When you said "To be in Pia's presence was to be happy", you spoke truly. She possessed the rare quality of being able to light up a room with her presence. Her warmth, beauty, and high intelligence made it a pleasure for everyone to be with her. One of my favorite memories is of a card game I once played with Pia, Valentina, and Beniamino at a party at your house. When Pia's turn came, she asked me to pass her an ace, but mispronounced it as "ass". I laughed at this mistake, whereupon Valentina angrily turned upon me and vehemently yelled "she doesn't know!", and then continued to frown at me. Pia looked at Valentina in momentary surprise, perhaps taken aback by the sudden mother/daughter role reversal, and then started to laugh. The warmth, love, and joy of life exemplified in this exchange, the description of which I have so inadequately translated into words, is a memory that will stay with me for as long as I live.
I remember almost five years ago, when I drove to Chicago and brought Fabio with me to Midway airport as he left for his first year of college in California. Although it was about 6:00 am when we left Urbana, Pia was at the door to say good-bye to her son and to wish him good fortune (and to make sure that I knew the way to the airport). As I left the house with Fabio, Pia insisted that I take a map with me so we wouldn't get lost.
I have many happy memories of the wonderful parties and dinners at your house in which I was privileged to participate. My many interactions with you and Pia have taught me a great deal about life, and how to live. Her love for you, Claudio, Fabio, and Valentina, and her life with you were clearly the most important things in her life. Her faith in you was unshakable--she once said to me "Enrico always knows the right answer". When I ventured to disagree with her about this statement, she told me that I had a lot to learn. She was right.
I have learned much from you, Enrico, and I hope I can continue to learn from you. I think of you, Pia, and your children every day. I look to you as I would look to my father.