Over the next three weeks, I will be traveling so I will share with you some old stories which I’m sure you will enjoy. I chose to start with the series Cooking Il Volo Style because not only do I tell you about foods from the regions the guys live in, I also tell you a little bit about the history of those regions.
I remember when I first wrote this series, a woman wrote to me to say that her husband enjoyed reading the histories so much that he finally is going to take her to Italy. It seems he made some connection with Piero and Ignazio’s stories since his family was from Sicily.
Originally, my decision to write about this was made when I read Daniela’s article on *The Support of Il Volo about the porticos of Bologna being nominated for recognition by UNESCO. I remembered that I did a series on Cooking Il Volo Style and, with Ignazio’s recipe, I spoke about the Portico of San Luca.
Of the three, Ignazio certainly is the cook!
Where did this love of cooking come from? None other than Nina! You will recall in Ignazio’s story he said, “Nina gave me a passion for cooking.”
Today we will be Cooking with Ignazio and we will make Ignazio’s own recipe for Chicken Marsala. We actually have a video of him making it.
But before we begin, I think we need a song by Ignazio! I always listen to the guys sing when I’m cooking! It makes the preparation exciting!
Ignazio was born in and lived as a child in the region of Emilia-Romagna in the city of Bologna. A few years back, Ignazio took up permanent residence in Bologna. So, let’s start in Bologna where Ignazio was born. I decided to include a recipe from both the Emilia-Romagna region and the region of Marsala where Ignazio moved to when he was 10 years old.
In an article posted by il Resto del Carlino, Ignazio was asked: What do the arcades mean to you?
Ignazio replied:I have wonderful memories, the Sunday morning walks with the family, in the center under the porticos. And then Lucio Dalla always mentions the porticos in his songs, I think of ‘Le Rondini’. A great emotional value, as well as in Bologna I also lived in a small village, Molinella, where I remember under the porticos there was a lady who made fresh pasta. There we bought tortellini and then at night they were wonderful! If I could, I would always take long walks.
So, Tortellini it is!
Let’s begin with some history of Bologna where Ignazio was born and some history from Marsala where Ignazio moved to at the age of 10.
Bologna is a city in northern Italy that is about a one-hour drive north from Florence. Over the centuries, Bologna has acquired many nicknames: “La Grassa” (the fat) refers to its cuisine, in which the most famous specialties are prepared using rich meats (especially pork), egg pasta and dairy products, such as butter and Parmesan cheese.
To discover Bologna, we need to step back in time to the 6th century BC when it was known by the Etruscans as Felsina. It was one of the most important settlements in the Po Valley. Bologna has numerous archaeological remnants of an early civilization.
Eventually, Bologna fell to the Romans, a colony was set up and it was renamed Bononia. Its strategic position on the ancient Via Emilia Road gave it a certain prestige in the area. During the Roman occupation of Bononia it is believed that as many as 20,000 people lived there.
When the Roman Empire declined in the 5th century AD, so too did the city. The city was sacked and variously groups such as the Goths, the Huns, the Lombards and the Visigoths occupied it. Bologna’s fortunes declined but, it managed to slowly regain its former political and economic stability.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the city expanded and extended beyond the confines of its defensive wall. It was in the mid-18th century that the **Portico of San Luca was built.
The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is known for its porticos. In all the cities the shops are covered by porticos so you can shop in any weather. Entire blocks are covered by porticos. The most famous being the Portico of San Luca.
The history is quite long but briefly, the portico was built to protect the painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus (which is believed to have been painted by St. Luke) as it is processed from the Basilica of San Luca on the top of the mountain to the Basilica of St. Peters in the city center. The Portico was built to protect the painting from the rain. This procession happens every May. The San Luca portico is the longest covered walkway in the world.
Let’s turn to Marsala where Ignazio moved to when he was 10 years old.
But first, before we head to Marsala, let’s make a stop in Naples to listen to Ignazio sing his Pino Daniele medley?
