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Abbiate Guazzone, Italy, April 24, 1950:

Jacques Vallée's "Magonia database," a listing of UFO landings, has the following entry:

78 - Apr. 24, 1950 - 2200

Abbiate Guazzone (Italy). Bruno Facchini heard and saw sparks coming from a dark, hovering object, near which a man dressed in tight-fitting clothes and wearing a helmet seemed to be making repairs. Three other men were seen near the craft. When the work was finished, a trap through which light had been shining was closed and the thing took off. The witness had the time to note many details of the machine and its occupants. (FSR 63, 2; Magonia)

The province of Varese already had its share of UFO sightings, yet this case is in fact one of the most well-known "early" close encounters of the third kind in Italy. Here is the full and correct story:

Bruno Facchini, 40, is a mechanic, married, father of a young boy, lives in a colonial house in Abbiate Guazzone, Varese, Italy, a few miles from the motorway to Milan.

On 24th April 1950, at 10:00pm, the rain had just stopped after a violent thunderstorm, and he went outside his home to go to the toilet seat in a shack, and when he was about to return home after smoking a cigarette, he saw several strange flashing lights which at the time he thought were being generated by the storm, in a field adjacent to his home.

He decided to investigate anyway, because the lights were in the direction of a power line pole. The high voltage power line goes right over the village, and another of its poles is right in front of his home. He thought that a power cable may have fallen to the ground, which may explain the flashes, and he became afraid that his kid might get hurt if he grabbed it when playing outside the next day. He took a pathway that delimited the ground of a furnace and walked toward the place where he saw the flashing light, but saw nothing anymore. As he was about to go back to his home, he saw the lights again, and went in their direction again.

He told Antonio Giudicci:

"It was still a little farther. I decided to go there. Then I saw there a huge dark shape, like a ball, with a flattened top."

He saw that the dark object some 200 yards away, next to the power line pole. He estimated it to be 10 meters large and 7 meters high.

He told Antonio Giudicci:

"In the middle [of the shape] there was a small ladder, lightened by a green light. Almost immediately, I understood that the light came from some sort of lamp handled by a standing man who seemed to be engaged in welding. He wore something like a diving suit and a mask."

Later he summarized for the press:

"Next to a power line pole and to a [gelso, ?] I saw a huge, round shape. From the illuminated disc, a ladder came down. A door opened. I could see inside the UFO, because a light diffused inside, there was another ladder leading to a higher level of the craft; on the walls, there were bottles connected together in rows and between them I could notice that there were gauges and tubes."

He told Antonio Giudicci:

"Driven by curiosity, at went closer, and I saw two other people, with the same clothing, moving slowly around the craft - I guessed that their diving suit was heavy and slowed down their movements. The craft, lighted by the welding tool, cast metallic reflections back."

The sparks Facchini had seen were pouring out of pipes; which one of the figure was working on with some type of device. The inside of the craft could be partially seen through an open vent. Inside were lots of dials and cylinders. The air around the craft was unusually warm and a buzzing sound like a giant beehive was heard constantly.

All the figures were similarly dressed in grayish one-piece tight fitting clothes and were wearing helmets but their faces were concealed behind masks from the front of which emerged one flexible pipe which reminded him of a breathing tube. Facchini later said he found them to be of the same size than human beings, about 1 meter 70.

At that time he thought that an aircraft in trouble because of the storm had landed and that the people were trying to do some repair, or maybe be some American pilots, repairing some new aircraft that failed and he did not know of. After watching for a while, he approached within four to five meters of the craft and offered his help:

He then started to realize they might not be American pilots, as the beings started to converse with each other and call him in "a guttural language," and also because they moved with difficulties and made "strange gestures" at him, which he felt may be an offer to come aboard. The invitation and the realization that they were not human threw him in a state of panic.

He told Antonio Giudicci:

"I offered to help, but the only answer I received were some guttural sounds that were not understandable. I wondered what their intentions were. I had the feeling they were inviting me aboard. Suddenly I heard an uproar, like the amplified buzz of a bee, or a huge power generator. I saw another ladder in the interior of the craft, and all around, tubes, cylinders, and gauges. I understood that this was not a plane, and I was seized by panic, I started to run away."

"I was not so close anymore when I turned my head back. I saw one of the men raise some sort of apparatus he carried at his side and beam a ray of light in my direction. I started to run again, but immediately, I felt as if I was cut in two parts by some cutting tool or by a jet of compressed air and I fell flat."

Later he told to the press:

"After a while I saw four beings around the disc. Two were beside the ladder. A third one seemed to attempt to weld together a group of tubes. Exactly this operation produced the strange flashing that had attracted my attention. Thinking that this was some test of a secret prototype, I approached them asking if they had need for help. The beings started to make strange gestures and emitted guttural sounds, something like "gurr... gurr..." At that moment the craft was started and it was only then that I understood that they were not human beings. Seized by panic, I started to run away. While I ran, I had a glimpse at them and I saw that one of those individuals was directing something at me."

He felt pushed to the ground for several yards and knocked down. Later he said it was like feeling a strong discharge and a burning sensation on the skin of his abdomen. He stayed on the ground but looked what was going on.

