Gianluca presents a problem for me! How do you write a story about an invisible person? Well, no he’s not necessarily invisible but he is hard to read! These stories I write about the guys are my version of their stories. Their stories as seen through my eyes.  Yes, I do incorporate their stories into mine but basically, it’s my story. Gianluca being as quiet as he is makes it hard to write about him. So, what do I know about Gianluca and his likes and dislikes for food? Very little! The only thing I’m sure of is that he likes bananas and I think he has a sweet tooth. So where do I go from there?
One day, I was listening to Gianluca speak with some friends on Instagram and one of them mentioned Verrigni. Gianluca lives in Roseto degli Abruzzi this is where the company Verrigni is located. Verrigni is a company that makes pasta.
In the early 1900s the Verrigni pasta was made from stone-ground semolina. The grains were local, and everything was kneaded with the water of the Gran Sasso and dried in the air, hanging from bamboo canes. After more than a hundred years this is unchanged. The greatest care is given to the raw material which are carefully selected and controlled in every step of the processing.
Let me say Abruzzo is known for its pasta. Why?

The Gran Sasso contains the Corno Grande, the highest peak of the Apennines. So, the idea came to me to make pasta from the region and make a pasta which I’m sure Gianluca has had at some time in his life.
So, I went on Verrigni’s website, and I saw a pasta that my mother used to make and so it is the one I chose. My mother’s family is from Abruzzo. They are from Introdacqua (Introdacqua means, built in the water – for the abundance of water in the region).

Introdacqua is about an hour’s drive from Gianluca’s town. We are on the Monte Maiella (known as the mother mountain) the second largest peak in the Apennines while Gianluca is from the Gran Sasso which is the highest peak in the Apennines.

Before I start Cooking Abruzzo Style with Gianluca, I would like to say a word about Gianluca’s town Montepagano overlooking the beautiful town of Roseto degli Abruzzi. 
Porta da Solein Montepagano overlooks the splendid Vomano Valley, from the Gran Sasso Mountains to the Adriatic Sea.

The symbol of the town is the belltower of the ancient Church of Sant’Antimo, built at the end of the sixteenth century when a statue of the weeping Madonna attracted a large number of worshippers and vast amounts of money were collected, sufficient to build the church.

The small town of Roseto was founded in 1860 and as its first houses were adorned with oleanders and roses over time the town took the name of ‘Rosburgo’ (or borough of roses), a name that appeared on postmarks as early as 1886 and that remained until 1927, when it was replaced by the current name Roseto degli Abruzzi.
This town was already inhabited in the Roman age. The most ancient settlement going back to those times is Cologna today a “frazione” of Roseto degli Abruzzi, which is often mentioned in medieval documents, above all in relation to the presence of the Monastery of San Salvatore in Bozzino. In the Middle Ages and for centuries Montepagano was the main center in the area. It is mentioned in several documents both for the presence of the Emperor Lotharius and because it was part of the possessions of the Abbey of San Giovanni in Venere. Remains of the ancient medieval fortifications can still be identified in the four entrance doors and in the Romanesque-Baroque belltower built in red bricks, belonging in the past to the now lost church of Sant’Antimo.

In 1251 Montepagano was included in the newly established Diocese of Atrii.
Montepagano is a medieval hamlet that is part of Roseto degli Abruzzi administratively but is a different world from the modern beach resort. The classic Old-World hamlet is six kilometers inland from Roseto on a commanding hill with spectacular panoramas.
Founded in the 12th century, the town was placed away from the sea but with a view of it as protection from incursions by pirates and Turks. Wander the sinewy streets and little piazzas and enjoy the views of the sea as well as the mountains that this petite but pretty town enjoys. It was under the Papal States from the 13th century until Napoleon and French rule arrived in 1798. The town has a noble aspect, with lovely palazzi and ancient city gates intact.
Located between the Tordino and Vomano rivers, there are abundant vineyards that sprawl out below the town, ensuring excellent wines with every meal. The culinary traditions here are rich and varied, taking in the best of both the nearby sea and the hills.
There are pieces of the original protective walls intact, along with arched gateways into the hamlet. And a gothic gate with Pretty arched Porta Borea, which frames a view of the sea. The church is the commanding presence in town, along with the 40-meter-tall bell tower. The church is Santissima Annunziata (the annunciation) was completed in 1602; the stone portal was placed in 1611. Topped by an octagonal cupola, the church has four side chapels and several excellent paintings inside. The bell tower bears a Romanesque lower part and a Baroque upper section.
The joy of Montepagano is to wander and find the charming corners amongst the cobbled lanes, and the wide views that greet you at many turns.

