Tag Archives: Bologna

Nico Arezzo ~ Complicated and Delightful!! by Susan

It’s always difficult to decide where to start with Nico. Yes, he’s complicated but, always delightful! Perhaps looking at where Nico came from can give us a better idea of who he is.

One year old Nico walking with Dad, Peppe

Young Nico playing the drums

Nico (Domenico) Arezzo was born in Ragusa, Sicily on October 2, 1998. You might say he was born and raised on a stage, initially “with drumsticks in his hands” … but soon the need to put one note after another brought him to the guitar. Both of his parents are entertainers. His mother Emanuela Curcio is dancer and a dance teacher, and his father Peppe Arezzo is a pianist and an Orchestra Conductor. Nico also has a younger sister Emma. Once I commented to Peppe, she’s a little Nico!  Like Nico, she’s into everything!
But what is it I see in this family that gives me a good feeling? Values, good values! I talk a lot about values because I think it molds beautiful people. When I write about Il Volo or when I write my BOIN stories what do I always go back to, good values. To understand where I’m coming from, let’s take a closer look at the Arezzo family.
When you’re a family of entertainers, it seems someone is always traveling so, whenever everyone has the opportunity to be together, it’s a festival. And what do they celebrate? Everything! Nico explains it in this way.
I’m down, (in Ragusa, his home). It’s Christmas time. We celebrate birthdays when it’s not the right day. We celebrate birthdays when we are together. Tomorrow or maybe the day after tomorrow it’s my turn!
And during his time at home for Christmas 2020, Nico experienced his first earthquake. He said, “Yesterday I felt my first earthquake in history. It was weird, powerful! I’m down! It’s Christmas time and everything is shaking! Happy birthday to everyone.”
“Merry Christmas to everyone. Happy birthday today or yesterday? If it was yesterday sorry for the delay. Happy birthday to you.”

Nico with his Mom, Dad and sister

How did Nico get to where he is?  Certainly, he got his talent from his mom and dad but how did he get to where he is today?
Nico first came to my attention in 2017 when he won the Festival Show in Verona with the song “Se Vuoi” (If You Want). I happened to be in Italy at the time and I was very taken by his performance at the Festival. Nico can be very engaging and, you can get lost in Nico’s words and actions. Nico said “Se Vuoi” made him move! I say Nico made “Se Vuoi” move! Nico said he was drawn to this song because“It’s a song that forces the body to move even without wanting. It’s a fresh song that turns on everything that can be turned on … the same freshness that I want to convey now that the music has taken my whole life.” The song is exciting and lively, like Nico! I remember that his voice captured me. He has lots of rhythm and expression. He immediately captured the audience. And I’m sure he captured the attention of at least one of the judges there that night, Michele Torpedine.
And what did Michele have to say about this event, “This is the first moment where we understood.” He certainly did! After the Festival Michele signed Nico and so did Ignazio! Great idea! Great choice!
What makes Nico so good? He’s very talented and the team is amazing! Nico Arezzo, Ignazio Boschetto and Michele Torpedine! Collaboration complete!
Nico is versatile! How about Nico and Ignazio singing a Pino Daniele medley? Anyone who sings a Pino Daniele song, gets a seat in my corner!

Nico along with Ignazio, Davide Marchi and Francesco Landi, wrote and set to music the song “Volo” which Nico sang at the Sanremo Festival Giovani in 2019. In the song there is the desire of the singer to live 360 degrees, with joys, pains, emotions and also a lot of love. But that’s not all, what struck everyone about his performance was his ability to play the guitar, an element that has conquered the public, the judges and the critics. He can make that guitar Scream!
In January 2020, Ignazio started Floki Productions. Nico was the first artist to sign a contract with Ignazio under Floki. This made lots of sense to me.  In many ways Nico reminds me of Ignazio. He knows what he wants and he goes after it.
And, in the mist of the pandemic, Ignazio did a LIVE on Instagram to present the first release by Floki. Gorilla!

