A Great Personality Vanishes in Bagni di Lucca

A well-known personality – indeed an institution – at Bagni di Lucca Villa has suddenly passed away. Renato Petri, the tobacconist, bookseller, hunting, fishing and trekking equipment dealer and owner of the Roma Hotel, which numbered among its past guests Elisa Baiocchi, Napoleon’s sister, and Giacomo Puccini, the great operatic composer, was so  well-known among so many of us that it is difficult to realise that we will never see him again, at least on the face of this earth.

Renato’s family had run both the shop and the hotel since 1908.

Renato, or “Renatone” as he was nicknamed, had a kind word for everybody and I remember many memorable chats with him between his serving the customers. For him I was always the “professore”.

Renato always seemed to be there and on one rare occasion when he went away on holiday he complained to me about the advanced age of his fellow holidaymakers…

I, like, all residents of (and visitors to) Bagni di Lucca will sorely miss him! I suppose, however, that the one disadvantage about living in a community where most people know each other and where I have now been a resident for ten years is that if one of us goes it is all the more noticed and felt.

Goodbye Renato you were always kind and good to me – something that is becoming increasingly rare in today’s frenetic society.

Renato’s funeral will be this Tuesday at Corsena church, Bagni di Lucca..

This photograph shows Renato in 2006 with one of his oldest customers, Sam Stych, who is still with us at the ageof  98. Then, Sam was able to walk down to Renato’s shop and Renato always had a chair ready for Sam to sit down on and spend time there before his homeward journey.

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6 thoughts on “A Great Personality Vanishes in Bagni di Lucca

  1. I didn’t know Renato, but I do know what you mean about losing people from our small village. Each time I return there is a face missing and it changes the dynamic. I’m sure Renato will be missed by all who knew him.

  2. Renato served me and my family in his tobacconists many times; he was also prepared to help out by sending faxes from the Roma Hotel, next door to his shop, and to provide currency exchange when people were on the wrong side of bank opening hours. Nothing was too much trouble, he was always prepared to help. I think he gave a lot of time to tourists, answering questions and generally providing information which serves the wider Bagni community. He will definitely be missed. To be honest, I thought he would go on for years, but as the saying goes, the good lord works in mysterious ways. I hope his family are being given as much help and care now as he gave to others.

  3. I met Renato when I was 13 years old on my first trip to Bagni di Lucca in the summer of 1964. He was a friend of my late father. On each of my visits to Bagni di Lucca since then (and there have been more than 20), I shopped at the small tabbacai on each of my visits. I marveled at his omnipresence at the shop, and I wondered if there would be a day when he would not be there. Ciao, ciao Renato.

  4. Renato was truly a friend to all and sundry as well as a very well informed person on so many subjects. It was such sad news that we received the other day and already today we were in attendance at his funeral which was a solemn but not too much so as it was conducted in a straightforward down to earth manner rather than tragedy hope for eternal repose and the promised salvation. It was lucky that a t the moment of enterment that the sun was shining on us all as we accompanied Renato to his final resting place.

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