The Bizarre And Persistent Alien Abductions Of Pier Zanfretta

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
March 22, 2019
Last Updated
November 15, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
13 min read
Posted in
Aliens, Abductions

Beginning just before Christmas 1978, strange encounters that would turn out to be cases of alien abduction would begin occurring to a married father while working as a night watchman for a private company in Italy.

Pier Zanfretta would suffer five cases of alleged alien abduction between December 1978 and August 1980. And what’s more, there were over sixty secondary witnesses to most of the incidents. Further still, Zanfretta would seemingly, although quietly, go out of his way to prove his honesty and credibility on the matter.

Picture of Pier Zanfretta blended into a image of a UFO

Pier Zanfretta

As well as undergoing a live television session of hypnotic regression with one of Italy’s most respected hypnotists, he would also pass completely a session using sodium Pentothal, more commonly known as “truth serum”. In short, despite the truly outlandish nature of his claims, there is seemingly more reason to believe Zanfretta’s accounts than not.

Indeed, while Zanfretta would suffer an avalanche of accusations from skeptics and media personalities alike at the time, and to a lesser extent since, those who investigated the claims, and Zanfretta, would all come away with the distinct impression of a person telling the truth. At least in their own minds.

An “Enormous, Green, Ugly, Frightening Creature!”

On the freezing cold night of 6th December 1978 in Torriglia, Italy, night watchman, Pier Zanfretta was on a routine patrol. However, as he drove his car to his next destination – an empty home of one of his clients – it would suddenly lose power and cut out. [1]

He was almost at the property. So close, in fact, that he could clearly see four strange lights seemingly moving around in the front garden. He instantly believed that the house was about to be burgled and that the four lights were the flashlights of the soon-to-be culprits. He would reach for his own flashlight and his loaded handgun.

A policeman searches the area blended into an artist's impression of the creature

A policeman searches the area blended into an artist’s impression of the creature

Still believing he was “only” dealing with robbers, Zanfretta quietly exited the vehicle and made his way to the fence around his client’s home. He carefully climbed through and onto a short rock wall. He quietly continued on, preparing to “jump” on the “robbers”. However, just as he was about to do so, something tapped him on the shoulder from behind. He would spin around expecting to see a member of the gang. He would later state, instead, he witnessed:

…an enormous green, ugly, and frightful creature with undulating skin. As though he were very fat or dressed in a loose, gray tunic. (It was) no less than 10-feet tall!

He would go on to state that the strange and frightful creature had points on each side of its face and a green, scaly look to its skin. Its eyes had a glowing yellow look to them, as well as thick red veins visible on its forehead. Around its mouth was some kind of technological device that appeared to aid its breathing. Interestingly, this description is remarkably similar to those of apparent reptilian entities.

A Large, Bright, Triangular Craft Ascends With A Hiss!

Before he could process just what he was seeing, the night watchmen went into temporary shock. He would drop his flashlight to the floor. However, perhaps the sound snapped him back to his senses as he would quickly scoop it up. Then, with all the speed and energy he could muster, he ran as fast as he could towards his vehicle on the other side of the wooden fence.

As he approached his car, however, he could see the ground light up in front of him. He looked around and could see a triangular shape of bright light rising into the air. As the craft continued upwards, a loud “hiss” was audible in the air. As it disappeared into the night sky, a wave of “searing heat” came over Zanfretta, almost knocking him to the ground.

A depiction of a triangular UFO

There are many sightings of triangular aircraft

He would eventually reach the car and would immediately begin radioing his company’s main control desk. Carlo Toccalino, the employee at the desk that evening would record the call at fifteen minutes after midnight. He would, though, claim he could not understand what Zanfretta was trying to describe.

Not able to get any sense out of the night watchman, Toccalino would request a second security car go to the property to investigate. It was just after 1 am when the car with two further might watchmen, Walter Lauria and Raimondo Mascia arrived. Each could instantly see how frightened Zanfretta was, as he jumped up from in front of the house. Not least, as he still had his weapon raised and apparently loaded.

Over 50 Local Residents See Strange, Bright Lights In The Sky!

The two men would make the decision to rush forward and disarm Zanfretta, who was obviously in a severe mental state, which they did successfully. As they did so, however, they could each feel how warm his outer clothing was. Strange, given the bitter cold conditions and the amount of time he had spent outside waiting for them.

Realizing the unique nature of the case, the police would request the assistance of the Carabinieri (military police). They would send a unit to investigate within hours and would discover and record two marking on the ground behind the main house where the triangular craft had risen from.

Zanfretta, meanwhile, was regarded as a credible witness and not someone to lie about or manufacture such a story. His superior, Antonio Nucchi would offer:

I can state with certainty that he (Zanfretta) is a clear-thinking man with no strange fantasies in his head. When we went to investigate the scene, he almost didn’t want to come he was so scared. Only something exceptional could have frightened him so!

Investigators interview the witnesses

Investigators interview the witnesses

Furthermore, when investigators would speak to local villagers, over 50 of them would claim to have seen strange, bright lights in the sky on the evening in question.

