Tag Archives: Naro

In the Beginning There was Music

In my story today I am taking you back to the very beginning! I want to tell you a little something about the guys in their early years. I will be using excerpt from the book the guys wrote and various interviews they did about the book. This is just a small piece of each man’s story.
We begin by journeying back to Naro, Bologna and Montepagano where it all began, to meet, our guys as little children.

Young IL VOLO

The stories are very sweet and sometimes very sensitive. I found myself in tears reading the beautiful accounts of their special lives. In one of the stories, I had to stop reading and take a breath because it was like I was reading my own story.  I had experienced the same thing in my life and I understood where he was coming from and I felt his pain in my heart with every word he spoke! I’ve been there!
In some way I have a connection to each of these guys. In Gianluca’s case we are connected by country, my maternal grandparents where from Abruzzi but the beach we visited when we were in Abruzzi was Pescara. My connection with Piero is his family. He came from the same kind of family I did. Dinners with the entire family and summers in the countryside. As for Ignazio I have an emotional attachment to him. Ignazio sings with passion and, I write with passion. Many people have said when I write about Ignazio I write with the same passion as he has when he sings. I think this is because we are both very sensitive and we are alike in many ways. We have many of the same traits!
Let me begin by saying each one of the guys is unique in how he presents his story. Piero and Gianluca dictated their stories but, Ignazio chose to write his story. He has a writing technique very similar to mine. When he writes he speaks directly to the reader! He comes in and out of the story speaking to the reader and asking questions. He is an excellent writer.
Piero is a great storyteller! In his stories 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 serious and emotional when he speaks about his childhood and his family.
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.
So, without further ado, let’s begin with….
Ignazio’s Story
All of what is said here was said by Ignazio in his story. I did not change the thoughts or feelings of Ignazio or any of the guys in any of their stories. All the Italics are their own words. You might say I’m relating the story as seen through my eyes. Ignazio as the narrator gives you the facts and I follow him by giving you information that is important to the story.
This is a very, sensitive and sincere story!
“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.” ~ Ignazio Boschetto
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 wish has come true. Nina asks her mother if she can join her for her 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 4th, 1994 in Bologna, Italy.
Ignazio as a baby wearing a crucifix
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 continues his story always keeping in mind that his life is possible because of the sacrifices of 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.
A young Ignazio holding two trophy cups
In 1990, Ignazio’s 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.”   Within a few years they managed to achieve economic stability and were able move into a house. Ignazio says, “The house was very small, but it was my first house, the one in which I was born.”
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. But it was official I was not the most mischievous in class that would be my friend Nicholas. I was second.
A teenage Ignazio and his Dad, Vito, looking at a cell phone
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.
In 1998, when Ignazio was four years old his mom was diagnosed with facial cancer. For a child of Ignazio’s age, it was hard to understand what was happening.
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.
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, 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.
Ignazio with his arm around his sister, NIna
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?
Ignazio with his arms around his sister, Nina, and Mom, Caterina
Let’s move on to Montepagano!
Gianluca’s story
With Gianluca, 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!
My name is Gianluca Ginoble. I was born on February 11th, 1995 at the Atri hospital.
Gianlua as a baby with his tongue sticking out
“I am from the town of Montepagano, Abruzzo. To be precise, I grew up in Montepagano, on a hill two hundred meters as the crow flies and ten minutes by road from the sea, and Roseto degli Abruzzi.” ~ Gianluca Ginoble
The accents are beautiful, the dialects are beautiful, but I can say that 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.
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.
A young Gianluca holding his baby brother, Ernie
This was Gianluca’s first audience but, of course he doesn’t remember it.
Because Eleanora worked, Gianluca went to after-school session with the nuns. He had a teacher named Gabriella. One afternoon, while Gianluca was doing homework, he suddenly got up and started singing “Time to Say Goodbye.” The teacher was speechless. “What a voice you have, what a wonderful voice,” she told Gianluca. “But do you know Andrea Bocelli?” She could not believe how it was possible for such a small child to have such a voice and to know a singer of that kind. “Of course, I know him,” Gianluca said, “He’s my idol, my favorite singer,” Gianluca said this with a certain pride. “Only I do not have his CD yet.” “I’ll bring it to you tomorrow, I’ll gift it to you,” was the teacher’s answer.”
I was seven, maybe eight years old and thanks to Gabriella I was able to start listening to Andrea Bocelli as often as I wanted.
