13 giugno 2024
by Rita Lofano

7 wonders for 7 greats 


Puglia is the ideal setting for the G7. This region has been a crossroads of cultures, a natural bridge between East and West since ancient times. Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians, Aragonese, have all left their mark in this land of encounters and contaminations, which can still be found today in art, language and cuisine.


Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians, Aragonese, have all left their mark in this land of encounters and contaminations


Castel del Monte is an Puglian icon, a masterpiece of Medieval architecture built by Emperor Frederick II of Swabia in the 13th century. Its perfect octagonal shape, resembling a stone crown, fuels myths and mysteries. The number eight recurs obsessively—there are eight octagonal towers, one at each corner, and eight rooms on its floor. In every latitude of the globe. In Japanese culture, most notably, the number eight is loaded with positive connotations: a symbol of prosperity, harmony, growth and good luck. In this universal dialogue under the banner of beauty, we imagined seven wonders of Puglia for the Group of Seven. 


If Castel del Monte may be the preferred setting for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo, on the Gargano, is custom made for French President Emmanuel Macron. Twinned with Mont Saint-Michel, in France, the sanctuary in Puglia is the oldest on the Via Micaelica, the Sacred Line also known as the Sword of Saint Michael. Legend has it that this line represents a celestial alignment of seven monasteries dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel. These monasteries, stretching from Ireland to Israel, are said to form a straight line when mapped out.  This alignment is believed to symbolize the sword that Saint Michael used to defeat Satan, serving as a powerful reminder of his protection and the spiritual battle between good and evil. 

Germany is one of the main export markets for Puglian products, especially wine and olive oil. The Itria Valley, with its centuries-old olive groves, vineyards and whitewashed villages, could make the perfect spot for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Cisternino, Locorotondo, Ostuni, are just some of the jewels of this area of slow time. 

Lecce is for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The “Florence of the South” is known for its Baroque architecture and mosaics. But one of the most fascinating (and least known) elements of this connection are the stories of the British sailors who settled in Puglia bringing traditions and know-how that hang on in Salento’s shipbuilding and fishing industries. 

The Castellana Caves, with their stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations, may please Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A masterpiece of nature for the leader of a nation rich in natural wonders. The Castellana Caves are a microcosm of underground beauty that has a similar geological origin to the Ainsworth Caves in British Columbia, a shared natural heritage. 

To President Joe Biden we dedicate “Nel blu dipinto di blu,” by Domenico Modugno, “Mister Volare” (born in Polignano a Mare).  The song was an international sensation, everyone sang it, even the Kennedys, as Lee Radziwill (Jacqueline’s sister) recounts in her Happy Times.  “Volare” captures the essence of dreaming and reaching for the impossible. The lyrics, inspired by a dreamy flight over the sea, convey a sense of freedom, adventure, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Conversano, “The City of Women” (a nickname that echoes through the centuries) is for Giorgia Meloni of course, who will preside the G7. From Countess Giulia Acquaviva d’Aragona, who ruled with wisdom and foresight in the 16th century, to the powerful abbesses of the monastery of St. Benedict, women have forged the destiny of this town since the Middle Ages. 

Every corner of Puglia has a story to tell, every site is not only a priceless monument, but a representation of ideas and ideals, a tapestry woven with the number eight technique, a symbol of how a system requires understanding the relationships and interactions between its parts.  

There are seven leaders, the eighth is the moral authority, the Pontiff who will speak at the G7 on Artificial Intelligence. Pope Francis referred to the symbolism of the number eight in the encyclical Laudato Si’, the eighth day (which follows the seven days of creation), symbolizes a new beginning. In an age marked by crisis and conflict, the message of the eighth day becomes a beacon of hope and action. 




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