Marsala is a town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily. It is built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city of Lilybaeum, and within its territory is the archaeological site of the island of Mozia, an ancient Phoenician town. (Mozia is a small island, formerly known as Motia and San Pantaleo in the Trapani province, in Sicily. It lies in the Stagnone Lagoon and is generally included as a part of the commune of Marsala.)
The Carthaginian army set out to conquer Selinunte in 409 BC and landed and camped near the site of the later Lilybaeum. In 397 BC when the Phoenician colony of Mozia on the southwestern coast of Sicily was invaded and destroyed by the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius I, the survivors founded a town on the mainland nearby, the site of modern-day Marsala, which they called by a Punic name meaning “Town that Looks on Libya.”
TEMPLE OF SELINUNTE
The First Punic Wars began here when the Punic army landed at Lilybaion in 265–264 BC, then marched across Sicily to Messina.
Many armies invaded but, with the arrival of Arabic Berbers at the nearby Granitola mount the rebirth of the town started. The town was renamed Marsala. The modern name, Marsala, likely derived from the Arabic (marsā llāh) “God’s Harbor.”
Since the end of the 11th century, the area has been conquered by Normans, Angevin and Aragonese troops. During this time, Marsala became wealthy, primarily through trade. However the blocking up of the harbor of Punta Alga, decreed by Emperor Charles V to stop Saracen forays, brought an end to this period of prosperity.
The development of Marsala wine at the end of the 18th century, headed by English merchant John Woodhouse, from Liverpool, who exported the fortified wine, triggered an economic expansion in Marsala. Other English and Sicilian businessmen followed his example, and it was in fact one of these men, Joseph Whitaker, who began excavating and piecing together the history of Marsala.
On May 11, 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi landed at Marsala, beginning the process of Italian unification.
On May 11, 1943, in the lead-up to the World War II, the Allies invaded Sicily, and an Allied bombardment of the town permanently damaged its Baroque center and claimed many victims.
The history of Bologna and Marsala are long and rich and, it would take too long to talk about here. Take the time to look it up. It’s interesting!
Food and emotion go hand in hand, but nothing is more emotional than a song by Ignazio! So, before we start cooking let’s listen to a very emotional song!
Now to the recipe. The first recipe today is Tortellini with Pesto Sauce and I’m going to make this very easy for you.
Let’s start with a little inspiration! These pictures are for those ladies who just can’t get enough of Ignazio!
I had to include the following picture because the reaction to this picture when I posted it as the cover to my story “A Man of Passion and Emotion,” made all the ladies delirious! It certainly is a photo full of passion and emotion! Thank you, Ignazio!!!
I think that’s enough inspiration!
Let’s start cooking!
Tortellini with Pesto Sauce
Tortellini is a ring-shaped Italian pasta stuffed with cheese or meat that is most traditionally served in broth. For our recipe we are using Pesto Sauce but, many people make it with tomato sauce. It can also be made with a tomato sauce with mushrooms or meat. Tortellini originates from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and it is particularly associated with Bologna. (Just a note Pesto Sauce has pine nuts in it so, if you are allergic to nuts or tree nuts perhaps you shouldn’t eat this.)
Tortellini with Pesto Sauce.
Tortellini – there are different kinds of Tortellini. The most common is stuffed with cheese.
Pesto Sauce in a Jar (Pesto Sauce has pine nuts in it so, if you are allergic to nuts or tree nuts perhaps you shouldn’t eat this.)
Boil the water for the pasta. Add a handful of salt to the water. This will prevent the Tortellini from sticking together. When the water boils, throw in the Tortellini and follow the cooking instruction on the package.
For Pesto Sauce just open the jar and add it to the pasta. It is not necessary to heat. The hot pasta will heat it.
Now to Ignazio’s Chicken Marsala! It’s easy to make!
The ingredients are:
Chicken Cutlets (not too thinly sliced)
Just a pinch of Cinnamon
In a frying pan add olive oil, salt, Marsala Wine (be careful when you add the wine because it is alcohol, and it could flare up) and a pinch of cinnamon. Keep the flame low until the Marsala is in the pan. Then slowly raise the flame but not too high. Dredge the cutlets in the flour and shake them off so you don’t have an excess of flour. When the liquid in the pan starts to bubble, carefully add the cutlets to the pan (you’ll see in the video when Ignazio added the cutlets, the liquid splashed back). Judge for yourself when it is done. Chicken cooks quickly.