Are you wondering why I suddenly sang ‘Time to Say Goodbye?’ The answer is simple: because it made me feel good. Usually, I would sing at home or in situations where I felt protected as if I were at home. I did not care to make myself heard by others. It also happened that at school the teacher knew my particular voice and she would make me sing in the classroom. “Gianluca, let us hear your voice, guys, let’s listen to Gianluca sing.” Do you know how I reacted? I sang, of course, because it was the teacher who asked, but first I went to hide behind the blackboard and put myself face to the wall. I was ashamed to die. I still remember that feeling of being hidden, while I sang, without seeing anyone. Also, because I was already singing with this voice that tended to the baritone, it was really special. I understood that it was a beautiful thing, which everyone liked, but I was still ashamed. Dad says I also did it at home to turn my face to the wall while I was singing. What could I do? I was very shy and a little insecure.
But now, the shyness is over. Gianluca considered this a defect when he was a child but now, he has overcome the shyness. What hasn’t changed is the constant need for confirmation. On social networks, you see his selfies and people think he is vain, but in reality, he needs constant fan approval. He needs to know that they support him. Gianluca has been this way since he was a child. He always needed reassurances. If he only knew how much his fans love him, he would need no reassurances!
The Ginoble Family: Ercole, Gianluca, Ernie and Eleonora
Time to move on to Naro.
Let’s join Piero in the courtyard of the town square of Naro.
The heat of the day has passed, the time of rest is over and it’s time for people to come out into the square. On the bench nearby are old men. 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 24th, 1993 in the Sicilian city of Naro.
A very young Piero with his young brother, Francesco (Francesco and Piero Barone)
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!
I would gather with my friends in the afternoon and usually we 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 Barone
For Piero life is all about Naro and the family and his fondest memories are of his childhood and his family….
Francesco and Piero standing behind their baby sister, Mariagrazia, who is sitting in a high chair
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. It’s 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.
I remember in detail the years from one to fourteen…. I recall for a few months, during the summer, when I was nine years old, I went to work in my father’s body shop but because I had bad allergies and asthma I was not able to deal with the paints and powders so, the decision was made that I would go to work in my uncle Angelo’s (my mother’s brother) mechanic shop which was just in front of my father’s shop. I clearly recall, at half past ten, on time, my uncle gave me two euros and I went to buy a sandwich at the supermarket. The sandwich was ham and provolone. ‘How good was that sandwich!’
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. It’s to have the life I have and have a dream come true: living with music was all I wanted.
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 what remains in Piero’s heart is what he calls the “campaign” of his grandparents.
Piero with his grandfather, Pietro
How do I explain this campaign? I think “campaign” and I think “family” a couple that cannot be divided.
Piero compares this campaign to his mother, Elenora, and his father, Gaetano. He sees their marriage as an example of love that he hopes to one day share with someone. Piero says,
I want someone with whom I can carry on that love that is so great even in times of difficulty.
And part of that love, Piero explains, comes from the closeness of his family.
I am proud to say mine is a real Sicilian family, one of those that on Sundays reunites at the grand house, the grandparents’ house. Together we are mom and dad with me and my brother and my sister, my grandfather, my grandmother and my uncle, my great-grandmother, my grandmother’s sister, her husband and their three children, who are the same age as us and for me they are like another brother and two other sisters. And there were great lunches from the first to the sweets, things so good that you cannot even imagine them. And the saga continues, when summer arrives and, everyone moves to the countryside.
Piero’s fondly remembers a family tradition…
The Barone Family: Mariagrazia, Gaetano, Eleonora, Piero and Francesco
I could not wait for it to be Saturday morning when we lit the wood burning oven. I went to collect wood around the ground, I helped to light the fire, and I helped to take out the pizza. In addition to pizza, we did “u pani impurnatu”, which is bread baked in the oven. How good it was! It kept that good taste all week. The week passed and the next Saturday we started over again. The bread was beautiful, warm and fragrant. We also made the “impanate”, which are rolls of pizza dough with vegetables inside, a typical dish of my area. In short, I ate a lot of good things and, it was visible (I was really fat).
We have now met the guys at the very beginning of their lives. What have we learned from each boy? We learned they come from very simple, very humble families. Hard working families. Not unlike the other children they grew up with. Their days were spent playing, being mischievous and singing on impulse. The one thing everyone comes back to in their story is their music. Piero tells us living with music was all he wanted. Ignazio tells us between the mischief, there was always the passion for music. And Gianluca says he sang because it made him feel good.
It seems for these young men not much has changed over the years. In the Beginning There was Music and not much has changed over the years except that now they share it with us!
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.

