Mayor Bill de Blasio prepared for his upcoming 10-day vacation to his ancestral homeland of Italy with a jovial visit Sunday to an Italian-American festival in Brooklyn.
He donned a flat cap, ate sausage and conversed in Italian with revelers. He was among dozens of men who lifted the 3-ton, 80-foot giglio tower ceremoniously off the ground at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Giglio Feast in Williamsburg. The tower is a metal structure honoring St. Paulinus, a fifth century bishop in the Italian city of Nola.
De Blasio's trip to Italy on Friday is to be the longest vacation by a sitting New York City mayor in recent history.
De Blasio, his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their teenage children, Chiara and Dante, are to make stops in Rome, Naples, Capri and Venice as well as his maternal grandparents' hometowns of Grassano and Sant'Agata de' Goti. The mayor will sightsee but also hold official events with Italian government representatives. He will pay for his family's travel expenses.
De Blasio is to return July 27 but will hold daily calls with senior cabinet members and would cut his visit short and return to New York City if an emergency arises. He is to leave just two days before Long Island Rail Road workers could go on strike. First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris is to oversee the administration while de Blasio is away.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg took frequent weekend trips during his tenure, often refusing to disclose his whereabouts. The billionaire was often in the Bahamas and able to quickly fly back to the city on his private plane.
De Blasio will take his security detail and three aides, including press secretary Phil Walzak and chief of staff Laura Santucci, who were with him at the giglio festival Sunday.