Tag Archives: Bologna

CHRISTMAS WITH PIERO, IGNAZIO and GIANLUCA by SUSAN

Christmas with Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca!

Our Italian Family!

Yes, Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca are our family! Why do I call them family? We’re their fans, yes, but, we are more than fans. We certainly do all the things that fans do but it goes deeper than that because our guys are different than other entertainers. The difference is the guys think of us as their extended family. Why? Very simply because they grew up with us. They spend more time with us than they do with their families. And they show us their love in everything they do. Think of how they treat us! When you meet them they embrace you. Most entertainers just want your praise and accolades. Not our guys! They want to know about us! They ask about our lives and our families. They listen to us and do things to please us. And think about how you spent your last nine months listening to their music and feeling secure with every song! So what is family? Family are the people who are there when you need them. When you’re sad you can always feel their love and their encouragement! Family is not just blood it’s the people who are there for us!

So let’s take a look at how our Italian family spends their Christmas.

The Christmas season starts in Italy on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary which is also a holiday in Italy. This is the day that many Italians put up their Christmas trees and the cities light up their streets with colored lights. Why? Because Mary is the mother of the Light, Jesus! But there are other traditions that are celebrated on this day!

Let’s go to Naro, Piero’s city, to see how they celebrate the Christmas season.

Every year, on the 7th, 8th and 9th of December, every inhabitant in Naro stocks up on muffuletti. Muffuletti is a bread which is stuffed with meat and vegetables. Some people go to their local baker to buy them and some people prepare them at home. The tradition is linked to religion. Naro’s sandwiches are blessed and distributed in Churches at the end of the Mass on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. The bakers donate the muffuletti to the Churches as a gesture of generosity towards their fellow countrymen but, above all, of love towards “a bedda matri ‘Mmaculata”, the Most Holy Immaculate.

During the month of December, the Christmas markets are held in Naro. The Fair is set up inside the cloister of the Town Hall. Many people go to the Franciscan cloister where, every evening, to the delight of the children, there is a special snowfall that whitens the baroque courtyard. On the final evening there is a concert of Sicilian folk music and an award is given for the best photo taken at the large Christmas tree in Piazza Garibaldi.

During this magical period the streets are colored by many Christmas lights and everyone visits the living nativity scene of Borgo Castello. There is Mass on Christmas Eve and between hugs, kisses and best wishes there are a thousand good intentions. And then, on Christmas day, the family gathers together for a dinner laden with many local delicacies.
And what would Piero do on Christmas day? Most likely, he will walk around Naro and visit some older people and his friends. He certainly would have decorated his home so I’m sure he will make a video for all of us to see. He will most likely sing at the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Mass. And I’m sure he will spend time singing with his grandfather, Pietro. Most importantly, he will spend the day with his family!

Christmas in Bologna! How does Ignazio celebrate Christmas?

Unlike Piero and Gianluca, Ignazio and his family live in a big city and like cities in America there are many events.
The Christmas tradition in Bologna has deep roots. The Bolognese Nativity Scene (Presepe) goes back to the middle ages. The tradition of the Presepe dates back to the 13th century and one of the oldest Presepe in the world is preserved in Bologna. What makes the Bolognese Nativity different? It is life size and includes clothes that are different from the traditional Neapolitan style. They are dressed in a medieval style. In Porretta Terme in the Emilian Apennines another Presepe which is one of the oldest Presepe in the world is kept in the church of Capugnano.
I’m sure Ignazio will visit the Christmas Tree in Piazza Nettuno. It is a Bolognese tradition. The beautiful tree is a welcoming and bright place to meet friends and feel the warmth of Christmas.
So, what will Ignazio’s family eat on Christmas? I’m sure on Christmas Eve there will be fish on the table. This is the tradition in every Italian house on “La Vigilia,” Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, there is another tradition. Lunch is the main meal and Pasta in brodo (pasta in broth) will certainly be served. In Bologna, it’s all about meat-filled tortellini in capon broth. These, small, ravioli, are filled with a mixture of meat, mortadella and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese but you will find in Bologna every family has its secret ingredient for them. You’ll recall in a recent interview, Ignazio mentioned his family buying Tortellini every Sunday.

The soup will most likely be followed by a roast and the meal will end with a traditional dessert like Certosino (or Pan speziale) which is made with almonds, pine nuts, dark chocolate and candied fruits. The recipe has its origin in the Middle Ages where Certosino was produced by pharmacists and later by Certosini Friars. Certosino is very popular in Bologna.

Having said this, I will say, since Ignazio is vegan, there are certain parts of this meal he won’t eat. He will certainly eat the dessert! What I do know is by tradition, Ignazio will join his family to celebrate Christmas Day!

