Tag Archives: La nostra storia

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

The Ride of Their Lives by Susan

Ti Lascio una Canzone is over and they all won! I’m not talking about first, second or third, no, they all won the greatest prize of all ~ Il Volo! Of course, that wasn’t their name in the beginning but, that’s a story for another day!
So, where do we begin? Let me start by saying in Part One ~ Prima di prendere Il Volo (Before taking Flight) of Un’avventura Straordinaria, La nostra Storia(An Extraordinary Adventure, Our History) we listen to each guy’s story about their beginnings, but now, it all changes. In Part Two Insieme (Together) the book is no longer individual stories about each guy. It is now a dialogue between the guys. And this is where it gets exciting!
In their many interviews, they talked about the book and their lives in the beginning of their career, and we begin to see how they interact with one another to form a powerful team. From a very young age they were very intelligent and, they were always courteous. They always had the right answer at the right time! This is a big achievement for such young boys who were thrown together into an adults’ world without any way of knowing what to expect. This says a lot about their integrity.
The video below is truly the beginning of Il Volo. I think Michele Torpedine explains who they are better than anyone else! He says, “They are just in a different dimension!” I totally agree!

As we begin to listen to their interviews and read through their stories, we can see how the boys begin to bond with one another. We all have our good days and our bad days but, at the end of the day they have what’s most important, “each other.”

What we also see in their story is how they begin to bond with the American people. From their first performance on TV on American Idol, they took America by storm. Every TV Show wanted them as guests. After the show they hit the top 10 on the “Billboard” charts. They were on The Ride of Their Lives* and, they didn’t even know it!
So, let’s join Piero now as he tells us what it was like for him after six years with the guys….
But can you think about how far we’ve come? We did not even know each other and now we have been working together for six years, we toast together, we cry together. By now Gianluca and Ignazio, but let’s not let them know, they are a part of me, I do not know how I could do without them.
I’ll make you understand one thing: when I’m on stage singing my solo, as soon as I finish, I cannot wait for the other two to come because I feel their moral, psychological and even physical support. If I feel bad, I know that there are two of them that can help me, we can help each other, and this is fundamental for me, to feel that we support each other, that we are always together.

Ignazio picks up the story…
It was the beginning of 2010, our first time overseas. Destination Miami! What charm America! Everything was so different from Italy: the cars were different, the streets, the houses. I felt like I was in another world.
Immediately after Miami we went to Los Angeles. My first word? ‘Wow!’ Which was also what I said when I entered my room in one of the best hotels in the city, the InterContinental of Century City.

We were only three kids accompanied by our parents. We still did not know each other well. At the beginning I immediately started to connect with Piero. Perhaps because he is Sicilian like me and maybe because we always found the opportunity to make jokes and have fun. We especially enjoyed ourselves when we tried to make ourselves understood by people, since we spoke few words of English.
But what were we doing in Los Angeles? We stayed there a week during which we were lucky enough to be part of the ‘We Are the World 25 for Haiti’ with eighty of the most famous music stars in the world including Celine Dion, Lionel Richie, Santana and many others. After 25 years we all gathered together for ‘We Are the World 25 for Haiti’ to collect funds for the earthquake victims of January 12th, 2010.

It was the first week of February 2010, Quincy Jones had invited us, the myth Quincy Jones, the one who worked with Ray Charles, one of the artists who made history through international music. In short, that was our first truly, great, exciting experience: who could ever imagine that one day I could find myself among those people in such a context.
After the week and back to Italy. The difference between Italy and the United States we saw immediately: they were more advanced, more ahead!
Piero recalls their meeting with Quincy Jones…
I remember meeting with Quincy Jones when he came to ‘We Are the World 25 for Haiti:’ An eighty-year-old crazy character in Converse.
That time we just showed up, but three years later he came to one of our concerts and we had the chance to talk. Okay, you imagine being with Quincy Jones, the Quincy Jones who worked with Count Basie, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie and Michael Jackson. Here, what are you talking about? Music?
We were fifteen to sixteen when we found ourselves in this American dream. We had signed a contract with a record company that includes famous artists like Beyoncé and many others. We were invited by the record company to the party. We turned and saw, again, Quincy Jones; we turn around and we saw Rihanna; we turned and shook hands with Lady Gaga. We talked with them, some singers who were idols for us and for our peers.

I never forget the meeting with Puff Daddy, he shook my hand and told me: ‘Guys, welcome to our family.’ You see, now that I’m telling you, I’m shivering because I never said it, but Puff Daddy says ‘Guys, welcome to our family.’ Then I sent a message to my friends in Naro, ‘Today I was with Beyoncé, today I met Puff Daddy.’ And they did not even believe it. They only believed a little bit if we sent the photos. But they did not really understand what was happening in our lives.
In fact, we only began to understand that something was changing when our first record came out.
So, the guys have met all the big names and performed with them in We Are the World, but reality has not yet set in.

Let’s hear what Ignazio has to say about this….

It was already May 2010, and the Il Volo album was about to come out all over the world. Maybe I was too small and naive, but I did not feel the anxiety of the job, unlike today. The first major television show we appeared in, in America, was American Idol, the world’s most famous music talent show. There, yes that….…
Piero interrupts….
American Idol? I remember the first fitting we did with the clothes, the dress rehearsal, in short. We found ourselves in the dressing rooms with all these clothes, we did not know where to look, glasses, bracelets, we touched everything, the stylists all around you. We still have those clothes. I personally will never throw them away.
Gianluca interrupts Piero….
Then they say I am the vain one! Yes, I remember the clothes, the stylists, it was the first time, a crazy feeling. But most of all I remember the face of Jennifer Lopez when Steven Tyler gave five to Ignazio, live with thirty million viewers. Oh not, Igna?
Ignazio recalls that crazy moment….
I had a crazy fright in front of Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson and millions of Americans watching us from home. We sang ‘O Sole Mio,’ live and, while singing, I do not know how it came to me: I casually approached and gave five to Steven Tyler in the studio and took a delirium, all standing!
And a few days later we realized that people at home were ecstatic: The week after the broadcast we were listed in the top 10 of “Billboard” the most important internationally recognized music reviewer. A goal that only a few Italian artists have achieved. Not bad for boys of only sixteen. After that great success, all the American television networks wanted us on their show. And slowly also in many other countries in the world.
In a few months I found myself having traveled the world, from Europe to the Americas, from Asia to Oceania. From 2010 to 2013 we traveled like crazy, without ever stopping. In three years, I have not been home for five months. So much so that the rest of my family were upset. Sometimes I traveled with my mother, sometimes with my father, and I never saw my sister. The first discussions had begun for those who were to accompany me, not because they wanted to travel the world, but because my mother did not want to stay away from her son, who until a few months before had an almost normal life, apart from the thousand daily whims.

