All posts by susandebartoli

Cooking Pasta for Piero by Susan

Alas! Piero doesn’t cook! I think during quarantine he learned how to use the microwave. In an IG conversation with his friend, singer, Anastacia, Piero mentioned that during quarantine, his mother was cooking for him every day. It’s so nice when mom’s your neighbor!
Piero may not cook but being a good Italian, he knows what’s best to eat ~ Pasta!

I’m sure by now you all figured out that Piero loves Pasta. And as part of his regular routine, he eats pasta three hours before a performance. How do we know this? Piero talked about it in “Un’avventura Straordinario, La Nostra Storia.”

As you know when the guys were young, they traveled with one of their parents at all times. In his story, Piero recalled an incident in Cuernavaca, Mexico…..
I remember my father talking to the Mexicans while he cooked me the pasta. Because before singing, three hours before, I always eat a hundred grams (approx. 3 ½ ounces) of tomato and basil spaghetti. I love that moment.
He (Piero’s father) comes in the dressing room, brings me the spaghetti made by him (we bring the packages from home). And that year he started explaining to the Mexicans how spaghetti, tomato and basil were cooked.
So, Gaetano, Piero’s father, introduced the Mexican cooks to spaghetti in tomato and basil sauce.

In Sicily they make a very rich tomato sauce and with this sauce we will be Cooking Pasta for Piero.

But, before I get to the recipe, and another little surprise, let me tell you a little bit about the town Piero lives in.
Naro is a small medieval town in the province of Agrigento, not far from the Valley of the Temples.
The hill town offers stunning views of the surrounding hills, all the way down to the sea.

This monumental city has a very ancient history, dating back to the Sicani, the most ancient inhabitants of the island. According to ancient Greek writers, Sicans, where the original inhabitants of central Sicily. The Greek historian Thucydides believed the Sicani to be Iberians from Spain who were driven out by the invading Siculi into the central parts of the island. (From Sicans and Siculi derives the name Sicily.) They were also invaded by Arabs, Normans and Swabians. We can find remnants of their presence everywhere: from the ancient city gate, the only one left from the seven gates to the mosque which was transformed into a Norman Duomo. There is also an ancient Jewish quarter and the Medieval Chiaramonte Castle which rises high above the city.

The monuments, also, tell us about Naro’s important history. The city received the title Fulgentissima (Splendor) and had a seat in the Sicilian Parliament.
There are many churches, in particular, the Church dedicated to Maria SS Annunziata (Our Lady of the Annunciation). Within the church we find many treasures including the statue of the Madonna of the Chains by Antonello and Giacomo Gagini. This beautiful church also has a medieval baptismal font.
Note: When the Spanish invaded, they brought along empanadas which Piero mentions in his story and calls by its Sicilian name “impanate.” This is how Piero described them, “Impanate are rolls of pizza dough with vegetables inside, a typical dish of my area.”
In Naro, there is an old tradition which says, “The righteous, before going to paradise, take a tour of the island to say farewell to seven ‘special’ places in Sicily: the Castle of Naro, which is windswept day and night; Caltabellotta, coiled up around the rock; Mount Erice, that looks towards Africa; Ustica, a small island in a green colored sea; Stromboli, the volcano that mingles with the waves; Ortigia, the ancient Greek island…” (I count six – I checked and couldn’t find seven). Piero, do you know what the seventh one is???

One of the most important events for the inhabitants of Naro is the Feast of San Calogero. The Patron Saint is celebrated on 18th and 25th of June. In nearby Sciacca you can visit the Sanctuary of San Calogero.

Now before we go to the Tomato Sauce, how about as little inspiration?

I always include this picture because Piero looks like one of my ex-boyfriends in this picture. Whenever I include it and say who he looks like, I get a hundred messages and emails! Let me save you the trouble! The answer is no and none of your business. Kind of the same answer I give you when you ask about the girlfriends of our guys!

Moving on! Concentrate ladies!
A little music to entice you!

I’m going to give you two recipes. One is the actual recipe with whole tomatoes. It’s wonderful if you want to do the work. The other is a simpler version which is very easy to make. The sauces in this region are very rich.

Tomato Sauce from the region of Agrigento
2 1/4 lb. of ripe tomatoes (you can use vine tomatoes or plum tomatoes)
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion sliced thin or diced if you prefer
fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt
pepper
pasta of your choice
Preparation:
Wash and dry the tomatoes, cut them in half and crush them. Put the tomatoes in a saucepan together with garlic, (If you were making this for Piero, you would have to leave out the garlic because he’s allergic to it.), onion and basil. Add a small amount of water. A half cup should do. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove the tomatoes and puree them. I’m sure you don’t have a mill to puree so, I suggest you take a colander and place it over a saucepan. Add the tomatoes to the colander and crush with your hands. Be careful it’s hot. You could use a spoon to do this.
This will allow the sauce to flow through and what will remain are the skins and seeds. Next, put the tomatoes back in the saucepan, add oil, salt and pepper and heat over a low flame to thicken the sauce. Cook for 30 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, boil the water for pasta. Add salt.
When the water boils, add the pasta. Follow the cooking instructions on the box. Try to have the pasta ready when the sauce is ready.
Before I get to the simple recipe, I want to mention Strattu. Strattu is a Sicilian word for tomato paste. The Sicilians jar their tomatoes in the summer for winter use. While doing this, they take some of the tomatoes and spread them out on a ceramic or wooden tray and leave it out in the sun for two – three days, constantly stirring it, to turn it into tomato paste. It takes about seven pounds of tomatoes to make one jar of strattu!

The first sauce I gave you is the recipe for is a plain sauce that would be used alone or with fish. When making a pork (sausage) sauce or any meat sauce (meat balls) you would add strattu (a couple of tablespoons) to it because pork will thin your sauce and, strattu gives it a thicker consistency.
Strattu is tomato paste. You can buy tomato paste in your local grocery store.

