The Original Venue: La Maddalena
Italy's year-long stint as duty President of the G8 group for 2009 has endowed the island of La Maddalena, where the Summit was originally due to be held, with an important legacy: a legacy consisting of structures and infrastructures erected in record time for the major international event and ready, today, to make an important contribution to the region's prosperity.
In the context of the projects for the G8 Summit, the most significant recovery and enhancement operations were directed from the outset towards the restoration of the historic Naval Arsenal area, which was in danger of deteriorating rapidly following the Navy's decision to make it redundant. The former Arsenal, which was due to host the world's leaders in the course of the three-day Summit, was a massive open construction site for about a year, the largest such site in Sardinia, with dozens of firms involved and an average of 1,600 people construction workers, technicians and engineers on site every day.
The project involved clearing and reclaiming an area of some 155,000 square meters, and preparing a complex of newly erected and restored buildings to make up a district with a variety of different functions centering on the dock. Where the Italian Navy conducted maintenance and repair work on its ships for so many decades, there are now two major exhibition and trade-fair centres, a hotel, a conference centre, a building for meetings and seminars, and a port capable of hosting fully 600 boats which is perfectly and fully equipped to meet the needs of the most up-to-date leisure craft.
This tourist and maritime complex can aspire in the near future to become one of the most important such centres in the western Mediterranean, marking the final transition from a military to a civilian economy for the area. Thanks to the presence of heat exchangers that use seawater to heat and cool the buildings, solar panels for hot water, and large photovoltaic surfaces that generate energy from renewable sources, the Arsenal complex is also a model of sustainable practice capable of preserving the extraordinary quality of the Mediterranean landscape and the natural biodiversity that are the pride of the Maddalena archipelago.
G8 investment has not been confined solely to the area of the former military Arsenal, however. A series of other projects on the ground have been implemented to cater for the needs of the Maddalena community as a whole. Especially significant in this connection is the work accomplished on the former Naval Military Hospital, which has been turned into a modern hotel, on improving the water piping system and desalination plants on the island and, last but not least, on the construction of a new and wider bridge linking La Maddalena to the island of Caprera.
The final investment in building the overall group of structures on La Maddalena is going to top the figure initially forecast of 300 million euro -- and that is a substantial sum by anybody's reckoning. Together with the new opportunities for employment and development that it brings with it, this is the precious legacy that the G8 has left to the island and to the archipelago as a whole.