Left: Bruno Facchini showing his jacket and shoes
he wore on the night of the encounter.
Source: Italian newspaper Domenica del Corrierre.

Shortly afterwards, when the repairs has apparently been completed, the "American pilots" then returned to their craft, a trap through which light had been shining was closed and the craft took off sideways, making a heavy buzzing sound.

He told Antonio Giudicci:

"They seemed not to be interested in my anymore. I am convinced they only wanted to scare me and had no intention to do anything wrong to me." "They were busy in removing the scaffold and withdrawing the ladder. Then the door closed. All the lights went out. And the buzzing sound continued. Suddenly the sound became louder. The craft took off, gained speed and disappeared."

Later he told to the press:

"I was hit at the back by a light beam, and it had such a force that I felt pushed. I lost my equilibrium and I hit the ground, knocking my head against a stone. Hurt, scared and [intontito. ?], I stayed on the ground without moving. In the meantime those beings were finishing their welding job. Then they all entered in the disc, it closed and went away."

He stayed on the ground for a while, looking at the sky. Everything was silent again. Finally he went back home, and unsurprisingly he could not sleep very well that night.

The following day Facchini returned to the site, because he had lost his cigarette box there when he fell. He noticed that there were some traces and four circular depressions of one-meter diameter each, arranged in a square pattern of 6 meters side length. The grass around it is burnt and lots of pieces of melted metal are on the ground.

"The next morning, after a sleepless night, I went back to the location and I found four wide circular traces, a meter wide each. The grass in it was burnt. on various places on the ground, there were pieces of metal."

Left: Bruno Facchini showing one of the fragments
he picked up on the site on the next day.
Source: Italian newspaper "Domenica del Corriere."

Facchini then went to the police headquarters of Varese and an investigation was carried out by unmotivated policemen there and also allegedly by military technicians (the presence of military technician may well be an exaggeration of the Press.)

The police went on location and saw the ground traces, and Facchini or the police handled the debris who were sent to the research institute for the studies of metals in Novara. The institute examined the samples and merely said they were heat-resistant, antifriction metal, which were commented as "would be ideal in space flight to face the burn-up as the craft entered the Earth's atmosphere," although it is not clear who made that comment.

Several days after the encounter, Facchini estimated he was hurt enough to justify a visit to an MD. The MD found that Facchini had a blackened mark where the beam hit him, and this mark grew until it covered his entire back, causing him pains for a whole month. Because he was thrown to the ground when hit by the beam, he also had several normal wounds.

The next year, some of the debris are examined again by Renato Vesco, from Genova, one of the very first Italian private UFO investigator, and Vesco concluded the samples are essentially bronze with an elevated percentage of pond and some traces of lead.

Facchini said he never really recovered psychologically. Many ufologists visited him time and time again, to check if he really told the story they read in ufological publications, and he always did, with no changes in the account.

In 1981, Italian ufologist Ezio Bernardini met him, and re-interviewed him. Nothing in the story had changed. Facchini told him that when he saw the moon landings on TV, he was stunned that the astronauts' suits reminded him to the suits of his visitors. He described their clothing as "diving suits" in 1950, but now he understood that they were "space suits" or earth-landing suits if you will.

A Navy officer reported a conversation with Facchini:

"You are really a luck one! I would have given a lot to be able to admire shat you saw, this technological marvel!"

Facchini's answer was bitter.

"Lucky, Me? If I had known how much trouble I would get from this experience, I would not have said one word about it, guaranteed!"


I translated the following recent article by Varese News:

The most important ufology case in the Varese area happened on April 24. 1950 at Abbiate Guazzone, neighborhood Tradate. Bruno Facchini, mechanical worker, aged 40, married, father of two sons, claimed to have had an encounter with humanoid beings, attempting the repair of a flying disc. The case quickly became famous, in our region as well as in the whole of Italy. In the September 1973 issue of "Giornale dei Misteri" ("Mysteries Journal"), Sergio Conti, a ufology fan, cleared some aspects of this event, criticizing the exaggerations due to the clamor of the press of that time. Conti met Facchini at his home, in Bainsizza street, Abbiate Guazzone. The man had moved to this new home, but at the time he lived in front of the shack where the event occurred. Here the reconstruction that could be done.

That April 24, 1950, there was a violent storm in the area. At about 10:00 P.M. Facchini opened the door of his colonial house in order to go to the toilets located outside of the house in a shack. It was a rural area then, slightly distant from the center of the small village. There was a violent flash. He thought that the thunderstorm had damaged the power lines. He approached cautiously the light source, thinking that a possible fallen power cable may be a danger for his still young sons. He advanced in a path that limited the grounds of a nearby furnace. After some meter he saw a figure, bent on a platform, who held some sort of tool in the hand. With this, he seemed to be repairing a small disc-shaped craft. Close to this figure he saw other figures moving, wearing heavy coveralls. He approached them, asking him if they needed help. The figure doing the repair seemed to be dressed like a diver; from the top of a helmet to the mouth, he had a thirty centimeters tube. The beings emitted guttural sounds and seemed to make gestures inviting him to come ahead. Facchini, frightened, did this, but he hardly had the time to see the "humanoid" point some sort of camera at him, from which light beam was emitted that hit Facchini on the back, and made him fall to the ground. He struck his head against a stone on the ground. It bled, but he remained conscious. He was sufficiently conscious to see a ladder that retired in the disc, and to see the disc take off towards the sky with a buzzing sound.

