The amore between President Obama and Italian President Napolitano stood in stark contrast to the almost chilly reception he received in Russia.
Compared to his predecessor who after meeting with then President Putin for the first time in 2001 commented that he "looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul," Obama's Russian experience was marked by an hour long lecture from the Russian Prime Minister and his meeting with President Medvedev, while constructive, seemed to lack the personal connection between the two leaders that was exhibited in today's meeting with the Italian President.
During statements with President Napolitano at the Quirnale Palace in Rome, Mr. Obama said he could confirm all the wonderful things that had gained the Italian leader the "admiration of the Italian people" stating "He's an extraordinary gentleman, a great leader of this country, and the fact that he has been such a gracious host is something that we all greatly appreciate."
Later in the day during a tour with Italian Prime Minister Burlesconi of the damage caused by the earthquake that hit the town of L'Aquila only a few months ago, the President received a warm reception from construction workers and firefighters at the site. In addition to posing for photos with some of those in attendance, Obama thanked the workers for their service and expressed sympathy over the devastating act of nature, "Our thoughts and prayers are with all the family members who lost loved ones."
During his visit to Moscow, the President did not have as much opportunity to interact with the public. Yet, the reaction from the Russians during his trip appeared more tempered than what was seen in day one of his trip to Italy and what is expected during his last stop of his three country tour in Ghana.