So what will Gianluca do on Christmas?

A Montepagano tradition is the Nativity scene. At the end of the last century a famous living Nativity play was started in Montepagano which is a real theatrical performance, with a director and a narrator.

In the Abruzzi region, there is a tradition that bagpipers, so called zampognari come into the towns and play their flutes and bagpipes for the people. They symbolize the shepherds who come in search of the new born baby, Jesus. The bagpipers were once shepherds, today they are musicians who walk the streets of the cities, playing Christmas music. Often they are in pairs and one plays the zampognari (bagpipe) and the other the ciaramella (which is similar to a small piccolo).

For certain Gianluca will celebrate December 24th, Christmas Eve with a meal of fish including shellfish because he lives by the sea. As far as food traditions are concerned, on Christmas Day, the typical dish of the whole region of Abruzzo is spaghetti alla chitarra (which is prepared on a particular instrument called a guitar, because it is made of wood with metal strings) but most likely Gianluca will eat Lasagna. The second course will be arrosticini, which are pieces of meat, traditionally lamb, strung on long sticks, similar to a kebab. And for dessert, they will most likely have the traditional Christmas cake, Panettone.
Gianluca will surely spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with his family including his Grandpa Ernesto!

If you’re wondering where Santa Claus is, in Italy he is known as “Babbo Natale,” Father Christmas, who brings presents to children on Christmas Eve but, in true Italian style, gifts are exchanged on January 6th the day of Epiphany when La Befana comes to Italian homes in search of the Christ Child and leaves gifts for the children. This is a tradition that is celebrated in the central regions of Italy.  La Befana is an old woman, with a hooked nose, badly dressed, with a handkerchief on her head, grumpy but good, she is not a witch. On January 6th, riding through the sky, flying on a broom, La Befana lands on the roofs, enters the houses from the chimneys and descends from the fireplace, leaving gifts and sweets in the big socks that the children place in front of the fireplace. If they were good, they get sweets. If they were bad, she leaves coal in the form of a sweet black candy. I’m sure there will be many sweets for Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca!

I would like to mention an important member of Il Volo’s family. Michele Torpedine!  His family is originally from the region of Puglia. He moved to Bologna when he was twelve years old. So he will celebrate Christmas with his family and the celebration would be similar to Ignazio’s!
I would like to thank two people who contributed to this Christmas story. Maura Pucci and Giovanni Granaro. Their knowledge of the regions of Montepagano and Naro and the different Christmas traditions made this story come to life!
In closing, I would like to thank two ladies who make all my stories come to life! Daniela Perani (a/k/a Sherlock Holmes) who is my second pair of eyes and provides all the photos and videos for my stories and Patricia Ward who does the layouts and final uploads for the stories.

I want to wish all of my Christian friends a Merry Christmas and all my Jewish friends a Happy Chanukah! And all my other friends, All the Happiness and Joy of the Season!

And finally I’m sure you will join me in wishing Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca and their families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with many Concerts!

 

 

Credit to owners of all photos.

COOKING IL VOLO STYLE by SUSAN

Ignazio’s Chicken Marsala and Tortellini with Pesto Sauce

When I read Daniela’s article on The Support of Il Volo about the porticoes of Bologna being nominated for recognition by UNESCO, I remembered that I did series on Cooking Il Volo Style and with Ignazio’s recipe I spoke about the Portico of San Luca. So, I decided to share this series with you again.
Today we will make Ignazio’s own recipe for Chicken Marsala. We actually have a video of him making it. But let’s start in Bologna where Ignazio was born. I decided to include a recipe from the Emilia-Romagna region.
Originally I made Gnocchi but in Daniela’s article Ignazio said on Sunday morning walks, with the family, in the center, under the portico there was lady who made fresh pasta and he said they would buy Tortellini from her. 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. Let’s start with Bologna.
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.
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 NormanAngevin 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 11 May 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi landed at Marsala, beginning the process of Italian unification.
On 11 May 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!
Now to the recipe. The first recipe today is Tortellini with Pesto Sauce and I’m going to make this very easy for you.
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 Ignazio’s chicken.
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 De Bartoli wine 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). For me it’s always Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. What can I say? My mother’s family is from Abruzzo!

By the way, I know Ignazio is Vegan but, I think he would be happy if we tried his recipe which he made for the guys when they lived in LA.

Buon appetito!