The case created a huge fuss. Facchini became famous but this brought him a lot of troubles in return. In a country where peasant and workers are used to talk as much as they breathe, to claim that he saw humanoids could not bring him great fortune. All in all the mechanic became "the disc guy" and after some year, to calm down the passion around the story and him, he stopped speaking about it. Bruno Facchini died eighteen years ago. And his sons by now have nearly forgotten. The wife of one of his sons explained: "No, my husband's not here, he is at work. Yes, I remember that story, but it is damn old."

The story of Facchini sums up a lot to the ideas of the directors of the first American science fiction movies. But if we want to give credit to the mystery, these aspects can help us: Facchini recovered metal pieces on the ground at the location of the encounter. He handed them all at the Istituto di Ricerche per lo Studio dei Metalli (The research institute for the studies of metals) in Novara, but he never received the full response on the nature of the material. He was only told that it was some antifriction material.


Many aspects of the testimony were silenced, changed, distorted and exaggerated. In the above presentation, I have gathered the own words of Facchini and the details that were given back in 1950, or later by himself, and put aside the additions, changes, exaggerations that I could find out simply because they were introduced in several very short summaries much later. Here are some of these alterations.

One account found on the Internet says that Facchini left his house "to take the air," another one said "to smoke a cigarette," while he primarily left his house for the more prosaic reason that the toilets were not inside the house but in a small wooden shack outside the house and he had to use them. This is very common in country houses of that time in the whole Europe, and it may have created opportunities for strange encounters in the night that do not exist anymore nowadays.

The same summary altered his motivation to investigate. He was not "moved by curiosity," he thought that the light may be due to a fallen power cable and thought of the dangers it creates for his young kids.

The "tight fitting clothes" sometimes mentioned in recent summaries of the case are not an accurate description; actually, the error comes from translation difficulties there is a difference between a heavy diving suit designed to walk at the bottom of a sea or lake, and the tight fitting diving suit designed to swim underwater." The heavy diving suit can of course functionally qualify as a diving suit, but the vocabulary lapse has created the mental image of a rubber diving suit designed to swim, then, it was assumed that the suit was not actually a diving suit, but that diving suits refers to some tight fitting suit. Essential information is lost. Facchini clearly said that the suit was heavy in his opinion, because the moves of the figures were slow. This excludes the tight fitting suit, as it would not have allowed Facchini to explain slow moves as effect of wearing heavy suits. The other interesting feature is that Facchini saw similar suits when he watched the Apollo astronauts on the moon much later, on TV. The only aspect that had to be modified is the purpose of the heavy suits: not to walk on sea floors, but to be used in space or foreign atmosphere. Facchini's thinking is logical here, whereas late summaries of the case have altered an important feature of the case.

Probably the most annoying alteration is that many late summaries present that Facchini saw humans, or "figures of human aspects." Actually, he clearly said that he first thought they might be human pilots, American, repairing some sort of craft unknown to him, but quickly understood that this was not the case. This is of great importance, debunkers use such distortions a lot. Many UFO sightings reports start by "I first thought it may be a plane" or "What I first thought to be a balloon," but continue with the reasons why the witness rejected the first idea he had. In a similar manner, the fact that Facchini first thought that the figures may be pilots repairing their craft does not allow to infer that he actually saw human pilots repairing an aircraft. The same applies to the diving suits and tubes, it should not be taken literally just because the witness compared the clothing of the beings with divers clothing, and it does not authorize to infer that they were divers. Of course, in such an extreme situation, admitting for the purpose of the discussion that the report is true, anyone would be so puzzled that the realization of what is occurring is absolutely not a simple process, fear, bewilderment, the impossibility to interpret the figures and the craft in comparison with already experienced events must play a key role in the time it needs to interpret the events and in the interpretation itself. If the figures were pilots and if the craft was a conventional craft, Facchini would have first be frightened (it is 22:00 and probably a little dark or very dark, there is a thunderstorm) and then, by approaching, he would have realized more and more that there is nothing to be frightened after all. Instead, his fright grows when he gets closer and sees more and better, and he is thrown into a panic when he hears the voices of the being and the loud buzzing sound of the craft.

His first idea that they may be American sounds as no surprise, since at the end of the war, the US Air Force was present in that area and used some hangars of the Marchetti aviation plant in that area. Moreover, the Milan airport and the Air Force bases of Vergiate and Venegono are only a few miles away.

Here we have one of many early stories of a landing of a craft and occupants not from our planet. As time went by, it was distorted. The fragments may have been a proof, but who can tell, now? Probably, in another 50 years, the case will be reduced and altered even more and will allow many to utter explanations and interpretations of all sorts, included that the old story "has no basis" or is "a newspaper invention."

Additional sources and references:

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