The Italian Almanac

Nancy Pelosi

Surprise Gift

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi got a surprise gift from Chamber of Deputies Speaker Gianfranco Fini on her visit to the Italian lower house: 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 Abruzzo-born grandfather and her Liguria-born grandmother.

``Oh, Mamma Mia, I wasn`t expecting this, it`s such a great thrill,`` replied a teary-eyed Pelosi. Pelosi paternal grandfather, Tommaso Fedele D`Alessandro, was born on 11 September 1868 in Montenerodomo near Chieti, Abruzzo. Her grandmother, Maria Petronilla Foppiani, was born in Rovegno near Genovese in 1894. Fini also gave Pelosi a photo of Montenerodomo in her grandfather`s time and a letter from the mayor of Rovegno inviting her to visit her grandmother`s birthplace.

Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the US lower house, arrived in Italy for a six-day visit. She visited museums in Florence and laid a wreath at an Anglo-American war cemetery outside the city. Before seeing Fini, she met President Giorgio Napolitano.