My readers will know how often I have mentioned the impact of my third college year in the Toscana region of Italy, principally in Siena and Firenze. Most pieces drew on my acquaintance with the Vivante family at Villa Solaia near Siena or my Florentine host family, the Chellinis. I rarely mentioned a regular guest at the Chellini’s Sunday dinners, Gustavo’s son Roberto. Then in his mid-twenties and as yet not married, he shared his passion for good food, wine, and cigars whenever he could dominate the table talk. We American ‘paying guests’ enjoyed his conversation and argued with him in a vain attempt to dislodge his definitive opinions about his favorite subjects.
A few days ago, I came across his obituary and felt an increasingly common tug at my heart. People from my past–my story–were leaving the scene. Sometimes it felt as though they were crowding through the door, into The Great Oblivion, so often, so suddenly sometimes. Here is a remembrance of Roberto published in Diesel Progress “The Global Voice of Engine-Powered Equipment Markets Since 1935′:
Roberto Chellini: 1934-2016
By pdamon16 August 2016
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Roberto Chellini recently in Florence, Italy. He was 82 years old.
Chellini worked for Diesel & Gas Turbine Publications until the time of his death, most recently as associate publisher of our COMPRESSORTech2 magazine. In his 33 years with Diesel & Gas Turbine Publications he worked for all our publications:Diesel Progress International, Diesel & Gas Turbine Worldwide, COMPRESSORTech2, Diesel Progress North American, as well as the Diesel & Gas Turbine Sourcing Guide and the Compression Technology Sourcing Supplement…
But to talk about Roberto Chellini just in terms of his career is missing the point. He was skiing regularly in his beloved Dolomites into his 80s. He was a man of great style, class and if anyone knew more about food, wine, music or the history of Italy than Roberto Chellini, I have not met him.
His olive orchard, the 100+ trees he pruned himself until recent years, produced a fabulous olive oil, a bottle of which was a truly treasured gift. And when you least expected it, he’d sneak up on you and have you laughing uncontrollably. His efforts at making sure the cheese and wine after dinner both ran out at exactly the same time is the stuff of legends among Diesel staffers worldwide.
He was a true gentleman. He will be missed. Very much. By many people.
A life-long resident of Florence, and the son of an old-line Florentian family which is honored with a step in the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, the famous Il Duomo di Firenze, Chellini is survived by his wife Maria Antonietta, son Massimo Pietro, daughter Flaminia, her husband Carmine and grandsons Lorenzo and Andrea.
May his family find peace in his passing and may God rest his soul.
I remembering enjoying the family’s olive oil at nearly every meal.
Those Sunday dinners were an important part of my education in Italy.