In “Gorilla”, Nico comes alive! He is the Gorilla in the jungle! He has the feeling and the expression for this song. He’s bouncing all over the stage. He’s definitely got the moves! It’s so catchy! And people love it!
Following the release of Gorilla, Nico did an interview with Nico Donvito, an Italian Music Blogger. In this interview, I saw another side of Nico. We hear this young man talk about his music. His place in the music industry. How he got there and all the people who are responsible for his journey.
I heard a, very, intelligent and, responsible young man who has worked hard to get to where he is. He talks about, who he is, where he came from and how he sees his future.
Right out the gate, Nico impressed me with his insight. Nico saw “Gorilla” as a means of escape from where we are in our world today and an expression of where he finds himself in the world. Nico said, “ ‘Gorilla’ has a fresh taste, because in the last few months we have been a bit obliged to heavy thoughts, to stop and reflect on important things, to close ourselves in ourselves. At a certain point the moment comes when you need a beer on the beach with your friends, ‘Gorilla’ is just that, something not at all thick which and, in certain situations, can be essential.”
That’s pretty deep and right on. It was almost as if Nico was saying I wrote this song two years ago, but this was its moment. It’s when it was needed. To say that the ‘Gorilla’ is that moment in time when you need to kick back or as Nico put it when you need a beer on the beach with your friends, yes, that’s exactly what “Gorilla” is. Its’ light and intriguing and it brought us away from all the madness that preceded it. Perhaps, the sign that Ignazio made the day that “Gorilla” was released, that seemed to upset so many people, was nothing more that Ignazio saying: Let’s take the weight of the world and toss it aside. You had your way and now, we’re going to have ours!
One of the things I love about Nico is he is always looking for ways to entertain us! In February, he decided to travel around Bologna with some friends and a mattress. They sat around on the mattress and greeted people as they went by!  Nico said, “I don’t wanna be romantic but every now and then there are certain tangles you hardly imagined. You know those blurry photos that are beautiful just because they’re blurry! Those people you don’t know but who greet you, and you greet them, and then you talk to them! Today I text a friend of mine, Do you have a rope? I need it to tie a mattress to the top of my car.’ He reminded me that I don’t have a car. True, I don’t have a car, so I don’t have a roof!” And that’s Nico’s humor which grabs us and keeps us laughing!

Nico sitting on a mattress

And where is Nico now? In his words, There are days that if I focus, Traffic Lights go green when I want.”
Nico’s new song, “Polline (pollen)” has been released.  Nico says,I wrote almost all of my song in this notebook. ‘Polline’ was born a year ago. This summer this notebook fell into the sea, dried in the sun and ‘Polline’ remains legible.”

Nico's notebook

In a review a writer said: This is a “new piece in the path of the artist produced by Ignazio Boschetto. Nico Arezzo’s ‘Polline’ is the single that marks the return of one of the most talented songwriters of the new generation already the winner of the Festival Show a few years ago.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Nico tell us, “This song has been ready for at least a year, in the meantime I have written many other things, I have explored a new musical genre that you will listen to soon and I am evolving but, this piece, I absolutely did not want to abandon it because I am very attached to it.
‘Polline’ is a song to which I am very attached, especially, literally. It’s a piece that comes almost as a challenge. They said to me, ‘Can you talk about a relationship that’s over but, looking back, you can say ‘but it was beautiful’? And so, even though there may be a small void hidden between the lines of the song, thinking that I haven’t lived through that story would make me sadder.”
And how did Nico preview this new song on Instagram? Honey jars! Nico said, “I’m releasing a new track this month. Every day I will add a jar of honey in my fridge with a letter on it, not in order. I start today! Go into my stories, write in the comments the first word you think of.  Try not to guess right away or you will ruin everything for me! Every day a jar a letter! Oddly, though my Italian is very limited, I guessed what it was!

What is the song about?  The answer is in one line of the song!  “They say you can understand a person from what you find in his fridge.” Let’s go to Nico’s fridge and see what he’s really all about!

(Floki Production by Ignazio Boschetto and Michele Torpedine. Polline was produced at Take Away Studios in Modena.) 

