Left to right: Piero, Gianluca and Ignazio singing in the Frasassi Caves

Our Guys Stepped into the History Books

There are happy stories, good stories, amazing stories and phenomenal stories but when there is a story that encompasses it all there are no words for it, you are left speechless!
This week our guys made history! They became part of the history of the town of Genga, Italy and have been immortalized in a permanent exhibition at the Museo Arte Storia Territorio of the Castle of Genga! How’s that for a moment in time?
In order to tell this story, we need to go back in time 50 years to a discovery that was made by a group of boys from Ancona and Falconara, some of them were still high school students at the time. So, let’s go back to that day….

Black and white photo of a young cave explorer at the original entrance of the caves

September 25, 1971

*Exactly half a century ago a group of boys discovered an opening in a rock near the Abbey of San Vittore alle Chiuse, near Genga. It looked like an insignificant hole, like so many others but it was from here that the discovery of one of the greatest masterpieces of nature came to pass.  The authentic wonder that is the Frasassi Caves.
It was September 25, 1971, Fabio Sturba, who came to be known as the Buzz Aldrin (the second man to step on the moon) of the group became the second boy to step foot into the caves. How was it decided who would be first, they had no coin so, they drew straws or in this case match sticks and it fell to Maurizio Bolognini (the Neil Armstrong of the group) to be the first to descend into the Grotta Grande del Vento. Both boys were budding speleologist (the study or exploration of caves). Why the reference to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, because only two years earlier in July 1969 the greatest event of our time came to pass, man took his first steps on the moon? For the people of Genga, this was their moon landing. Their first steps into the history books of Italy and the world!
This is how Fabio Sturba describes the moment:
We played lots. Neither of us had a coin, so we used a box of matches.
He continues with the events that followed those first steps. The descent into the cave.
Our ladders were two steel tubes with aluminum steps. It did not allow us to go down, so we postponed the descent for the following week. On October 2nd we were above the Throne Room. The next day was the one of the stone throwing. To understand how deep the cave was. The light from our acetylene lamps reached a maximum of five meters (approx.16 ½ feet). Everything else was dark.
October 10th was the first real descent. On the bottom there was a huge landslide. We reached the Hall of the Giants, but we were forced to go back. The week after we went down again, reaching the current tourist route. But then it took two or three hours. At the end of October articles began to appear in local newspapers. The discovery went public.
One reporter asked, “Is it true that you slept in the caves?”
 Yes, in January, when we organized a six-day base camp. We slept inside the Ancona Abyss. One of the problems was the cold. We couldn’t bring sleeping bags because they were bulky. In the cave it was 14 degrees. As long as you moved there were no problems, but when you stood still your teeth chattered. We didn’t tell our parents everything!
The reporters also mentioned the fact that they did not get the right ‘gratitude’ for their discovery.
Maybe we deserved something more, but I’m not talking about money. For the first 25 years from the discovery, the Municipality had given us a certificate of merit. But only a few years ago a plaque with our names was placed at the entrance to the caves. They also gave us a card to get in for free. And to think that the caves represent 12% of the tourist GDP of the Marche region, and that Genga has one of the highest average incomes in the region.

50 years later!

On Friday, September 24th, 2021, the guys took part in a ribbon cutting for the 50th Anniversary of the finding of the caves and the Inauguration of the Photographic Exhibition of Maestro Vittorio Storaro and the multimedia laboratory at the Museum of Art, History and Territory of the Municipality of Genga. Sealing their fate and forever putting them in the history books of Genga and Italy! This historical moment was just the beginning of an event which would take place over two days and culminate with the presentation of the film.

Piero and Ignazio sitting on a park bench

As some of you know, Gianluca was hung up in traffic on the way to the ribbon cutting, so Piero and Ignazio decided to relax until his arrival! I should look that good when I relax!

The Mayor, Vittorio Storaro and Ignazio, Gianluca and Piero opening the event The Mayor, Vittorio Storaro and Ignazio, Gianluca and Piero cutting the ribbon

On the exciting notes of Ennio Morricone, Il Volo celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the discovery of the Frasassi Caves. Saturday, September 25th, 2021, was the presentation of the short film “C’era Una Volta” (Once Upon a Time) directed by Maestro Vittorio Storaro starring our guys among the favolose calcareous forms of the Caves.

