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Mattei's Epiphany

12 December 2019

Every new year, on the feast of the Epiphany (or the Befana, as Italian folklore has it) wonderful toys were given to the children of workers in the Eni group. This tradition had begun back in 1926 at Agip. The celebration, organised by the company's After-Work Recreation Centre at all sites in Italy, involved the distribution of dolls and cars, musical instruments, balls, construction sets and many other toys that were new at the time. No child was left empty-handed, and it was the whole families who attended this gift-giving event. The Rome and Milan celebrations also saw the chairman, Enrico Mattei, taking part, and his successor Marcello Boldrini after 1962, to deliver the presents to the children in person. The photos in our archive show their satisfaction at the joy and amazement of those who received them. In the images we can see a Mattei smiling with enjoyment taking the smallest children in his arms. He also took the opportunity to exchange a more intimate moment or two with colleagues, compared to workplace formalities. The Recreation Centre also organised the big New Year's Eve veglionissimo event, with dancing and toasts to greet the new year together. Epiphany, the Befana and the celebrations were recorded for posterity in the photos published regularly in Il Gatto Selvatico, the group magazine edited by poet Attilio Bertolucci.