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1ST LADY ROMPS WITH KIDS IN ROME

SHARE 1ST LADY ROMPS WITH KIDS IN ROME

Hillary Rodham Clinton toured a historic Italian piazza today with a group of schoolchildren and charmed them by talking of her own daughter and handing out tokens of America - M&Ms candy.

Some 20 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders from a Roman public school that stresses English showed the first lady around Piazza Navona, one of Rome's principle tourist spots.The oval-shaped piazza was a site for games as early as the first century, a fashionable gathering spot for Renaissance Romans and today is noted for its fountains, including two by the Baroque master Bernini.

As she walked around the Fountain of Neptune, Hillary Clinton chatted with the children, who each wore blue shorts and a white T-shirt emblazoned with their names.

"She's a lot nicer than we imagined - not at all strict," said Lorenza, 10.

"You can tell she likes kids," chimed in Matteo, 8.

The first lady said her 14-year-old daughter,Chelsea, was in the midst of exams back home.

She handed each child a custom-packaged box of M&Ms, complete with presidential seal. She complimented the children on their English and invited them to visit her in the White House.

Despite heavy security, others visiting the piazza also got a glimpse of Mrs. Clinton on her first day in Italy.

"She might be authoritarian but she's also very feminine," said a nursing student named Raffaella.

Mrs. Clinton was accompanied by her mother, Dorothy Rodham.