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Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives in Italy for family vacation

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio speaks

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio speaks at City Hall on July 3, 2014 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived in Rome Sunday to begin his nine-day family vacation with no complaints about legroom despite flying eight hours in coach with his nearly 6-foot-6 frame. His teenage children had different impressions.

"It was pretty good," de Blasio responded to a reporter's question about legroom on the commercial flight. "I give our European competitors at Airbus credit."

But Dante de Blasio, 16, said "It was hard."

His sister, Chiara de Blasio, 18, had a more diplomatic assessment: "Aisle seats matter."

The mayor, his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their children have embarked on a tour of Italy that includes time on the island of Capri, visits to the small hometowns of de Blasio's maternal grandparents and official visits with Italian government representatives. The de Blasios were to meet with Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino Sunday evening. De Blasio is to meet with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin Monday.

De Blasio -- who is keeping tabs on business at home via daily call-ins -- also was asked to contrast workaholic New Yorkers who criticized the length of his vacation and the Italian press, who in turn criticized such scrutiny.

"We've got a lot to learn from the Italians," de Blasio said. "I think time with family is crucial and precious in life, and for the last couple years, that's been hard to come by." De Blasio took questions from members of the Italian press, responding in fluent Italian.

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