Monday, December 22, 2014

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NY1's Grace Rauh reports from Rome, where Mayor Bill de Blasio is vacationing with his family.

De Blasio Soaks Up the Spotlight on Italian Vacation

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Mayor Bill de Blasio had little time to get over his jet lag after returning from an eight-day Italian vacation that took him from Rome to Capri. While overseas, he soaked up the adoration of his Italian supporters and savored his time in the international spotlight. NY1's Grace Rauh traveled with the mayor and filed the following report.

Vacationing with reporters in tow is not for everyone.

However, Mayor Bill de Blasio seemed to enjoy every minute of the attention from the moment his family arrived at the airport in Rome last Sunday.

A curbside press conference kicked off the vacation. An enthusiastic de Blasio fielded questions while his exhausted son Dante looked on.

Dante skipped an event the next day in Rome to sleep, but the mayor did not seem to have trouble adjusting to the pace of his demanding trip.

"This is a different kind of vacation. This gives me a lot of energy," de Blasio said.

There were meetings with Italian officials, like the Mayor of Rome and Italy's foreign minister. There was also a sit-down at the Vatican with the Secretary of State.

There was also an effort to keep the focus on Italy, and not dwell for too long on events back home, like the death of Eric Garner.

"Let's do one or two more, on Italy please," de Blasio said at one press conference.

After Rome, a two-night escape to the Island of Capri turned out to not be a real escape from the cameras. Italian photographers met the mayor after he rode a regular ferry to the island.

They also spotted him boating with Dante—the glamorous scene at odds with the mayor's image as someone fighting for struggling New Yorkers.

The mayor's real media moment, though—at least the one that he was most eager to promote—came in the Southern Italian villages where his grandparents were from.

"The Bill is a beautiful man," said one local.

Italians clogged narrow streets to get close to the mayor.

"The love and support we've received here is absolutely overwhelming. It's amazing, more than we ever could have imagined," de Blasio said.

The toughest criticism the mayor faced over this trip actually came before he left New York. Once on vacation, the controversy largely died down, leaving de Blasio with room to relax—in his own way. ClientIP: UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP