Continuing up on the road from Bagni di Lucca to the Controneria and passing by Gombereto one spots a bench to the left which, in winter, is removed to protect it from the inclement weather and give it some maintenance. This bench, gifted by a wonderful person whose summer home is nearby, who fought the Second World War in the same army as my father, who, like my father, fell in love with Italy as a result and who I met and knew all too briefly, commemorates someone who helped me (and many others) considerably not only through his building skills but through his generous personality: Fabio Lucchesi.
Returning to his roots after years spent in a lonely homestead in West Virginia USA, Fabio lived just below the main part of Longoio. These photographs were taken in January 2006 in the cantina of one of Fabio’s friends, Nicola, who lives in Vetteglia. Nicola laid on a delicious supper of (among other things) wild boar and polenta to see us through the winter. Fabio is the one with the beard sitting on the right side of the table.
Sadly, Fabio died in January 2007 at Barga hospital from complications arising from pneumonia. As a testimony of how much Fabio was loved the Pieve di Controni, where the funeral service was held, was packed, with many people journeying long distances from abroad to be there.
At the funeral I read out this poem written in Italian which I dedicated to Fabio (English translation follows):
7 Gennaio 2007
Se ritrovi la luce nel fosco della notte
Ricorda le tracce mie nella tua casa
Se nell’inverno non soffri più freddo
Ricorda la mia mano sul piccone
Se ammiri l’arco che amplia la stanza
Ricorda chi ha tolto le pietre
Se adocchi la tua legna messa a modo
Ricorda come ti aiutai a disporla
Se pensi alle cenate conviviali d’estate
Ricorda le nostre belle serate
Se rimpiangi di perdonare
Ricorda quelle mie ultime parole a te.
Mi ritrovo più alto dei monti dell’Imalaia
– il mio ossigeno è Dio Lui stesso.
I lavori miei vivranno di là da me:
Nel tuo focolare, nel tuo cuore, ti sarò sempre vicino.
January 7, 2007
If you find again light in the gloomy night
recall my traces in your home
If you no longer suffer cold in winter’
recall my hand on the pickaxe
If you admire the arch which extends the room
recall who took away the stones
If your woodpile looks neat
recall who helped you to stack it
If your thoughts turn to summer’s convivial dinners
recall our lovely evenings
If you regret forgiveness
recall my last words to you.
I find myself among the highest mountains of the Himalayas
– My oxygen is God Himself.
My work lives beyond me:
In your home, in your heart, I will always be near you.
It seems quite unfair that already seven years have gone since Fabio left us!