anfiteatro and indulge in some Italian gelati.
Further to the G7 meeting, the Italian President had a cordial meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin the following week.