"Bittersweet" was the word of the night at President Obama's 13th and final state dinner. "We saved the best for last," he said Tuesday as he welcomed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini, to the White House. He wasn't joking. The final gala meant everything was big or bigger, from the personality of guest chef Mario Batali, who collaborated on the menu, to the size of the white tent on the South Lawn where the soiree was held, to the guest list, which at 400 people was second only to a 2014 event Obama hosted for African heads of state, the AP reports.
The first lady dazzled—literally—in her evening gown, a rose-gold chain-mail number by Italian designer Versace. Guests of Italian descent included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former race-car driver Mario Andretti, fashion designer Giorgio Armani, actor John Turturro, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and actor-director Roberto Benigni. In his pre-dinner toast, Obama said American democracy had been graced by a touch of Italy. He noted that the Lincoln Memorial and the interior of the US Capitol dome were the work of Italians, and he raised a glass to the "enduring alliance" between the US and Italy.