 

Mr. Ambassador!

The Lion has roared! Sanremo is over and a new phase begins in the life of Il Volo.
It’s 2015 and the guys are on top of the world. They won Sanremo but above all they won the hearts of the Italian people. They were home! They were finally recognized by their people!
Left to right: Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio in black and white suits - Piero has a red bow tie
Now what?
Let’s listen to what Gianluca had to say about returning to Montepagano after Sanremo….
“On Sunday evening, when I returned to Montepagano, I found the whole village in a party, not just my grandfather but all my countrymen were waiting for me from the morning to celebrate. Everyone was there, including the mayor. And then, the journalists, the local TV and a crowd of people who we could not count.

Gianluca taking a selfie in Montpagano with the hometown crowd behind him

In a certain sense, the post-Sanremo celebrations continued until August 8th, 2015, the date of our concert in Chieti.”
This concert was important to Gianluca and he wanted to invite some special people to it.
Gianluca continues, “I went to visit the children of the A.G.B.E., the Association of Parents of the Emopatic Children, of Pescara. They ranged in age from 4 to 15 years, and I invited them to our concert of Il Volo Live 2015 in Chieti because I knew that Piero and Ignazio would have been happy to meet them. And so it was: they came, they had fun and we spent time together taking pictures and signing autographs.”

Gianluca signing autographs for the kids at A.G.B.E.

A.G.B.E. was born in 2000 from the idea of a group of parents with children from the hemopaths treated at the Santo Spirito hospital in the city. The purpose of the association is to give support in every way to the children and families during and after the period of treatment.
Gianluca continues: “The thing that honors me most is they were inspired by my story with Ti Lascio Una Canzone.  These people have the children dedicate every year at Christmas time a show that keeps them very busy and the children have a lot of fun doing it.
Chieti was a very exciting moment of the tour but there were many if I think about it. Even just the fact of having scheduled twenty-five dates – from Locarno, in Switzerland, in Trieste and then up to Taormina, Palermo, Malta and the final date at the Arena of Verona, passing through Brescia and Rome, just to name a few – all sold out! That was an immense emotion.”

Left to right: Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca singing on stage

But, before we talk about all the emotions, let’s take a step back and see where this all began in December 2014….
Two months earlier!
On December 28th, Piero, became an honorary “Ambassador of Naro in the World”. The ceremony took place at the Baroque Church of San Francesco. Ignazio and Gianluca were also present.

