When the first woman speaker of the United States' House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was in the country of her forefathers in early February on an official state visit, she received an unexpected gift from Italy's Chamber of Deputies speaker Gianfranco Fini-the birth certificates of her grandparents.
‘We know how proud you are of your Italian roots', said Fini as he handed over the certificates of Pelosi's grandfather and her grandmother. Pelosi responded, ‘Oh, mamma mia, I wasn't expecting this! It's such a great thrill.'
Pelosi paternal grandfather, Tommaso Fedele D'Alessandro, was born on September 11, 1868 in Montenerodomo, near Chieti, Abruzzo. Her grandmother, Maria Petronilla Foppiani, was born in Rovegno, near Genova, Liguria in 1894.
Fini also gave Pelosi a photo of Montenerodomo taken in her grandfather's time and a letter from the mayor of Rovegno inviting her to visit her grandmother's birthplace.
On her six-day visit, Pelosi visited many Italian cities, including Rome, Florence and Naples. While in Florence, she visited the city's museums, met with officials at the U.S. Consulate, paid an official visit to Mayor Domenici and laid a wreath at the Anglo-American war cemetery outside the city.
Her time in Rome centered mainly on official meetings with the country's top political leaders. On her first day in Italy, Pelosi met Italian president Giorgio Napolitano and visited the Chamber of Deputies with speaker Gianfranco Fini, where she also gave a speech on international cooperation. In the days following, she had lunch with premier Silvio Berlusconi, and met with foreign minister Franco Frattini and defense minister Ignazio La Russa.
Prior to returning to the States, she had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and visited U.S. servicemen stationed near Naples.