Latest Stories

More time to pursue one’s passions after retirement

Italian ambassador plans to explore more dive sites


ITALIAN Ambassador Luca Fornari with wife Silvana

Poised for retirement, Italian Ambassador Luca Fornari looks at the transition philosophically and with optimism.

“I don’t like the word ‘retirement.’ I just finished 42 years of a specific work in diplomacy. I will use my skills and experiences to do other things,” he declares.

Pushing 67, he will continue pursuing his passions—among them, diving. A two-star dive master, he will take up a course in rebreather for diving with one of the best Italian divers.

An innovation in sports diving, rebreathing enables one to breathe his or her own air through a closed circuit system. The system enables one to dive deeper and longer with less gas.

4,000 dives

Fornari has a record of some 4,000 dives in the past four decades. His maximum depth was 78 meters when he was 26 years old. In the rebreather world, he hopes to go for 120 meters. “Age doesn’t matter,” he maintains.

During his short term in the Philippines, he and his wife Silvana explored dive sites in Puerto Galera, Malapascua, Coron, Argao and Bohol.

FORNARI: “I’m still in good health and I plan to be active in the next 20 years.”

“So far, my favorite is Bohol because there are walls. There is a drop of about 50 to 80 meters. Along the wall there are vegetation and micro marine life. The current is good. You can take wonderful pictures of the pelagic fishes. It is one of the best places for diving.”

They plan to return to the Philippines in May to explore Tubbataha Reef in Sulu Sea. Asked why it’s one of the best places in the world to dive, Fornari explains, “In Tubbataha, the visibility is like the Red Sea’s—50 to 70 meters. You can see all the marine life from afar.”

Starting young

Fornari was five years old when he first put on a diving mask and was fascinated by the beauty of marine life in Africa. His father, Giovanni, also a career diplomat, was the first Italian governor of Somalia when it was under the Italian administration. In 1955, during the posting of his father as ambassador to Egypt, the younger Fornari, then 12, went snorkeling in the Red Sea and was enamored by the biodiversity.

He got his first tank at 18 years old and undertook his first diving trip in San Frutuoso in Genoa, to view the underwater site of the bronze Christ of the Sea, the original “Il Christo Degli Abissi.”

While starting his career in the Italian ministry of foreign affairs, Fornari also did military service as a Carabinieri, the Italian military police. The work was like the US Navy SEALs. His military certificate afforded him the equivalent of a two-star dive master.

Perils of diving solo

LUCA Fornari in Bohol

In all his posts, Fornari always brought his scuba equipment and camera. In his first post in Switzerland, Fornari dove in the freezing waters of Lake Leman. As a consul general in Lumbumbashi, the Republic of Congo, he would dive in the mine caves. In New York, he had a field day exploring the wrecks, ranging from submarines to warships. He even collected some artifacts from the Andrea Doria, an Italian luxury liner which sank in 1955 after a collision.

He admits that in his youth, he got overconfident. Fornari recalls that while doing wreck diving in New York, he got lost in a warship. As he left the engine room, he couldn’t find the door from where he entered. Fornari panicked and got angry with himself for his recklessness. He then saw a door which led to a succession of rooms until he finally saw some light.

“I was 35 then. When you are young, you are always pushing the limits. This taught me a lesson,” says Fornari.

“When I teach, I warn students never to dive alone.”

He has taught many students, including his wife and his son Lorenzo, who took his first pool lesson when he was a year old.

To Fornari, diving offers pleasures that can’t be found on land and air.

FORNARI likes to spend half an hour in a three-meter space just to photograph marine life.

Exercise for the mind

“It’s a fantastic exercise for your mind. You must be determined and you must not be afraid of going into the water. You are entering a different element,” he says. First-timers have to learn how to breathe through the mouth, while biting on the regulator mouthpiece and getting used to the bubbles upon exhaling.

He adds that diving is not for the claustrophobic. “You have to know how to live with the water and stay with it.”

Fornari—call him Luca or Ambaluca—is looking to another 20 years of activity as there are other creative opportunities available for him.

“Retirement is fantastic. You can make plans and there are no limits.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Argao , Bohol , Coron , Dive Master , Diving , Luca Fornari , Malapascua , Puerto Galera , retirement

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PMETJPLQYHRUZTKIADETEYTGXE Mario

    Retirement is more of a freedom for whatever you want in pursuit of individual happiness.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Seabed search for missing Malaysian jet to widen
  • Lacson rejects calls to name ‘pork’ execs
  • Obama due in Seoul as North Korea nuclear test fears grow
  • Hold departure order out vs Corona, Singson
  • Malaysia to release MH370 report–PM
  • Sports

  • Michael Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet
  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • Lifestyle

  • ‘Recovered’ Banksy works on display ahead of sale
  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Entertainment

  • Paul McCartney to play at Candlestick concert
  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • Business

  • PAL hailed for ban on shark fin cargo
  • BSP to change tint of P100 bill
  • Nielsen sees car buying boom in the Philippines
  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Technology

  • Cloud strength helps Microsoft earnings top Street
  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • Opinion

  • Corruption not invincible after all
  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • China welcomes PH apology
  • Only 4 Etihad passengers not accounted for
  • Abandoned in Malta,15 PH seamen return
  • Senator hopes PH will also get same vow