Piero being declared honorary Ambassador of Naro in the World, with Gianluca and Ignazio also present

It was obvious that many people from Naro and the surrounding area would attend so a large screen was placed outside the Church to accommodate all those who weren’t able to get into the church.
The event was presented by Totò Nocera, a doctor and artist from Narese, who recalled all the connections between Piero and his hometown of Naro, to which Piero has remained and will always remain very attached.
Piero and his guests Ignazio and Gianluca visited the monuments of the Fulgentissima Città Barocca. They also took part in the street festival sharing food with their fans and tasting typical local products.
Naro for Piero means family. It is in Via Verdessa, in the sant’Erasmo district, that Piero calls home.  Via Vanelle, on the other hand, is the street where Piero spent most of his childhood. It is the street where his grandmother Rina and grandfather Pietro Ognibene lived.

Left to right: grandmother Rina, Piero and grandfather Pietro

Mr. Ognibene is a highly esteemed storyteller of the town and he writes poetry in the local dialect. He is at the heart of what Naro is about and he is at the very heart of Piero. It was Pietro who first heard Piero sing and believed that he had great singing skills.
In 2005, a landslide destroyed Via Vanelle but Piero decided to meet with the surviving inhabitants and share his affections with them. This is one of the oldest streets in Naro.

After this event it was announced that the guys would sing at Sanremo 2015. It was also announced that the winner of Sanremo would go to Eurovision 2015.
After the guys won Sanremo, the people of Naro crowned Piero “Baruneddu” of the city. “Baruneddu” and “Prince of Naro” are the names that fans have chosen for their darling, Piero. The first is the dialectization of the artist’s rather noble surname, the second alludes to Piero’s iconic responsibility to represent Naro in the world.
The victory in Sanremo represented for the Naresi a confirmation of the great talent of Piero, already demonstrated on the occasion of his participation in the Talent show that gave him notoriety in 2009, Ti Lascio Una Canzone (I leave you a song), when he was just a shy boy hidden behind his big red glasses, today they have become for him almost a distinctive sign.
Let’s turn to Ignazio to see what happened when he returned to Marsala….
“On February 18th, 2015 the president of the City Council of the City of Marsala, Enzo Sturiano, gave Ignazio a Gold Medal making him Ambassador of the City of Marsala in the World.

Ignazio’s remarks that day stayed in the minds of all present for a long time. Let’s listen to what Ignazio had to say….
“There would be many things to say, because it’s really unexpected, starting from a small city like Marsala and beginning to study a little for fun, and then after 11 years, you’re ambassador of your city, so it’s really something inexplicable. It is also difficult to explain the emotion, but what I can say is in recent years, sometimes I was also criticized by Marsala, people thought I was a haughty guy, who had found the opportunity to go on air to Rai1 and has become who knows what!!
What I have learned, and I do not want to be a teacher, is that before judging a person, one must know him. (applause)
The problem we have today is that many people judge immediately, instead of doing the actions, we all judge and say only words.
In fact, here today, I came with a friend of mine, he came to my house. I unfortunately was not there, but when I went home, we talked about it, it’s this boy here . . . get up.
What’s your name? Antonio Maniscalco?
Well, this guy is an Italian boxing champion, right? Lately I’ve heard people say that Marsala has recently forgotten about her talents and is only interested in me.
Instead, I hope that Marsala is aware, even of these small but great realities, that they are like him in boxing and many other people in all sectors, because Marsala is full of talents.

Ignazio cutting a cake as he is being honored in Marsala

What I wanted to tell you, is that I am the first who would like to have a friend ambassador, in fact, I’m the first one who would like to share the emotions with another person, but I think that many people speak only to talk, and to get out the air from their mouth.
I wanted to say thank you, because in recent years I felt supported by Marsala, and, apart from the politics, with Enzo there is a great friendship.
I have always pulled back with regards to politics because in my position it is always better to avoid, but with Enzo there is a friendship that goes beyond politics, he is a beautiful person.
And then there are all of you here, I think that in the end there is always something that unites us, in this case THE MUSIC unites us all.
We may be acquaintances or friends but, in the end, we are all the same, we are all in the same place, so sometimes I think there is no need to make any difference.
So, I wanted to say thank you to all the inhabitants of Marsala and the city council.
(applause, people shout Mayor you, Mayor you and Ignazio respond to them)
I would not run a city ….. I must be mayor of my life, first of all.
Thank you very much for this nomination, I am truly honored and, I hope I will never disown this nomination, because it is really nice to be ambassadors of your city and I hope to always bring prestige to this city.”

