Queen Elizabeth II Visits Italy
ROME (AP) _ Cheering crowds of Union Jack-waving Italians greeted Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on their first trip to Italy in 20 years _ a four-day immersion in Italian art, culture, ceremony and, of course, cuisine.
Italian honor guards on horseback escorted Britain’s queen and consort at the presidency’s Quirinal palace after their arrival at Ciampino military airport.
The queen waved from inside the car to 600 people waiting for her in the piazza, some waving British flags. She was later welcomed by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.
In the days leading up to her arrival, Italian newspapers have been filled with suggestions on how to behave in the monarch’s presence, what to wear, what to cook _ and especially what not to cook.
Chef Antonello Colonna confirmed he had been told to eschew seafood, berries and hard-to-eat spaghetti. Unconfirmed reports of a Buckingham Palace garlic ban had Colonna worried.
``I hope she loves garlic, she loves onion, she loves all my Roman ingredients _ because I love my ingredients,″ Colonna told Associated Press Television.
Colonna refused to divulge his menu for a Wednesday lunch. According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, for Monday’s state dinner it was caviar canapes, handmade ravioli, beef and, for dessert, a rum-filled baba, a typical Neapolitan cake. The wine selected for the occasion was a Brunello di Montalcino, one of Italy’s most-renowned.
The setting chosen was the Salone delle Feste inside the Quirinal _ once used by Italy’s royals, the Savoy family, for court balls.
Italians abolished their monarchy by referendum in 1946. Male descendants of the Savoy family are barred from entering Italian territory.
Among the 180 invitees at the gala were Prime Minister Giuliano Amato with various Cabinet ministers, fashion designers Valentino and Gianfranco Ferre as well as business leaders and artists.
Elizabeth will be staying in the 16th-century Quirinal. Highlights include a call on Pope John Paul II, a visit to the Sistine Chapel and to some Rome museums, and one to the Anglican Center.
In a front-page greeting to the Queen, the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano took note of Christianity’s ``essential role in the civil and cultural formation of Britain,″ saying it was thanks to Christianity that Britain was ``inextricably intertwined with the history of Europe and much of the world.″
England broke from the Roman Catholic Church with King Henry VIII in the 16th century.
Elizabeth was last in Italy in 1980, when she had her first meeting with the pope.