Susan and I just returned from our third trip to Italy. We have found it to be a remarkable country with wonderful people reflecting an engaging spirit. Their culture, history, food and general panache makes trips there such fun.
Without portfolio, I found myself talking to Italians about their country and the USA. As you could guess, the subject of President Trump quickly became the center of the conversation. Although I had sensed general disagreement with Trump among all the European NATO countries, I was somewhat surprised with the vitriol the Italians held for Trump. The reasons were:
1. Many Italians are deeply religious, and Trump's insults directed at Pope Francis during the campaign left many in the country very angry. Since the Vatican is a door step from the Italian border, a close bond with the Pope is expected. But there appears to be a special love for this humble and altruistic Pope with the Italian people. Trump's recent visit with the Pope at the Vatican was only viewed as a phony attempt to cover over deep disdain.
2. Since all but one eligible NATO country are supporting the Paris Climate Accords, Trump dismissal of the Pact is almost considered treason in Italy. Trump's obvious lack of knowledge on the issue and hint of his being able to re-negotiate a better deal are both insulting to Italians.
3. Trump's comparison to Hitler is extended by the Italians to their hated Fascist leader in WWII, Benito Mussolini. Many put Trump in the category of Mussolini when describing our President. Most Italians I talked to have liked our other Presidents, regardless of party affiliation.
I remember the statement made by a proud Italian merchant who said to me, " You say you like to visit our country, but your President won't even let us in your country." That hurt.