Ignazio being handed a memorial plate with inscription

I think the thing I love best about Ignazio is he is very truthful and, he always presents it as he sees it and, says it as it is! Bravo, Ignazio! Spoken from the heart!
Outside the Town Hall, everyone sang Grande Amore with Ignazio.
So, let’s return to Gianluca….
So as Gianluca said, on Sunday evening, when he returned to Montepagano, he found the whole village in a party, not just his grandfather but all his countrymen were waiting for him from the morning to celebrate.
Gianluca tells us what happened next….
“As happened to Piero in Naro and Ignazio in Marsala, the mayor appointed me Ambassador to the World from Roseto degli Abruzzi and gave honorary citizenship to Piero, Ignazio and Torpedine.

But before that happened, I was named, ‘Ambassador of Abruzzo 2015’ by the city of Roseto. The award for this honor was a statue depicting the warrior Capestrano, a well-known historical figure. The original statue was found buried in the soil by a farmer while working in his field and, it is now on display in the National Archaeological Museum of the Abruzzi in Chieti.
Every year on August 5th we celebrate the Day of Abruzzesi in the world, a day set up with a regional law to remember all the emigrants. On that day five ambassadors of Abruzzo are appointed in the world, that is, Abruzzesi who have come out of the regional boundaries for different reasons and give prestige to their region.
The ceremony, which has a different location every year, was held in the Fortress of Civitalla del Tronto, a village that is a jewel of the province of Teramo, right on the border with the Marches.

Gianluca holding the replica statue of the warrior Capestrano

I however, am still in Abruzzo and therefore I cannot be appointed ambassador according to regional regulations, I was awarded with the beautiful statuette that replicates the warrior Capestrano, for having brought the name of my land around the world.
I cannot tell you what a feeling it is to receive from the regional Presidency the cultural symbol of my region.”
Gianluca was also given an award by the publishers of the Eldos News, who named him “World Ambassador of the city of Roseto degli Abruzzo.” This award was a plaque in gold and silver made by the prominent goldsmith, Roberto Talamonti. Piero and Ignazio were also included in this event, being named Honorary Citizens of Roseto and receiving awards printed on parchment and roses made of silver.”
All the ceremonies ended with the Concert in Chieti. Piero and Ignazio were very happy that Gianluca invited the children of the A.G.B.E. They spent time taking pictures and signing autographs for the children. The guys had as much fun as the kids did!
These were emotional days for the guys. They were home, they were honored, they were happy and they were ready to take on Italy!
Three proud Italian Ambassadors to the World!

Left to right: Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio in black and white suits - Piero has a red bow tie

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 owners of all photos and videos.

IT’S NEW YEARS EVE by SUSAN

SMILE, JUST SMILE!!

If I must tell the truth, this is my least favorite holiday! To me it’s a sad day because we remember all those who we lost over the years and we think of them in a different way than we do on other days. We think that they left us too soon and this year too quickly! I, like many of you out there, suffered many losses this year and I saw many people I love suffer!
Halfway through the year, I was speaking with my aunt, who turned 100 this year! I said, “Aunt Christina, you’ve been around a long time. What do you think about what’s going on?” She replied, “Susan, I remember grandpa saying every 20 years we have to have a war to clear out the old and start fresh again. This is our war!” I guess she is right. This war we are fighting is different, it is a war with an invisible enemy that haunts each of us every day!

What made this year different? The one thing that was really different was we were all in this together. You woke up every morning and turned on the news and no matter where you lived New York, Italy, Germany, Russia, Australia, the news was the same – Wash Your Hands! Wear a Mask! Social Distance!
As to the guys, they certainly did a great job of reminding us to do these things! And when they weren’t talking about this, they were working to help people in Italy and around the world. They took us along on all their journeys in support of these people. We joined them for Altismo Live! In support of Latin American farmworkers. We enjoyed circling Italy through project Italians 4 Life with the wonderful song Ma Il Cielo è Sempre Più Blu (But the Sky is Getting Bluer and Bluer). And, of course, O Sole Mio for UNICEF!