                                                  Their Version

                                                    My Version
Simple Tomato Sauce
In place of ripe tomatoes use one can of plum tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands. Or crush them with a potato masher but, make sure to poke the whole tomato before crushing it otherwise it will squirt back in your face.
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion sliced thin or diced if you prefer
fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Pepper
pasta of your choice
Preparation:
In a saucepan heat the olive oil, add onions, garlic (remember Piero is allergic to garlic) salt & pepper. Sauté a few minutes and then add tomatoes. Now add the basil. After the sauce bubbles, lower the flame. Let it cook for 30 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, boil the water for pasta. Add salt. When the water boils, add the pasta. Follow the cooking instructions on the box. Try to have the pasta ready when the sauce is ready. If you want to make a meat sauce add tomato paste (two or three tablespoons) as a substitute for strattu. Serve with red wine. Of course, my choice, is always Montepulcino d’Abruzzi.
Buon appetito!
Dinner Music!

Now for my surprise!
A while back, I learned that Piero likes Pizza Margherita. Sorry, I don’t make pizza. My mother did but it’s not something I picked up from her. So, my advice to those who don’t make pizza, order from your local Pizzeria. They all make Pizza Margherita.
On Friday’s I always order pizza and the kids come over and we have dinner together. During COVID, this was not possible because it would require everyone coming to my house and we would exceed the 10 people limit so, we decided to share our pizza together on SKYPE.
For those of you who are brave, here’s the recipe for Pizza Margherita:
Don’t make the dough, pick it up from your local pizzeria or local bakery. Just ask for pizza dough.
Toppings:
2 Cans of diced tomatoes, drain some of the juice
Fresh basil to taste (for me I can’t get enough of it)
8 Cups of Shredded Mozzarella (you can use skim mozzarella if you like)
½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt (go by your taste but don’t get carried away)
1/8 teaspoon pepper (go by your taste but don’t get carried away)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Stretch out the dough and spoon the tomatoes on it. Top with Basil, Oregano, Mozzarella Cheese, Pepper Flakes, Salt & Pepper. Drizzle oil on top.
Bake in a 450-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. ~ Does that sound right Ignazio?
So where did the name Pizza Margherita come from? Margherita of Savoy (Margherita Maria Teresa Giovanna) was the Queen consort of the Kingdom of Italy by marriage to Umberto I. According to legend, in 1889, the Margherita pizza, whose red tomatoes, green basil, and white cheese represent the Italian flag, was named after her.

After I finished this story my dear friend at Flight Crew, Daniela Perani, sent me a picture of herself standing in front of this portrait of Margherita of Savoy. She was at the museum in Palermo.  She didn’t know I wrote this story. What are the chances?
Enjoy the pizza!

When asked “what is your favorite song from the Morricone album,” Piero answered, “Being from Sicily, I would have to say ‘Se,’ from the movie Cinema Paradiso.”
So, let’s listen to the guys sing this amazing song!

 

I hope you liked Cooking Pasta for Piero and I hope you try to make Pizza Margherita. As to me, I will leave the pizza making to the expert, Ignazio, as I’m sure Piero does!
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:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
Credits to the owners of Photos and Videos.
Excerpts from: Il Volo, Un’avventura Straordinario, La Nostra Storia

COOKING WITH IGNAZIO BY SUSAN

Over the next three weeks, I will be traveling so I will share with you some old stories which I’m sure you will enjoy. I chose to start with the series Cooking Il Volo Style because not only do I tell you about foods from the regions the guys live in, I also tell you a little bit about the history of those regions.
I remember when I first wrote this series, a woman wrote to me to say that her husband enjoyed reading the histories so much that he finally is going to take her to Italy. It seems he made some connection with Piero and Ignazio’s stories since his family was from Sicily.

Originally, my decision to write about this was made when I read Daniela’s article on *The Support of Il Volo about the porticos of Bologna being nominated for recognition by UNESCO. I remembered that I did a series on Cooking Il Volo Style and, with Ignazio’s recipe, I spoke about the Portico of San Luca.

Of the three, Ignazio certainly is the cook!

Where did this love of cooking come from? None other than Nina! You will recall in Ignazio’s story he said, “Nina gave me a passion for cooking.”

Today we will be Cooking with Ignazio and we will make Ignazio’s own recipe for Chicken Marsala. We actually have a video of him making it.
But before we begin, I think we need a song by Ignazio! I always listen to the guys sing when I’m cooking! It makes the preparation exciting!

Ignazio was born in and lived as a child in the region of Emilia-Romagna in the city of Bologna.  A few years back, Ignazio took up permanent residence in Bologna. So, let’s start in Bologna where Ignazio was born. I decided to include a recipe from both the Emilia-Romagna region and the region of Marsala where Ignazio moved to when he was 10 years old.

In an article posted by il Resto del Carlino, Ignazio was asked: What do the arcades mean to you?
Ignazio replied: I have wonderful memories, the Sunday morning walks with the family, in the center under the porticos. And then Lucio Dalla always mentions the porticos in his songs, I think of ‘Le Rondini’. A great emotional value, as well as in Bologna I also lived in a small village, Molinella, where I remember under the porticos there was a lady who made fresh pasta. There we bought tortellini and then at night they were wonderful! If I could, I would always take long walks.
So, Tortellini it is!
Let’s begin with some history of Bologna where Ignazio was born and some history from Marsala where Ignazio moved to at the age of 10.

Bologna is a city in northern Italy that is about a one-hour drive north from Florence. Over the centuries, Bologna has acquired many nicknames: “La Grassa” (the fat) refers to its cuisine, in which the most famous specialties are prepared using rich meats (especially pork), egg pasta and dairy products, such as butter and Parmesan cheese.
To discover Bologna, we need to step back in time to the 6th century BC when it was known by the Etruscans as Felsina. It was one of the most important settlements in the Po Valley. Bologna has numerous archaeological remnants of an early civilization.
Eventually, Bologna fell to the Romans, a colony was set up and it was renamed Bononia. Its strategic position on the ancient Via Emilia Road gave it a certain prestige in the area. During the Roman occupation of Bononia it is believed that as many as 20,000 people lived there.
When the Roman Empire declined in the 5th century AD, so too did the city. The city was sacked and variously groups such as the Goths, the Huns, the Lombards and the Visigoths occupied it. Bologna’s fortunes declined but, it managed to slowly regain its former political and economic stability.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the city expanded and extended beyond the confines of its defensive wall. It was in the mid-18th century that the **Portico of San Luca was built.

