Sightings of aliens come in many shapes and sizes. Most commonly these take the form of witnesses who see something in the sky that they do not recognize, and such encounters often have rational, well understood explanations.
These UFOs usually turn out to be of terrestrial origin, weather balloons or other unfamiliar airborne objects. Similarly they often can be explained through our understanding of meteorology as naturally occurring phenomena, or in the case of recorded footage turn out to be lens aberrations or other in-camera artefacts, if not outright hoaxes.
However not all encounters are at such a distance, and in the cases where witnesses see something up close almost all of the above explanations fall away. Stranger still are those close encounters of the third kind, where aliens themselves are met face to face.
In such cases, the only explanation usually offered is that the witness is mistaken, or lying. And in the case of multiple witnesses, where a conspiracy of fabrication is required, such explanations barely hold water at all.
So it was with the Zanfretta UFO Incident, perhaps Italy’s strangest brush with the extraterrestrial.
The Initial Encounter
On the moonless and frigid night of 6th December 1978, a night watchman, Pier Zanfretta, was on patrol in Torrogilla village. It was something he had done many times before, but that night he had a horrifying encounter with some strange-looking creatures that would forever change his life.
As per Zanfretta’s account, at around 11:30pm, he was checking the garden of the Casa Nostra villa in the village. When he entered the backyard of the villa, he saw an oval-shaped red object which he estimated to be around 10 meters (33 feet) in diameter.
He had been first alerted by lights coming from the garden, and thought that the strange beams could be coming from the flashlights of would-be thieves. But worse was to come: as he turned to flee, he came face to face with… something.
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His supervisors recall him radioing them, but all they could hear was him screaming. Fearing something dreadful had happened to him, they kept asking if he was being attacked by some men. But all they heard in response was “non sono uomini”: “they are not men”.
Rushing to the scene, they found Zanfretta motionless on the ground in a dead faint. Whatever he had seen, it was gone, but when the unconscious men was roused, he had an incredible story to tell.
When asked, he said that he saw several figures that he described as a huge green, frightful and ugly creatures with mottled skin; the creature was around 3 meters (9.8 ft) tall, and it had clawed feet and yellow triangular-shaped eyes. But what happened next was a blur.
Despite the icy conditions, patrols scoured the area but no sign was found of these creatures or their craft. Only one piece of physical evidence remained apparent to the searchers: when Zanfretta had been found unconscious, his clothes in the cold night were warm, as if he had been inside something.
What Happened Next?
Later the Carabinier, the Italian police, carried out an investigation, and they found two unusual marks that were 2.7 m (9-feet) in diameter. On 23rd December 1978, with the encouragement of Di Stefano, Zanfretta agreed to a hypnosis test. The session was carried out by Dr. Mauro Moretti, a professional psychotherapist.
Well, when under the influence of hypnosis, Zanfretta began to remember more. The creatures had taken Zanfretta into their craft, which had a brightly lit interior. There he had been able to see them more clearly, describing mouths “like iron” and thorny protrusions on their skin, which was so wrinkled that they appeared to be extremely old.
He said they came from another galaxy or planet called Teetonia. He also added that those creatures wanted to establish communication, and they will return soon in large numbers.
Searching further afield, the Carabinieri quickly discovered that Zanfretta was not the only person to have seen something strange that night. In total they found 52 witnesses, all of whom claimed that they also had seen UFOs. One perhaps saw the UFO approach the Casa Nostra garden, saying that he saw it hovering around 7:30pm on that evening, around 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) off the ground.
It Happened Again!
For Zanfretta, the tragic and horrifying abductions did not stop there. Just three days after the first hypnosis session, on 26th December, he claimed to have been kidnapped again. He led investigators to where he had been abducted, where the police discovered large footprints on the ground, some 50 cm (20 inches) long.
This was not the last time, either. On 30th July 1979, Zanfretta, while patrolling on his motorcycle, vanished again. His fellow guards found him after a long two-hour search near Mount Fasce, where he had gone missing.
This time, a hypnotic test was carried out at Milan’s International Center Of Medical and Psychological Hypnosis. He was injected with truth serum and while under its influence claimed that a mysterious green light lifted him to an alien spaceship.
Over the following years, Zanfretta would claim to have been abducted eleven times. While no corroborating witnesses were able to confirm any of these events apart from the first, it seemed that either Zanfretta had developed a fixation on abduction, or he was the particular target of whatever was going on.
A Grounded Explanation
Already I’m sure some readers will be crying foul over the approach taken. Unlocking latent memories through hypnosis and using “truth serum” is firmly in the realm of pseudoscience, and in fact such approaches have been long associated with fabrication.
Both approaches have not been proven to uncover repressed memories. What they have been scientifically proven to do is render the subject highly prone to suggestion, and when such approaches are combined with leading questions, as is often the case when a those applying them are looking for information, this will result in the questioners hearing exactly what they hope to hear.
Zanfretta was also something of a media sensation, and may well have been pleased with the attention he received. Given this, the most straightforward way to prolong his time in the limelight would have been to bring something new to the table. Hence the later abductions.
But none of this explains what happened that first evening, and what caused a security guard to scream for help, saying that he had encountered something inhuman. Either Zanfretta spontaneously decided to make up a story that night, or he really saw something in the garden of Casa Nostra.
Top Image: Zanfretta’s encounter with a UFO in 1978 would lead to a total of eleven alien abductions. Source: Danielegay / Adobe Stock.
By Bipin Dimri
Wikiwand, 2022. Zanfretta UFO Incident. Available at: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Zanfretta_UFO_Incident
DBPedia, 2022. Zanfretta UFO Incident. Available at: https://dbpedia.org/page/Zanfretta_UFO_Incident