Dino, 90, feeds Rome's homeless
Dino Impagilazzo is living out his dream of feeding the homeless. Nicknamed “chef of the poor”, the 90-year-old Italian launched his mission 15 years ago in Rome after a homeless man outside one of the city’s train stations asked him for money to buy a sandwich.
“I realised that perhaps instead of buying one sandwich, making some sandwiches for him and for the friends who were there would be better, and thus began our adventure,” he said.
Impagilazzo founded RomAmoR (RomeLove), which went from making sandwiches for the homeless to cooking and serving hot meals throughout Rome.
Now retired from Italy’s social security department, Impagilazzo began his mission with a few other pensioners out of his own home before moving it to a convent. Today, he and a team of volunteers cook the food to feed the homeless in their own fully equipped kitchen.
Three days a week, they collect contributions from local markets, bakeries and other retailers, while the remaining four days are spent in the kitchen preparing and cooking meals. “We try to involve more and more people so that Rome becomes a city where people can love each other, you know,” Impagilazzo said. “It’s solidarity.”
RomAmoR, which now has 300 volunteers, serves hot meals on Saturday nights near train stations and in St Peter’s Square — where Pope Francis has also opened medical and bathing facilities for the homeless sleeping there.
For his efforts, Impagliazzo has been recognised as a “hero of our times”, having received an honorific award from President Sergio Mattarella. He says he never dreamed his initiative would become so successful, or generate such goodwill.
ABOVE Dino Impagilazzo hands-on in the kitchen