The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is known for its porticos. In all the cities the shops are covered by porticos so you can shop in any weather. Entire blocks are covered by porticos. The most famous being the Portico of San Luca. 

The history is quite long but briefly, the portico was built to protect the painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus (which is believed to have been painted by St. Luke) as it is processed from the Basilica of San Luca on the top of the mountain to the Basilica of St. Peters in the city center. The Portico was built to protect the painting from the rain. This procession happens every May. The San Luca portico is the longest covered walkway in the world.
Let’s turn to Marsala where Ignazio moved to when he was 10 years old.
But first, before we head to Marsala, let’s make a stop in Naples to listen to Ignazio sing his Pino Daniele medley?

Marsala is a town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily.  It is built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city of Lilybaeum, and within its territory is the archaeological site of the island of Mozia, an ancient Phoenician town. (Mozia is a small island, formerly known as Motia and San Pantaleo in the Trapani province, in Sicily. It lies in the Stagnone Lagoon and is generally included as a part of the commune of Marsala.)
The Carthaginian army set out to conquer Selinunte in 409 BC and landed and camped near the site of the later Lilybaeum. In 397 BC when the Phoenician colony of Mozia on the southwestern coast of Sicily was invaded and destroyed by the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius I, the survivors founded a town on the mainland nearby, the site of modern-day Marsala, which they called by a Punic name meaning “Town that Looks on Libya.”

                             TEMPLE OF SELINUNTE
The First Punic Wars began here when the Punic army landed at Lilybaion in 265–264 BC, then marched across Sicily to Messina.
Many armies invaded but, with the arrival of Arabic Berbers at the nearby Granitola mount the rebirth of the town started. The town was renamed Marsala. The modern name, Marsala, likely derived from the Arabic (marsā llāh) “God’s Harbor.”
Since the end of the 11th century, the area has been conquered by Normans, Angevin and  Aragonese troops. During this time, Marsala became wealthy, primarily through trade. However the blocking up of the harbor of Punta Alga, decreed by Emperor Charles V to stop Saracen forays, brought an end to this period of prosperity.

The development of Marsala wine at the end of the 18th century, headed by English merchant John Woodhouse, from Liverpool, who exported the fortified wine, triggered an economic expansion in Marsala. Other English and Sicilian businessmen followed his example, and it was in fact one of these men, Joseph Whitaker, who began excavating and piecing together the history of Marsala.
On May 11, 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi landed at Marsala, beginning the process of Italian unification.
On May 11, 1943, in the lead-up to the World War II, the Allies invaded Sicily, and an Allied bombardment of the town permanently damaged its Baroque center and claimed many victims.
The history of Bologna and Marsala are long and rich and, it would take too long to talk about here. Take the time to look it up. It’s interesting!
Food and emotion go hand in hand, but nothing is more emotional than a song by Ignazio! So, before we start cooking let’s listen to a very emotional song!

Now to the recipe. The first recipe today is Tortellini with Pesto Sauce and I’m going to make this very easy for you.
Let’s start with a little inspiration! These pictures are for those ladies who just can’t get enough of Ignazio!

I had to include the following picture because the reaction to this picture when I posted it as the cover to my story “A Man of Passion and Emotion,” made all the ladies delirious! It certainly is a photo full of passion and emotion!  Thank you, Ignazio!!!

I think that’s enough inspiration!
Let’s start cooking!
Tortellini with Pesto Sauce 
Tortellini is a ring-shaped Italian pasta stuffed with cheese or meat that is most traditionally served in broth. For our recipe we are using Pesto Sauce but, many people make it with tomato sauce. It can also be made with a tomato sauce with mushrooms or meat. Tortellini originates from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and it is particularly associated with Bologna. (Just a note Pesto Sauce has pine nuts in it so, if you are allergic to nuts or tree nuts perhaps you shouldn’t eat this.)

Tortellini with Pesto Sauce.
Ingredients:
Tortellini – there are different kinds of Tortellini. The most common is stuffed with cheese.
Pesto Sauce in a Jar (Pesto Sauce has pine nuts in it so, if you are allergic to nuts or tree nuts perhaps you shouldn’t eat this.)
Salt
Boil the water for the pasta. Add a handful of salt to the water. This will prevent the Tortellini from sticking together. When the water boils, throw in the Tortellini and follow the cooking instruction on the package.
For Pesto Sauce just open the jar and add it to the pasta. It is not necessary to heat. The hot pasta will heat it.

Now to Ignazio’s Chicken Marsala! It’s easy to make!
The ingredients are:
Chicken Cutlets (not too thinly sliced)
Marsala Wine
Flour
Olive Oil
Salt
Just a pinch of Cinnamon
In a frying pan add olive oil, salt, Marsala Wine (be careful when you add the wine because it is alcohol, and it could flare up) and a pinch of cinnamon. Keep the flame low until the Marsala is in the pan. Then slowly raise the flame but not too high. Dredge the cutlets in the flour and shake them off so you don’t have an excess of flour. When the liquid in the pan starts to bubble, carefully add the cutlets to the pan (you’ll see in the video when Ignazio added the cutlets, the liquid splashed back). Judge for yourself when it is done. Chicken cooks quickly.
Quick, easy, wonderful dinner! Don’t forget the wine. You can drink red or white wine with Tortellini and Chicken Marsala. In Sicily they drink many wines some from the De Bartoli Winery in Marsala. (I don’t know if we are related even though I know some members of my family went to Marsala in 1800 – 1850). I know everyone knows Cantine Fina, Kika’s family winery. For me it’s always Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. What can I say? My mother’s family is from Abruzzo!
With dinner there must be music! What could be better than Ignazio singing the very romantic “Quando l’amore diventa poesia?”