So, we’ve come to the end of the year that was, and now we have to take time to reflect on what we are leaving behind! Yes, there were lots of bad things that happened but there were also some good things.  Having a hard time figuring out what they were?  Let’s take a look at some of the good things that the guys did! They came to us live every day! So, let’s start there.

LIVE FROM IGNAZIO’S HOME STUDIO

The announcement that came from Ignazio on May 16th kept us sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to see what this project would be. We knew it would include the Il Volo musicians but what was this big surprise. Ignazio gave us a hint!
Ignazio said: With this video, I would like to thank many people. First of all, the doctors who during this time made their lives available to others. Here it is, altruism. I think it’s one of the most important things in the world.
For me, this is one of the most important songs, this song makes us understand that we are all part of this world and everyone has a piece of the universe. And so, I decided to propose “Almeno tu nell’ Universo” . (At Least You in the Universe)

What we got was a production straight from Ignazio’s soul! The drama of the black and white video along with the most intimate, passionate rendition of “Almeno tu nell’ Universo” we ever heard left us speechless. His amazing voice brought us to a universe where there is no limit, and we could float along on his magnificent notes, reaching unbelievable heights! It brought us all to tears.
Ignazio along with Giampiero Grani on piano, Alessandro Quarta on violin, Bruno Farinelli drums, Pierluigi Mingotti on bass and Gino De Vita and Andrea Morelli on guitar, set in split screen, gave the performance of a lifetime. The arrangement and video mix were so perfect it seemed hard to believe Ignazio did it all from his home.  Genius at work!

LIVE FROM PIERO’S TERRACE

We could hear the silence of this small beautiful town and the only sound in the background was the chirping of the birds. Then suddenly, Piero began to sing “Nessun Dorma” and his voice rang out over Naro inviting his neighbors to come out on their terraces to listen to him and applaud his magnificent voice. And how did Piero react, the same way he does in concert, with that beautiful smile he greeted his neighbors and thanked them for their applause. And then, he gave us a birds’ eye view of Naro from his terrace explaining about all the baroque buildings and structures in the town including the history of it all. Jovanotti was just as thrilled and impressed as we were. Piero showed us around his terrace pointing out his cactus and taking time to tell us about his antique coffee mill. What a treat to share this special time with him!

And what about his beautiful “AVE MARIA” that warmed our hearts.

And then there were the:

LIVE PERFORMANCES FROM GIANLUCA’S HOUSE

Gianluca really perfected his piano playing in quarantine! We listened to him sing while looking out over his beautiful garden which looks down to the Adriatic Sea and the beautiful beach of Roseto degli Abruzzi. Picture postcard perfect, it was amazing and we were all wishing we could be there with him! And he spent lots of time walking on the beach with Luna and playing out in the yard with her.

But the most exciting of all was listening to Gianluca’s very romantic voice which touches every one of our senses. He sang so many beautiful songs for us while playing his piano with Luna at his feet. It gave us a warm and happy feeling which left us feeling very secure!

And then the summer began and, the quarantine was over and, the guys came together after being separated for months. And what did they do? They took us on another journey. First, we watched them take on a new appearance with their Dolce & Gabbana wardrobe. Their mini-Concert for Dolce & Gabbana’s women’s line of clothing and the presentation of the men’s line of clothing at the Campus Parade in Milan. It was wonderful to see them back together and listen to them live.

Then they went to Monte Carlo for their first concert in five months followed by their appearance at the Taormina Film Festival where these three gorgeous guys appeared, dressed like three Princes, in their Dolce & Gabbana Tuxedo’s. They were so handsome they took our breaths away. And their performance at the festival representing the film “Devotion,” the story of Dolce and Gabbana, was amazing. Just seeing them back at the Greek Theater in Taormina made us feel everything will be okay from now on. After all, this is their theater, the heart of who they are.