The release of the album, the pre-sales of the American, Latin American and European tour, were good but not Italy because the Italian promoters were not very enthusiastic about our work. We were very sorry but, we conspired with the fact that Michele, our manager, had lived the exact same thing with Andrea Bocelli and said: ‘Wait, boys, one day they will notice.’
So, the concerts are approaching around the world, but who had ever done one? I had only an experience on June 24th, 2009, on returning home from Ti Lascio Una Canzone I had a concert in Marsala, fifteen thousand people were waiting for me in the square, I will not tell you the fear I had, so much that I sang the wrong words to the first song! But now I was not alone for a single evening but, there were many concerts to divide spaces, remember movements and various choreographies. Luckily there was Luca Tommasini, a dancer and choreographer who was part of Madonna’s dance group, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross. Prince, Whitney Houston, just to name a few. He was a great help and we had fun around the Americas and Europe.
The concerts were fine, many were sold out. We started on that first tour in 2010 in spaces from one thousand five hundred to two thousand seats to the maximum until arriving in 2013 from five thousand to ten thousand places. The girls shouting at all the concerts, the hotels, the airports always full of fans, we walked with bodyguards.
The record was going well, and many people in the show were noticing us. One day Michele calls us: ‘Barbra Streisand’s manager called me.’

Piero, who was in charge of recording all the dates and events and signing contracts, recalls…
We were in Atlantic City, in my suite, and who comes in our American partner, Michael’s right-hand man, with a contract.
What is that? I ask him.
‘The contract to sign with Barbara.’
I knew that there was a project with her, but being on tour, I could not keep in touch every day with Torpedine, so I did not know that the thing had come to past. And it was a really big thing: Barbra Streisand wanted us on tour with her, not as an opening, but as an integral part of the show.
The tour, which was called Back to Brooklyn, was the first that Streisand made between the United States and Canada since 1994. It opened on, October 4th, 2012, in Philadelphia and closed on November 11th in Los Angeles, passing through New York, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, La Vegas, Chicago. Can you imagine what it meant? And we sing with her!

So, I signed the contract, but the most anticipated thing was the meeting with her. Because Barbra is a diva, all speak of Barbra with so much desire. And to find yourself face to face with a person who has made history of international music, known all over the world, who is seventy years old and still has twenty thousand people every single evening, is incredible!
And the meeting was surreal because it is absurd to find yourself talking to her about your hair, where you go to cut your hair and trivial things, it does not seem possible!
The fact is, however, that I am not one who dreams so much, I do not live above the clouds. I may not seem modest, but yes, I did a duet with Barbra Streisand, but when I finished the show, I called Torpedine and I said, ‘What are we doing tomorrow?’

Ignazio continues….
How much do you run, Piero! I’m still at Michele’s first call and you’ve already finished the tour?
When our manager gave us confirmation of our participation in the tour after a few days of negotiation, we did not know what to say or what to do. Personally, I knew of Barbara Streisand, but I wanted to know more, so I watched Funny Girl, the first film she shot and with which she won the Oscar for the best actress in 1969. After watching that musical-film I was fascinated and excited a thousand times more to be part of the tour of the artist who had made me dream only through a screen. I did not even want to imagine what it would feel like the day I would find myself on the same stage as her.
The first concert with her was in Philadelphia on October 4th, 2012, the day of my birthday, so you can imagine what a birthday I would have. It was nice and exciting to hear her singing close to me.

When I arrived at the sound check, before the concert, I do not know what happened but, I started thinking about everything we had done in the years before, how much gratitude the boys and I had for Michele who had never left us since the first day. We were sharing the stage with one of the greatest living legends.
They are difficult emotions to explain!
Gianluca throughout the book and his interviews is led by his passions and emotions, much as he is in his everyday life where family, music, country and soccer, are his greatest passions. 
Here Gianluca picks up on Ignazio’s emotions and continues the story….
In my case, if possible, it is even more difficult because the thrill of singing with Barbra Streisand has added to the excitement of singing in front of my grandfather. Imagine the Barclays Center in New York, a huge sports arena full, bursting of people. The capacity is around fifteen thousand places, but that evening was so full of people it seemed to me to be twenty-five thousand. The darkness all around and then the lights suddenly, the audience roar, the music, the concert.
And what did I see in all this? I saw only my grandfather in the middle of the Barclays Center who greeted me by hand. It was the best image of that tour, for me, a kind of film, yes, in a film it would have been really good!
I did not believe it, the more I looked at him and the less I believed it. It was weird, my grandfather at one of my concerts with Barbra Streisand in New York. I have always seen him in the square in the village, it seemed a mirage to see him there.
He made me like this with his hand (a wave) and he was crying. And I was just looking at him, singing ‘Smile’ and watching only him.
Worse was when I just moved my gaze and I saw my father sitting next to him. And he cried too.
That time on stage I could not let myself go, but then I ‘recovered’ during our first European tour, the year after.
My grandfather worked in Switzerland for many years, in fact my father was born there in the sixties, so he could not wait to go back to northern Europe. So, what did he do? He came to Frankfurt with my mother on the plane.
We land, we go out of the baggage area, I turn the corner and open a door. There is a video that is made of me, I have a face. Behind that door was my grandfather waiting for me. Yes, I started crying. And so, for me, the grandfather is the grandfather, woe to those who touch him. And it is love, not affection.

However, of the tour with Streisand, I also recollect the amazement that took us every night after the concert. Why? Because she received crazy visits in the dressing room! In Los Angeles, just to give you an idea, they came to greet her – and we met them! – Sting and Tom Hanks.
What a fantastic tour it was!”

Can you imagine these three young guys living this adventure? I get chills listening to them talk about it. They are so innocent they don’t even know how to react at times.
Piero is so humbled by coming face to face with a person who has made history in international music.
Ignazio is speechless he can’t even express his emotions!
And Gianluca is so astonished by the event at the Barclay Center he can only focus on what is closest to his heart, his family, and the fact that he is sharing this experience with them.
You know what I love most about this story? The fact that they are so in awe of the entertainers around them. Kind of like we are in awe when we are in their company! That is emotional for me! What these people did to them, the emotions they felt, is so like our emotions for them, our feeling that we walk with great people. Our wonderful guys!
In the story they speak like they want to reach out and touch the people around them but, they can’t even wrap their heads around what’s going on! Who could imagine that these three young boys who stepped off the stage of Ti Lascio una Canzone would travel around the world, join renowned singers and, immediately become a part of an industry which, in reality, is so hard to break into? Yes, it was La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny) that led them to America.
They were in the first steps of their career and, they were on The Ride of Their Lives and they didn’t even know it!

I got very emotional writing this story. This video added to my emotions. It was from their concert that took place in Miami on October 6, 2011. What a great find! I hope you all enjoy it!

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 all photos and videos

Only One Step from Stardom by Susan

With ‘O Sole Mio’ in hand, the boys set out for night four of Ti Lascio una Canzone.
It’s April 25th, 2009, and these three teenage boys who only met a short time before are getting ready to turn their world upside down. They are now Only One Step from Stardom!
Let’s see where do we begin? How about where they began, when they stepped on that stage, and immediately became stars?
The first time these three boys sang together everyone was amazed. Who wasn’t amazed, Roberto Cenci! He knew exactly what he was doing. He realized by putting these three voices together he would create an amazing sound! How right he was!