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

THE SUPPORT OF IL VOLO by Daniela

Il Volo often offers its support for actions that we are sometimes not aware of. I was reading various news items when one came to my attention.
The newspaper article headline:
“Italy nominates the porticoes of Bologna for UNESCO recognition.”
I immediately thought: Bologna = Il Volo, because we all know that Piero, Torpedine, Ignazio and family live in Bologna.
So I looked for other news related to this topic and I found a newspaper article that headlines:
“Bologna, porticoes protected by Unesco. Il Volo and Rizzoli support the candidacy.”
I translate for you what the article below says.

il Resto del Carlino Article – Click Here

The VIPs to support the candidacy of the porticoes of Bologna to Unesco heritage. Many, from Luca Carboni to Cesare Cremonini, from Gianni Morandi to Cristina d’Avena (Italian singers) and Stefano Accorsi (Italian actor), should be contacted.
Not to mention that Il Volo, Nicola Rizzoli (referee) and Andrea Roncato (actor) have already given their availability. Il Volo explains why.

IL VOLO

Both live in the metropolitan area of Bologna, Piero Barone and Ignazio Boschetto, two of the three members of the award-winning musical group Il Volo (the third is Gianluca Ginoble). The first lives in the center, the second in the province and he was also born there in Bologna, but there is no distance to their acute “amore” (Grande, of course) for the porticoes of Bologna. “Will they call us for events and initiatives to support the candidacy for UNESCO heritage? We will absolutely be there, we promise,” they assure in unison.
What significance do the porticoes have for you?
Ignazio Boschetto: “I have wonderful memories, the Sunday morning walks with the family, in the center under the porticoes. And then Lucio Dalla always mentions the porticoes 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 porticoes there was a lady who made fresh pasta. Down there we bought tortellini. And then at night they are wonderful, if I could, I would always take long walks.”
Piero Barone: “The porticoes in Bologna save you. I love running and practically from via Indipendenza to San Luca, even in the rain, you can move around protected by the porticoes, in a great way. The porticoes represent the beauty of Bologna, a unique city that manages to make you feel at home. And that of the porticoes is like an embrace.”
What is your portico of the heart? Is it linked to any particular experience?
Piero: “The hilly part of the portico of San Luca. With my friends we go for a run on that wonderful stretch and when we are down we take a smoothie all together. Very beautiful. Then of course, there are also others, such as the porticoes of via Santo Stefano and those at the corner of via Righi and via Alessandrini: if you throw a high note there an incredible rumble comes out.”
What would you say to the UNESCO judges to promote the candidacy?
Ignazio: “The love of Parisians for the Eiffel Tower is personal, like the love of the Bolognese, I believe linked to the porticoes for that sense of protection. And they are unique.”
Piero: “Bologna is the only city in the world where there are 38 kilometers of porticoes. It is unique and they deserve to be protected.”
But what exactly are we talking about? The porticoes of Bologna are one of the symbols of the city. It is a long construction of about 42 km that from the city center leads to the sanctuary of S. Luca.
On January 21, 2020, the decision of the Governing Council of the Italian National Commission for Unesco was approved, together with the Minister of Cultural Heritage. However, we will have to wait another year to know the outcome of the candidacy.
Let’s not forget that the porticoes of Bologna were the background in the video of the beautiful WE ARE LOVE !!

We also recall that in 2017, Il Volo shot an advertising spot, right in Piazza S. Stefano, with the beautiful porticoes in the background.
Here are the photos of some moments of that commercial for Ferrero Rocher (Nutella). 
And below is the video of “Golden Symphony: Una Navidad Dorada” which aired in Mexico in December 2017.
At the beginning of the video we see Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca strolling in front of the porticoes of Bologna.
The views of Bologna are really beautiful.
But, if you have time, also enjoy the whole event, with the beautiful songs of our boys.

Very well guys, this affection for the city that hosts you does you a lot of honor.
And it is nice that you have given your availability to support this UNESCO candidacy.
Bologna and all of Italy could not have better ambassadors than you: Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca !! ❤❤❤
Daniela