A beautiful town to live in! I’m sure many of you have seen the videos of Gianluca’s house and garden.  And, what a beautiful view of the beach from his garden?

Though Abruzzo is in central Italy, it is considered a region of Southern Italy because of its historic association with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Almost half of Abruzzo is protected through national parks and nature reserves, more than any other region on the continent, leading it to be known as the greenest region in Europe.
Abruzzo’s parks and reserves host 75% of Europe’s animal species.
When I travel from Rome to Abruzzi where my family lives, I love passing alongside the Abruzzo National Park and seeing the bears and other animals roaming around the mountains. It’s like a zoo in motion! Just magnificent!

The region is also home to the Calderone glacier, one of Europes southernmost glaciers. The glacier can be found in the Gran Sasso dItalia mountain group, it lies just beneath the Corno Grande, the highest peak in the Apennines. This is the mountain range that Gianluca’s land is a part of.

Before I move on to the recipe, I would like for you to listen to Gianluca singing “Your Song,” in Agrigento this past week. Before he began the song, he got very emotion talking about family and the guys and I want you to know what he said….
By now I have become a bit Sicilian. You have known me for 13 years now and that by now I really love Sicily!  I love Sicily, I love it, especially this part of Sicily. You eat like gods but believe me that where I ate better than here was at the home of Barone. It is a unique thing in the world that among other things, I greet everyone because I want to say that we have truly become like three brothers. We are a big family.
I believe that this is also transmitted from the stage, how we support each other as we have grown together artistically. Personally, we have matured we have lived an anomalous life of 14-15 years from school desks to travel the world because even if we have not chosen it, it binds this great passion for music, but not only the emotions experienced on stage but around the world only with Ignazio and Piero can we really understand one another. 
It’s deep! What do I mean deep! We share these emotions which are so strong and then I believe that the greatest privilege in life is that of being able to recognize, what it is you know? To be truly happy on this journey, especially during adolescence, that the most delicate period when we still dont know who we want to be or what role to play, our parents played the most important role of all because at least we can say ours have helped us to understand what we wanted to do, who we wanted to be without imposing anything on us. But I have always done what I liked to do and my parents our parents have always supported us. They believed in our talent and helped us to bring it out. And this is not obvious, but I also want to thank the parents and also thank my parents, uncles who are more present tonight, the parents of Ignazio and Piero.
We have different tastes, but the passion of bel canto unites us, but I have idols that are the great American voices like Frank Sinatra, like the great Elvis. Incidentally, Frank Sinatra was Sicilian, but most of the great Italian artists abroad are of Sicilian origin from Abruzzo, the Abbruzzese Dean Martin, Lady Gaga from Sicily, Madonna from Abruzzo, therefore probably I dont want to say about us, obviously it wasnt a sin of presumption, I just wanted to say that precisely the great international voices have really changed the history of music in the world, you understood me it was not presumption. It is not that, I expressed myself badly, but I did not mean that as no. But I did not mean this because then you see one can also express badly when excited, I did not mean that you understood me: look how presumptuous he thinks he is.
But tonight, I will sing one of the most beautiful songs in the repertoire of English music, I feel embarrassed, and I apologize because I got sick. I made myself like this, see you see I dont think about it but I dont is that okay?

Before we begin, how about a little inspiration!

