When Libya’s Col. Moammar Gadhafi took a back-road route to travel to the earthquake-hit province of L’Aquila, Italy, for last year’s G8 summit, he stumbled across a town that he loved so much he’s unofficially adopted it. Wary of structurally weakened tunnels through the main motorway that connects Rome with L’Aquila, Gadhafi had decided to criss-cross through the mountains. His scenic route led him to the tiny town of Antrodoco, where he stopped for a break and was overcome by the generosity of the locals. “You have entered my heart and I won’t forget you,” said Gadhafi to the villagers, La Repubblica reported.
Maurizio Faina, the mayor of the town of 2,800 people, had told the Libyan leader that it suffers from high unemployment, and complained about the lack of tourism. (Antrodoco’s only claim to fame is its closeness to an obscure Benito Mussolini landmark: a group of pine trees that were planted to spell out “Dux” (Latin for leader). Enchanted by the locale, Gadhafi has reportedly committed to help the town by converting it into a tourist destination. He plans to renovate the palazzo into a luxury hotel, set up a business bottling mineral water from the mountain springs, and fund a new sports complex. Representatives from Antrodoco were soon expected to fly to Tripoli to discuss the plans.