An announcement was made this week that the 63rd edition of the Zecchino d’oro will be postponed due to Covid 19. The presenters of the event this year Mara Venier and Carlo Conti will have to wait until May 2021 for the show to be broadcast on Rai 1.

When I read this, I immediately thought of Gianluca.  So, what is the Zecchino d’oro and what does it have to do with Gianluca?
The Zecchino d’oro is an Italian tradition. It is an event for kids, and it is dedicated to them and to all the adults who still feel like kids.
This show is presented every year between late November and the beginning of December.
In Italy there are magical days, when it starts to get cold, and children stay in their warm homes. It’s not Christmas, but the period that precedes it when the famous Zecchino d’oro TV show is broadcast. It has been broadcast every year, for decades. It was established in 1959 by Cino Tortorella who was the good presenter who introduced the children on stage, disguised as Mago Zurlì. He was so loved by all children.

The Zecchino d’oro is the festival of the little ones. In fact, if the Sanremo Festival is aimed at adult audiences and the songs are interpreted by adults, the Zecchino d’oro is made for children, with songs tailored for children.
The songs may seem like simple songs but, they are actually much more. Special attention is given to the songs’ texts. The themes are about tolerance and peace. And this is confirmed by the expression of the event: “In this contest, the winner is not the child who sings, but the song that is sung!”
Father Berardo Rossi, one of the founders, discovered by chance, a girl who used to teach the children of his parish and organize events. Mariele Ventre, who was 22 years old, had just graduated from the Verdi Conservatory in Milan and was on her way to a promising concert career. She said yes to Fr. Rossi’s proposal and the adventure began. Mariele liked the name Zecchino because it refers to the gold coin in the field of miracles of Collodi’s Pinocchio and thus it was called Zecchino d’oro. She founded the Piccolo Coro two years later, an institution that she would direct passionately for thirty years, until the last day before she died on December 16, 1995. Upon her death the Piccolo Coro dell’Antoniano, was renamed Piccolo Coro for Mariele.

Zecchino d’oro, however, is not only music and entertainment, it has been carrying out voluntary initiatives by raising funds to build schools, hospitals, orphanages, with projects all over the world, to help the less fortunate live better lives.
In 2008, the Zecchino d’oro received an amazing recognition from UNESCO, becoming a world heritage for a culture of peace: the first TV show in the world to receive such a prestigious award.
This year the images were to be reassuring to Italy. The country had the strength to bet on good feelings and a strong idea of safeguarding children.
Though you may not know this show in America, we can relate one of the characters, Topo Gigio, the puppet created by Maria Perego. Topo Gigio landed in America many years ago on the legendary Ed Sullivan Show. For those of you who are not old enough to remember Topo Gigio, let me say we waited every week for his appearance on the show. For us kids and the adults he became a household name. Seems hard to believe that this little mouse stole the hearts of the American people.

So where does Gianluca fit into all of this? If it wasn’t for the Piccolo Choir of Roses and the Zecchino d’oro, Gianluca may not have been discovered.
Gianluca was a member of the Piccolo Choir of Roses which is one of the local branches of this choir. The Mago Zurlì, who was the presenter of the event when Gianluca was in the Choir, was Gianluca’s father, Ercole Ginoble.
But, let me let Gianluca tell you how this all came to be….
When I sing, I don’t forget instinct.  What does that mean? As I said, I have never studied singing. I learned to “use” my voice only thanks to my musical ear. I listened to the music and it transmits everything I know. And I especially thank the Little Choir of Roses.

When I was about eight or nine, all those who knew my voice gave me the same advice: go sing in a choir. In Roseto there was the Piccolo Choir of Roses directed by the master Susy Paola Rizzo. They sang the songs of the “Zecchino d’oro” or other famous songs with arrangements in that style, with music for children. The Mago Zurlì, that was the presenter of the event, was my father. He had been for a couple of seasons.
This is where I started. It was nice because we studied the songs throughout the winter season, not the technique of singing, the songs. It was different, because we did not study the notes and how to do them, rather we studied instinctively, following what the teacher said and what our ear heard.
Then, in the summer, we demonstrated our work in the Municipality of Roseto. We sang in the squares during the local festivals, in the lidos, in the bathing establishments, around the whole of Abruzzo, all these tiny villages.
During the performances with the choir, besides the repertoire of the Zecchino d’oro, we sang the songs of Bocelli: Misere, Il Mare Calmo Della Sera, La Voce Del SilenzIo.

So, although Gianluca never studied music he did develop a musical ear and instinct and as a member of the Piccolo Choir of Roses and his performances around Abruzzo he was discovered by Licia Giunco who brought Gianluca to Rome to audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone. The rest is history!
And as a result of this, Gianluca shares his amazing voice with people all over the world!


Credit to owners of all photos and video.


  1. Thank you so much for posting articles like this! Apart from the ‘Gianluca information’, the mention of Topo Gigio took me way back to my childhood in the UK! I’m heading for my 70’s now but when I was a child, there was a Sunday evening entertainment programme on TV called ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium’, with a star performer to end each show. A few times, that was Topo Gigio! I remember being so excited if I knew he was going to be on! I credit him for my lifelong love of Italy! I absolutely loved him! And it really made me smile, seeing him mentioned in the same article as Gianluca! What were the chances of that ever happening! Thank you again!

    1. You’re welcome, Judi! And thanks for the compliment! I love doing this as I used to own my own printing business and did all the typesetting and layout.

  2. Susan and Patti, thank you for the explanation of Zecchino d’ Ora, its interesting history, and the connection to Gianluca. I am always happy to learn more about our guys.

  3. Thank you so much for this interesting story. I fondly remember Topo Gigio’s appearances on the Ed Sullivan show. What a lovely clip of young Gianluca singing. He was poised and confident with his performance and the audience loved him. I look forward to your stories. You make the world of Il Volo come alive. I am seeing this Saturday night, November 21, 2020. Wishing you a successful safe week ahead.

  4. Very interesting ! Going right now to find Topo Gigio on Ed Sullivan’s show. Enjoyed your comment, Doris.

  5. Even when he was a child, Gianlucca was entertaining people with his glorious voice! This story is yet another layer of Gianlucca’s interesting background. I remember watching Topo Grigio on Ed Sullivan. He can still be seen on reruns. It is comforting to know that Gianlucca is involved in children’s expression of song. It is so like him. Thank you, Susan, for yet another amazing story of an Il Volo member. Have a Happy Thanksgiving & a Merry Christmas😊🇺🇸🦃🎄

  6. Susan, another wonderful article! So much that I didn’t know. Is the video of Gianluca one from when he sang with Piccolo Chior of Roses? I have it saved to my YouTube playlist and watch it often. He’s so nervous at first and then you can see him get lost in his song. Do you know how old Gianluca is here?
    Thanks again. Janice.

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