I know Ignazio would be happy if we tried this recipe which he made for the guys when they lived in LA.
Buon appetito!
For Ignazio, good food and family go together. The family’s Sunday dinners were an important part of their week. It was the one day every one could be together, go for a stroll and bring home some fresh pasta for dinner.
I hope you enjoyed Cooking with Ignazio! Before I end my story let me add one more song.
When asked if there was one song in the Morricone Tribute that Ignazio liked, he said, “I like them all but if I must choose it would be ‘Here’s to You’ because it is associated with a historical event!”

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:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
*To read Daniela’s story, “The Support of Il Volo” about the porticoes of Bologna being nominated for recognition by UNESCO. Go to: http://www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
**If you would like to read more about the Porticos of San Luca go to:
https://bolognauncovered.com/2019/01/18/walking-bologna-portico-san-luca/ 
Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

House Party by Susan

It seems since the new concerts have begun the guys are having lots of fun! My thought was, why let the guys have all the fun! We should have fun too. So, after writing about the Partita del Cuore last week, I went back and found some funny and entertaining videos. One of the videos actually was a follow up to the Partita del Cuore.
It seems that Alex Del Piero, had taken a picture with Piero after that fantastic play by Piero at the Partita del Cuore, and the other guys were not included. Del Piero said he felt bad about it. But no problem, he made for it up on House Party.
I know many of you have watched House Party on YouTube when the guys were on. For those of you who have never seen it, the host is Michele Hunziker.

Michelle Hunziker is a television host, actress, singer, and former model. 

In 2016 while Michelle was the host of House Party, Il Volo appeared on her show. The guys along with Michelle performed with many famous and interesting performers. Among them, Alessandro Del Piero, who they played against in the Partita del Cuore, one of my favorite Italian actors, Giancarlo Giannini, songwriter, singer and musician Gianna Nannini, singer Mario Biondi, singers Benji & Fede, among others.
We start our story today where we left off last week. The guys playing soccer with Alex Del Piero. Only this time, they are teams with Ignazio pairing with Del Piero and Gianluca pairing with Piero. Let’s go to the video to see how the match turned out….

Before the game began, Ignazio told Del Piero about his childhood when he played soccer with his friends. He said, “when I was a little boy behind, my house, there was a place we call nu puzzo (the well of water), this is the place where I played soccer with my friends.”
Of course, we remember this from Ignazio’s story about his childhood.
Ignazio continues, “since we are here with Alex we will pretend together. We will play some great football together.”
Michelle says, we have two teams Juventus and the rest of the world. Let’s Go! Ignazio and Del Piero for Juventus! And Gianluca and Piero for the rest of the world!
The game certainly needs no explanation with the exception of Piero saying his mistake should not be counted.
Del Piero said, “no sorry, sorry, sorry.” Even when Michele tries to reason with Del Piero in defense of Piero, he says, “no!” He won’t hear of it.

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Of course, Juventus won! So, Ignazio asked Del Piero to autograph his arm. And he joked, next time you will sing with us, yes?

Of course, when they were on the show they always sang. On one occasion they sang with Italian singer, song writer and musician, Gianna Nannini. Gianna and the guys sang, “Meravigliosa Creatura,” a song that was written by Gianna. 
If the name Nannini is familiar to you it’s because Gianna is the elder sister of former Formula One race car driver Alessandro Nannini. 

On some occasions Michelle would ask the guy’s questions about their career and family. On this occasion, Michelle randomly drew questions out of bowl.
Let me tell you what some of the questions were before you watch the video….
Michelle explains, the questions were suggested by the audience. When Michelle mixes the questions in the bowl, she says he hopes they didn’t ask silly questions, like what is your favorite color.
What did you do that was strange on stage?
Gianluca: It is not something that I did. It is something that someone in the audience did.  (Gianluca playing around the words)
Michelle wants to know what it was.
Gianluca doesn’t quite know how to say “bra” because it seems out of place.
Ignazio finally says, “what harm is there to say bra.” 
And Piero says, “when you go to the store to buy a bra don’t you say bra?”
Gianluca (continues): I was singing, and I go to finish. 
Michelle (interrupts):  Did it hit you?
Gianluca: No, no it hit my microphone while I was singing, then I looked at it and there was a phone number in Spanish because it happened in Mexico. And when I read it, it said “call me when you want.”
Michelle: Did you call?
Ignazio (jokes): But, no, he didn’t call because it was a man.
Michelle draws a question and puts it in her mouth. She says it is not appropriate!
Which one of you is the most gifted but not in the singing sense.
Ignazio: I can answer? Can I answer?
Piero: No, it is dangerous.
And Piero continues by starting a whole conversation about boys’ shoes. He says, “I must tell you it is equivalent to the size of the boys’ shoes, and he says Ignazio’s shoes are size 46.” They turn the whole question into a hot discussion.
Michelle has enough and she stops them. I think she feared where the answer might go!
Michelle goes back to the bowl.
Michelle: I see two simple questions. Okay, I will give you one of my own questions because I want to ask about when you perform in front of all those people.
In short, you sometimes have (an audience of) 30 – 40,000 people and it can happen in stadiums, how do you feel?
Piero: I think the emotion I feel as an artist is an indescribable thing. You find yourself in front of all those people. I think it’s a great fortune and we thank all the people who grant us this, them and all the people who love us every day.
Michelle: It is a great thing and then the beautiful thing is that you have remained with your feet on the ground because you know that is, is it not? You also have a very nice family behind you.
Ignazio: I think family is absolutely, important, they were the first to believe in us, no? And thanks to them, huh, we chased our dreams without ever making it an obligation. No, because many times it can happen that parents push their children too hard. The best advice I can give to parents is, just to have your children always chase their dreams and leave them free and let them live, let them chase even making mistakes, but there are you who maybe you can help them because that’s it. We are, we are lucky in double, no? We are lucky because we always have the opportunity to shoot with so many wonderful people, but we are also lucky enough to work.
Michelle: But working doing what we love doing, what I really like doing you should never have thought you would arrive there when you were I don’t know 10
Gianluca: As long as I never thought about the fact of how it happened, I sing because I like it and I feel like I’m really only 13, 14 every time I sing, I get on, I imagine me as a little one with that first emotion when I went up on a stage at my house in front of my house also in front of my family, I always feel the same way. And it’s nice, it’s nice to be here with you too. 