  Photo collage poster

The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival at the Filming Italy Best Movie Awards.
Maestro Vittorio Storaro described the event almost as a rebirth…
In the caves of Frasassi the trio of Il Volo symbolically descended into the womb of Mother Earth as did the speleologists who discovered those caves fifty years ago. Through their art, which represents a new root, their song is reproduced, trio after trio. Il Volo fills every place that welcomes them: theaters, arenas, squares and archaeological sites all over the world: the energy of art so regenerates all forms of life.
I certainly couldn’t describe them better!

September 25, 2021

On this day, the film “C’era Una Volta” (Once Upon a Time) was presented by its director, Maestro Vittorio Storaro and Il Volo and thereby came full circle.
**Duilio Giammaria, journalist and director of Rai documentaries, led the journey in images and back in time to retrace the steps of the speleologists who 50 years ago, on September 25, 1971, descended for the first time into the bowels of the earth bringing to light the wonderful underground universe of the Frasassi Caves.
In the belly of the earth, among the large stalactites and stalagmites of the wonderful scenery of the Frasassi Caves, Piero, Gianluca and Ignazio of Il Volo with the guests present, celebrated the anniversary of the discovery of the extraordinary Italian hypogeum complex located in the mountain range of the Marche Apennines.
The discovery was celebrated with the repetition of the acrobatic descent of over 110 meters (360 feet) from the edge of the well to the bottom of the cave. The Marche Speleological Group once again made the underground journey and the endless descent into the majestic spaces, admired over time by hundreds of thousands of people.
After the presentation of the awards to the speleologists who participated in the discovery of the caves 50 years ago, the guys spoke with the Presenter.