So, let’s turn to Piero who will tell us how the guys first sang together….
I remember Roberto Cenci calling us all three to the center of the stage during the rehearsals.
‘Piero, Gianluca and Ignazio, come here.’
They start ‘O Sole Mio’ and we sing as we had divided the parts. Gianluca begins with the first verse and then it’s my turn, I attack with ‘Ma n’ato sole,’ (but another sun). This ‘Ma n’naaaato’ with the note kept so long and vibrated, as we still sing it today, was born in that first test because I learned, ‘O Sole Mio,’ by listening to the Three Tenors, that is Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Josè Carreras. And Pavarotti made those three words of refrain with a very, fast, but difficult beat. I did not have that technique, so I did it slowly. Then I asked: ‘Roberto, sorry, can I do it my way the ‘ma n’ato sole?’ He answers ‘Yes.’  And I say, ‘Unplug the orchestra when it’s time and come behind me.’

Ignazio tells us about the reaction to their singing it on that Saturday night….
That Saturday night there was a great standing ovation for us, with ‘O Sole Mio.’ I think that that performance marked the real starting point of our career.
When I had agreed to do the auditions, I was aware that it would be a great experience and would last only two months. But I never expected that we could get all this great success.

 Gianluca puts the event in the history books…
The theater came down.
Piero on my left, me in the middle, Ignazio on my right. In the history of music no one had ever seen three children of thirteen or fourteen sing these kinds of songs. So, we must also thank Roberto Cenci because, if it wasn’t for him maybe today, we would not be here. It was nice, it was something…. How can I tell you? It was natural. I immediately enjoyed singing together, there was no problem.
But it was also all unexpected.
I thought there were three hundred thousand boys singing like me, and instead that night I discovered that there are only two: Ignazio and Piero.

Piero looks back over the events since that night….
But can you think about how far we’ve come? We did not even know each other and now we have been working together for six years, we toast together, we cry together.
By now Gianluca and Ignazio, but let’s not let them know, they are a part of me, I do not know how I could do without them.
I’ll make you understand one thing: when I’m on stage singing my solo, as soon as I finish, I cannot wait for the other two to come because I feel their moral, psychological and even physical support. If I feel bad, I know that there are two of them that can help me, we can help each other, and this is fundamental for me, to feel that we support each other, that we are always together.
And if I think of how far we have come from Ti Lascio una Canzone, I am reminded of Antonella Clerici.  Antonella was the one who, even after the program, has always supported our project. Every time someone spoke badly about us, she was ready to defend us, she never changed, she never, never, demanded a thank you and I must tell you that we still speak to each other every time there is something new. She’s just like you see her on TV: sincere.
So, let’s step away from the stage a moment and talk about what was going on behind the scenes. Well, we certainly know that the idea to put the three together was the genius of Roberto Cenci the artistic director and director of the program. But there was so much more happening!

In his book Ricomincio Dai Tre (I Start Again from Three) Michele Torpedine, their manager tells us what happened that night.
Alone in his apartment, Michele Torpedine was sitting on his sofa with the volume off on his TV. The show he was watching was Ti Lascio Una Canzone. He keeps looking at the screen and he suddenly thinks, Ignazio reminds him of Luciano Pavaroti, Gianluca seemed similar to Jose Carreras and Piero is similar to Placido Domingo. He still had not heard them sing. Out of curiosity, he raised the volume and Michele says, “here I am aware of another element, that is even more important than the first. The three casually put together to sing a song of the program possess an incredible vocality for their age.”
At this point Michele’s head is spinning. He’s thinking these guys are good and again repeats it to himself, they’re good! He thinks, “What if I try to put them together seriously? A trio he tells himself. Here’s what I could do….”
Michele says, “The next day I am a volcano. I want to talk to everyone: producers, managers, families.”
For Michele it was a return to the beginning. Only this time it was better.
Michele explained in his book that the day the guys came together singing, “O Sole Mio” on Ti Lascio una Canzone, he was at the end of his career. For him it was truly over. All he had done for so many now seemed in vain. But with this vision before him, three amazing teenagers, he was able to see a new light. A light that would start the wheels rolling again. A light that would reveal truth. A truth that never before was revealed to him. A truth he searched for his whole life but would only find in his relationship with Il Volo.
And so it begins…
Now the guys will tell us how it all came together….

Piero begins….
On June 9th, 2009, nine days after the end of Ti Lascio Una Canzone, my parents left for Rome. They were a bit mysterious about it. When I asked them what they were going to do in Rome they only replied that they had to meet a person and, I tell the truth, I did not even insist on knowing who.
They leave, and where am I going to sleep? At my grandparents, of course. The next day they come home and then, yes, I wanted to know something more. ‘Dad, what have you done in Rome?’
‘Nothing’ he answers, ‘we met a certain Torpedine.’
The first thing I do, is go on the Internet and look up ‘Torpedine.’ A lot of things came up, musician and record producer of people like Pino Daniele, Lucio Dalla, Fabrizio De Andre, Giorgia, Biagio Antonacci, Zucchero (and he took him to the Kremlin in 1990) and Andrea Bocelli, only to name some names. He has managed Gianna Nannini’s America tour, has edited the records and events for the thirtieth anniversary of Pino Daniele’s career, and has had the artistic management of an edition of Thirty Hours for Life. He was also the artistic director of the first two editions of Pavarotti and Friends, and he did a lot of other things that it would take a book just to tell them all.
Anyway, I read everything I found on the Internet and the same day I went back to dad: ‘But what did this Torpedine tell you?’ My father was very vague, really, very vague. ‘No, nothing, we talked like that.’
I did not know what to expect, there was a strange atmosphere since the show was over. I knew that the parents of Ignazio and Gianluca had gone to that appointment, but I did not know what to think.
After a month, my parents make another trip to Rome to meet the legendary Torpedine, while my brother, my sister and I go back to sleep at our grandparents’ house. The day after, mom and dad came back to Naro with a check. It was the advance of the contract.
‘Piero, we signed a contract with Torpedine for a record’ my father told me, immediately and without being vague this time. And do you know what I thought? ‘Wow nice.’ But so, very simply. I did not understand the importance of the thing, I swear, I did not understand it.

And what was Ignazio’s reaction….
And who understood it, Pie?
Immediately after the end of the program my parents, like those of Piero, received a call from the office of Bibi Ballandi.
Who is Bibi Ballandi? Eh, even here we should open not just a chapter, but a whole book to explain it because he is the producer with a capital P. Some examples? The shows on Rai Uno de Fiorello and Celentano, Dancing with the Stars and also Ti Lascio una Canzone.
From Ballandi’s office, they wanted the parents of the three boys – we did not have a name yet – to go to Rome to discuss their children’s future. I stayed at home, just like Piero. On their return, as usual, mom and dad sat down with me and my sister around the table to talk about what had happened in Rome. Michele Torpedine who came back after seventeen years of managing, Andrea Bocelli, and Tony Renis, Mister Quando, Quando, were interested in us. What did I think? What could I think, one who in the last five years had done nothing but sing from morning to night? After several meetings we signed our first managerial contract.