Now let’s listen to the guys sing with another great Italian singer ~ Mario Biondi!

In one episode, Michelle asks the question…What would your career be if you weren’t a singer?
Piero: What would my career be? It happened very early I was 14/15 years.
Michelle: but have you seen Sliding Doors? Here’s how, if your life hadn’t been this what kind of job would you have wanted to do right?

For Piero, the answer was I would have followed in the footsteps of my father the coachbuilder. 

Ignazio said he would follow in the footsteps of his mom and sister who worked in a pizzeria.
At the end of the question to Ignatius, Michelle offered Ignazio a piece of pizza and then says “you can eat it? Does it produce an astringent effect on the teeth?” What Michelle means is can he sing if he eats the pizza.
Michelle asked Gianluca, if you did not sing in the microphone what would you do?

Gianluca replied, what had I done, I remember at school that I had fun making caricatures of my friends of drawings and then I also started painting a little so probably the painter not the painter. Why not?

Ignazio asked Michelle what she would be. She replied, a ballerina.
The guys sing “Piove” while Michelle dances. This is an absolutely wonderful video!

Now let’s listen to a wonderful song by the guys….

Also appearing with the guys were Benji & Fede. They did a beautiful duet together!

Now for the final segment on House Party let’s listen to the guys sing New York, New York!

So, since the guys were singing about New York, let’s listen to an interview the guys did with Julia Papa from 1010 Wins! New Yorkers know this station very well!

When the guys were in New York they would stop by Home & Family for cooking lessons!  This was always fun.

Hey guys! We miss you on American TV! Time to do some of these fun shows again!
Since we’re talking about New York, how about if we go back and relive A Day In The Life of Il Volo in NYC. One of my favorite videos!

Michele, are you listening? The guys’ dream of singing at Carnegie Hall! And I want them to sing there too!
And of course, what would the story be without some funny Brotherly moments…

I know the guys enjoyed doing House Party. I hope you enjoyed reliving those moments with our guys!
We took a stroll around House Party, and it led us back to New York. Now, the only way to end this story is with a song from their concert at Radio City Music Hall. How about two songs. I was at Radio City for this performance on February 6, 2020. Totally amazing! Nothing like witnessing the guys perform at Radio City. Their dream and ours! Why let the guys have all the fun! Join them at Radio City Music Hall on September 27th. I’ll be there and you should be too!

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:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
Credit to the owners of photos and videos.

The Tenor by Susan

Recently I had a revelation. I always knew how fantastic Piero was but when he stepped on that stage in Verona, he blew me away! That amazing voice stepped up so many levels I couldn’t believe my ears.

After hearing Piero sing in Verona, I wrote, “I want to give you some of my thoughts about our spinto tenor.  Piero’s voice which always was amazing, always was powerful, and his presentation which always produced phenomenal climaxes in the concerts, has now become such a vibrant sound in our ears! His voice has expanded so much in the last two years.
Over this period, Piero has had the opportunity to spend unlimited time on his opera lessons. This is something that is not possible in his normal schedule. The intense opera lessons of the last two years have paid off with Piero standing at the door of La Scala! The intensity of his voice sends shivers up and down my spine! A truly amazing voice that has become even more powerful than it was! Phenomenal! Bravo Piero!”

As you know, Piero has been intensely studying the opera, Cavalleria Rusticana, these last few years and he brought to the stage at Taormina, for the first time, the beautiful aria, “Mamma, quel vino.” Taormina was the perfect setting for this opera because the opera is set in Sicily on Easter morning.
Opera isn’t only about the song it is about presentation. In an opera you need to feel the person who is singing the aria. You must feel the character. The words tell a story, but the character gives it life.
Piero makes you feel Turiddu’s final farewell with his mother and makes you understand that he knows he will lose the duel. You grieve for his loss even before he’s gone. That’s what opera and arias are about. With Piero’s delivery, you feel him bring the opera to a climax even before it’s over. The intensity of Turridu’s final moments with his mother are highlighted in this aria. I hope someday to hear Piero sing this opera at the La Scala.

This video presents Piero in 2014 and 2022 singing “No Puede Ser.”  In both presentations he is fantastic. 
The final story can only begin when THE TENOR has arrived! You have arrived Mr. Barone!
In my story about Ignazio and Gianluca, I wrote about passion. What about Piero’s passion?
What were his passions?

A while back I wrote about Piero’s passion. Yes, he certainly has a passion for his opera but, his passion went in other directions too.

Piero had a passion for Chemistry and Math but not for all of his school subjects. And, so, I introduce my personal favorite story about Piero, the Story of Denise!
We know if Piero had a passion, it had to be for music but, in this story, we find out he had no great passion for school but, he did have a passion, so to speak, for chemistry and math!
Piero tells us that he had good grades in school because of his secret weapon Denise….

                                    Denise’s Wedding Day
Piero said, “For Denise I should make a monument.”
Denise was Piero’s classmate for twelve years. The good grades were thanks to her. In the afternoon Piero would pick her up in his electric car, an E50, and they would study together. She repeated the lesson and he learned by what she was saying. Well let me have Piero explain it to you….
I did not like reading books, what could I do? The songs have always remained in my head right away, I listen to a song and after two, three times at most, I know all the words, but the lessons no, these do not come into my head even with the hammering. You imagine that once, out of despair, to memorize a history lesson, I gave it a reason, that is, I put it to music. But when I could not do this – that is, most of the time – I sat next to Denise, and I listened to her repeat the lesson. Or, in classwork, she wrote and did it, zac! She put the paper in the middle of the desk and, I copied. The professors probably knew but they never caught me and so they always gave me that half vote less than she, even if the tasks were the same. But, who cared, I was very happy.