Another amazing video! It makes me smile! It makes me laugh! It makes me happy! Nico, everything you do excites me! From day one I knew you would bring a fresh approach to the music industry and I was right. You have such energy and, all your projects are ambitious like you. Your videos present the real you!
Yes, you’re Complicated but, your delivery is always Delightful!

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

Ignazio’s Sicily by Susan

Land of Sages and Fools ~ Made of Devils and Saints!

Sometimes I feel like I spend every day of my life writing about Ignazio! In the last year I wrote over fifty stories about the guys and, it seems as if half of them were about Ignazio’s projects. Because of all his projects I sometimes write two and three stories a week about him, wearing many different hats. Entertainer, Lyricist, Manager, Entrepreneur! The amazing thing about it is, I can’t get enough of him! Ignazio lives in mind. I have an emotional attachment to him. I guess it comes from writing all those stories. With fictional characters, the writer develops the character but, when you’re writing about real people, you come to a point where you are in their minds and, you feel their passions and emotions!
Closeup of Ignasio in front of a microphone
As usual, it was Daniela who made me aware that something new was going on. She sent me a video that said Màkari and I wondered what is this about? And then I clicked on it and heard Ignazio’s beautiful voice and I thought when did Ignazio record this? That’s when I realized it was a new series on Rai1 and Il Volo will be singing the theme song. And if that wasn’t enough, I learned Ignazio wrote the song. Ignazio, do you ever sleep?
Ignazio, last year, you told us you had many surprises for us. This obviously was the collaboration with Rai1 you were talking about. Unless we have another surprise in store! We can only hope!
Truthfully, who better to write a song about Sicily and the region of Trapani than a native child! No, Ignazio wasn’t born in Sicily but, for Italians, who your parents are is who you are so, in fact, Ignazio is Sicilian.

Ignazio looking to his right as he sits in a red chair

It amazes me that the young boy who went to Sicily kicking and screaming when he was ten, became the spokesman for Marsala, around the world, and now for the region of Trapani. Ignazio came to embrace the land of his parents and he loves all the wonders of Sicily.
Sicily is different than Italy. Yes, I know Sicily is Italy but, how the Sicilians live and, who they are is very different. Ignazio’s song invites us to take a better look at this other land in the south. It speaks of “a land of sages and a land of fools, made from devils and saints.” Yes, that’s what Sicily is! They honor their saints while keeping their superstitions!
Ignazio invites you to live a new reality through his eyes. He invites us to see a different side of Sicily through his beautiful theme song, Màkari.
Ignazio begins his video by explaining to us his experience of Sicily as seen through his eyes. “It is a Sicily as told by a twenty-five year old who lived Sicily through stories, through images!”

Photo of the sea

This song speaks volumes! Where did the words of this song come from? Ignazio’s heart! There is something very mysterious about the song. Besides the fact that it speaks of a land of sages and fools made from devils and saints. It also speaks of truth! The truth as seen through Ignazio’s eyes.
Ignazio’s words allow us to see Sicily through tradition, home and love!
In the video, Ignazio talks about the summers he spent in S. Vito Capo in the landscape of Màkari. What is it that draws him back year after year? Is it the “silence” of the land that screams for you to open your eyes and look around at the wonder of the landscape or, the traditions of the land that go deep into your soul? It seems to Ignazio, Màkari is joy and love and so he will never forget it! And what does that say! Simple! This is Ignazio’s story!!! His story of Sicily, the land he left to pursue his dream and the land he is drawn back to time and again.
Think about the words of the song! Is Ignazio talking about the writer who leaves his home and returns after a long period of time or the entertainer who travels the world? The similarities in his life and the life of the writer are striking, that’s why he was able to write such an emotional song! I feel like Ignazio wrote the song and then they made the show. His words are very enticing, they pull you into the story. They tell all there is to know and, Ignazio tells us a story, through the imagery of his words!

