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What is the mayor of Florence's greatest wish? To welcome U.S. president Barack Obama to his city.   Matteo Renzi and a delegation from Florence flew to the United States on January 20 to meet U.S. officials in Washington to discuss joint celebrations for the 500th anniversary

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Thu 28 Jan 2010 1:00 AM

What is the mayor of Florence’s greatest wish? To welcome U.S. president Barack Obama to his city.

 

Matteo Renzi and a delegation from Florence flew to the United States on January 20 to meet U.S. officials in Washington to discuss joint celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the death of the Florentine who gave America its name, Amerigo Vespucci. Renzi is currently organizing events to celebrate the Florentine explorer in 2012. Among the guests that year, he hopes to count U.S. president Barack Obama.

 

The mayor said that the celebration for Vespucci is the perfect occasion to further promote Florence, Tuscany and Italy in America, as well as strengthen cultural ties and jointly organized events in Italy and the U.S.

 

While in Washington, on January 21, Renzi met with President Obama at the White House during a meeting of the representatives of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, along with the mayors of Mexico City and Hiroshima.

 

From his mobile while in the White House, the Internet-savvy mayor posted his impressions of the unprecedented event on Facebook, stating ‘Florence is the only European city invited to lunch by President Obama.’

 

At the lunch meeting, Renzi took off his gold pin depicting the Giglio and gave it to Obama as a gift; Obama gave Renzi his compliments on Florence and its cuisine: ‘Florence is a beautiful city and it has some of the best restaurants in the world.’

 

While in Washington, Renzi also signed a 250-million dollar accord with the National Geographic Society. The Society will be in charge of documenting and promoting the search for Leonardo’s famed lost fresco, Battle of Anghiari, and will promote Florence’s vast cultural and artistic heritage abroad. Upon signing the deal, Renzi stated, ‘National Geographic’s interest in Florence is a reason for the city to be proud’ (to find out more see the book Finding Leonardo, published by TF Press, its available at http://www.theflorentine.net/tfpress/default.asp).

 

The Florence delegation also went to New York. There they met with officials of the Soros Foundation, which will be involved in the planning of Florence’s Smart Dissidents project, a refuge for the world’s ‘smart dissidents’ or persecuted political activists and bloggers of the 2.0 generation who use the Internet to voice their opinions and concerns (see TF 113). The Smart Dissidents residence at Le Murate will be open by 2011, said Florence’s culture superintendent, Giuliano da Empoli. Florence officials also met with Evgenij Morozov, professor at Georgetown University and popular Internet theorist, who said that he, too, would collaborate with the project.

 

Before returning to Florence on January 24, Florence delegates met with New York’s chief rabbi, Rav Schneier, and the new head of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Campbell, who said he was interested in collaborating with Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi and other city museums.

 

On Facebook, Renzi said ‘giving an international role to Florence was of utmost importance’, and that he would take care of the city’s potholes on his return.

 

At the lunch meeting, Renzi gave Obama a gold pin depicting the Giglio as a gift; Obama gave Renzi his compliments on Florence and its cuisine: ‘Florence is a beautiful city and it has some of the best restaurants in the world.’

 

While in Washington, Renzi also signed a 250-million dollar accord with the National Geographic Society. The Society will be in charge of documenting and promoting the search for Leonardo’s famed lost fresco, Battle of Anghiari, and will promote Florence’s vast cultural and artistic heritage abroad. Upon signing the deal, Renzi stated, ‘the National Geographic’s interest in Florence is a reason for the city to be proud.’

 

The Florence delegation also went to New York. There they met with officials of the Soros Foundation, which will be involved in the planning of Florence’s Smart Dissents project, a refuge for the world’s ‘smart dissidents’ or persecuted political activists and bloggers of the 2.0 generation who use the Internet to voice their opinions and concerns.

 

The Smart Dissents residence at Le Murate will be open by 2011, said Florence’s culture superintendent, Giuliano da Empoli. Florence officials also met with Evgenij Morozov, professor at Georgetown University and popular Internet theorist, who said that he, too, would collaborate with the project.

 

Before returning to Florence on January 24, Florence delegates met with New York’s chief rabbi, Rav Schneier, and the new head of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Campbell, who said he was interested in collaborating with Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi and other city museums. 

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