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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Genoese fear a summit storm
Palazzo ducale in Genoa
The palace for G8 summit meeting
By Frances Kennedy in Genoa

At the Circolo San Benedetto in Genoa, they will be only too glad to see the backs of President George W Bush and other world leaders who will visit the port city for the G8 summit from 20 to 22 July.

The old men playing cards as if their lives depended on it in a homely recreational club are unimpressed that Genoa will for once be in the world spotlight and have a chance to show off its newly restored artistic jewels.

I will be a prisoner in my own city, my own neighbourhood and most probably in my own house

Genoa resident
They are more worried about how the will survive for three days in a city under siege, with 18,000 police officers called in to ensure the safety of the G8 participants and keep anti-globalisation protesters at bay.

"I will be a prisoner in my own city, in my own neighbourhood and most probably in my own house in one of the hottest periods of the year," complained Amodio, a retired wharf employee, who lives alone in a narrow alley just a couple of blocks from the Ducal Palace, where the summit will be held.

Red zone

Entrance to the red zone around the palace is limited. All residents have been given security passes, and transport around the rest of the city will also be severely limited during the three day summit.

Genoa has one of the highest percentages of old people in Italy.

Those with a second home will accept the Genoa council's invitation to leave town for the duration, but many do not have this choice. "I want to go to the country," mused Amodio's card partner Antonio, "but my wife is poorly and doesn't want to move."

"We are terrified of what might happen if there are clashes between protestors and police," he added.
G8 protestor in Italy
Anti-globalisation protestor

The more radical anti-globalisation groups descending on the northern Italian city to challenge the G8 summit are determined to breach the red zone.

As well as fears of violence, which have been amplified by the local press, there are more practical considerations for Genoese residents.

Many groceries and bars will be closed. "I'm sure we'll have no custom so we might as well take a break", said the youthful manager of Bar Paradise, a popular cafe in a run-down alley.

The grocer next door had still not decided whether it was worth it. "There'll be just journalists and officials in this area and I don't think they'll have much need of me," he said.

Homeless holiday

City officials are now worrying that visitors might find a city that is beautifully restored but closed. Delays in crucial decisions regarding transport and mobility have also created uncertainty among businesspeople.

"Businesses need greater access for goods, especially food. Bars restaurants and corner stores need to get their produce daily, and the two hour period each morning won't be enough to supply them all. I hope they modify this in time," said Patrizia De Luise, of retailers' association Confesercenti.

Homeless people in the red zone do not qualify for a security pass, so they are being taken to the mountains for several days by volunteers.

Hospitals are only accepting emergency recoveries during the summit and the council is setting up an emergency helpline for residents.

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