We arrived in Turin, Italy driving in a rented razor back red Fiat 500L, hoping that our 3 week packed duffles were going to fit in the compact trunk.
I was honored to photograph a fantastic wedding the night before leaving for the much anticipated trip. Hearing the last song of the night and the drive home was a bit surreal. The time had come, after fourteen months of planning. The days leading up to our trip were filled with the washer and dryer working overtime right along with Chris and I.
I sensed some resistance, as Chris fell ill with a 102.5 fever the day before we were leaving, the airlines we were booked on had announced a strike and as we were packing up our car for the airport, our dog Bing, of nine years, laid in the grass sick. The kids were comforting him and Chris and I were googling about what we could give him for food poisoning before we left the country. It was a Sunday and we left him in the hands of a sitter, with the plan to take him to the vet on Monday. Chris was feeling better, we said our goodbyes to our Arkansas home and caught our plane to Italy, via Denver. Minutes before we boarded the international flight, we received a phone call that Bing had passed away. This was emotional to look so forward to something we had worked so hard for, but at the same time say goodbye to such a loyal friend. We decided to wait to tell the kids that Bing was gone. He is the big guy on the left.
The flight was smooth, but Chris and I were sad and heavy. We actually all slept on the flight and arrived to beautiful weather. Settled in to a B&B in the country side that was lovely, not allowing ourselves to nap, we took a walk and laid low on the truffle farm, not really believing that the same sky that covered us at home was the same sky in Italy.
Over fresh buffalo mozzarella pizza and house red wine we told the kids the sad news. The five of us sat around our table and told stories about what an awesome dog Bing had been. There were a lot of tears, enough that the restrained owner brought us a tray of fine Italian liquors in shot glasses, one for each of us ( as if our youngest looked 21? He is nine). This made us all chuckle as we went to bed, with a big day ahead of us at Fiat.
Our chauffeur arrived at 7:45am to take us to the Fiat styling center, where all of the designs and prototypes are made. High security could be felt all around and I assured them that my camera would not leave the case. As we met Mr. Altavilla, the CEO, it was obvious that they knew more about us than we realized. For the next 2 hours, design team included, we drank espresso and were treated with amazing hospitality. Mr. Altavilla, a distinguished man that carries his authority in his back pocket defied our expectations of a true leader with amazing vision. Kenneth, was able to be himself, which was wonderful and he was received so warmly.
Today, a stranger invested in my son. I cannot explain the gratefulness I felt. Honestly, it was overwhelming, humbling and exhilarating all at the same time. I believe that Kenneth knows, most importantly that we could have never orchestrated this. It was truly a gift.
We spent much of the rest of the day, reveling about the opportunity that we had just experienced. Kenneth left knowing that passion is what has made Fiat so successful, it freed his passion and allowed him to think about where it may lead him.
I am going to sleep well tonight, after a glass of prosecco, thankful, not for the drink, but for life.
more photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152356668944108.1073741862.68330089107&type=1
article about Kenneth Carper meeting with Fiat CEO: