Close Encounter of the 0th type

ufoOn the night between December 15 and 16, 1978, I woke up at some point. I don’t remember much, except that my sister, who was sleeping in the same room, was quietly buzzing. I was 14 years old and she was 12. We lived in Campobasso, Italy, in the Molise region, where our parents are from; about 4 years earlier we had moved from Rome, the birthplace of my sister and myself, as well as my mother’s adoptive city. We lived in a street which at the time ended up in the countryside with 4 buildings of 4 floors that enclosed a courtyard where we raged every day with our games together with many other kids. The buildings stood along the railway that led to the Adriatic coast, on a large garage that served as a shed for heavy vehicles of the largest construction company of the place, Molinari, well known also because its owner was then the president of the local football team.

That night I stayed awake for a long time and at one point I saw my father come into the room to make sure my sister and I slept well. He didn’t say anything to me, he just urged me to go back to sleep, tucked us in and checked that the window was well closed (Molise winters can be very cold).

My father had been woken up by my mother, who had noticed that, although the radio alarm clock was about 4:20, AM there was light outside; maybe it was late and the alarm had got stuck. My father had got up and checked in the kitchen that it really was 4:20 AM. He went back to bed after he had gone into our room, and I went back to sleep a little later.

The next morning we went to school and my father went to work, like every day.


The “Molinari’s Buildings” in via Monte Grappa, Campobasso. The arrow indicates the third floor where we lived from 1974 to 1983.

When we got home for lunch, my dad showed us the newspaper. I still remember the story well: a woman had been woken up during the night by a very bright and clear light, not like the sun, but more like neon. Waking up her husband and son, they all saw from the window a big oval luminous globe that had like two little feet and three other smaller globes around it. They stood above what were known as Molinari’s Buildings, in Monte Grappa street. It was about 4:20 AM in the morning…

I found the news summarized from a ufology site in Molise:

“A forty-two year old woman of known generality, in the middle of the night, was woken by a very intense light penetrating her bedroom window; as she approached the shutters, she noticed four blinding bodies in the sky, one of which was very close by. The woman immediately woke up her 16-year-old son and her husband so that all together they witnessed the phenomenon that lasted three hours. The police headquarters of the regional capital were alerted. The family’s details are officially known (Il Tempo of 17/12/1978; Ufo Newsletter of February 1980; Ufologia n. 4 of July/August 1979; GdM 129/12; Il Giornale di Brescia of 17/12/1978; Il Giornale di Bergamo of 19/12/1978, Il Mattino di Napoli of 19/12/1978, SUF of Franco Mari).”

Only after reading the news in the newspaper, did my mother confirm that the light was strange, clear, like neon, but she only thought that it was daylight and that the alarm stopped at 4:20 AM. If only my father had told me that there was a strange light outside, or if the shutters in our room were less tight and I had seen the light, today I could be a witness of a close encounter of the 1st kind. This is how the simple UFO sightings are classified; the 2nd type requires that traces of the presence of aliens are detected, while the 3rd is where you come into direct contact with them, as the famous Steven Spielberg film released just a year earlier teaches us.

I took it out on my dad for not telling me anything. It was a time when there was a lot of talk about UFO sightings. A few years earlier I had been a fan of the UFO television series (1971) and I was avidly following Spazio 1999 (1976). I was very fascinated by the subject and believed in the existence of extraterrestrials. Science fiction was my passion and it also brought me closer to astronomy.

The sighting has been catalogued in some websites and it could be the only one in Molise of that period, which was seldom visited (1978 is the year with the highest number of sightings in Italy but only one in Molise). In the Italian skies several UFOs were sighted in those days, especially in the south, between Abruzzo and Campania. Who can say if they were related with my close encounter of the 0° type…?