The Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C. preserves relations between Italy and the United States. It is the largest Italian embassy around the world. The building, completed in 2000, was designed by Italian architect Piero Sartogo. It is located on Embassy Row, the largest concentration of embassies in the city. The Italian Embassy is occasionally open to public events such as the EU Open House.
The Italian Embassy maintains relations with the United States,
one of Italy’s key allies. Together, the two countries emphasize trade and
economics, along with cultural and scientific initiatives. The Italian Embassy identifies
“three pillars” that strengthen its alliance with the United States: the United
Nations, to maintain international order; NATO, a collective defense agreement;
and Euro-Atlanticism, the idea that countries on both sides of the Atlantic
Ocean should hold a strong bond. The Embassy coordinates a network of
organizations that support Italian nationals as well as the numerous Italian
communities and descendants in the United States. Consulates are located in
Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York
City, and San Francisco. Five trade agencies and three Italian Tourist Board
offices are stationed throughout the United States. With Italians comprising
the fourth-largest ethnic group of European origin in the United States, the
Italian Embassy plays a role in promoting Italian culture, heritage, tourism, and
citizenship. Five Cultural Institutes, along with museums, universities, and
festivals, foster American-Italian cultural exchange.
The United States established relations with Italy in 1861, when the
Italian states unified under King Victor Emmanuel II. The rise of fascism led
to Benito Mussolini establishing a fascist dictatorship in 1919. The United
States severed relations with Italy in 1941 after Mussolini's regime declared
war on its former ally and supported Nazi Germany during World War II. In 1944,
the United States reestablished relations to assist Italy in forming a
republican state, which officially formed in 1946 and continues today. Italy
joined the European Union and became a founding member of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The Italian Embassy was first established at 2700 16th
Street, NW, in Washington, D.C. They constructed an Italian
Renaissance Revival building in 1925, on land purchased from Mary Foote
Henderson, who built around a dozen embassies along this street. Today, the
former Italian Embassy is being transformed into a luxury apartment building.
competition was held to choose an architect to design the building and oversee
construction of it. The winning architect was Piero Sartogo. He drew
inspiration from design concepts of Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the eighteenth
century architect of Washington, D.C. The building is split in two equal pieces,
reflecting the way the Potomac River divides the city from surrounding states.
Sartogo’s contemporary design is imbued with traditional Italian ways of life
and community gathering. The embassy’s large atrium, capable of holding 1,000
people, functions much like an Italian piazza. Throughout the embassy, modern
art is joined by Roman artifacts and Italian Renaissance paintings. Though the
building is not open for tours, it is occasionally open for events, such as the
EU Open House held once a year.