Enough inspiration! Let’s move on!
So, now to the pasta I chose is: Pasta cacio e pepe – Pasta with Cheese & Pepper
This is a fast and fragrant dish made with a few ingredients:
Pasta of your choice – I would use spaghetti or thin spaghetti (Thanks to Pat Farley, I now know that Verrigni pasta is available on Amazon.)
Pecorino Romano Cheese
Peppercorns grated – you can substitute Black Pepper
Boil the water for the pasta with a little salt, since the Pecorino Romano Cheese is already very salty. When the water is boiling, add the pasta. Check the cooking time on the box.
In a frying pan, heat a drizzle of oil with a grated pepper. This will emphasize the smell and taste of the pepper and give more taste to the dish. Add some of the pasta water – about a cup. Be careful adding the water. You are pouring the water into oil. Do it slowly and carefully.
When the pasta is halfway done (soft but not ready to eat), remove it from the water but do not throw the pasta water out. Add the pasta to the frying pan. It will finish cooking in the frying pan.
Mix the pasta well with the pepper and oil mixture in the frying pan. From time to time add a ladle of the pasta water until the pasta is al dente (to taste). Always leave some liquid in the bottom so it doesn’t burn.
Turn off the stove. Add pepper. Mix quickly. Now start incorporating the Pecorino Romano Cheese little by little turning the pasta as you add it. The cheese will be melting. Add more cheese only after the previous one has melted.
Transfer the Pasta to a serving dish, sprinkle with more cheese and pepper if needed. The pasta must be served when hot. If you let it lay it will get sticky.

                                                   Their version

                                                           My version

I do hope this is something you will enjoy, and I wish we could share it with Gianluca.
Serve with red or white wine. Of course, my choice, as you know, is always Montepulcino d’Abruzzi!
Buon appetito!
I started this story by saying Gianluca is hard to read but what I do know for sure is every meal for Gianluca is a production! When he goes to dinner, he tells us about every course of every dinner! So, we may not be Cooking Abruzzo Style with Gianluca, but we sure do know what he eats when he goes out to dinner! One order of Sushi please! It’s in every meal.

When asked which Morricone  song he preferred, Gianluca said, “The Ecstasy of Gold.”

One Final Note: Some of you have heard about Nonna Maura’s accident and have asked me for information on her condition. Thanks to Daniela, who has been in touch with her, we know, she is better, so to speak. She is recovering nicely!
Daniela said, “when she called her two nights ago, she was very cheerful. Daniela told her about all the messages and prayers for her speedy recovery and she was very happy and greets all of you!”
Please continue to pray for Maura to have a quick recovery!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email:
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at
Credit to the owners of photos and videos.


  1. Thanks, Susan. I understand what you mean when you say Gianluca is “quiet”. I think he is quite private, for the most part. He is also extremely respectful of others and listens very well. I don’t think I have ever heard him criticize anyone. He has a sweet and soft demeanor about him and his passion for music is evident.
    What a beautiful part of Italy! The sun always seems to be shining brightly – as it is all over Italy! – and the old streets and buildings are so intriguing. Even the photos make one feel they are walking in the past. And, as for Gianluca’s singing, what more is there to say about his ever-so-smooth voice? Liquid gold.

  2. The velvet voice is very hard to read. He keeps unfolding in front of us in different ways. Remember the photo shoot he did recently? That took many by surprise with several remarks both good and bad. I for one liked it. Then his poses with hardly ever a smile. I know he likes the serious look because he looks sexier in it. He certainly is an enigma!. I wonder what he will do next to surprise us all. In the end we love him all the more ❤️

  3. Thanks always for your excellent depth of history that adds so much dimension to the maturation of the wonderful IL Volo guys. Your writings entice us to visit Italy, a need to actually experience an IL Volo concert in Italy and to share the love of your country & history. Always appreciated your writings. Much thanks…looking forward when this COVID declines to plan a trip.