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

IL VOLO ON THE ROAD TO PBS by SUSAN

Nine years ago, PBS introduced America to three teenage Italian boys, Il Volo.
Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca grew up on PBS. From their first concert on October 27, 2011 at the Detroit Opera House, they won the admiration of the American people. These three teenagers stole the hearts of the American people and they continue to do so today. They have done 6 concerts with PBS over the past 10 years. Their last concert in 2019 in Matera, Italy was to celebrate their ten years together as Il Volo.
They introduced America to a new style of music. Operatic pop and classical music! A very different kind of music for teenagers. Il Volo’s aim was to show young people how good this music is. They won over the children, parents and grandparents. They were an immediate sensation. America fell in love with them.
On the Ninth Anniversary of Il Volo’s concerts on PBS, let’s look back at how they started on this road.
Over the last year I have shared Il Volo’s life story with you, their fans. Now it’s time to go back and see how they landed on this road. Let’s travel back in time to where it all began in Naro, Bologna and Montepagano!
Piero’s best memories as a child were his Sunday dinners with his family which included every family member from his great grandmother, Lina, all the way down to his cousins who were more like brothers and sisters. And he recalls summers in the countryside with his entire family. Piero says, “I swear they were perhaps the most beautiful days of my life, and I will never forget them.”
Let’s take a closer look at one of these stories.
Discovering Piero!
Piero’s discovery starts in the Garden of Pietro Ognibene’s (Piero’s Grandfather) house.  
As was his custom, Piero’s grandfather Pietro, would come out on the terrace every morning and find a cool place to sit. Pietro always had a recorder with him. He has been blind for many years and he uses the recorder to record music, recite poetry and compose songs. Piero says, “When I think back to the first images I have of him, he is sitting on the terrace in the country with a stereo in his hands.”
On this morning Piero is the garden on the Altalena, an old fashioned swing that is hanging from a mulberry tree, and on the terrace, Pietro is preparing to record a song. It’s just a little song. The song is only two lines and it is pure Sicilian. Pietro begins to sing. E lu suli talia, talia, talia. Sopra ‘sta petra luci ci duna, that is and, the sun, look, look, look, to this stone gives the light.
Piero recalls, “I was swinging on the swing, I was about four or five years old, I was really, very small. I listened to him a little and at a certain point, when he stopped singing, I started: E lu suli, talia, talia, talia. Sopra ‘sta pedra luci ci duna. What can I tell you? It just came out like that.”
His grandfather turned off the recorder and called his wife. Rina came out on the terrace and he asked her, “Unni è Piero?” (Where is Piero?)
She replied, “In Altalena” (He is on the swing)
Pietro asked, “Ma cu cantava? Iddru?” (But who was singing? He?)
She replied, “Eh, si.” (yes)
He told Rina to call him.
So, Piero got up and went to his grandfather. Pietro lifted him up and put him on the table next to the recorder and told him to “sing the song again.” Piero sang the song exactly as his grandfather sang it. He listened to Piero sing the song and then he made the decision to go to his friend Antonio’s house to record it.
Antonio a friend of Pietro had in his home what was called at that time a “recording studio”. It was not very big but, it did have a bigger stereo and a microphone. So, that afternoon they recorded Piero singing his grandfather’s song in Sicilian. But it didn’t stop there!
The meeting with Mimmo Riolo, in the Garden of the Riolo House.
The next day Pietro and Piero went to the countryside to the Riolo’s house. Piero’s grandparents had a country house and the Riolos were their neighbors. Pietro had a good relationship with Mr. Riolo, they were family friends. At the Riolo house, they all sat together under a carob tree because the air was always fresh under that tree. While the men talked, Piero ate prickly pears.
Pietro said to his old friend, “You know, Mimmo, yesterday I discovered that my grandson has a nice voice.”
Mimmo thought about it for a moment and came up with an idea. “I want Piero to listen to one of my favorite singers.”
Piero recalls, “And this is how I listened for the first time to Un Amore Così Grande by Mario del Monaco. And I learned it right away, but right away. My grandfather was very proud. And something told me the next day we would go to record Un Amore Così Grande at Antonio’s house.”
The day after they visited Mr. Riolo, they went to Anotonio’s house to record Un Amore Così Grande.
That evening the family met for dinner in the countryside, as was their custom, in the summertime.
In the Garden of Piero’s Grandparents House
This evening would be the beginning of Piero’s journey to stardom. After dinner all the kids played soccer while the adults went outside to chat and enjoy the cool of the evening on the terrace. But this evening would be a little different.
On the Terrace of Piero’s Grandparents House
When they finished dinner, Pietro called his wife. “Rina, get the recorder.” Rina brought in the recorder and placed it in front of Pietro. The recorder was already prepared with the cassette. Pietro turns to Piero’s dad and says, “Listen to this voice, Gaetano.” He pushes play and starts the recording of Un Amore Così Grande.