And if that wasn’t enough, we got to spend a Special Day with the guys in Polizzi Generosa celebrating the opening of “Devotion” and Domenico Dolce’s 62nd Birthday! What an extravaganza! The parade, the costumes, the musicians and dancers. What can I say it was just a fantastic day and it was All Live for us to see on Instagram and Facebook.

As they stepped back on the stage at the Verona Arena, for the reopening of the music industry with their presentation at the Seat Music Awards, we remembered their last performance there in 2019. Spectacular then, spectacular now!

Then came the announcement that they would pay tribute to Ennio Morricone with a Concert in Piazza Pio XII next June 5th!

Il Volo with Roma’s mayor.

Which brings another thought to mind! Do we ever take the time to consider what goes into their performance? We see them on stage and we are in awe of them but, what it takes to get them there is amazing and a lot of hard work. In January they will start preparing for their June 5th Concert. It doesn’t start and end with the concerts. There’s lots of preparation and rehearsals. Everything has to be just perfect because, after all, these three young men are perfectionists!
And then there was their final performance for 2020, their mini-Concert at Piazza Pio XII on Christmas Day. And here the guys sent us their final greeting for the year!
Gianluca: On this special day when we all feel close from afar, we wanted to find a way to wish you all happy holidays.
Ignazio: And we did so in the way that best suits us, through music from this gorgeous square where we feel like we are enveloped in a welcoming embrace.
Piero: We hope this holiday season may bring a smile to your homes and warm your hearts. On this  “Oh holy night” we wish to dedicate every single note and every single word to you all.”

Yes, there was so much that was bad about this year but, I just wanted to show you that there were some good things that happened too.
As we approached 2020, I thought with a number like 2020, this will be a year of vision. What was my vision for the year? I thought it would be my best year in ten years. I had so much business and the future looked so bright but, we all know how that turned out. But I never could have imagined, when it all began, that I would spend my whole year doing what I love best, writing! Thirty years ago, I walked away from a career critiquing films. Who could imagine that I would turn back the clock and start writing again! And above all writing 40 stories about our three amazing guys, Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca!
The guys spent the year inspiring us, kept us company and certainly took the time to tell us what they were doing and what we needed to do to stay safe. In a recent interview they were asked what they missed most this year. They replied traveling. It is their life after all. And we are very much a part of that life. Hopefully we can all get back to it soon.
Finally, how do I sum up this year? Every morning when I get up, I sing. What do I sing? “Smile!” Is it because of the guys? Well, I certainly love when the guys sing “Smile,” but no, I’ve been singing this song since I was a child because I believe no matter what happened yesterday, today has the possibility to be better, so, “Smile, just Smile.”

Happy New Year!

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

 

CHRISTMAS WITH PIERO, IGNAZIO and GIANLUCA by SUSAN

Christmas with Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca!

Our Italian Family!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas in Bologna! How does Ignazio celebrate Christmas?

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

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

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

So what will Gianluca do on Christmas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Credit to owners of all photos.

COOKING IL VOLO STYLE 3 by SUSAN

Piero’s – Pasta with Tomato Sauce

I’m sure by now you figured out that Piero loves Pasta. So, I will make Pasta with Tomato Sauce.
In Sicily they use a very rich tomato sauce. But, before I get to the recipe, 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???
The most important event for the inhabitants of Naro is the Feast of San Calogero, the black Patron Saint, who is celebrated on 18th and 25th of June. In nearby Sciacca you can visit the Sanctuary of San Calogero.
Now to the Tomato Sauce.
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 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 the recipe for is a plain sauce that would be used alone or with fish. When making a pork (ex. 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.

Simple Tomato Sauce

In place of ripe tomatoes use one can of plum tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands.
  • 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!

 

Credit to owners of all photos and video.