  4. Thank you Susan. A very touching story. I love that the guys are one big family. There is nothing better. After a cruise we stayed in Italy for three days touring. Abruzzo and Marche kept calling me but we unfortunately never made it. We needed more time. I did not know of Il Volo at the time, but I listen to them every day and sometimes at night. Can’t seem to get enough, so thank you for all that you contribute to my knowledge. Looking forward to September.

  5. Susan I love your stories so much. I wish I had a book of them . Gianluca does seem a little shy but he is so talented. He has the most beautiful smile. I have been following them for years. I first saw them on our public TV station in Saint Louis, Missouri. They sang a lot of opera then. They have grown into the most enchanting young men. It seems the world has fallen in love with them right along with me. They are getting the recognition they deserve. Also thanks for the history lesson.

  6. Susan I loved your description of where Gianluca comes from.
    I don’t understand the comments about Gianluca being quiet and hard to read. I have read that he is very into social media. I’m at a disadvantage because I mostly stay away from social media so that might be why I don’t understand.
    Your article was excellent.

  7. Thank you for all the information about the region and our Gianluca. My own mother’s family came to the US from that area as well, Civitaquana and Catignano. Sadly both died before I was born and Mom was only 12. Always love learning about life there. I enjoy your writings, and the guys’ singing, of course.

    1. You should visit the area. It’s beautiful! Spend many wonderful days there with my mom who is gone now!

  8. For not being able to “read” Gianluca, you’ve done a bang-up job of writing this column!

    As far as I’m concerned, any posting with Mi Mancherai is a masterpiece! I love that song and can’t picture anyone else singing it.
    Thanks, Susan. Hugs, Dol

  9. Love these young men as if they were my own grandsons and I am hoping to meet them in Phoenix. Stay safe and healthy.

    1. Hi Judy. I am meeting them in Phoenix also along with my daughter. Maybe we can meet up. If you hear of a meet & greet please let me know and I will do the same for you. 🤗

  10. Join the fan club! Il Volo Music. they keep you informed of the meet & greets and sound check!

  11. Yet another great article Susan – thanks so very much. I do thoroughly enjoy reading your thoughts and observations. I do, however, disagree, that Gianluca is the most difficult of the guyes to reead – in fact I do find him the most informative. He is so much letting us into his world – maybe even more than is good for him. We have seen his house inside/out and where ever he goes he takes us along. But yes he is a more complex person often being rather profound – and then he seems to enjoy staging his life making things around him a bit mystical. Maybe this is actually what makes him a bit more interesting to me.

    Anyhow, as to the subject I find that Gianluca has turned into a true “gourmet”. He does most certainly enjoy the good life when it comes to food and the type of restaurannts he seeks out. I love when he takes us along to these gorgours places and brings ud photos of each and everyone of the dishes he is enjoying. Yummy! Apparently Gianluca does not cook himself but I recall from some of the little mini-videos the guys did this spring and shared with us, that they were telling us their favorite dish. Much to my surprise, Gianluca said; Pizza! (Piero said Osso buco and Ignazia said humble-bumble-bla bla ). Another time I heard Gianluca say, that he truly loved his mom’s Saturday pizzas – so something as simple may actually be his true favorite food. In a recent interview where the guys discussed being able to cook,,Gianluca proudly metioned that he could make a salad, to which Ignazio laughed him off telling him, that making a salad was not cooking as it was just putting cold ingredients together. Gianluca has often mentioned that he is very fond of sushi and also Mexican food – so guess that is what he sends for. He has definitely a sweet tooth and I have seen a video where he and one of the Stefano brothers try to make a desert out of some pre-fab powders he he. Unfortunately, he has an allergy not allowving him to eat i.e. nuts, hence he cannot enjoy Nutela, which he would love to have, he has told.. .

    That was my two cents for to-day. Greetings from Kirsten – Denmark.

  12. TY once again for a great message so that we get to know our boys more fully. Love to hear in detail about a Abruzzo when we were in Italy we didn’t see enough of it only small part of where our family came from. Love to go back some day. Thanks again love ❤️ your and Danielle’s stories👍

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