Gaetano is amazed, like he has just heard a good thing, and he says, “It’s beautiful, who is it Daddy?” (he calls his father-in-law Daddy.)
Pietro says, “Piero.”
Silence.
Gaetano has a questioning looking on his face “How did Piero?”
Pietro says, “So”.
On that night Piero’s life changed!
In Ignazio’s story, I found out that he is an excellent writer. He is the only one who wrote his story. Ignazio is very articulate. His words just fly off the page. Ignazio’s mother says and I agree, “Ignazio is very serious and responsible.”
Let’s see how Ignazio views this time in his life.
Il Volo with Jim Masters and Lee Newton
Discovering Ignazio
Ignazio says, “My story is not a fictional story even if it seems to be one of those dreams that you never want to wake up from.”
Ignazio learns to play Nina’s piano
Ignazio remembers, “When I was three or four years old – I played with the piano my parents had given my sister, Nina. My mother says I was one years old when I played. Nina taught me to play Happy Birthday with one finger.”
Ignazio’s School in Bologna
Ignazio says, “I do not remember the first day of school, but I certainly did not take long to get noticed. If you’re thinking of scenes of me being put in the middle of the class to sing, forget it. I had a passion for music but, I had an even greater passion for pranks. I tell you, since I started talking and walking, mine was an escalation of agitation.”
Ignazio Joins the School Choir
With the passage of time, I found something good to do at school, that is, an activity that was able to hold my interest enough to prevent me from slipping into some disaster. I joined the school choir. I always liked to sing, to be ‘in the middle’ of the music. And more and more passionately I began to understand how to make better use of Nina’s famous pianola. I learned how to start the musical bases and flip through them. And that’s when I discovered La Donna È Mobile. I liked it so much that I sang with the base and invented words. I don’t remember the words but, it certainly was a song about Pavarotti. Having seen Pavarotti on TV, I knew he always had a big handkerchief so I would invent text and sing on the air La Donna È Mobile.
In 2004 at the age of 10, Ignazio’s family moved back to Marsala and opened a Pizzeria.
While the pizzeria grew, a passion grew within Ignazio. It was a passion for electronics and music.
Ignazio’s mother opens Pizzeria dei Desideri in front of their house.
In 2005 Pizzeria dei Desideri was completed and, within a few months Caterina already had regular customers and since the pizzeria was right in front of the house, when Ignazio sang, the customers heard him.
One day a gentleman said to Caterina, “You know, my daughter is studying singing, why don’t you come with your son once? Even just to try.”
Ignazio’s Meeting with Lilliana Andreanò in Marsala
Ignazio recalls, “I remember it as if it were yesterday…. I was eleven. I wore a yellow shirt with green stripes, fashion was never my strong point. Arianna, the daughter of the pizzeria customer, who had heard me sing, and her mother and I waited in front of the school for more than twenty minutes for Liliana Andreanò, the singing teacher. Lilliana Adreanò, arrived in a grey Opel Astra. She got out of the car and immediately entered the school.
Ignazio says: “I was worried, almost embarrassed. Hard to believe, right? Even as a child I’ve never been the type to be speechless. Lilliana begins to talk about music, what kind of songs I like to sing. It was already a strange thing because usually I just sang, no one asked me why and how. You know, Liliana I like to sing Giorgia’s songs.”
Lilliana said: “Strange for a kid to sing this kind of song.” She asked, “And which song of Giorgia would you like to make me listen to?”
Gocce Di Memoria (Drops of Memory), Ignazio said. “I didn’t even have a doubt. I start singing and Liliana was amazed by my extension but asks me to try a male song too. I thought a little bit and then I said to her: sometimes I even sing Con Te Partirò by Andrea Bocelli. I started singing and, when I finished Liliana told me: ‘Ignazio, this is your musical direction’.”
Ignazio continues: “From that first lesson I began to study songs like Il Mare Calmo Della Sera, Un Amore Così Grande and all those that came to mind, and I liked it. It approached that genre that was not lyrical, it was modern music but with something classic. With Liliana I found myself, very comfortable. We understood each other immediately because she is a sociable person, simple, as are all of us in my family.”
After several lessons, Lilliana proposed that Ignazio take part in a bullfight (competition) organized in Paolini.
Ignazio says: “I wasn’t completely convinced that I wanted to get on a stage. Until that moment I had only thought about singing, but I had never seriously thought that all that singing one day could bring me into the spotlight.”
Ignazio performs in his first Competition in Paolini
Ignazio says, “I was about to get on the bullfight stage. My legs were trembling, the butterflies in my stomach were no longer butterflies but crazy swallows.
I decided to participate with the song by Bocelli Con Te Partirò (Time to Say Goodbye), a song that I had studied and re-studied with Liliana, but as soon as the music started I had a terrible fear of forgetting the words. So, what did I do? I looked down all the time. So, the audience, the place, what happened around me while I was singing, it’s not that I do not remember anything, I just do not know because I only saw the tips of my feet.
