For the first time, Mayor Bill de Blasio is talking about the nine-day vacation to Italy he'll embark on this week with his wife and two children and three City Hall aides, and the prospect of a Long Island Rail Road strike does not seem to be slowing down his plans. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
When Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks in Spanish, he often does so with an Italian accent. His maternal grandparents are from Italy, and although he does not have much occasion to use the language in his work at City Hall, it will be put to use next week on a nine-day family vacation to the country he calls his homeland.
"Almost every New Yorker can relate to the notion of going to where your ancestry is from and what that means," de Blasio said.
The vacation is the longest a mayor has taken in more than 20 years, and it will take place in de Blasio's seventh month in office.
"When you have a family, as I do, one kid still in high school, one kid in college, it's very important to spend the time together, and that's something that, to me, is pretty sacred," he said.
The mayor will not be meeting with Pope Francis.
"From my understanding, his schedule has him out of Rome or unavailable in the days that we're there," de Blasio said. "If the rest of us think we're busy, just think about the Pope and his worldwide constituency.
Instead, he is planning to sit down with Italian government officials, although there has been no announcement yet as to which ones he will see. De Blasio said it is possible he will meet with the mayors of Rome and Naples during his stays in their cities.
Aides said the mayor will cut short his Italian vacation and come back to New York City in the event of an emergency. Workers for the Long Island Rail Road may be going on strike while he's away, but it is unclear whether that would prompt him to come home early.
"I am hopeful there will not be a strike and I believe very strongly in the contingency plans in place, but we'll monitor the situation closely," de Blasio said.
Should there be a strike, though, he said he expects it to be manageable. The mayor said he anticipates that a lot of people will be away on vacation. Many others who depend on the Long Island Rail Road, he said, may be able to work from home.