Giorgio Cavalieri

It was standing room only in the Rosebank Catholic Church on January 24 as around 1 000 friends, associates, and family gathered to bid farewell to Giorgio Cavalieri, who passed away in the early hours of January 14 after a long battle with cancer, aged 72.

Giorgio was well known across a wide spectrum of motoring activities. In motor sport he was a leading sports car driver, achieving championship status in that discipline. The area that he was perhaps best known in was as a long time chairman and later president of SEFAC, the South African Ferrari club.

Giorgio was born in the immediate post-war years in Bologna, Italy, and retained a great affection for that city and the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, where his father was a prominent person in the insurance industry. Through this business involvement, together with young Giorgio he found his way down to South Africa via Cairo, Egypt, where Giorgio spent some of his early years. Little wonder that, in time, Giorgio carried on the family tradition by embarking on a venture into insurance in Johannesburg after graduating with a B.Com degree. This venture saw the forming of Sela Brokers some 40 years ago, which is now one of the leading insurance brokerages in Gauteng and specialists in classic and high value car insurance.

Always passionate about anything Italian and, more specifically, Ferrari, Giorgio was the catalyst that saw SEFAC develop from humble beginnings as a small, informal gathering of like minded enthusiasts into one of the leading Ferrari clubs in the world. He always made sure that he had the ear of those in power at Maranello to the benefit of SEFAC and its members. If there was any classic Ferrari, Maserati, or Alfa collection in Italy, Giorgio knew about it and took great delight in introducing friends and fellow enthusiasts to these museums. The region around Bologna and Modena is also the producer of some of the finest foods in Italy, and Giorgio was equally passionate about enjoying the local delicacies.

At his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, Giorgio’s passions included a large collection of fine wines that eventually led to him creating his own private wine label. Two products of the grape that caught Giorgio’s specific attention were grappa and balsamic vinegar, the latter a product of the vineyards around Modena. Giorgio’s challenge was to produce high quality versions of both in his own cellar in Houghton and his grappa, in particular, caught the attention of many with its powerful kick. His home borders on The Wilds Nature Reserve, where his passion extended to the well-being of a family of owls located there, as well as a large swarm of bees, which provided a challenge to harvest their honey. A section of the pristine gardens around Sela Brokers’ offices is fenced off to accommodate a small flock of geese quietly placed there by Giorgio for his pleasure.

The benevolent side of Giorgio saw him support a number of charitable initiatives, giving freely of his time and resources to worthy causes.

Giorgio is survived by his wife Emi, son Andrea, daughter and son-in-law Valentina and Jean-Claude, and their daughter.

RIP Giorgio.

(Allan Trim)