But, of course, Gianluca remembers it differently….
I do not remember all these things, Igna.
That is a period that I really cannot remember in general.
I was just a child who dreamed. While the other guys who had participated in the broadcast returned home to go to the beach and were preparing to start a new school year, the three of us walked towards a professional artistic career.
I really did not realize it. I did not even know what the contracts were like, I did not care. Once I told my father something like this: ‘But why, to be a singer, it takes a contract?’ I only remember that at a certain point we went to lunch in Rome, at Rome Cavalieri with Tony Renis to talk about music and recording songs. The contract had already been signed. I was there with my father, Piero, Ignazio and their parents.
Yes, during the period of Ti Lascio una Canzone there was a rumor about these three tenorini’s.  After the program there was much talk about the three tenors. But as a child what can you understand?
Even when we first met Michele Torpedine and Barbara Vitali, who since then became the fourth member of the group, even if you never see her on stage, I did not understand just how it was possible that Andrea Bocelli’s manager was interested in us. It was something that upset me. I went to see Bocelli my idol and to work with the manager who had made him famous. A dream, in fact!
We were three funny, awkward, children: Ignazio fat, Piero roly-poly too, I was small and plump and with pimples. So, at the first meeting, I look at Torpedine and ask him: ‘But what came into your mind?’
Sometimes even today I look at the photos, the videos of when we were little ones and I still ask myself had he really seen into the future. And he also had a lot of patience, because in addition to being funny and clumsy, we were very confused and, wherever we went, everyone looked at us in a strange way. Like that evening, in Jesolo, when we met Michele.

We finally finished Ti Lascio Una Canzone and they invited us to sing on June 27th, 2009, at the nineteenth edition of Miss Italy in the world. The evening was broadcast on Rai Uno by the Jesolo Tourist Palace, conducted by Caterina Balivo and Biagio Izzo.
When we arrived in the dressing rooms, I saw Raf. ‘Oh my God, there’s Raf!’ I said. “Let me take a picture. I run to him like crazy, ‘Can I take a picture with you?’ We were three children at the park playing. Ignazio, to name one, he poured the Coca-Cola on the floor in the dressing room, and it ended up also on Michele’s jacket. Michele turns and says to Barbara look, I still remember it, with a face looking like ‘Oh my God.’

So, until now, I did not talk about the results of Ti Lascio Una Canzone because I was waiting to tell you all three stories. So how did everyone do in the competition?

Gianluca won the first night singing “Il Mare Calmo della Sera.”

Ignazio won the second night with the song, “Quando l’amore Diventa Poesia.”
Gianluca won the third night with the song, “La Luna che non c’è.”

And, Piero won the fourth night with the song, “Un Amore Così Grande.”
Gianluca won the competition with the song “Il Mare Calmo della Sera.”
Ignazio came in second with “Quando l’amore Diventa Poseia”
Piero came in third with “Un Amore Così Grande.”

And the biggest win of the night, they walked off the stage, Only One Step from Stardom!

The source for many of my stories is the guy’s book “Un’avventure straordinaria, la nostra storia,” (An extraordinary adventure, our story). If you can read Italian, I advise that you read it. It truly is an extraordinary story! (Available on Amazon)

And while you’re at it, Michele Torpedine’s book Ricomincio Dai Tre (I Start Again From Three) is also a good read. It is in Italian and available on Amazon.

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 http://www.ilvolo flightcrw.com.
Credit to the owners of all photos and videos

Three Ordinary Boys by Susan

It’s been almost two years since I started writing my stories about Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca. The stories begin where they began, the day they were born. The source for many of my stories is their book “Un’avventure straordinaria, la nostra storia,” (An extraordinary adventure, our story). Extraordinary is an understatement. The story tells of three teenage boys who came together in a talent competition and went on to become an extraordinary trio, super stars, known worldwide and loved by their fans, all five million of them. How it happened and why it worked has to be seen as a plan, not just a plan by the people who saw the potential in these three teenagers but a higher more important plan, one that began where they began, one that was touched by the hand of God.

To understand how they came together, we need to understand where it all began. Over the next four weeks I will revisit each of their stories so when they open at Radio City Music Hall, all the new fans will have the back stories.
This is my story of Three Ordinary Boys with extraordinary voices!
In these stories, I did not change the thoughts or feelings of any of the guys, in any of their stories. All the Italics are their own words. You might say I’m relating their story as seen through my eyes.
In the early years each one was raised in a different way but the role that music played in their lives is similar in the beginning years, different in the middle years, remarkable in their teen years and absolutely amazing in recent years!
I begin my story as I begin most of my stories with Piero….
Piero is a great storyteller! When he tells a story he recalls every detail. He makes you feel like you’re a part of his story. When the story is over you know the event as it happened and there is nothing more for you to know. He’s told it all. He is very sensitive and very emotional when he speaks about his childhood and his family.
So, without further ado, let’s meet Piero in the courtyard of the town square of Naro.
The heat of the day has passed and, the time of rest is over and its’ time for people to come out into the square. On the bench some old men are talking. Piero is playing soccer with his friends. They are playing with his SUPER TELE (a plastic football). The ball flies off in the direction of the old men and they shout, “slow with the ball or we will cut it.” The old men frighten Piero with their threat….
My name is Piero Barone. I was born on June 24, 1993, in the Sicilian city of Naro.
What can I tell you about Naro? For me, it is the most beautiful city in the world! There are dozens of baroque churches and above the city the Chiaramonte castle. Below the castle is the beautiful Valle del Paradiso with its’ green pastures and the green sea that separates Naro from the real sea… and there’s the Spring Festival Narese!
Piero would gather with his friends in the afternoon and usually they played until ten in the evening but there was always the fear that the old men would pierce the ball.
Five or six years have passed since the old men scared me. The old men are still on the bench but now when they see me, they come to meet me, to greet me. Before, they scared me, and now they hug me and have that look of being proud and moved. It’s too strong for me! Yet, I still can’t explain why I become ‘weak inside’ when I see them.
The truth is, I’m still that kid with his SUPER TELE.