The following is part of the translation of the video. For the full translation. Go to www.ilvoloflightcrw.com to read Daniela’s article, Frasassi 50.
Presenter: Of course, there are many questions we want to ask you, but first of all I want to ask you what you felt when you staged this video clip, that is, what was the atmosphere, the attitude with which you lived this fact.
Gianluca: First of all, it is a great pleasure to be here, and we greet everyone with great affection, thanks for the welcome.
It is a magical place, then, to be able to interpret the notes of the great master Morricone, flanked by a great filmmaker, one of the greatest, the master Vittorio Storaro. At our age to be able to say that we have had these experiences that have enriched us artistically, but also personally.
Presenter: You have now entered the history of cinema.
Gianluca: Of cinema not, maybe one day, who knows.
Presenter: Of humanity.
Gianluca: But being the soundtrack of this wonderful place, 50 years after its discovery, is a great pride for us, a great privilege. Thanks again.
Presenter: Then I want you to continue immediately, (to Ignazio) go, go…
Ignazio: No, if there is a question I speak, otherwise I shut up.
Presenter: There are many questions, but I also want to welcome those who represent perhaps more than all of us, the teacher, that is Storaro’s daughter, Francesca where are you?
Presenter: Here you are Francesca. Welcome Francesca. Why is Francesca here? Because she is a great light-designer who has worked on many things, of which I want to show you some photos. 
(To Gianluca) New lights, new caves to discover, perhaps new films to make.
Gianluca: I don’t know, it would be better to ask Vittorio Storaro, we sing…
Presenter: As you know, there was an experiment here of people who have been in the cave for six months, maybe you could be the first tenors ……
Piero:  I’m not here for six months!
Ignazio: It’s a little cold, maybe, if you bring me a small stove to warm up, I’ll think about it, however we wanted to …… can we say a few words?
Presenter: Please.
Ignazio: We take this opportunity to thank Maurizio Tosoroni and the mayor, who made all this possible and also the Marche region….
Presenter: A round of applause to Tosoroni.
Ignazio: …… because in any case we are three guys with many very ambitious desires, when we were approached by the master Storaro with this idea, we were immediately amazed and wanted to start working immediately, so without them and our manager Michele Torpedine, who watches us from the steps, from up there.
Is there anyone? (Ignazio raises his hand to his mouth to repeat the words that the first speleologist said when he lowered himself into the cave).
Presenter: Torpedine is not a nickname, he is fast, but that’s what his name is! He is also a little electric, he looks at us from above, he is there (Michele is laughing and making a gesture as if he is getting off the rope), sooner or later he will come down, we do not know when, but sooner or later he will come down.
Ignazio: Thanks, because life is made up of thanks, and it is right to give thanks to those who have allowed us to do all this.
Presenter: Sure, thank you, thank you very much.
Piero:  A little while ago we talked to the ex-boys (the speleologists) who discovered this incredible place, they are beautiful, I had a lot of fun, they’re super cool, but where are these men? (Piero looks for them)
Presenter: They are there.
Here they are, a round of applause to the speleologists.
Piero:  You are number one!
They are fantastic, one of them has been living in Sicily for 40 years, we chatted, and they told us about when they went down (in the caves), how long it took….
Gianluca: (to the speleologists) You have made history.
Piero:  Believe me, I am honored and thrilled to have talked to them and to have made us part of this incredible experience and adventure. Thanks!!
Presenter: Well, great, you were right to point this out. You have seen with the light how much can be done and how much more will probably be done, but there is one thing I have to ask you. I want to ask you something…. I want to ask you: in your opinion, what can be done here with the voice?
Now, right now! (The guys seem surprised)
Ignazio: You can talk to be heard up there, but there is a microphone, or you can….
Piero:   Let’s do an experiment.
Presenter: Come on.
Piero:  Since this is a magical place and there is acoustics, I would remove the microphone, can we remove the microphone?
Gianluca: We will sing without a microphone.
Presenter: Without microphone come on.
Piero:  A little piece.
Presenter: Yes, the usual two and a quarter hours concert!
While you sing, the speleologist will come down. It will give him strength and courage. (He refers to the fact that a speleologist is on top of the mountain descending into the hole from which they descended 50 years earlier.)
The guys sang a splendid piece of “Your Love” a cappella.
Ignazio: We hope and wish that, over time…. many voices from the world will be heard here. There are so many voices this place deserves to hear.
Presenter: This is a great idea, you know.
Piero:  This project, the tribute to Ennio Morricone, was born from our ideas, a little exaggerated at times, so during the lockdown we thought and worked intensely on the melodies of maestro Ennio Morricone, with a lot of respect. Then the idea of collaboration with the great maestro Storaro was born and now we are starting again, with optimism, we are sure that we will succeed, we will start with a world tour, carrying around, singing the melodies of Maestro Morricone, and we started from the belly of the earth, as the master Storaro says, so there is no better start.
Gianluca: Above all, it is also the way to bring the beauty of these places, the Frasassi Caves, around the world. It is a way to bring, not only what is our tradition through our voices, Italian music, but also the beauties of our country. This is a UNIQUE place in the world.
Presenter: It’s true, it’s really true. Thank you thank you.
Ignazio: Thank you very much. (the presenter motions him to continue). I don’t say anything more.
Ignazio: …. I wanted to say that with Maurizio Tosoroni, we will try to ensure that our colleagues (other singers) will come here, even with the mayor, to enjoy this magnificent place.
Presenter: Well, thank you, really thank you, I don’t know whether to call you “boys,” you are boys but also something more, now you belong to the history of humanity.
So, where do we go from here! Now that Our Guys Stepped into the History Books, it will be necessary to continue to bring this project around the world!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
As always we thank Daniela for her translations for these stories!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
*Italy 24 News
**Duilio Giammaria, journalist and director of Rai documentaries


Credit to owners of all photos and videos.


6 thoughts on “Our Guys Stepped into the History Books”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, I try to read everything that you translate for us, I really am trying learn the language but it is not easy. I love everything that they do, ii listen to them every day hope to see them someday when they return to America. I wish them all that life has to offer. Ciao
    For now MaureenBalinski

  2. Susan thank you for another informative article. I enjoyed learning a little more about the speleologists’ discovery of the Caves. It must have been an awesome experience for them, just as the experience Ignazio, Gianluca and Piero had in making the movie, “C’era Una Volta” singing the music of Maestro Morricone and now knowing they have played a significant part in the history of the Frasassi Caves and the city of Genga. It is so exciting and rewarding to watch our guys’ experiences and musical careers continue to grow. Thank you and the Flight Team Crew for keeping us up to date.

  3. Thank you, Susan, for your great story about the Frasassi Caves. Daniela and Patti also submitted their story, which was quite similar as the story of the discovery of the Caves has been told a number of times, I would think. But thank you all for giving us this wonderful gift. It must be breathtaking to be present and see this wonderous sight.

  4. Has anyone told Ignazio that he talks too much? He seemed to be seriously putting on the brakes! Anyway, great story, great experience, thank you very much.

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