Fortunately, however, I remembered all the words and it is not so obvious because sometimes it happens that I forget the words even today now that I have become professional, the emotion continues to take us despite everything and.… I came in third.”
Once the ice was broken and the stage panic was over, that ended up being just the first of many competitions for Ignazio.
As to Gianluca I was surprised to find out he was such a romantic. Everything that is important to him is a passion. He invests himself in what he loves and believes in: Family, Music, Country and Soccer! Above all, Gianluca loved to sing. Music was his whole life! Gianluca said, “Singing makes me feel good.”
Discovering Gianluca
Garden of Gianluca’s house facing the beach of Roseto degli Abruzzo.
Gianluca says, “I am from the town of Montepagano, Abruzzo. To be precise, I grew up, in Montepagano, on a hill two hundred meters as the crow flies and ten minutes by road from the sea, and Roseto degli Abruzzi.”
Gianluca continues, “My life as a child seems so far away. I remember very little of my childhood! I’m not like Ignazio I was born and raised in Montepagano. I was traveling only with dreams. What made me dream? Music naturally. Dad and mom realized that I had something special in my voice when I started to sing at the age of three or four years.
Town Square of Montepagano
My parents tell me when I was three years old I sang O Sole Mio in the town square in front of all the elderly gentlemen friends of my grandfather who, sitting around the bar table, were listening to this little boy with such a particular voice.”
Gianluca continues, “This was my first audience but, of course, I don’t remember it. My grandfather wanted me to study music, he always told me: ‘Gianluca, study the piano, study an instrument.’ I’ve never done it. It would be a dream to sit down on the piano and start playing and singing.” (Since this statement, Gianluca has studied piano and now he plays quite well.)
While his grandfather made him listen to classical music, Pavarotti and music from the Fifties-Sixties, his father made him feel Fabrizio De Andrè, Francesco De Gregori, Giorgio Gaber, Antonello Venditti and, as he grew older, he became more passionate about singing, including the great American classics, first of all, Frank Sinatra.
Gianluca says, “I never, never would have thought that…. I could make music my life. I only sang because it made me feel good. Then what happened? I do not know exactly, because everything happened very quickly.”
The phone call that changed it all!
“It was 2008 when my father received a call from Licia Giunco.”
Who is Licia Giunco. She’s an incredible woman, known throughout Italy for being the creator of an annual event called Sport for Life, a great international ice-skating gala. For the gala, skating champions come from all over Europe to participate. The reason for Mrs. Giunco’s phone call was Gianluca’s performances with the choir.
“We have a great talent here in Roseto,” Mrs. Guinco told Mr. Ginoble. I would like to bring him to RAI (Italian TV Station).”
Gianluca says, “My father had never thought about it. My parents had never even imagined that I would participate in competitions, let alone send me for an audition for television.”
“Let’s try,” Mr. Ginoble replied, “It would be a great opportunity.”
Each boy has now been set on the road to PBS so where did they go from here?
Over the years, each boy approached his musical education in a different way.
After his discovery in the garden, Piero embarked on a classical music education.  He began piano lessons at the age of 8. At 10 years old he joined the Little Singers of the Philharmonic Association – Santa Cecilia of Agrigento. And then he began the competitions around Sicily.
Ignazio continued his singing lessons moving on to other teachers as he progressed. He took three years of piano lessons. His relationship with Lilliana Andreanò continued. She advised him every step of the way right up to his audition at Ti Lascio Una Canzone which she convinced him to do. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
Gianluca, unlike Piero and Ignazio, never had a singing lesson or piano lesson. Gianluca joined the Piccolo Choir of Roses. At one of their events, he was discovered.
As you know, the three teenage boys came together on the Ariston Stage in Ti Lascio Una Canzone for the performance of O Sole Mio and stepped off the stage and embarked on the road to stardom.
They came in first, second and third. Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero. But the biggest prize was becoming Il Volo.
They signed a contract with Universal and recorded their first album.
In 2010 when they arrived in America, they took it by storm. After their performance on American Idol, they sky rocketed to the top of the Billboard charts.
What happened next? And, so, we arrive at PBS. But let me turn the story over to the guys. They will tell you about what happened after Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
“Spotlight” Producer Paul Larson just minutes before going on stage at Place des Arts in Montreal, Quebec spoke with the guys about their career after their performance on PBS. So, I invite you to watch this amazing video and listen to what the guys have to say about their beginnings and their future!