Piero continues….  I think it is an effort to remember when we were young. We were young the day before yesterday. In fact, all three of us feel that time has run too fast. Yesterday we were children, and, in a moment, we found ourselves grown up with a great job to carry on. Its’ the most beautiful job in the world, what we dreamed and desired, but the truth is that none of us really imagined what would happen.
What I’ve done in the last five or six years, I tend to forget. Not because I’m not happy to have done it, on the contrary, I am, very, happy. Its’ to have the life I have and have a dream come true: living with music was all I wanted.
Piero recalls a special day in his childhood.
When I was a child, I visited my father’s body shop. The shop was, very, big and was full of cars and lots of noise. This was my “first stage.” I was not yet four years old, and I was starting to sing. My father lifted me up and placed me on the hood of a car that was jacked up and I immediately began to sing. The people in front of the shop looked out. Slowly one after another, they came out. I remember them, they stood there listening to me, their heads popping out of the door and, I sang and, it was the most natural thing in the world for me!
But it didn’t start in the garage, no it all began in the garden of Piero’s grandparents’ house.
There was a Mulberry Tree in the garden and hanging on that tree was an old-fashioned swing.
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 continues…. 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 on the swing 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. (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 was a friend of Pietro, and he shared a passion for music with him. Antonio 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 grandfathers’ song in Sicilian. But it didn’t stop there!
The next day they went to the countryside to the Riolo’s house. Piero’s grandparents had a country house and the Riolo’s were their neighbors. Pietro had a good relationship with Mr. Riolo, because he had worked for him in the past and they were family friends. So, Pietro and Piero went to visit Mimmo Riolo. 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 Cosi’ Grande by Mario del Monaco. And I learned it right away, but right away. (Piero has a photographic memory when it comes to songs. He only has to hear a song once or twice and he has it.) My grandfather was very proud. And something told me the next day we would go to record Un Amore Cosi’ Grande at Antonio’s house.
The day after they visited Mr. Riolo, they went to Anotonio’s house to record Un Amore Cosi Grande.

So, let’s look at where it all began for Ignazio….

Piero and Gianluca dictated their stories, but Ignazio wrote his story. Ignazio is an amazing writer as is obvious in the fact that he writes such beautiful lyrics. Ignazio gives you the facts in his story and I follow him by giving you information that is important to the story.
This is a very, sensitive and sincere story! So, let’s begin, in Ignazio’s own words!
If a life is a story and, if every story needs someone to tell it, here I am to tell you mine, all of it from the beginning.
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. My story is sincere. It is the story of my life just as I experienced it before Il Volo and inside Il Volo.
My flight (every reference is purely coincidental) starts with a Christmas Letter.
It seems Ignazio’s mother, Caterina, and his father, Vito, were thinking about expanding their family. It is Christmas time 1993. Ignazio’s sister Antonia, who everyone calls Nina, is at school and the children are told to write a letter to Santa and the Baby Jesus. What Nina writes is a miracle and the beginning of one of the most beautiful and sincere relationships between a brother and sister. Nina, 7 years old, writes:
Dear Santa and Baby Jesus,
I do not want any presents for Christmas. Give my gifts to poor children. I want a baby brother for Christmas.
Nina
Ignazio continues…. Said and done!
Shortly after New Year’s Caterina discovers she is pregnant. When Nina is told she wants to confirm that her request has come true. Nina asks her mother if she can join her for her first ultrasound. During the checkup, Nina asks the doctor, “May I know what it is?”
“What do you want, honey?” the doctor asks.
“I want a little brother.”
“Then come, I’ll show you the string bean.”
Nina’s first wish is granted but her second wish, not exactly! Nina wants her brother to be born on October 1st, her birthday. It seems Ignazio had another idea.
My name is Ignazio Boschetto. I was born on October 4, 1994, in Bologna, Italy.
No, I didn’t make it for Nina’s birthday. I was wrong. What can I tell you? When they brought me home, I was better than any doll to Nina. Everyone was happy but soon, there are some worries. During the first visit, the doctor found that I had a strange kidney malfunction. After several checkups, they found I was born with a single kidney, but the one kidney I had was larger than normal and it works as if it were two kidneys.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, I was born with the squint of Venus, but I was fine, a Bolognese, brand new. The truth is, I could have been born Sicilian – Sienese. How would you see me with a Tuscan accent?
Ignazio has a deep and abiding love for his parents and all they did for him, as is evident in his memories….
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.
In 1990 when Nina was four years old and before Ignazio was born, his parents made the decision to leave Marsala. They left with the hope of a better life for their family. As Ignazio says, The family they had only begun to create.  Things were not going well in Marsala, and it was difficult to make a living for a family. They decided to go to Siena because a good friend of Ignazio’s maternal grandfather, who was a building contractor, offered Mr. Boschetto a job. Ignazio’s parents would do anything to make the families’ life better. Ignazio says, of the sacrifices they have made there were many and big for me and for my sister, I do not spend a day when I do not think about how proud I am of them.
On arrival in Buoncovento, Mr. Boschetto worked as a mason. Mrs. Boschetto did many different jobs. By 1992 they realized they did not earn enough to keep going. And, Ignazio would say, that’s why I was born in Bologna. They made the decision to move to San Martino on Agrine near Bologna. Upon arrival, Mr. Boschetto, being a mason, immediately found a job. Mrs. Boschetto was always a determined person who had a great desire to keep busy. She reinvented herself. She was a good cook and she found herself a job as a chef in a restaurant not far from home.

Within a few years they managed to achieve economic stability and decided to move into a house. Finally, a house just for them in Guarda di Molinella. Ignazio says, the house was very small, but it was my first house, the one in which I was born.
By far, Ignazio was the most pampered member of the family. He was a lively child who laughed all the time. Ignazio says…. I never stopped laughing.
He learned very quickly to talk and walk. He was never silent.
Ignazio continues…. When I was three or four years old – I played with the piano my parents had given Nina. My mother says I was one years old when I played. Nina taught me to play Happy Birthday with one finger. I was a happy child. My mother told me, ‘You’ve never been a child,’ in the sense that I was always quite serious and responsible. I ask you, ‘Would you ever say that?’ In all, I was a happy child. It seemed the situation started getting better. It wasn’t all roses and flowers but in four years it had changed a lot and so the moves were not finished. The moves were always to make a better life for me and Nina. The moves continued even after my birth. When it seemed that we were fine, it was always time to leave.
Of all the houses I lived in, one particular address remains in my mind: Via Marconi 94 in Molinella. It was a big and very beautiful house. We moved there just before I started elementary school. 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. It was official I was not the most mischievous in class that would be my friend Nicholas. I was second. It was always an open challenge, a race to the red crosses.
Now the question arises: What are the red crosses? The teachers had a billboard and on it they listed all the students in alphabetical order. If you were good in your school and good in your grades, you got a blue cross, however, if you had taken an insufficiency or if you behaved badly, ‘evil was everywhere!’ Nicolas and I were the most popular! Our billboard line was a red fire specimen.
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 E ‘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 E ‘Mobile.’ Now I would not want you to get the wrong idea of me as a child. A saint I was not, mind you, but thinking about it now if I was mischievous at school, maybe there was a reason.
Around 1998, when Ignazio was four years old and had just started kindergarten, the climate in his house changed. There was a problem in the family. Ignazio’s mom was diagnosed with facial cancer. For a child of Ignazio’s age, it was hard to understand what was happening. He realized that something was wrong when he began to see less and less of his mother. She was going back and forth to the hospital for months without finding a solution.
Ignazio said…. Mom did something she always did with us, for as long as I can remember, she explained the situation to us, speaking openly. This is a great merit that I must acknowledge about my family, but perhaps a little more to mom, because the fact of speaking clearly with us children and telling us the truth about things that affected our family and life in general taught us to face up to early adult conversations. With mom we always talked about sex, about society, a little bit of everything that life had in store for us as children.
Now, I’m going to step out of the story because there are no words that I can say that will express the emotion and the sensitivity of Ignazio words….
I do not even have to tell you that since my mother’s conversation, my life has changed. I was small, but I could not afford to think like the other children of my age. As for my sister the situation was even more complicated because since 1998, the year of our mother’s first hospitalization, until 2003, the year when all the bad story is over, my mother has become Nina.
For the first two years of elementary school, those dotted with red crosses, I have not often seen mom, a little because I went to school, a little because she had to return frequently to the hospital and stay there for long periods. Dad worked and my sister, despite her twelve years, had to be a housewife. She has become my biggest reference point. We had to grow both of us very quickly, without thinking about toys and different entertainment, and not so to speak, but really. The truth is that we were not interested in anything that usually affects two children of that age, because the only thing we wanted was to have mom at home.
It is difficult to say what was the worst moment because her absence was always felt. For sure, however, I was particularly impressed by a quarrel with my sister. I was four and she was twelve and I was playing with a toy, she was fed up because I made noise, she took the toy, and we had a fight. After responding badly to her, I immediately repented. For me Nina was very important, really like a mother. In the end I did not sleep for a week. But I never told her, at least until now.
After five surgeries and one hundred and fifty points in the face, mom has returned home. Too bad they did not leave me much time to enjoy her. I wanted to sit her on the sofa and, I wanted all the kisses, hugs and everything I haven’t had in those years. Mom is mine and woe to those who touch her! And instead, a few years earlier, mom had started working in a pizzeria and, not even the time to leave the hospital, she rightly started working again. What could I do?
So, we leave Ignazio with his mother back home and we turn to Gianluca!

