Renato Ferrari OB

An Inverness academic, who helped introduce the work of Robert Burns to Italian readers, has died in his ancestral homeland of Italy. Professor Renato Ferrari, who died in Parma on 1st June 2002 aged 69, was born in Aberdeen and came to Inverness while still a toddler in 1936. His parents Linda and Pietro Ferrari, from the mountain town of Borgo Val di Taro in the Appenines, opened the Ness Cafe in Ness Walk, which became an institution in the Highland Capital and was later expanded to include a restaurant. Educated at the Abbey School in Fort Augustus, he came home to help his mother in the family business on the death of his father. Following National Service with the RAF, he graduated with Honours in French from Edinburgh University in 1958. He returned to Inverness where he taught at the Royal Academy until 1961. There, his keen interest in sport led to an active involvement in training rugby players and a photograph of Mr Ferrari with his winning team remained one of his treasured possessions. “Mr Ferrari was only at the Academy for a year but he made his mark,” a former pupil commented. “As someone who was then in his late 20s, he stood out among a staff which was mainly middle aged or elderly and, with his fashionably close cropped hair, sharp suits and affinity with youth culture, the pupils Identified with him, particularly the girls, and we all paid closer attention to the lessons he conducted which were always fun. He made French relevant to the world we lived in. We were sorry when he left to work in Italy and were very pleased, but not surprised, to learn he had such a successful career.” Moving to Italy, he re-qualified at the University of Bologna and became a lecturer at the University of Parma and latterly head of department in the Faculty of Economy at the University of Modena. He opened a private language school in Reggio Emilia and continued his interest in sport, becoming a black belt in the martial art of Aikido and giving freely of his time to instruct the young. His love for the Highlands remained intense and whenever he could he returned to Inverness and set out to explore the hills and woodlands he knew from his youth. Nothing gave him more pleasure than to meet old friends and share their company. His Scottish connections continued into literature with studies and translations of Burns’ poems and his volumes on “Burns the Songster.” He is survived by his wife Gabriella and children Paola, Pierfrancesco and Marcello and grandchildren Alberto and Giulia. In Scotland, his loss is keenly felt by his sister Leonella, a well-known local historian in Inverness, and brothers-in-law Bryan and Nino and their families.

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