BY: Matthew Continetti, Washington Free Beacon
One evening in March, during a visit to Italy, President Obama asked the U.S. ambassador to round up a bunch of—and I quote—“interesting Italians” for a dinner at the ambassadorial residence. The history of the property, the Villa Taverna, goes as far back as the tenth century. Its art collection includes Roman sarcophagi and centuries-old imperial busts. The menu that evening included a variety of pastas, and wines from Tuscany and the regions around Venice. Dinner lasted four hours.
In this sumptuous and Baroque setting, amid these beautiful artifacts of long-gone civilizations, enjoying the finest foods and most delicate wines, President Obama was at home. The interesting Italians surrounding him included a particle physicist, two heirs to the Fiat auto fortune, and the postmodern architect Renzo Piano. The dinner conversation, according to Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein, touched on architecture, on art, on science, and on urban planning. Protocol demands that the president be the first guest to leave such an event. But Obama would not shut up. It was “a quite long dinner,” Piano told Politico.