The title of this post is a little play on names and words - Felice is, of course, a Christian name here in Italy but it also means "happy". So the title is three pronged. My friend and colleague Felice did something yesterday morning that made me both happy (felice) but also sad (non felice). Over the past few weeks and in the next few weeks these are emotions that I am finding, and given my slightly emotional nature will find, constantly overlapping.
Over a year ago I put up a post about Felice and his remarkable gift as a woodcarver. It has proven an often read item. In the last paragraph I promised that I would do something more about the artist and his work. Somehow time crept up and I never did get around to it until now just as I am saying goodbye to Felice, his wife Anna and friends and at the Embassy.
He asked if I would be free for coffee in the morning as he would like to meet before he left on vacation and I left the country. So yesterday morning we met and headed over to the Australian Bar (dont' ask!) for a capucc. He was carrying something enshrouded in a pair of long winter socks and when we sat down he gave it to me and said very quietly, as is his nature, "I made this for you, I hope you will like it?"
Like it? I love it!
What I unwrapped was this beautiful hand carved olive wood walking stick. Felice had worked it from a piece of wood from a tree that had been cut down in the gardens of Villa Grandi, the residence of our Ambassador. It is over a hundred years old and what I can't convey about it either in pictures or words is the feel and scent of this incredible wood. Running my hands over it I could feel the age and strength of the wood and the work that went into it. And the oils in my hands seemed to release the subtle scent of olive. And as I am writing this it sits on the table in front of me ever so slightly perfuming the summer air.
Caro Felice mille grazie for the happiness that you have given me with this present. I know that I join a small group of fortunate people who have been gifted with the work of your hands and heart. It will remind me of the beauty of both this place and more importantly the beauty of the people I have come to know here.
06 luglio - Santa Maria Goretti