The Italian Almanac

USA embassy in Rome

Waiting for the Ambassador

It is ``improbable`` that the United States will post a new ambassador to Italy before the end of the summer, American diplomatic sources said. Although there has been no official confirmation, most pundits see businessman David Thorne at the top of the shortlist for the job and there are even reports that he has already been tapped for the post.

Thorne is the brother-in-law of US Senator John Kerry, a former Democratic presidential candidate and chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry and Thorne were classmates at Yale, belonged to the university`s exclusive Skull and Bones Society and played on the varsity soccer team, having learned the sport when they both lived in Europe. Thorne`s father held a diplomatic position in Rome, where he also published a daily American newspaper, and the family had a home in the Italian capital as well as in Tuscany.

Washington has already named a new US ambassador to the Holy See, Miguel Diaz, a Catholic theologian of Cuban descent, and his appointment was ratified by the Senate on May 28. Diaz was chosen over Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late president John Kennedy.

Because no ambassador has been named to Rome, this year`s Independence Day holiday celebrations have been toned down and only 2,000 guests have been invited to the ambassador`s residence on July 4, half the usual number.