PITIGLIANO, Italy (AP) — Several hundred mourners packed the ornate cathedral of this hilltop Tuscan town on Friday to remember Associated Press video journalist Simone Camilli as a committed storyteller who had found personal and professional contentment in the Middle East.
An image of Camilli, leaning pensively over the balcony of the AP office in Gaza with smoke billowing behind him, stood near the simple olivewood casket that accompanied his body back to Italy, and which his family chose to retain in deference to his preference for simplicity.
"You might think he was a thrill-seeker. Simone wasn't one of those," said friend and AP colleague Chris Slaney. "His best work was filmed far from the front lines. He was proud of items which were simple, human stories well-told."
Camilli was killed Wednesday in the Gaza Strip when leftover ordnance believed to have been dropped in an Israeli airstrike blew up. Also killed was freelance Palestinian translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash, who was buried Wednesday. Four police engineers also died in the explosion.
Video images made by Camilli were projected in the cathedral complex in Pitigliano, and mourners streaming to the funeral Mass were visibly moved as they paused to watch.
AP chief executive Gary Pruitt, speaking outside the cathedral, lauded Camilli's commitment "to tell the human side of the story in a war" during nearly a decade with AP.
Monsignor Guglielmo Borghetti, bishop of Pitigliano-Sovana-Orbetello, remembered Camilli as "young, courageous, a passionate professional" and noted that Pope Francis had offered prayers for him this week from the papal plane on his way to South Korea.
Camilli's father is mayor of the small town of 4,000 people, which was in collective mourning. The city canceled festivities planned to mark the Aug. 15 Ferragosto public holiday, and traditional funeral notices from local associations were posted on the sides of buildings.
Camilli, who was 35, is survived by his long-time partner, his 3-year-old daughter Nour, his parents and two sisters.