About the Author: Jean Preston serves as Environment, Science and Technology Affairs Counselor at U.S. Embassy Rome.
On March 17, 2010, U.S. Ambassador to Italy David Thorne, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel Díaz, and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome Ertharin Cousin were joined by Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno and hundreds of volunteers -- including embassy employees and U.S. and Italian students -- for an early Earth Day celebration.
Armed with gloves and paint, they cleaned tagging from the historic Rome neighborhood of Trastevere. The event was organized in collaboration with the "Retake Rome" group, a grassroots, apolitical organization originally inspired by an American woman resident of Rome and now sponsored by the Garibaldi Foundation. "Retake Rome" is growing dynamically, especially among Italian and expat students from grade school through university. Ambassador Thorne explained to the press about Earth Day, "We have been celebrating it for 40 years, because it was an important event. It's important that citizens have in their hearts respect for the environment." All three ambassadors emphasized their interest in giving back to the community, both the City of Rome that hosts them and also the broader community at large.