Italy honored during Obama's final state dinner

President and Michelle Obama with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini.
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

After state dinners celebrating Canada, Germany, the U.K., and China, Italy was recognized on Tuesday during the Obama administration's final state dinner.

In remarks to guests, President Obama said the evening reminded him that "American democracy has been graced by the touch of Italy. We look at the dome of the U.S. Capitol and marvel at the touch of Brumidi. Yet some days, our presidential campaigns can seem like Dante's Inferno." Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi joked that the tomatoes in Italy are better, and thanked first lady Michelle Obama for the stirring speech she gave last week about Donald Trump's comments about women.

It was the largest state dinner to date, with chef Mario Batali preparing food for 500 guests. The menu featured agnolotti with butter and sage, warm butternut squash salad, beef braciole with horseradish gremolata, and green apple crostata with thyme caramel. Guests included fashion designer Giorgio Armani, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), with singer Gwen Stefani performing after dinner. Obama's first state dinner was in 2009, honoring India, and he was sentimental at his last; during his toast, he reminisced about his visit in 2014 to the Colosseum, a "humbling reminder of our place here on Earth. In the grand sweep of time, each of us is here only for a brief moment. So many of the things that we focus on each day, the political ups and down, the successes and the setbacks, these things are fleeting. What matters in the end is what we build. What matters is what we leave behind." Catherine Garcia

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.