As I said on many occasions, in many of my stories, Gianluca is very different from Piero and Ignazio. He had a calm and peaceful childhood. He didn’t have the challenges that Ignazio had or the intense classical education that Piero had. No, Gianluca lived a very simple life. Perhaps that explains why Gianluca is a romantic. With him, everything is about passion! Actually, four passions! Family, Country, Music, Soccer! Not necessarily in that order! He takes his passion for Abruzzo around the world. On tour he always speaks about Abruzzo. He loves his country and, he wants others to love it too!
So, let’s begin Gianluca’s story in a small town in Abruzzo…. Montepagano!
My name is Gianluca Ginoble. I was born on February 11, 1995, at the Atri hospital.
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.
The accents are beautiful, the dialects are beautiful, but I can say what I prefer is the Abruzzese? I am, very, proud to be from Abruzzo. I love everything about this region. And I like to bring Abruzzo around the world and keep it high.
I am right at the sea. I’m relaxing, I’m calm! There is a sea breeze and nothing else. It’s Thursday and I am practically alone on the beach. I’m fine, from God! I’m fine because I’m home.
When I come home, I relax and I am calm, as I cannot be anywhere else in the world. And now, I can say I’ve seen a lot of places in the world. Coming home to Abruzzo, I feel like I am on vacation. Montepagano is right on top of the hill facing the sea, it seems to look like a postcard. It is here that I can get away from everything and everyone and stay in peace. Montepagano is a perfect place, a kind of paradise, but what concerns me is I see Abruzzo ‘emptying.’ The boys achieve a diploma and go to study in Bologna or farther. This is not new this is something that I have seen since I was a child.
My life as a child seems so far away. I remember, very, little of my childhood! It’s like twenty years have passed but, only five have passed. 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, Ercole and mom, Eleanora realized that I had something special in my voice when I started to sing at the age of three or four years. They 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 were sitting around in the square. The town square was my first audience but, of course I don’t remember it.
I had a radio with a knob that turns to find the radio station. What am I looking for? The songs of Andrea Bocelli, my absolute idol. Or Domenico Modugno, or others of this kind. In the summer, I would take the radio along when I went with my friends in what we call la pinetina (the small pine forest), that is a park with wooden games and tables and with lots of green space. Like today I was looking for music, for songs that inspired me and made me dream. My friends would listen to my music but, they liked Eiffel 65 and music from the early 2000s, and so they would tell me, come on, change! What is this? I liked modern genres, I listened to everything, but what I loved was something else.
In November 2000, when I was five and a half years old, my brother Ernesto was born.
I was just starting to hum. A year later I started to get interested in Bocelli and Modugno.
So, Ernesto is in his cradle and he’s listening to me sing these melodies. The most beautiful thing I remember and, the memory I have printed in my mind is when Ernesto was big enough to come to the small pine forest too, I made him listen to these songs that my friends did not appreciate. We sat close together on the ground, and I placed the radio on my legs, or I sat on the swing with the radio resting on the ground and we listened to music that was so unusual for our age. I told him my dreams. I do not think I’ve ever had this confidence with anyone, and even today, it’s like that with my brother. The result is Ernesto has a natural talent for music. He has something ‘musically speaking,’ both when he strums the piano in the living room, and when he sings…. Who knows…studying? Today I trust him as I do not trust anyone else. After an exhibition I go to him for his opinion. Ernesto, how did I sing? Did you like the performance? He answers, well, yes, maybe you’ve been a little waning there. Ernesto always understands and gives me his opinion. He has never studied music, he has never studied singing, but he always knows how to give me the right advice, the right vision. It’s like when we sing together: I play the melody and he immediately makes harmony. At his age, I did not do that. I think the radio did well by him.

Gianluca compares their musical education….
We were lucky all three to have the families we had. Ignazio and Piero were able to study music thanks to the sacrifices, big sacrifices, of their families. I’ve never studied it, if I have to tell the truth, but the music at home has always been there.
As I grew older, I became more passionate about singing, including the great American classics, first of all Frank Sinatra.
My grandfather Ernesto has been a musician since he was a boy. He played the contralto flugelhorn in the band of the town, he toured all of Abruzzo doing performances with the band and has always been a lover of the opera.
My father Ercole, studied music, played drums and sometimes he still does. Let’s say he’s more rock than grandfather!
My grandfather was the first to think of bringing me closer to music. He had a classic taste, more ‘popular’ to say, he is one of those gentlemen who fifty years ago listened to Luciano Tajoli, but he is also an opera lover.
So, around the age of eight or ten, I began to listen to classical music, opera, especially Luciano Pavarotti, and some genre of music from the Fifties to the Sixties.
I took the tape recorder and put the cassettes in, my parents told me, it seemed like I was immersing myself in those notes.
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. Let’s say it’s one of my next goals: learning to play the piano.

As you know, Gianluca has taken lessons and now plays piano.
While my grandfather made me listen to classical music, Pavarotti and music from the Fifties-Sixties, my father made me feel Fabrizio De Andrè, Francesco De Gregori, Giorgio Gaber, Antonello Venditti and, as I grew older, I became more passionate about singing, including and first of all Frank Sinatra.
So, let’s say that as a child I had a beautiful musical culture. What was left of that period? The classical opera no, because today I do not listen to it, it is not part of me and, I do not feel it particularly mine. The only opera singer I keep listening to is Andrea Bocelli, but I have come to him by another road.
If I have any regrets about my school years, it’s that I never studied music when I was ten or eleven. But there is still time.
So, we leave the guys just beginning to get their toes wet. They are singing but have no idea that this innate talent of theirs would bring them around the world!
So, this is where it all started. In 2015 after winning Sanremo the guys wrote a book, Un’avventure straordinaria, la nostra storia, about their lives. That may sound funny considering they were only 21-22 at the time, but in fact, what they did in six years most men will never do in a lifetime. The book is extraordinary because it is about Three Ordinary Boys who are extraordinary. If you can read Italian, you should read this book. An amazing read! It’s available on Amazon.