I only liked two school subjects. All of you are thinking physical education. No. Physical education I did not like, I did not want to put on the tracksuit because I was fat and, I felt clumsy with the tracksuit. Today everything is different.
Piero lost fifty-three pounds and he likes to go to the gym. He also helped Ignazio to get involved with exercising when he was on his diet….
At school, I did not like gymnastics instead I loved chemistry. I had good marks which I earned by myself. No Denise. And I excelled in Math, in fact, I am so good, that I am the one of the three that runs with a bag full of all of our accounts.
As for the other school subjects, I was always ordered, I was studying only the necessary, I did what I could. It is not that I did not study because of bad will, it was that I had other projects and the professors knew and understood it. I was not a tramp that ran from morning to night with the motorbike, I was one who was at home studying piano, solfeggio, I had many commitments, I always had something to do.
I was known in the country, I never smoked a cigarette, never used drugs of any kind, never went to the disco, I never did stupid. In short, never.

If you ask Piero’s father, he will surely tell you about the wheelies with the motorbike. It was the only thing that he did not do right. His friends told Mr. Barone that Piero did wheelies and he got angry….
When I arrived at the roundabout in the center of the city, voom, I did a wheelie with the motorbike. Just that. But even in those cases I was very responsible. Do you know what I was doing when I was driving the motorbike? My father gave me sheets of newspaper, I put them on my chest, under my shirt and I went around so the wind did not enter my chest, understood? Full helmet, strictly integral.
If you’re wondering, yes, I was a little weighed in those years but, I was so controlled because, I had a thousand allergies that put my respiratory tract “in danger.” I never went to school trips, I could not go to the disco, I could not do certain things that all my peers did. But now, when I return home I go to the disco, we are never less than twenty, twenty-five people, and Dad is calm because I’m even more responsible than before and because in the group there are also people older than me, even forty years and married.

I like being with people much older than me because, even if I’m only twenty years old, I have to manage my life in a very serious way and at a certain point I had to ‘grow by force.’ It’s strange if I think about it, because that little boy Piero, who was attentive to everything he did, so as not to ruin his voice, and not to get some asthma attack, would never have imagined becoming a singer. He had other plans.

Given his asthma and allergies, the one place you would never find Piero as a child was on a soccer field. So, it’s no wonder when he played in the Partita del Cuore for Charity everyone was blown away but no one more so than Alessandro Del Piero.

                               This is one of my favorite videos
Let’s begin with the fact that Ignazio and Gianluca grew up on a soccer field. They played every day. In the video you will notice that the reporters, who were making fun of the guys when they went into the game, changed their tune when they saw Ignazio and Gianluca play. But the big surprise was Piero.
So here, our Piero, who doesn’t know the what for, of a soccer ball, decides he is going to tackle Del Piero.

Piero played so well that when he went up against Del Piero he surprised everyone with his moves.  Especially the guys! You could tell Del Piero was enjoying the game as much as the guys! He was hysterical laughing when Piero took him on! I don’t think he expected it!  You need to know that Del Piero has a wonderful sense of humor. He can be very funny.

NOTE: Alex Del Piero is widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of his generation, and as one of the best Italian players of all times. If you don’t believe me, ask Ignazio. Go Juventus!
Many of you may know Alex Del Piero. He joined the ESPN sports roster last year. Del Piero currently lives in Los Angeles where he opened a world class Italian restaurant called No. 10, representing his jersey number when he played for Juventus.

They say the hero of the game was Gianluca because he scored a goal and tied the score, but I say it was Piero. When questioned by one of the reporters about his moves against Del Piero our dear Piero didn’t even understand what the reporter was talking about! The reporter said, “he doesn’t understand but he has taken up the invitation of his friends and he is playing more advanced.”

No matter, the important thing is he played well, and the guys were very proud of him!
So, if he wasn’t playing soccer in his youth, what was Piero doing?

To answer that question, I would like to go back to an interview that Piero had with Marcella Lattuca in 2013. Marcella and Piero were in the choir together.
In the interview Piero talks about his beginnings but also about where he and the guys are in their career. The 19-year-old Piero is truly amazing, red glasses and all! It is a very interesting interview.
Marcella: Dear viewers, welcome to this new episode of Agrigentini Bella Gente (Inhabitants of Agrigento, beautiful people).
This episode is very special because I have the privilege to talk with a real star of international music. 19-year-old, Piero Barone, who I thank for the interview, has reached goals that perhaps, artists cannot reach, over a whole career.
Thanks Piero, for being our guest.
Piero: It’s a pleasure. We did the chorus together and today we are here to do this fantastic interview.
Marcella:  It’s true, you and I started in parallel, with a fairly considerable age gap, alas. You start from Naro, you were born in Naro, you have a family from Agrigento, and you start with the Little Cantori di Santa Cecilia. (The Choir of Santa Cecelia)
Tell us how you approached music.

Piero with his grandfather Pietro
Piero: I have always pursued this dream of music, I grew up in the middle of music with my grandfather, Pietro, and thanks also to my father’s constancy, because you know, sometimes there are moments, when you’re little, you play piano and you want to give up everything, but thanks to the constancy of my father, I always, always pursued this dream, first with the chorus of Santa Cecilia, studying with private teachers, and now fortunately, I’m here.
Marcella: Anyway, your career was born a few years ago, when you were really a child.
What was actually this turning point, which made you feel you wanted to do something more?
What was the spring?
Piero: In fact, there was not, because I always wanted to sing, but there was luck, thanks to my father, always, thanks to my father, to do a summer festival in Cosenza.
My father called me and told me “Do you want to do this festival? Let’s go and come back in 24 hours (by car), let’s go and come back.”

