Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visits Chicago

Michelle Gallardo Image
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
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Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visited Chicago on Wednesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago area hosted a special guest Wednesday as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi toured parts of the city and the suburbs. His first official visit to Chicago, it was the first stop in a four-day tour of the United States focused on trade issues between the U.S. and Italy.

First, he took part in a ribbon cutting at Chicago's new Italian Bilingual School in Wicker Park. Renzi received a quick tour of the facilities and made an attempt at shooting a basketball in the school's gym.

"I consider Chicago a great city," Renzi said.

Renzi's next stop was at Batavia's Fermilab. Fermilab is considered the most important physics research center in the United States and a place where Italian scientists work alongside American ones.

"We're trying to position ourselves to host international facility on neutrino physics here, where we send a beam from here to South Dakota, and the Italians are playing a major, major role in that," said Nigel Lockyer, Fermilab Director.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined the prime minister at a panel discussion later in the day at the University of Chicago's Gleacher Center downtown, but his unofficial welcome took place early this morning with a short run along Chicago's lakefront.

"We did 5 kilometers, that's all we did," Emanuel said. "But he got to see our city in its most beautiful format and form."

A former mayor himself, Renzi said Chicago is an example for other cities to follow.

"When I ran this morning with Rahm I really appreciated as a former mayor the absolutely-- the strong preparation of all the single projects in the city," he said.

Renzi will end his day with dinner at the Art Institute. Thursday he continues on to Boston and finally Washington, D.C., for a meeting with President Obama.