Any place but Rome! So insisted French President Georges Pompidou, when he first proposed to visit Italy for talks with President Giovanni Leone and Premier Giulio Andreotti. Pompidou explained that he wanted to skip a formal trip to the Eternal City in order to avoid the folderol—state dinners, motorcades, military honors, perhaps a papal audience—that would get in the way of the "working visit" he envisioned. Instead, he suggested something "like my meeting with Mr. Heath at Chequers," the country estate where he had met informally with the British Prime Minister last March.

Was that the real reason? Italians suspected...

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