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Nation’s capital honors Italian American barber with street-naming

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Today hundreds of dignitaries, city leaders, and members of the Italian American community gathered at the corner of 19th and Q streets in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the many accomplishments of Diego D'Ambrosio, il Barbiere di Dupont, with the renaming of the 1900 block of Q Street as "Diego D’Ambrosio Way."

D'Ambrosio celebrates with his staff.

Since 1965, D'Ambrosio has operated Diego’s Hair Salon at the corner of 19th and Q in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood. The salon is a gathering place for the local community, with neighbors and those who work nearby having come to D'Ambrosio for 20, 30 and even 40 years for hair cuts. "It's a real crossroads," said Rev. James M. McCann, S.J., director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe and one of many loyal customers gathered on the sidewalk to wish D’Ambrosio well.

D'Ambrosio's salon on Q Street.

But despite his community activism, D'Ambrosio is better known for serving presidents, ambassadors, prime ministers, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, clergy and more. The walls of his small store-front salon are covered with photos of his impressive clientele, bearing witness to the unique access that mild-mannered D'Ambrosio has in this power-hungry town. 

Hundreds gathered to celebrate D'Ambrosio's career. 

"Heads of state, members of Congress, everyone comes here," said Bill Edwards, a client of D’Ambrosio’s for 39 years who recently retired as Hilton's area vice president of operations for the Mid-Atlantic region. "Look at all the pictures of all the powerful people on his wall…he's the only guy that keeps their heads straight.

"He’ll get emergency calls before a summit because he has to go fix someone’s hair," Edwards added with a laugh. 

As if to prove that reputation correct, the audience at today's street-naming included Martha-Ann Alito, wife of Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. (looking lovely in a wide-brimmed pink hat), Argentina's Ambassador to the U.S. Héctor Marcos Timerman, Nicaragua's Chargé d'Affaires Alcides Montiel, Venezuela's Ambassador to the U.S. Bernardo Alvarez, Madagascar's Ambassador to the U.S. Jocelyn Radifera, the Dominican Republic's Ambassador to the Organization of American States Virgilio Alcántara, and Judge Timothy Dyk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s parents were also in attendance, as was the mayor himself. 

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty (left) officially re-named the 1900 block of Q Street in honor of D'Ambrosio (right).

As D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty explained to the crowd, the street naming -- one of only three or four done by the city to honor residents who are still alive --  recognized D'Ambrosio’s service to the Dupont Circle community, his special role within the nation's capital and his many accomplishments since immigrating to America.

"As Diego just told me, it's very lucky for me that he's not running for mayor, with all these people here,” joked Fenty. "Diego is not only the most fantastic barber this side of Rome, but he is also a true Washingtonian, which is how he has come to be known as 'the Mayor of Dupont.' You can never have too many mayors."