When I write about the guys, I always say, aside from loving them and their music, I can write about them because I have some things in common with them.
As to Piero, I connect with him in two ways. First, he was raised as I was. Sunday dinner at grandma’s house with the entire family. That was my Sunday too! After my grandmother passed, my mother took over and now that she is gone, it is Sunday dinner at my house.
The second reason is while Piero was swinging on a swing that hung from a mulberry tree in Naro, I was in New York writing a screenplay called, The Mulberry Tree!
As to Ignazio, we have a lot in common. I have an emotional attachment to him.  We think alike and we express our emotions in the same way. I through my writing and Ignazio through his singing and writing! A lot of passion, a lot of emotion.
I can truly relate to Ignazio’s story about his mother. When I was five years old, my mother had a rare blood disorder. I remember looking in her eyes and seeing sadness.  It seemed to say she was going away though I didn’t know why.  I would awake each morning and hope she would be there. She was and she remained with us for many, many more years!
As to Gianluca, above all, it’s about being Abruzzese. I can relate to many of his traditions and his feeling for Abruzzo.  My maternal grandparents were born in Introdacqua, Sulmona. Gianluca’s town is at the foot of the Gran Sasso, the highest mountain, our town is at the foot of the Maiella, the second highest mountain. My grandparents spoke Italian in their house but when the Abruzzese relatives came to visit, they always spoke Abruzzese! And Gianluca, the beauty of Abruzzo does not fail me!

Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to Part Two of our journey through the life of our guys!
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

Soccer-2 Piero-0

Today we will take a look at the guys around the ages of ten and eleven. Yes, the music was always there but, there were other things in their lives that had great meaning. You might call them passions! Gianluca and Ignazio had a passion for soccer. But Piero had no passions! None that I ever heard of. For Piero it was always about studying, not school studies, but classical music studies. Perhaps because he had asthma, he never took an interest in sports. The closest he comes to passion is his love for Chemistry and Math. And if a friend could be a passion, then he certainly had a friend who fit the bill!
So, let’s follow the guys on their afternoon adventures.
A Family Passion for Soccer!
Between the age of eleven and thirteen, Gianluca enjoyed playing soccer! What was it Gianluca loved about soccer? You might say for Gianluca the passion was inherited! Let’s listen to what he has to say about his passion for Soccer….
Football has always been a great passion of mine. This too, like music, is a family passion.

Gianluca celebrating on the soccer field

My father is a big fan of Pescara, as is my grandfather. They were also big fans of Gianluca Vialli, no matter which team he played on because he was a myth for my father. And because Vialli also had a name that appealed to both my father and mother, when I was born, they named me Gianluca. Let’s say that name aside, my father gave me a piece of football culture.
I am a big fan of Roma football, before Il Volo, more so. I watched all the games, I did not miss one, and every time Totti beat a penalty, I covered my head with my arms and, if I heard the scream from the television, I screamed from home. But now there are work commitments and that prevents me from following my favorite team. Even now, despite the commitments, I continue to play football as soon as I can.

Gianluca with Francesco Totti, captain of the Roma football team

When I go back to Montepagano I always try to organize a game with old friends with whom I trained in the youth teams of Roseto.
How did I play soccer? I was good, come on, I did not like losing, I wanted to score goals by force, I never passed the ball, and when I had the ball, I scored. Let’s say that I was a bit ‘instinctive’ even on the football field.
Once when I was playing in Pescara there was a score of 4 to 4. I had already scored two goals, but the draw was not enough for me, I wanted the win. Only the field was difficult, it had rained, so there was a lot of mud. What happened? I pull, huge slide and I fill myself with mud, from head to toe. What do I do? I start shouting, ‘I got dirty!’ In all this, it must be said that the game was true, even if we were very young. There was the championship, with the ranking and everything else, it’s not that you could take and do what was going on in your head. The referee shouts, ‘Get up, what are you playing ball.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I’m leaving, I’m all dirty!’ He shouts, ‘get up and go to the locker room.’ Not for nothing, they don’t call me the ‘little Cassano’ (famous Italian soccer player) for nothing. Cassano was so good and, he was so restless!

Gianluca playing soccer in a tournament

Another time we were at the Borghesiana in Rome, at a national tournament. The Roseto was also in series C2 and even in the very young there were good coaches, competent, good, that when they told you one thing, that was that, because they knew what they were talking about. In that game at the Borghesiana, I do not even remember, against who we were, I did not score goals, the coach takes me away from the game. At the beginning I came back on the bench nice quiet, but after a moment they did everything to restrain me. ‘I want to go in! I want to score!’ I was shouting. I kicked the coach. Now obviously, I would not do it again, even if football is still my passion.
This is one of many stories Gianluca told about playing soccer when he was a child. Let’s think about this for a moment. If Gianluca didn’t become a singer, would he have become a soccer player? He was, real, good!
A Passion that gets you in Trouble!
On July 24, 2004, at the age of ten, Ignazio moved to Marsala. Let’s listen to what Ignazio had to say about life in Sicily….
In the beginning I did not accept Sicilian life. It was difficult for me to set myself up at school because the programs were, very, different from the school where I had trained. The consequence? I was seen by everyone as  ‘the polentone’ of the situation, it was the Bolognese accent….
(A “polentone” is a somewhat derogatory term that is given to the citizens of northern Italy.)
I did not take it (the move) very well. At a lunch at my paternal grandmother’s house, my mother was so hurt by my words that she started to cry: ‘I recommend you, if I die you must take me to Bologna.
Fortunately, Ignazio met new friends close to his home and this changed his mind.
Let’s start from the assumption, if there is still any need for it, that being lively every now and then can cause some damage. What damage is that? To answer this question, let’s go back to Bologna with Ignazio.….
My main project when I went to school was to get home and spend the afternoon playing football. It had been less so after I started taking singing lessons. I had less free time and then no free time and I realized that singing was more important than all the rest. But in general, soccer was really a big passion for me. From an early age I had a passion for football, also because my sister played football when we lived in Bologna and then she continued, even in Marsala. She played volleyball first, and I also inherited that passion, then she moved her passion to soccer.

Collage of Ignazio with the soccer team

At school I was bored, I was learning but I was bored. But I always enjoyed playing soccer. I came home, had my lunch and did my homework faster than light, because even homework bored me. As fast as I could, I went down to the playground to play football with my friends. It happened in Bologna and, it happened in Marsala, ‘nu puzzu’ (the saying refers to the well which smells) it was there that I went after school, in time to eat something, and then everyone ran behind the house to the well.
Let’s say that there were some basic rules to be followed in order to stay away from home all afternoon. One of these was that I always had to tell mom where I was, if I walked away, I called her with the intercom and warned her that I was going away, and if I did not go away, I would call her with the intercom and warn her, ‘Mom, I’m down here!’
After five minutes: ‘Mom, I’m down here!’
Another five minutes: ‘Mom I’m down here!’
Because I worried that she was worried, and I wanted to let her know that I was ……. down there.

