Tribute to Alfredo Piacentini

 Mr Alfredo Piacentini, who died on Sunday, was the much beloved head of the family who run Palazzola, the English College villa outside Rome. In his message of condolence to the family, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said that 'every student at the Venerable English College in the past 50 years has known Alfredo's kindness and warmth'. Fr Anthony Grimshaw, Director of Palazzola during the late 80s to mid 90s has written the following tribute: It was during October 1955 when I first met Alfredo Piacentini as Chris Lightbound and Tony Kenny chaperoned our year of 17 young men to Palazzola and then on to Castelgandolfo to meet Pope Pius XII. Alfredo took great pleasure in meeting us young ones and introducing us to his elderly father and mother - Luigi and Olga. It was a year later that Luigi Piacentini died and I was with the College 'assitenza' at his funeral in Rocca di Papa parish church of the Assumption. Year by year as we transferred our residence from the College in Rome to the Villa at Palazzola we were gently brought into the delights and some of the secrets of that wonderful place. It was always Alfredo that we were referred to if any knowledge was needed. He always had about him some ethereal presence - chiefly because he had escaped from the occupying forces during World War Two and in doing so had damaged his thighbone. Hence his awkward way of walking. But it was his charming smile and gentle welcome that I shall never forget. When I arrived in my over-laden car on February 27th 1988 to come and live at Palazzola, Alfredo popped his head from his door and took one deep and searching look at me and shouted, over his shoulder, to Fernanda his wife: "Hey, Fernaaa, e vero, e il studente del incidente!" The incident being in my last Villa in 1961. I was one of the three students who with a member of staff nearly rolled the College Austin car right down to the lake! With kisses on both my cheeks Alfredo welcomed me to Palazzola. What a welcome. I shall never forget it. For the next ten years he became my dear friend and constant source of information. He supported and enjoyed the gradual transformation of Palazzola from being a male only residence to the delightful and all welcoming family residence it is today. And family, of course, was dearest to Alfredo's heart. Was that small residence of his ever empty or devoid of family?! Never, Luigi, Roberto, Giuseppe with their lovely wives and children were forever in and out and on the scene. Truly over the years Alfredo became known as the paterfamilias of Palazzola. May he rest in peace with our Eternal Father in heaven. Anthony J Grimshaw

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