Orange sunset over the water

The mystery of it all is the relationship Ignazio has with this land! Having become a part of this land at the age of ten, it is amazing to me that Ignazio developed this great bond with Sicily. Yes, Bologna is his home but, Sicily is the place he comes home to!!!
Ignazio says, “it is an honor to talk about my Sicily through a fiction that tells the truth of this Sicily.” Ignazio loves that through all the mysteries and mystique of the program, the show speaks of love, which is something that he loves and, he loves that that love is combined with yellow (mysteries)!
Sicily is amazing for Ignazio because it’s different for him every time. He sees a Sicily that is always offering something new while being a part of something old. Always remembering what was while looking forward to what will be! This speaks to Ignazio’s soul!
Ignazio’s thoughts and emotions are everywhere in this song. In an interview on Sunday, with Inga and Claudio Gioè, the actor from Màkari, Ignazio reminds us of his words, in the song, about His Sicily. “Whoever comes to Sicily, cries twice,” (once when you arrive and, once when you leave). I think that sums up Ignazio’s feelings for Sicily.” I think the words of this song will be on the lips of everyone for many years to come! A Classic!

Ignazio playing the guitar on the bow of a boat in the sea at Sicily

The final verse of the song is sung by Ignazio with a few beautiful words in Sicilian and he is accompanied by a classical guitar. “Sing louder but do it in silence because here no one hears us, sees us. This is a story a little curious, a little grumpy, it speaks to me of love. For traditions, for my roots, Màkari is home and my heart sings for you!”  These are emotional words, very touching!
In the video, Gianluca and Piero expressed their feelings about the project. Gianluca said, I have anxiety waiting for this moment, so I renew my congratulations to everyone for this great project and we are delighted to be part of it. We, also, learned something very interesting in this video. We now know what everyone’s plans are for the future! Gianluca says, he would love to be an actor. I always thought he would be a model. He certainly has the body and looks for it! But who knows maybe he will show up in one of the episodes of Màkari? And Piero the sweetheart that he is, told us how proud he is of Ignazio and how happy he is to be a part of this project! Piero, all of us are very happy that all of you are embarking on this new adventure together!
One final thought! Ignazio’s words in the song call out to, many, people expressing his feelings on many matters! I would like to go back to those last words of the song so that you can listen very carefully to Ignazio words! “Sing louder but do it in silence because here no one hears, sees us.”  Think about it!

Màkari we’ve been waiting for you!

Picture of Sicily and the sea with rocks coming up out of the water

What an amazing song! Ignazio as usual you took my breath away, not just with your voice but, with your beautiful words. No doubt they were from the heart. They truly hit home! They so speak of where you heart is! And from the bottom of my heart I say, thank you for the song and thank you guys for the beautiful delivery!

You know how many times I’d like to leave
from this land of devils and saints
but Màkari is home, it’s joy and pain
this is my land.
Land of Wise Men and Land of Fools
of people who take heart, take it and give it!
Whoever comes to Sicily, cries twice!
Màkari is my home.
This is a story a little curious, a little grumpy,
it speaks to me of love.
For traditions, for my roots,
but Màkari is home, and the heart sings for you.
Sing louder, but do it in silence,
because here no one hears us, sees us,
but Makari is home, it is joy and pain,
Màkari I do not forget, I forget no more.
This is a story a little curious, a little grumpy,
it speaks to me of love.
For traditions, for my roots,
but Màkari is home and the heart sings for you.

 

Credit to owners of all photos and video.

 

