Mayor Bill de Blasio got star treatment in Rome Sunday as he kicked off his eight-day Italian vacation, as he was greeted by cameras at the airport and then by even more at Rome City Hall for a meeting with the mayor. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
ROME - The view was of Roman ruins instead of skyscrapers for Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family as they took in the spectacular scene from a small balcony off the back of Rome City Hall on Sunday.
It was quieter up there, away from the crush of reporters who swarmed him as he arrived to meet the mayor of Rome.
"I've been looking forward to it," de Blasio said. "He's one of the great mayors of the world."
The mayor's teenage son Dante is a bit of a celebrity in his own right, quite popular with the Italian media.
Like de Blasio, the mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, has ties to the U.S. and Italy. He is a surgeon who worked for many years in Philadelphia. They also share political views.
"What I see in this mayor is a progressive, a person who believes in making the city function well for everyone," de Blasio said.
The mayor's eight-day trip may not be a long one by Italian standands, but it is raising eyebrows and generating criticism from some New Yorkers back home.
"We have a lot to learn from the Italians," de Blasio said. "I think time with family is crucial and precious in life, and for the last couple of years, that's been hard to come by. This is an amazing moment for our family to experience this together, and something we've waited years to do. So I think it's quite normal. But the important thing is, we will be carefully monitoring things in the city and reacting accordingly."
The rest of the family seems ready to relax and take everything in.
"I look forward to eating," Chirlane McCray said.
"I just want to enjoy the culture and get a better taste of Italy because it's been a few years," Chiara de Blasio said.
Dante de Blasio was the only one who looked wiped out by the journey.
"I didn't sleep much on the plane," he said.
Given the pace of the schedule in Rome, he may not have much time to sleep here, either.