PBS Spotlight Video – Click Here

The guys have grown in their music and now they continue to bring their bel canto around the world.
We look forward to their 10th Anniversary with PBS. Stay tuned for more stories about Il Volo and PBS as we approach their 10th year of collaboration!

 

Credit to owners of all photos and video.

Il Volo Off to the Races Again By Giovanna

The November stage of the 2020 Formula 1 Grand Prix had some special guests.  Il Volo was invited to sing the Italian National Anthem before the start of the Sunday, November 1 race to re-inaugurate the Ferrari Imola Course in Emilia-Romagna, which is hosting its first competition after years of renovation.   Down below, there’s link to Il Volo’s pre-race performance below for you to enjoy.

The Imola Course is only 25 miles east of Ignazio’s home in Bologna.  We all know that the Il Volo guys, especially Ignazio, have a love of fast machines in general, and Formula 1 racing in particular.  This was Ignazio during their 2019 summer off, at the Red Bull Formula 1 race car “stable,” and the Triscina Go-cart Track.  La Vela’s photo is just Igna being his usual self with children.

If you’re not familiar with Formula 1 racing, here’s the short story.  To quote my son Barry, “It’s the fastest cars in the world on the toughest, curviest tracks on earth.  It’s the best of the best.”  Spoken like an Italian.

If you didn’t know, the Ferrari course at Imola has not hosted Formula 1 racing for 14 years. The translated article below explains why. 

The Enzo and Dino Ferrari International Racetrack hosted Formula 1 for the last time in 2006. In the same year, the reconstruction and modernization work began, which lasted throughout 2007. The pit area was completely rebuilt; the only surviving building is the historic and former Marlboro Tower (now sponsored by Aruba). The changes to the route, carried out under the direction of the architect Hermann Tilke, led to the elimination of the “Lower Variant” for cars. Over the years, work has been carried out to adapt the track to the increasingly high standards required to host international competitions. This led to obtaining the Grade 1 License necessary to host Formula 1.

Author’s note: Next is a translation of two articles and the lead photo that appeared in the Italian media this week announcing Il Volo’s appearance to sing the Italian national anthem (il Inno di Mameli). 

IL VOLO OFF TO THE EMILIA ROMAGNA FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX TO PERFORM THE NATIONAL ANTHEM

The boys of Il Volo Chosen to Perform the National Anthem on the Occasion of the Emilia Romagna Formula 1 Grand Prix Set for November 1. 

The guys from Il Volo will sing the National Anthem before the Emirates Formula 1 Grand Prix in Emilia Romagna, a beautiful event two months after having excited the audience of the Verona Arena at the Seat Music Awards.  Music and sport, an essential combination which is often talked about together.  Power cars are undoubtedly an expertise of our country, and in particular the Formula 1 world championship represents an important opportunity to highlight the “Made in Italy” brand.

In this untypical sports season, Italy has been home to three (race) stages.  After the two already staged in Monza and Mugello, Formula 1 will be on November 1 in Imola on the historic racetrack dedicated to Enzo and Dino Ferrari.

To celebrate a return of the highest category of auto racing to Imola, the trio of Il Volo was chosen, specifically to emphasize the importance of “Made in Italy.”  A performance to the notes of the national anthem at the Dino Ferrari International Racetrack will get the television audience excited, before concentrating on the curves and straights of the racetrack on the banks of the Santerno.

Author’s note: A few years ago, when Piero cut off the long “cuiffo” (flipped up curl) that he used to wear on the front of his hair, he explained on Instagram, “I got rid of it because it felt like I was wearing the last turn of the racecourse at Mugello on my head.”  Does anybody remember this look?

By the way, the boys have performed at the Grand Prix before.  The Flight Crew covered their visit to a Grand Prix a few years ago, at the Etihad Airlines Track in Abu Dhabi in the Emirates, pictured here.

Is it obvious which two love cars, and which one loves clothes?

On with the articles!

IL VOLO GOES TO THE EMILIA ROMAGNA GRAN PREMIO (GRAND PRIX)

Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble have agreed with enthusiasm to participate in this prestigious event.  The three guys are long-time fans of Formula 1 and proud to represent Italy.

From the boys themselves:

“It is an honor for us to have been invited to the Grand Prix and to once again interpret the Mameli anthem (Italy’s national anthem). Every time we’ve had this opportunity, it was not easy to hide our emotions!  We thank the President of Formula Imola, Uberto Selvatico Estense, and wish a big ‘ in bocca al lupo’ to all the drivers.”

If you don’t know that expression, it’s literally “Into the wolf’s mouth” and is the Italian way of saying “Good luck.”   

The President of Formula Imola, Uberto Selvatico Estense, continues.

“I am really pleased to publicly announce that Il Volo will perform the Mameli Anthem at the next Formula 1 Grand Prix in Imola on November 1, 2020.