I replied, “Dad, are you crazy?” and he “Come on, let’s try, I drive, and you sleep in the car.”
For that selection they did not take me, but they gave my name to the editorial office of Ti Lascio una Canzone, Antonella Clerici’s program.
One day I was returning from the piano school, and I found my father on the phone with a lady Isabella Abiuso, and from there it all started, in fact my father asked me if I wanted to do that program and I replied, “Why not, let’s try.”

Marcella: You started as a soloist at Ti Lascio una Canzone, and then maybe fate played a special role.
Piero: Oh yes, we started this program as three singers, and now I, Ignazio and Gianluca are the group Il Volo. In the fourth episode, the producer Roberto Cenci, had the idea to join our voices, and from there started … the three tenors …. the Tryo, we changed name, but in the end, we decided to call ourselves Il Volo.

Immediately after the program, we signed a contract with Universal Music in Los Angeles.
Marcella: A little thing of nothing….

Piero (about the name): They wanted a short Italian name. Il Volo was a metaphorical name, Il Volo, to fly.
Marcella: Anyway, what I understood from your words, the one that followed you the most, was your dad, also because, being a minor, you could not go around alone.
Piero: My father and my grandfather – my grandfather discovered my voice, my father helped me. He is great and he has been a great support.
Marcella: So immediately after Ti Lascio una Canzone, you signed this contract with Universal, and you started your flight.
Piero: Yes, we signed a contract with Universal, with our producer Tony Renis and Umberto Gattica and our manager Michele Torpedine, and from there, the first TV, the first album, with the first album we sold 1 million copies. And now the new album “We Are Love” has been released, where there is also a duet with Eros Ramazzotti and with Placido Domingo.
Marcella: But when you tell these things, do you realize where you’ve come from and all the way you’ve come in such a short time?
Piero: This is nothing, we made this new album, but behind this album we have done lots of experiences, like, a tour with Barbra Streisand, 12 dates with her. She was a great teacher for us, and we learned so many things from her, like from many other great artists.
Marcella: I can afford to mention some reviews I read on the internet.

“EL PASO TIMES: Electrifying: the name of the group means the flight in Italian, perfect name for a trio of young tenors who conquers ever higher peaks,” just to name one, another:
“Beautiful and intense voices accompanied by beautiful harmonies that enchant the public by giving strong emotions,” this is the enthusiastic comment of the NEW YORK JOURNAL.
You are a trio, so you are dealing with two other guys who are the same age.
Piero: Ignazio and Gianluca
Marcella: Perfect. What is the relationship between you three? Is it really difficult to keep united, even if you go in one direction only?
Piero: This project was born as three friends, you know, living every day together, we have established a great relationship, we are like three brothers, because we share everything …. not everything. There is a great relationship, a great agreement.
Marcella: But you also perform individually?

Piero: No, no, our concert is the concert of Il Volo.
We have just finished a tour of 48 dates in America, this is the fourth tour. We have done an American tour, a South American, a European and another American just finished and now in 2013 we will do another South American, American and Europe.
Marcella: But for a boy of your age, you have spent most of your adolescence ….

Piero: On the plane
Marcella: In fact, what effect does it make, having left your friends, your country, was it tough? Then you had to approach even with a language that was not yours, you had to learn English.
Piero: English is fundamental, and we also had to learn Spanish.
Marcella: You have learned Spanish because now, however, you will start a tour, if I’m not mistaken in South America.
Piero: The second tour, and now there are great future projects, but I’ll tell you what we did in the last two months. We started at Rockefeller Center in New York, with the lighting of the Christmas tree, the Christmas season opens all over the world, the Christmas time. We were there, Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey, Tony Bennett, everyone was there.
Immediately after we sang for the Nobel Prize presentation in Oslo. We represented Italy because the Nobel Prize was given to the European Union.
There was Jennifer Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gerald Butler, Sial, it was a great experience.
Marcella: Informing me on the internet, I read that you have also become a style icon, because your fans have adopted this red eyewear look, is your brand?
Piero: If you come to our concerts, you find all the girls with red glasses, it’s really nice!
Marcella: And then you also have some very important fans, like for example …. say you …

Piero: We were in Panama and a friend called us and told us “Guys, read the interview in LA REPUBBLICA”, we go on the internet and we read they asked Placido Domingo, what music he is listening to at the moment, and he replied: “I listen to Il Volo, they are three jewels that the whole world should know.” And the nephew of Pacido Domingo, is a wild fan, crazy about us, he wears red glasses, the vest, the tie…. and from there was born the duet with Palcido Domingo.
Marcella: In fact, because in the last album, in addition to the duet with Ramazzotti, you also have one with Placido Domingo, which is one of the three historical tenors.

Piero: Domingo, Carreras and Pavarotti. We dedicated the song we sang together with Placido Domingo, “Il Canto,” to Pavarotti.
Marcella: It’s an extraordinary thing, and tell me, you said that you met so many famous people and I would like to know if any of these gave you advice, if they made you a “mentor” in addition to your grandfather and your dad.
Piero: The advice, be yourself, because the key to success is only one, talent and humility, because all the great artists are great people.
Marcella: The real ones.
Piero: Real ones, like Barbra Streisand, 70, and every night she entertains 25,000 people in America’s biggest arenas.
Now we have to start the tour with Barbra Streisand, in Europe. Unfortunately, it never happened)

Piero: American Idol, the jurors were: Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson. Steven Tyler is the singer of Aerosmith and in our new album we sang “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” but we did it in a classic Italian “Questo Amore Splendido” (Piero begins to sing the song), just beautiful. (This was one of Piero’s favorite songs.)

Marcella:  Nice to even hear it live.
Piero: We did Jay Leno, it’s the third time, Jay Leno is America’s most watched Tonight Show, Jay Leno and Larry King are the most famous, we sang “Beautiful Day” two weeks ago, which is the cover of U2.
Let’s say that of our album, people ask us, but your kind of music, what is it? We did two duets, one with Ramazzotti which is the top of pop and Placido Domingo, which is the top of classical music.
Marcello: So, you are versatile, you have shown your versatility and even those who gave you a kind of emulation of the TRIO of Tenors, like a bad copy of the trio, in the end it was denied.

