During a recent short trip to Europe, Charlotte and I, accompanied by a camera crew, visited the Italian city of Modena. Following a short run in with a traditional pizza restaurant we all went to the Montale Rangone Cemetary. The visit was something I had entirely not expected, a small open air place with hundreds of graves, rather more like tombs in my eyes, with each one holding the body of a cherished loved one within.
Along a back row, not immediately evident, there was a wall of family graves, bought more than likely for very good money. The idea of purchasing graves is a tad morbid, though I suppose sensible, as people like to plan for the future.
Just to the right of the entrance to the chapel, there it stands. A collection of graves, cream coloured, the words 'Famiglia Pavarotti' emblazoned above them. Instantly my eye was caught by the largest of these graves, at the very bottom, the name 'Luciano Pavarotti', his date of birth and date of death. Gifts left in front of it, small toys and sealed letters. With the cameras pointed at us, Charlotte and I spoke about the great man and what it was like to be at this monumental site in his hometown.
I almost cried. Almost. Standing in front of the grave of a man who changed the way that so many people feel about classical music. Even those who don't listen to or appreciate classical music know his name.
A true legend to so many - there was a remembrance book, full of different languages, the occasional English peppered within various others, primarily Italian of course. This book was one of many that had been filled up completely beforehand. The most curious thing was the letters, a few unopened envelopes, presumably with messages for the Maestro himself. That someone would write something, for it to never be read but by dead eyes, it's pretty stirring and one aspect of this visit that I shall always remember.
In the midst of the overflow of emotions, I started exploring the names of other graves in the Pavarotti wall. Sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers. I noticed up in the top right corner, a single date, 13/01/03. I carried out a little research and found that this was the grave of Pavarotti's only son. He was born and died on my eighth birthday and this was a particularly poignant part of the trip for me. His name was Ricardo, one half of twins, he died and his sister survived. The things you find out when travelling...
To find out more from Jonathan on this subject, make sure you watch Jonathan and Charlotte - The Story From BGT the new ITV1 documentary which airs this Friday 2 November at 9pm.
Watch the teaser below...