This magnificent singing trio has characterized Italian music and culture throughout the world for some time.  So, who better than they could interpret the Italian anthem, thrilling the world-wide spectators of the most awaited Grand Prix of the season.

A special thanks, as well as to the artists, to their manager Michele Torpedine for the great willingness and enthusiasm in supporting the initiative that marks the return of Formula 1 to Imola after 14 years.  This is another opportunity to listen to the music of Il Volo, as we wait for the 2021 tour.

From the author:  Even the Italian car fanatics are proud of Il Volo.  This extra clip is excerpted from “FormulaPassion.It” web page:

The Trio Will Do the Pre-Show at the Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna This Coming Sunday

Il Volo has been invited to open the Emiglia Romagna Grand Prix, which kicks off Sunday November 1 at the Enzo and Dino International Autodrome of Imola.   The trio will perform the opening ceremony interpreting Mameli’s anthem to pay homage to the drivers arrayed near the starting line.

Author: You can tell the Il Volo guys were excited about this.  Starting at 3:30 AM my cell phone Instagram kept lighting up with videos of the pits, crews, and tracks, by the Il Volo guys or whichever relatives were with them doing the filming.   I had videos of the pits and “stables” coming up on my phone at the same time as the ESPN professional filming of the same areas, and some of the ones from Il Volo were noisier and more exciting.  Here’s one to check out.

All the guys got into video selfie-ing in the pit areas.  Here’s one of Piero.

In the Italian media this week, Piero said that one reason Il Volo was proud to sing the national anthem was that so many Italian young (and old) people have been singing it together at twilight from their balconies and doorways as an act of unity during this epoch of isolation and social distancing.  Il Volo also sets an example by approaching every public appearance and gathering place masked, just like the announcers and race drivers today.

So here is the link to the pre-race announcement and Il Volo’s singing of the Inno di Mameli.

Although the anthem has five verses, they sang only the first verse and refrain, as is typical at sports events, so we didn’t get to hear them for very long.  Note that the guys did not do any rephrasing or very sophisticated harmonies, but presented the national anthem formally and traditionally, befitting its serious and very spiritual lyrics.  It was lovely nonetheless, and punctuated beautifully by the air force fighter jet flyover. 

In the clip, the announcer explains that Il Volo will present the national anthem and there will be a flyover in honor of Enzo Ferrari. He adds after that the four aircraft are Eurofighters from the combat wing of Grosseto who are flying a circuit of the race course.  He describes the beautiful sunny day at this venue which has been key in writing the story of motorsport and which has seen some of its greatest racing competitions.  Then he argued that the naysayers who said we wouldn’t have this event this year, or next, were wrong, because we did it and it’s here.  His partner adds that the most exciting thing we could do for the drivers and for the 100th Formula 1 Grand Prix was to bring in Il Volo.  No argument there.

It was a very tense and exciting race.  Team Mercedes Benz has dominated Formula 1 for six or seven years.  On the Imola course, five or six drivers had serious mechanical issues and mandatory DNFs (Did Not Finish), for problems including (two) front wings shearing off, a coolant system failure, shredded tires, and even cold brakes in a pit stop that knocked a crew mechanic into a back somersault.  Max Verstappen, driving for Red Bull, managed to do a very close overtake (pass) splitting the two Mercedes leaders, got himself into second place, and held it a dozen laps, nearly guaranteeing a second place on the podium and nearly breaking up the expected Mercedes one-two finish.  Then he punctured a tire, and spun off the track with three broken rims and a wrecked chassis. 

The Imola track, on the left, was once the site of two driver deaths in one weekend 1994, Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger.  In memory or in caution, drivers from several teams had their helmets or steering columns blessed before the race.  Strangely, despite the multiple grindings and spin outs today, there was not a single injury.

Before the race, the entire field of drivers made pre-recorded statements and took a knee on the track to demand an end to racism.  Il Volo held their opening anthem until after these ceremonial acts of solidarity.  In a fitting conclusion, Lewis Hamilton, who piloted the winning Mercedes car, happens to be a person of color.

In the midst of all the excitement, Gianluca found the time to post a picture of him and Ernie, which was captioned “You’re the other half of me.”  Papa Ercole posted best wishes “Little Man.” Mamma Eleonora posted an old video of a little boy tossing his bicycle and running to her camera.  Why?  Yesterday, November 1, was Ernie Ginoble’s birthday.  Tanti auguri e Buon Compleanno, Ernie! 

Author’s note: Il Volo is “off to the races again” in another way, too.  Embedded in one of the Italian news clippings last week was a link to Il Volo’s 2021 European tour schedule.  Stay tuned.  In another Flight Crew article, we’ll share whatever know about it.

Giovanna

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.