Left to right: Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca in uniform with the soccer team

Near the end of July 2004, we had already packed everything and, we were ready for the move to Marsala. I went to get an ice cream with some friends, near home, really, just a few steps away. Upon returning, I saw some guys in the building next to ours playing football. I could go home and do nothing but, it was the last days I was in town? And the game was in the courtyard next to mine, it was practically like it was mine. So, I stop. I did not think to call mom with the intercom, and I played soccer, all afternoon, without even a ‘Mom, I’m down here!’ And mom started looking for me, all over Molinella. She rode around the city and did not find me. Then she called my father, who was at the supermarket shopping: ‘Come I cannot find Ignazio.’ My father arrives, my mom throws the bike in a corner, runs in the car, then, out of the corner of her eye she sees my shorts.
‘Ignaziooooo !!!!’
‘Hey, mom ….’
‘Woeful!!!!’
At one point, my mother from anger also spoke Chinese. If it had not been that we had already packed everything for the move, I certainly would have to iron two beautiful chairs full of clothes for punishment. Instead, as a punishment, no more backyard and no pizza for a month. What then, being without pizza for a month, was worse than two chairs of clothes to iron, because I always ate pizza. And pasta, too. Two other passions of mine, together with soccer and music. I know, I know, you could see from my form. In the canteen, at school, I liked to eat toasted bread! And I always asked for an ‘encore of pasta.’ Mamma told the ladies who worked in the canteen: ‘Do not give him too much soup as he is chubby, just a little bit of pasta and if you do not give it to him, even better.’ One day, one of them replied: ‘But when he comes with that little face and tells me, please another little …. here, lady, how can I say no’ I was a born actor. But in all, the one that gave me the most satisfaction with pasta was Nina. I ate some huge dishes. Because mom and dad had to work at night, I ate with Nina and, she cooked pasta. ‘Nun è che ci ni calava settanta grammi!’ (It was not that she cooked two and a half ounces!) She cooked almost 9 ounces for two people. We ate, really, full dishes. And then, Nina would call mom at work and ask her for recipes: ‘How do you make ragout like grandmother does? How do you make crepes?’ And she started cooking for the whole family.
The moral of the story, in addition to my passion for soccer and volleyball, Nina gave me a passion for cooking.
Meanwhile….
In Marsala, Ignazio, Vito and Vincenzo, and sometimes Ivan, would meet every day at the well and decide what to do. They would build huts, play the game of the week, go for a bike ride, in short, everything and more, and this is also where they met to go to school football that was just two kilometers from their homes. And sometimes, in the middle of a challenge or under a hut, under construction, you could hear shouting “Ignazio!” and everything stopped….
We stopped breathing a second and descended silent. Mom wanted me to go home and do my homework. She wanted, but I did not always agree.

Ignazio on the soccer field

A Passion for Chemistry and Math? And, my personal favorite, the Story of Denise!
We know if Piero had a passion, it would 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….
For Denise I should make a monument.

Piero with his classmate, Denise, dressed in formal attire

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….
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….

Left to right: Gianluca, PIero and Ignazio dressed in blue soccer uniforms

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.
Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca on the soccer field being interviewed. Piero is blowing a kiss.
So, I started this story with Gianluca’s passion for Soccer. Let’s end with the soccer game that the guys played in for charity. The one time when the guys shared a Passion,
The Passion for Helping Others.
I will let Gianluca tell us about this event in his own words….

You cannot imagine the happiness of playing in the Partita del Cuore,(Match of the Heart) a Telethon for Charity on June 2, 2015 at Juventus Stadium. The stadium, in fact, made Ignazio happy more than anyone, because he is a huge Juventino (a big fan of Juventus). I was more excited about having been called up for the first time in the National singers and even more for being able to score. The match was against the team of Champions for research, all great sports champions and big names in the show, from Alex Del Piero to Pavel Nedved, from Jorge Lorenzo to Liam Gallagher of Oasis. What a dream it was! The stadium was full of people cheering crazy. My team was losing, when I came in, we were 3 to 4 and not being able to do anything, apart from shouting directions to my team-mates on the pitch, it made me feel even more strained. It’s like, I know how to play football, you see the others, think about what you would do for them and tell them. No, you scream it, otherwise they will not hear you. Ignazio and I shrieked like crazy to Piero, and then Piero and I shrieked like crazy to Ignazio, but ‘my legs are trembling’, I had to run, enter the pitch, I wanted to score. The coach made me enter in the 83rd minute. We were, as I said, under a goal, but I do not like losing football. So, I took the ball and I scored. What magic! The stadium was screaming, the guys ran to hug me, it was almost like winning the Sanremo Festival again.”
Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca hug on the soccer field after a goal was made.
Now I will give you my take on the game! Certainly, we have to be proud of Gianluca for scoring a goal but, did you expect that he wouldn’t? And Ignazio made the sportscasters work for their money. They never expected him to be so good. This goes back to what I’ve said many times, Italy you should pay more attention to these guys! Now, before I go on about Piero, who I think was the hero of the game, I would like to tell you something about the man Piero went up against Alessandro Del Piero.

Piero playing against Alessandro Del Piero on the soccer field

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.  In 1993 he joined Juventus, where he played for 19 seasons (11 as captain), and holds the club records for most goals (290) and appearances (705).
It’s been said that “Alessandro Del Piero was the symbol of the club for many years.” “He always comes to the training field with a smile for everyone, a comforting word for everyone. This is his greatness: humbleness… he’s a golden person.” A lot like our guys!
Upon retirement, Del Piero refused the board’s offer to retire the No. 10 shirt in his honor, saying: “I’ve really had so much that I would never want it to be retired, this way, every child can dream one day of wearing it.”
Earlier this year, Del Piero joined ESPN. Del Piero commented, “I am super excited about joining the ESPN FC roster. I’ve watched how fast the USA fan base for soccer has grown over the past five years, the emergence of terrific young American players and the ever-growing popularity of the game among fans.”
In addition to his role with ESPN, Del Piero will continue as a pundit with Sky Sports Italia. Del Piero is also a highly successful entrepreneur. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he opened a world class Italian restaurant named No. 10, representing his jersey number as well as owning a professional development soccer team, named LA10 FC and is a co-founder of EDGE Americas Sports.
So back to Piero! So here our Piero decides he is going to take on Del Piero. He 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.
Piero and teammate against Alessandro Del Piero on the soccer field
End result….by his actions in the game, Piero became, in my opinion, the hero of the game, and so the final score is ….
Soccer – 3
Piero you made us and the guys very proud by your performance!
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
*Quotes are excerpts from Il Volo, Un’avventura straordinaria, La nostra storia, various TV interviews and news media

 

Credit to owners of all photos and video.