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My week at the end-of-the-world summit

The past feels present in Erice. It’s there in the steep, cobbled streets that make it impossible to wear anything resembling an elegant pair of shoes; it’s there in the medieval cloisters that we eat beneath each night; and it’s there, constantly, in the chatter between the venerable attendees of the physics summit that I’ve come to attend in this most beautiful corner of Sicily. “This restaurant is nothing like it used to be — I once had a spaghetti aglio e olio here that I dreamt about for years but this pasta is so-so.” “Your colleague who used to come — is he still alive?” “Were you here in the years that Teller attended?” History also takes pride of place on the welcome pack I’m given when I arrive at the San Rocco monastery, my home for the week, after a terrifying taxi

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The past feels present in Erice. It’s there in the steep, cobbled streets that make...

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