Quick, easy, wonderful dinner! Don’t forget the wine. You can drink red or white wine with Tortellini and Chicken Marsala. In Sicily they drink many wines some from the De Bartoli Winery in Marsala. (I don’t know if we are related even though I know some members of my family went to Marsala in 1800 – 1850). I know everyone knows Cantine Fina, Kika’s family winery. For me it’s always Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. What can I say? My mother’s family is from Abruzzo!
With dinner there must be music! What could be better than Ignazio singing the very romantic “Quando l’amore diventa poesia?”
I know Ignazio would be happy if we tried this recipe which he made for the guys when they lived in LA.
For Ignazio, good food and family go together. The family’s Sunday dinners were an important part of their week. It was the one day every one could be together, go for a stroll and bring home some fresh pasta for dinner.
I hope you enjoyed Cooking with Ignazio! Before I end my story let me add one more song.
When asked if there was one song in the Morricone Tribute that Ignazio liked, he said, “I like them all but if I must choose it would be ‘Here’s to You’ because it is associated with a historical event!”
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
*To read Daniela’s story, “The Support of Il Volo” about the porticoes of Bologna being nominated for recognition by UNESCO. Go to: http://www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
**If you would like to read more about the Porticos of San Luca go to:
Let’s mix it up a bit today! I decided to write about two amazing young men who celebrated birthdays this week! Our own Ignazio Boschetto and Nico Arezzo! Two shining stars. Similar personalities and similar genius! In the dictionary, under the word music, you will find pictures of Ignazio and Nico. They are the epitome of music!
It’s been a while since I wrote about Nico. Many of the new fans don’t know who he is and, the old fans ask me about him all the time. They like to know what’s going on in his life and his music. They’ve been following him since day one! For me day one was the Verona Festival Show in 2017! An astonishing young man. For those of you who are meeting Nico for the first time, hold on to your seats because you’re in for an exciting ride. Of course, we can’t talk about Nico without talking about Ignazio! The man behind Nico!
So, let’s start with Ignazio!
For all those new fans, I know you all love Ignazio our amazing tenor but, did you know he is also a producer? At 25 Ignazio started his own production company. Does that surprise you? It doesn’t surprise me. It makes a lot of sense to me. At the beginning of 2020 Ignazio started a production company called, Floki Production and the first person he signed was Nico Arezzo!
So much of this I said before but, it needs to be said again. If Ignazio did nothing more than sing the rest of his life, he would be remembered as a singer who captured an audience at a very young age and continues to intrigue them with every passing day.
He is the voice that never ends! The voice that intrigues! The voice that takes your breath away! The voice that leads you to ecstasy!
Ignazio’s story is about music but, it is also about family! Ignazio comes from a very close-knit family starting with his dad, Vito, who has recently left us but will always be in our hearts, his mom, Caterina and his sister Nina. Why do we know these people so well? Because we met them when Ignazio first started out and the guys traveled with their parents. So, when we talk about Ignazio or any of the guys we always seem to come back to their families, as well we should, because we know that Ignazio’s good values come from his parents.
This morning when I started writing this story, a story came up on Instagram that I was a bit surprised to see. It was Piero walking around San Luca. I’ve never seen Piero there before. I know Piero lives in Bologna now but, I always consider Bologna as Ignazio’s city! But this is actually a good introduction to Ignazio’s early years.
In an interview, Ignazio said he would go on Sunday morning walks, with the family, in the center of Bologna. Under the portico there was a lady who made fresh pasta and he said his mother would buy Tortellini from her for Sunday dinner.
What are these porticos?