Vito Boschetto ~ A Simple, Humble Man by Susan

Often, I write about Ignazio and all his wonderful achievements but, today I have to write about something that is so very sad.
On Monday, we all heard the news about the sudden death of Ignazio’s father, Vito Boschetto. Each of us stopped to think about Ignazio and, how he must be feeling. There are no words that we can express to comfort the family.  We can only say they are in our hearts and in our prayers!
I write about Ignazio so often that I feel a special closeness to him and, my heart aches for him. I know how sensitive he is and, I think he must be hurting a lot right now.
Today I want to write, not about Ignazio but, about his family. What I know about them and how they made Ignazio who he is today.
Over the years, as we watched Ignazio grow into a fine, young men, we grew to understand that it was his parents’ guidance that made him who he is. They are a very proud family. Hard working people. This is a trait we see in Ignazio.
They gave Ignazio such exceptional values that it only made sense he would become the good, kind and compassionate person he is.
When Ignazio speaks about his family he speaks with a passion. The deep bond this family has is exceptional. Even as a very young child Ignazio said his family shared everything. No matter what happened it was discussed with the whole family. Ignazio has said that he admires his parents for their openness with him and Nina.
This is what Ignazio had to say about his parents. “Is it the same if the images that I will never forget are …. the memories of my parents? It’s not that I’m crazy or strange, it’s right that my story would never have existed without my parents …. Of sacrifices they have made many and, big for me and for my sister but, more so for me. I do not spend days when I do not think about how proud I am of them.”
Vito Boschetto closeup
Mr. Boschetto was a man who worked very hard for his family.  He was a mason, a brick layer. He worked at this job right up to the last days of his life. Ignazio would tell you that his mom and dad had worked at many jobs, and they tried to learn any trade, just to earn some extra money for the family.
In 1990 when work was scarce in Marsala, it became necessary to find work elsewhere. Vito heard about work in Buonconvento, in the province of Siena and he moved his family there. At the time only Nina was born.
In 1992 it became apparent that this was not working. They could not earn enough to sustain the family and so, after hearing from an old friend about work in San Martino in Argine, near Bologna, Vito moved his family there. This was an excellent decision because the family began to prosper with this move. They decided it was time to move into a home of their own and, so, they moved into a house in the hamlet of Guarda di Molinella. This is the house where Ignazio was born.
You will recall that Ignazio’s mother became ill with cancer and many of Ignazio’s young years were spent alone with his sister, Nina. For Ignazio, Nina is a second mother.

Ignazio with sister, Nina

After Caterina’s successful treatment, she returned to work and finally everything was normal.
Vito and Caterina knew they would return to Marsala one day and, that is what they worked towards.
In July 2004 the family moved back to Marsala. Caterina’s dream was to open a pizzeria and Vito’s dream was to have Caterina’s dream come true.
Every day for one year, when Vito returned from worked, he built the pizzeria. He built it right in front of their house. Every free moment Ignazio had, he worked alongside his father so that his mother could realize her dream.  A year later the pizzeria was completed.

Vito with IL VOLO car behind him

Ignazio’s memories of this time bring him to a very important moment in his life. He always says, “If there had not been the pizzeria, perhaps I would never have started singing seriously. Because, in the meantime, while the pizzeria grew, into me grew more and more the passion for electronics and music. I had started to be part of the elementary school choir and my dad, who was more passionate about electronics than me, had bought me a mixer, a microphone and two speakers, with which we started doing the easiest thing that could be done with that: karaoke.”
Much of this story you already know. After Caterina’s customer heard Ignazio sing, he suggested he meet with a singing teacher and the rest is history. But, before the history there were many obstacles to overcome.
Lessons, many, many lessons. Lessons took money. Lots and lots of money. And so, Vito and Caterina did everything they could to get the money that was needed for the lessons. It took a lot of hard work but, for Vito and Caterina, it was necessary so Ignazio could have his dream.
Left to right: Gianluca, Vito and Ignazio backstage
Finally, the day arrived when the money ran out and Vito and Caterina were heartbroken. They tried everything possible but could not find the means for Ignazio to go on with his lessons. Finally, they found a way. They decided to make a loan. And through the generosity of someone dear to them, the lessons continued. Yes, the sacrifices were great and, many but they were made with love!
After Ti Lascio una Canzone, Il Volo came to be and, a, new, sacrifice had to be made.
Since Ignazio was underage, one of his parents had to travel with him on his world tours. The time was split between Vito and Caterina. This certainly disrupted their family life but, being the people they are, they managed to get through it. At that point the greatest sacrifice to be made was between Ignazio and Nina who would not see each other for very long periods of time. The world tours kept the family apart but, their love kept them together.