Piero: This problem was, and there is, only in Italy, but you know, Italy is a very, very difficult country, but …. let’s do everything in time.
But the thing that makes us angry, and I have to say this, we participated in the Nobel Prize, we have represented Italy, the whole world talks about it, who does not talk about it: Italy.
Marcella: It seems we are a little xerophilous.
Piero: But we love our country, so we love it as it is.
Marcella: With the merits and the defects.

You said you spent most of your teenage years on the plane, but how did you stay in touch with your friends and study?
Piero: I always say that what we do is what we like to do, so if you love what you do, everything becomes easy.
Marcella: But how did you study?
Piero: I study again, because I lost a year with my work. But this year I graduate, study in hotels, on airplanes.  
I took the license. I did the theory in August and the guide in November.
Marcella: Even if in America? It’s not like you travel by car there.

Piero: Yes, I do. I drive my producer’s car. Sometimes I hire a Ferrari, or a Porsche, I like driving.
Marcella: And can you orient yourself? You are now a citizen of the world.
Piero: But the beautiful thing … “beautiful”, so to speak, because sometimes you lack freedom, especially in South America, we walk with the escort, in South America we have five bodyguards at the baggage claim because at the exit of the airport there are a thousand girls.
Marcella: They recognize you on the street, it is shocking!

Piero: We travel with cars darkened and armored because unfortunately South America is a dangerous country, but we love it and they love us, the girls chase us with taxis…. and shout, it’s nice!
Marcella: Are you afraid of this thing?
Piero: No, no fear, it fills you with pride and satisfaction because you understand that what you are transmitting reaches people.
Marcella: But this life is so stressful, how do you recharge? What is your secret to recharging?
Piero: It’s my family. Many people tell me “You have traveled the world,” and it is true, I miss only Japan and Russia, because they are two very strong markets, and we love them….
Everyone asks me “What is your favorite city? Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London, Paris?” My favorite city is Naro, Naro is my world.

Marcella: What’s your relationship with Naro?? After singing in faraway places, with immense crowds, when you arrive at Naro, do you have to re-program again?
Piero: No, Naro is my homeland, so every time it’s always a party.
Marcella: What is your relationship with Naro’s inhabitants?
Piero: Fantastic, I love them!
Marcella: Welcome you?
Piero: Yes, I go to buy fruit, I go to the hairdresser … it’s very nice!
Marcella: Perhaps paradoxically your country is the only place where you can roam freely.
Piero: With my little car, now I go around with my friends, I greet everyone, I am a very open type.

Marcella: It is a practice of our program, to ask what advice you would give to a person who has become a public figure, like you, to the Agrigentini boys who want to approach the art of singing, in this case.
Piero: My advice is always to follow your dream, never give up, there will be people who will say, “But come on, change jobs, change profession.” Never believe in them, believe in yourself, but when you arrive, stay where you are. Returning to the previous speech, I learned this from Barbra Streisand, and from all the great artists.
For example, we were on tour with Barbra Streisand, we were in the dressing room, and we hear a knock, I go to open and there is Sting, or Michael Bublé, David Beckham, Tom Hanks, all these great artists who knock on our dressing room, to have a photo, to greet us.
Marcella: This proves the fact that these great artists that have such long careers, it means that they remained what they were, it means that goodness of mind pays, beyond talent.

Piero: And then the humility even if it is really difficult to say what you are, if you do not have great people behind, like a big family, I am doubly lucky because I am a person that could follow his dream and get there. Yet we have not arrived, but we are working, we study a lot, and my second fortune is my family – a moral support, a daily support, my father travels with me only when there are concerts, because the tour is very stressful. But for promotions, I travel alone, and you know, in the morning, when I call home, they give me the charge to start the day.
Marcella: As a good Sicilian you have left the roots here, however you continually feed from your family.

Piero: When someone tell me “You know, when you speak, we hear the Sicilian accent, the Italian accent….” Let it be heard!
Marcella:  On the other hand, your pride, it is this and, I can say, you are also our pride and I believe I also interpret the thought of all the inhabitants of Agrigento who followed you.
Last question, what do you dream of doing “when you grow up?”
Piero: I’m studying lyric now, because that’s my dream, that world, it’s my dream, the lyric is another dimension, but you have to study … too much … and now I’m studying, thanks to my possibilities, I am studying in Bologna, with my teacher Sergio Bertocchi, a great teacher, and he is a great person. I’m studying an opera setting, however, always with Il Volo, Il Volo is always …. the group Il Volo …. IS IL VOLO. And so, my dream is that one day maybe, to do the Premiere to La Scala or in some theater.

Marcella: And we really wish you to stand out even more in this flight.
Piero: Before closing I have a gift, I brought you the new album of Il Volo, “We Are Love,” this is the deluxe version, with over eight unpublished songs, including two duets, and four covers, there are five Christmas songs.
Marcella: This is the advantage of interviewing these characters, but I accept it only if you sign it.
I wish you all the best.
Piero: It was really a huge pleasure.
Marcella: For me too.
Piero: When my father told me that they had called for this interview, I immediately said yes, let’s do it.
Marcella: I confirm it, because you have remained what you are.
Piero, thank you very much, Ad Maiora. (Towards greater things!)

What a totally amazing interview with a 19-year-old Piero!
I have to say for me, this was a strange story because I started at the end and went back to the beginning. But it was necessary to do that with this story because I needed you to see how far Piero has come. The absolutely powerful voice was always there, always, but the voice that Piero wants, the one that will bring him the greatest joy in life has just begun to appear. I know Piero always sang opera. That’s what a spinto tenor does but to be THE TENOR, to stand on the stage at La Scala that tenor has to present himself over the years. It’s a lot of hard work but Piero made it. He got there! And so, it seems, the final story has begun! All that’s left are the finishing touches!

One final note. The World Tour has begun! So happy you guys are back on stage. It was lonely without you!

To find a concert near you visit: http://www.ilvolomusic.com  and click on Tour

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:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
Credit to the owners of Photos and Videos