The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is known for its porticos. Bologna is in the province of Emilia-Romagna. Ignazio was born in Bologna and after living in Marsala through his teenage years and early twenties, he returned to Bologna. In all the cities the shops are covered by porticos so you can shop in any weather. Entire blocks are covered by porticos. The most famous portico being the Portico of San Luca. The Portico was built to protect a painting by St. Luke of the Virgin Mary and Jesus from the rain. Every year the painting is taken from the Basilica of San Luca and brought in procession to the Cathedral of St. Peter’s in Bologna. This procession happens every May. The San Luca portico is the longest covered walkway in the world. It is 2.24 miles.
So, our story for Ignazio begins in Bologna where he grew up, went to school, played lots of soccer and sang in the choir until the time his family decided to move back to Marsala.
At ten years old Ignazio found himself in Marsala. The last place in the world he wanted to be! But like any other ten-year-old, the minute he made friends everything changed.
Ignazio the Singer
While Ignazio’s life in Bologna was all about soccer, his life in Marsala was all about music.
In Marsala Ignazio joined the school choir. Every day he would practice his singing and the people who visited his mother’s pizzeria had the opportunity to hear his beautiful voice! Eventually one of the customers approached his mother and suggested Ignazio take singing lessons. So, Ignazio traded his soccer ball for music lessons and the rest is history!
Ignazio the Songwriter
In my story Land of Sages and Fools ~ Made of Devils and Saints, I focus on a different side of Ignazio.
I wrote: “Sometimes I feel like I spend every day of my life writing about Ignazio! In the last year I wrote over fifty stories about the guys and, it seems as if half of them were about Ignazio’s projects. Because of all his projects, on occasion I’ve had to write two and three stories a week about him, wearing many different hats. Entertainer, Lyricist, Manager, Entrepreneur!”
Last year Ignazio wrote the theme song for a new Rai Series called Màkari! Truthfully, who better to write a song about Sicily and the region of Trapani than a native child! No, Ignazio wasn’t born in Sicily but, for Italians, who your parents are is who you are so, in fact, Ignazio is Sicilian.
It amazes me that the young boy who went to Sicily kicking and screaming when he was ten, became the spokesman for Marsala, around the world, and now for the region of Trapani. Ignazio came to embrace the land of his parents and he loves all the wonders of Sicily. Sicily is different than Italy. Yes, I know Sicily is Italy but, how the Sicilians live and, who they are is very different. Ignazio’s song invites us to take a better look at this other land in the south. It speaks of “a land of sages and a land of fools, made from devils and saints.” Yes, that’s what Sicily is! They honor their saints while keeping their superstitions!
Ignazio invites you to live a new reality through his eyes. He invites us to see a different side of Sicily through his beautiful theme song, Màkari.
Ignazio the Producer
So now we’ve met the singer and the songwriter so next we need to meet the producer. But first we need to meet Nico!
Nico the Energy
Nico’s story begins in Ragusa, Sicily! Nico (Domenico) Arezzo was born in Ragusa, Sicily on October 2, 1998. You might say he was born and raised on a stage, initially “with drumsticks in his hands” … but soon the need to put one note after another brought him to the guitar.
Both of his parents are entertainers. His mother Emanuela Curcio is a dancer and a dance teacher, and his father Peppe Arezzo is a pianist and an Orchestra Conductor. Nico also has a younger sister Emma.
But what is it I see in this family that gives me a good feeling? Values, good values! Like Ignazio’s family! Their good values stand out! It seems they were raised in the same way!
I talk a lot about values because I think it molds beautiful people. To understand where I’m coming from, let’s take a closer look at the Arezzo family.
When you’re a family of entertainers, it seems someone is always traveling so, whenever everyone has the opportunity to be together, it’s a festival. And what do they celebrate? Everything!
Nico explains it in this way.
I’m down! (in Ragusa). It’s Christmas time. We celebrate birthdays when it’s not the right day. We celebrate birthdays when we are together. Tomorrow or maybe the day after tomorrow it’s my turn!
And during his time at home for Christmas 2020, Nico experienced his first earthquake. He said, Yesterday I felt my first earthquake in history. It was weird, powerful! I’m down! It’s Christmas time and everything is shaking! Happy birthday to everyone.