Left to right: Vito, wife Caterina sitting in an audience

When Vito returned from the tour, he would return to his work. He never tried to make his life easy. What he did, he did for his children and would only accept their love in return.
Vito was a simple man! A humble man who taught his children to be kind and humble and to live lives that they could be proud of.
It is not every man that passes through this life that can say he was able to fulfill his son’s dream. A dream that would bring him fame.
Once Ignazio described his family as simple people. Yes, simple and loving and always ready to do whatever was necessary to help each other.
Ignazio, your father is gone but you will keep him alive in your memory. You’ll walk into a room and remember a beautiful moment. You’ll look at a picture and remember that wonderful smile that made a little boys tears go away. You’ll walk down a street and remember the first time you walked together and, he held your hand and made you understand that he would always be there for you. He will always be there for you! You will feel his presence! You will keep his memory alive with your stories of all the wonderful things you shared! But, above all, you will keep him alive because you are him! You are the best part of what he was! His unbounding love! This is the greatest legacy a man can leave for his family!
Ignazio, please accept our deepest condolences! Know that we all are praying for you and your family.

Left to right: Vito, wife Caterina and Ignazio sitting in an audience

Ciao Vito with red heart and black ribbon

 

Credit to owners of all photos.

THE SAD NEWS by Daniela

The line of life, unfortunately, also inevitably crosses with death.
On February 28, Vito Boschetto, beloved father of our dear Ignazio, died at the age of 60.

Ignazio hugging his dad, Vito

The sad announcement was made today, March 1st.
I will translate it for you.

Itacanotizie Article – Click Here

Vito Boschetto, father of Ignazio de Il Volo, has died.
Vito Boschetto, father of Ignazio, Marsala singer of Il Volo, together with Piero Barone and Gianluca Ginoble, died on the evening of Sunday 28 February. The man died in Bologna, where his son lives, due to a sudden illness that left him no way out.
Married to Caterina Licari, Vito also has an eldest daughter, Nina, who ran a pizzeria for years. A close-knit family that has always supported their son far and wide throughout Italy, making him study until the success obtained with the broadcast “Ti lascio una canzone” on Rai Uno with the conduction of Antonella Clerici, aimed at the discovery of children’s talents. It is there that Ignazio Boschetto met the other two “tenorini” Piero and Gianluca with whom he will form Il Volo, which achieved worldwide success.
On March 3 Il Volo should perform on the stage of the 71st Sanremo Festival. But confirmations are expected after this tragic news.

Ignazio with his Dad, Vito

Covid has nothing to do with it, it was a tumor, recently discovered, but unfortunately in an advanced state, which left Vito no chance for a regression.
I do not dare to think of the infinite pain of Ignatius who, we remember, did a good part of his travels and stayed abroad accompanied by his beloved father.

Vito Boschetto

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is this and Ignazio, already shy enough for personal news, lived this last period of his father’s life, without divulging the news, living the pain together with his family, his mother Caterina and his sister Nina.

Left to right: Vito Boschetto, son Ignazio and wife, Caterina Licari

The Il Volo family also gathered around Ignazio and his family, but could only watch the events helplessly.
Gianluca today published a series of their photos and the last photo represents Il Volo in a moment of meditation, with Ignazio looking up.
Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and PIero on stage. The message is SEMPRE UNITI - ALWAYS TOGETHER
ALWAYS TOGETHER. What can best represent the three of them, in every moment of life, even the saddest, ALWAYS TOGETHER.

Caterina Licari and husband Vito Boschetto

Dear Ignazio, you are always so cheerful, so joyful, but now you have the agony in your heart, your dear dad is gone.
We Volovers hold you in a long affectionate embrace around you and your mother Caterina and your sister Nina.
Our prayers reach Vito who from above will guide you in your life, proud of you.
No words can be of comfort to you, but all our affection reaches you from the depths of our hearts.
A big hug: Il Volo Flight Crew 

R.I.P.

Vito Boschetto

The Flight Crew staff with all the fans will try to deliver to Ignazio and his family a floral message of deep condolences and affection.

 

Credit to owners of all photos.

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.