— NYC Mayor's CAU (@mayorsCAU) October 5, 2017
The Christopher Columbus controversy got as close to home as it could get Thursday night, literally landing in Mayor de Blasio’s backyard.
During a celebration of Italian heritage at Gracie Mansion — which many Italian-Americans boycotted over de Blasio’s commission to review city statues and monuments, including those of Columbus — Italy’s Ambassador to the US, Armando Varricchio, praised the Italian explorer, drawing cheers.
“This month we also celebrate a very famous Italian, Christopher Columbus,” he said, speaking on a stage in de Blasio’s backyard. “I feel that Italians, Italian-Americans and Americans should all be proud of this great sailor who set sail with bravery, with very poor technology at the time.”
Varricchio also lauded Columbus for his “great contribution to peace in the world” and “connecting two sides of world [and] allowing the exchange of ideas.”
De Blasio waded into the Columbus controversy in August when he announced he was convening a commission to review controversial monuments in response to white supremacists rioting in Charlottesville, which left one woman dead.
De Blasio has not said whether he wants statues of Columbus, who’s viewed by some as a hero and others as a vicious conqueror, removed, but said the commission would review statues of the explorer.
De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips said Hizzoner thought Varricchio’s Columbus remarks Thursday night “were important and welcomed.”