How did Nico get to where he is? Certainly, he got his talent from his mom and dad but how did he get to where he is today?
Nico first came to my attention in 2017 when he won the Festival Show in Verona with the song “Se Vuoi” (If You Want). I happened to be in Italy at the time and I was very taken by his performance. Nico can be very engaging and, you can get lost in Nico’s words and actions. Nico said “Se Vuoi” made him move! I say Nico made “Se Vuoi” move! Nico said he was drawn to this song because, “It’s a song that forces the body to move even without wanting. It’s a fresh song that turns on everything that can be turned on … the same freshness that I want to convey now that the music has taken my whole life.”
The song is exciting and lively, like Nico! I remember that his voice captured me. He has lots of rhythm and expression. He immediately captured the audience. And I know he captured the attention of at least one of the judges that night, Michele Torpedine.
I remember watching Michele during the performance. He was feeling Nico’s every move. I was not surprised when he took Nico on!
So, we have the beginnings for both these guys now let’s put them together to see how they work together.
And so, the collaboration begins!
Let’s listen to what Michele Torpedine had to say about this event, “This is the first moment where we understood.”
What makes Nico so good? He’s very talented and the team is amazing! Nico Arezzo, Ignazio Boschetto and Michele Torpedine! Collaboration complete!
Nico is versatile! How about Nico and Ignazio singing a Pino Daniele medley? Anyone who sings a Pino Daniele song, gets a seat in my corner!
Nico along with Ignazio, Davide Marchi and Francesco Landi, wrote and set to music the song “Volo” which Nico sang at the Sanremo Festival Giovani in 2019. In the song there is the desire of the singer to live 360 degrees, with joys, pains, emotions and also a lot of love. But that’s not all, what struck everyone about his performance was his ability to play the guitar, an element that has conquered the public, the judges and the critics. He can make that guitar Scream!
In January 2020, Ignazio started Floki Production. Nico was the first artist to sign a contract with Ignazio under Floki. This made lots of sense to me.In many ways Nico reminds me of Ignazio. He knows what he wants and, he goes after it.
Perfect Audio! 4 Cameras! A Crazy Band and, it was all LIVE ON INSTAGRAM!
Ignazio the Genius
And, in the mist of the pandemic, Ignazio did a high-quality sound LIVE on Instagram to present the first release by Floki. “Gorilla!” This was never done before but of course the genius of Ignazio brought it all together. It was an amazing event!
While the music world was trying to restart, Ignazio, at age 25, has made his debut as a producer. Ignazio said, “Production has always been my dream. It started with an idea to give a chance to those who deserve a break.” Ignazio reminds us “as it happened 11 years ago to himself, Gianluca and Piero.”
Speaking of Floki, Ignazio says, ′′Working through a small label gives you the opportunity to follow means, believing in people even before the project and following them step by step on their path, discarding logic on the side.”
Ignazio signed Nico Arezzo a year ago but, he had his eye on him since 2017 when he appeared on Xfactor and the Festival Show in Verona. Ignazio said: “After the victory at the Festival Show, Michele Torpedine started following him and, slowly, he and I came to the decision to create a label.”
Ignazio spoke of the release of Gorilla and the debut of Floki. “Yeah! This is the moment Nico has been waiting for, for two and a half years. We could have anticipated the times, but I think we did the right thing to wait. Nico needed to grow calmly in writing. And he’s doing it very well. Yesterday was a debut for me too and it’s a great satisfaction to see written on Spotify under the title of the song, Floki Production.” I know I loved seeing Floki Production on Amazon too!
Wonderful achievement, Ignazio!
In “Gorilla”, Nico comes alive! He is the Gorilla in the jungle! He has the feeling and the expression for this song. He’s bouncing all over the stage. He’s definitely got the moves! It’s so catchy! And people love it!
Following the release of Gorilla, Nico did an interview with Nico Donvito, an Italian Music Blogger. In this interview, I saw another side of Nico. We hear this young man talk about his music. His place in the music industry. How he got there and all the people who are responsible for his journey. When I listened to this interview, I shook my head and said, he’s just like Ignazio.
