Rome Travel Guide

Rome Architecture, History, Art, Museums, Galleries, Fashion, Music, Photos, Walking and Hiking Itineraries, Neighborhoods, News and Social Commentary, Politics, Things to Do in Rome and Environs. Over 900 posts

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Obamamania Italian style

Russians may be cool about him, but Italians are crazy for Obama, in our experience.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (he of the gaffes and young women scandals) takes every opportunity to be photographed with the U.S. President, as in this picture from April's G20 summit... yeah, that's Berlusconi in the middle with the thumb's up sign behind Obama's head, or as someone said "amateur hour at the G20". (For background on Berlusconi, see Frederika Randall's recent online piece in The Nation. Berlusconi also famously referred to Obama as "abbronzato," which means "tan." Not to be outdone by his own gaffe, Berlusconi later said he would arrive at the White House also "abbronzato."

Right now, of course, Obama is in L'Aquila, the large city devastated by the earthquake this Spring, meeting with the G-8. So photos of the U.S. President are everywhere.

We encounter Obamamania everywhere we go in Rome, and not just among our leftist friends.

The woman who runs the long-established trattoria "Il Vascello" in Monteverde Vecchio has a collection of Obama items, and can't stop talking about him... in the same loud and enthusiastic voice she uses to tell you the daily specials.

The co-owner and barrista at the wine bar, "Il Baccoco" in Trastevere, tested us out first. "Obama?..." he asked, when his voice implying a question. When we indicated yes, we are Obama supporters, he sped up his Italian and waxed well, if not eloquent, at least enthusiastic, about our relatively new President.

And, perhaps more surprising, the men behind the counter at our small, local P.O. in Monteverde Nuovo, are hardly disgruntled postal workers. When they discovered I was sending a letter to the U.S., they started quizzing me about Obama and debating about whether the "speranza" or hope would really turn into action--they hoped it would.

We still have a small roll of Obama campaign stickers ("I voted early for Barack Obama") from our 6 weeks last Fall working on the campaign in the suburbs of Cleveland. We doled them out to some of these Obama fans, who were clearly elated by the souvenirs.

A question we have for these Obamaphiles is whether they also support their right-wing Prime Minister Berlusconi and Rome Mayor Alemanno. Hard to tell.

But for now, we'll enjoy the enthusiasm of the Italians for a U.S. President (for a change).


1 comment:

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I've noticed the mania too.

I went to Obama's arrival in Italy and it was an amazing experience.