Thu, July 09, 2009
World > Europe

US first lady tours Rome with her daughters

2009-07-09 02:30:02 GMT2009-07-09 10:30:02 (Beijing Time)

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) waves as she leaves with her daughters Malia (2nd R) at the Colosseum in Rome July 8, 2009. REUTERS

US first lady Michelle Obama, in white dress waving, and her eldest daughter Malia, at right with sunglasses holding a book titled Rome, leave Rome's ancient Colosseum (on the book's cover) after a visit, Wednesday July 8, 2009.AP Photo

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (2nd L) and her daughter Malia look at a giant cross as they visit the Colosseum in Rome July 8, 2009.REUTERS

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) and her daughter Malia joke as they visit the Colosseum in Rome July 8, 2009.REUTERS

MIchelle Obama walks by a gold plated ancient statue of Hercules during a G8 first ladies' visit of the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Wednesday, July 8, 2009. The wives of leaders attending the G8 (Group of Eight) Summit in L'Aquila visited the Capitoline Museums and on Thursday will travel to the quake-hit areas in Abruzzo.AP Photo

ROME – As Michelle Obama had lunch on a terrace with a breathtaking view of ancient Rome Wednesday, her daughters made and then ate blackberry and banana gelato at the Italian capital's most famous ice cream parlor.

Obama and other spouses of world leaders who were in Italy for a G-8 summit visited the Capitoline Museums, a sprawling collection of Roman antiquities on the Capitoline Hill, which towers over the ancient Roman forums, and sampled Roman cooking at lunch on the museum's terrace.

Obama, dressed in a yellow sheath dress with a green flower-shaped brooch, and the other first spouses were welcomed by Rome authorities.

A few blocks away, near Parliament, her daughters, Malia and Sasha, indulged in a typical Italian pleasure — gelato.

Malia, 11, wearing sunglasses and a T-shirt with a peace symbol, and 8-year-old Sasha, dressed in green short pants, went with their grandmother to Giolitti, the capital's best-known ice cream shop.

The girls were given aprons and cloths, and learned how to make ice cream, choosing blackberry and banana flavors, said shop owner Nazareno Giolitti.

"Right after they made gelato, they tasted it straight from the machine, and the youngest one said, `It really tastes like blackberries,'" he said by telephone. Giolitti said the two girls left with about 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) each of the ice-cream they made.

Giolitti showed Italian state TV a tub of some of the blackberry flavor the girls made, and said that after the Obama sisters left, the leftover ice cream was snapped up by customers who wanted their cones filled with it.

At sunset, Malia and Sasha joined their mother for a private tour of the Colosseum. After about 40 minutes, the trio left the ancient Roman arena, with Malia clutching a guide book. Sasha had changed from her shorts to a floral-print dress for the guided tour.

The first spouses had enjoyed a lunch prepared by German-born chef Heinz Beck, from Rome's swank La Pergola restaurant. Beck told Italian TV he especially chose carbonara sauce for the pasta because it is a favorite of Mrs. Obama.

Escorted to the terrace with a breathtaking view of Rome's treasures, including St. Peter's Basilica, guests ate bruschette, or toasted bread slices with cherry tomatoes, lobster medallions, as well as pasta filled with carbonara sauce and veal filet under a white gazebo to protect them from the scorching sun.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno gave the spouses multicolored bags made of recycled textiles and plastic.

Obama chatted with other spouses, including the British prime minister's wife Sarah Brown, Japan's Chikako Aso and India's Gursharan Kaur, as she walked into one of the museum's rooms where a bronze statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius towers on a pedestal.

The museum is also home to the statue of the she-wolf, one of Rome's most powerful symbols that, as legend has it, nursed the twin founders of Rome — Romulus and Remus.

On Thursday, the first spouses are scheduled to visit earthquake-stricken L'Aquila, where the Group of Eight leaders are meeting through Friday. L'Aquila and nearby towns in the central Apennine mountains were heavily damaged by the April 6 temblor.

On Friday, the Obamas are scheduled to meet Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.


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