I heard a, very, intelligent and responsible young man who has worked hard to get to where he is. He talks about, who he is, where he came from and how he sees his future.
Right out the gate, Nico impressed me with his insight. Nico saw “Gorilla” as a means of escape from where we are in our world today and an expression of where he finds himself in the world.
Nico said, Gorilla’ has a fresh taste, because in the last few months we have been a bit obliged to heavy thoughts, to stop and reflect on important things, to close ourselves in ourselves. At a certain point the moment comes when you need a beer on the beach with your friends, ‘Gorilla’ is just that, something not at all thick which and, in certain situations, can be essential.”
That’s pretty deep and right on. It was almost as if Nico was saying I wrote this song two years ago, but this was its moment. It’s when it was needed. To say that the ‘Gorilla’ is that moment in time when you need to kick back or as Nico put it when you need a beer on the beach with your friends, yes, that’s exactly what “Gorilla” is. Its’ light and intriguing and it brought us away from all the madness that preceded it. Perhaps, the finger sign that Ignazio made the day that “Gorilla” was released, that seemed to upset so many people, was nothing more than Ignazio saying: Let’s take the weight of the world and toss it aside. You had your way and now, we’re going to have ours!
And where is Nico now? In his own words, “There are days that if I focus, Traffic Lights go green when I want.”
Nico’s new song, “Polline (pollen)” has been released. Nico says, ‘I wrote almost all of my song in this notebook. ‘Polline’ was born a year ago. This summer this notebook fell into the sea, dried in the sun and ‘Polline’ remains legible.”
In a review a writer said: This is a “new piece in the path of the artist produced by Ignazio Boschetto. Nico Arezzo’s ‘Polline’ is the single that marks the return of one of the most talented songwriters of the new generation already the winner of the Festival Show a few years ago.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Nico tell us, “This song has been ready for at least a year, in the meantime I have written many other things, I have explored a new musical genre that you will listen to soon and I am evolving but, this piece, I absolutely did not want to abandon it because I am very attached to it.
‘Polline’ is a song to which I am very attached, especially, literally. It’s a piece that comes almost as a challenge. They said to me, ‘Can you talk about a relationship that’s over but, looking back, you can say ‘but it was beautiful’? And so, even though there may be a small void hidden between the lines of the song, thinking that I haven’t lived through that story would make me sadder.”
And how did Nico preview this new song on Instagram? Honey jars! Nico said, “I’m releasing a new track this month. Every day I will add a jar of honey in my fridge with a letter on it, not in order. I start today! Go into my stories, write in the comments the first word you think of. Try not to guess right away or you will ruin everything for me! Every day a jar a letter! Oddly, though my Italian is very limited, I guessed what it was!
What is the song about? The answer is in one line of the song! “They say you can understand a person from what you find in his fridge.” Let’s go to Nico’s fridge and see what he’s really all about!
Another amazing video! It makes me smile! It makes me laugh! It makes me happy! Nico, everything you do excites me! From day one I knew you would bring a fresh approach to the music industry and, I was right. You have such energy and, all your projects are ambitious like you. Your videos present the real you!
Before I end this story, I want to go back to my story about Ignazio’s song Màkari. Why? Because this song says a lot about Ignazio. It tells us who he is and where his heart is! Everything else falls into place.
In a video, Ignazio talked about the summers he spent in S. Vito Capo in the landscape of Màkari. What is it that draws him back year after year? Is it the “silence” of the land that screams for you to open your eyes and look around at the wonder of the landscape or, the traditions of the land that go deep into your soul? It seems to Ignazio, Màkari is joy and love and so he will never forget it! And what does that say! Simple! This is Ignazio’s story!!! His story of Sicily, the land he left to pursue his dream and the land he is drawn back to time and again. Yes, Bologna is his home but, Sicily is the place he comes home to!
Mix Ignazio’s Genius and Nico’s Energy and what do you get? A Complicated but, always Delightful mixture!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!