However, in the days that followed, newspapers and television outlets would pick up on the police reports. Suddenly, the whole of Italy knew of Zanfretta’s story. And what’s more, many of these platforms would either ridicule him or accuse him of trickery and attempts to make money.

They Will Return “In Larger Numbers!”

One person who didn’t doubt Zanfretta, however, was reporter, Rino Di Stefano. He would write several serious articles on the incident. Di Stefano questioned why a family man with a good job and who was respected in his community would suddenly make up such a bizarre story and put all of that at risk. In fact, he would argue that “he didn’t want to be famous” because the night watchman was “worried about his job and his family”.

After making contact with Zanfretta, Di Stefano would convince him to undergo hypnotic regression in order to unlock any other memories of the incident, as well as to prove, at least in part, that he was telling the truth.

On 23rd December, just over two weeks after the incident, he would undergo such a session with Dr. Mauro Moretti, a respected member of the Italian Association of Medical Hypnosis.

Zanfretta undergoing hypnotic regression

Zanfretta undergoing hypnotic regression

It would soon come to light once he was under, that as well as witnessing these strange creatures, he had actually been taken against his will to a “hot, luminous location”. Here, they would perform several procedures and also “interrogate” him.

He would state the creatures would use a device that would translate what each was saying so that he could understand them and vice-versa. This is an interesting claim as it is one that comes up in several other close contact encounters. Furthermore, albeit for human languages, similar devices are now relatively widespread in the twenty-first century.

Although the encounter was blurry, to say the least, he would recall that their planet was in “the third galaxy” and was “Teetonia”. Perhaps most memorable, though, was that they wished to communicate with us and they would “soon return in larger numbers”.

“They Say I Must Leave With Them!”

Just before midnight on the evening of 23rd December, while driving his vehicle through the Bargagli tunnel, Zanfretta would suddenly lose control of the car. He realized that the car was driving under the influence of some other power or control. Try as he might, he could not apply the brakes.

An image of the footprint left behind

An image of the footprint left behind

Suddenly, the car came to a stop, forcing Zanfretta to bang his head on the steering wheel in front of him. Then, a brilliant, bright, white light enveloped the vehicle. According to the security company radio operator at the control desk, Zanfretta would claim, in a calm, trance-like voice:

The car has stopped. I saw a bright light. Now I am getting out! …They say I must leave with them!

When assistance arrived, despite an intense downpour, the roof Zanfretta’s car was steaming hot. Furthermore, several huge footprints were clearly visible on the ground around the vehicle. Even stranger, was the discovery of the watchman’s gun, with five shots fired. He could not recall at who. Nor could he recall leaving his vehicle.

This time, a full public inquiry would take place. The findings would ultimately be that no crime was committed, and the case was closed.

His company, while supportive of him, would discreetly ask Dr. Giorgio Gianniotti, to evaluate Zanfretta’s mental state. He would find that:

The man is in a state of shock, but he is perfectly sane!

Despite this apparent medical endorsement of his sanity, the watchmen would again undergo hypnotic regression. And in an effort to convince the public of his sincerity, the session was recorded for television.

“You Are Not Human Beings!”

He would recall some bizarre if disturbing details from the sessions. For example, he would recall that one of the creatures had taken his gun and repeatedly fired it into some kind of panel. He had the feeling it was testing the weapon’s strength.

After being stripped of his clothes a strange helmet was placed on his head. This was extremely uncomfortable, even causing pain on occasion, but it did allow him to understand his captors instantly.

Investigators at the scene of the incident

Investigators at the scene of the incident

Zanfretta was seemingly reliving a “conversation” he had with these strange, reptile-like creatures. He “understood” their requirements and why they had taken him, however, he didn’t want to go with them. He had two children. And furthermore, he would state:

…you are not human beings! You are horrible!

Thousands of people would watch on television throughout Italy. However, many people believed the sessions were all part of an act. Many refused to believe the incident was real, or that Zanfretta was credible.

Eventually, the publicity would settle down and the night watchman appeared to be able to return to something close to his normal life. Furthermore, no further incidents had taken place since. However, in the summer of 1979, that was about to change.

The Use Of “Truth Serum” Fails To Reveal A Falsehood!

On the evening of 30th July 1979, while on a motorcycle patrol, Zanfretta would suddenly go missing once again. He was discovered around two hours later near Mount Fasce, near to their patrol location.

What was particularly interesting about the location was that only one road led to it – a small, single road that was surrounded by local villagers on either side. When questioned, not one of these residents could recall seeing Zanfretta ride up this quiet road at any time that evening leading up to his discovery. It was almost as if something dropped him at the site.

An image of the car at the scene blended into an image of a UFO

Should we take the Zanfretta encounter seriously?

A third hypnotic regression session would take place. This time, however, under the influence of “truth serums”. His claims were no less outlandish or different than previously.

He would claim that while riding along on patrol when a strange green light lifted him from the ground. The next thing he knew he was inside a “spaceship” before waking in the clearing where he was found.

Professor Marco Marchesan, who had overseen the procedure would state to the press:

No human being can knowingly lie while he is under the Pentothal treatment. So, I think it’s very probable Zanfretta had these encounters!

Things would again seemingly return to normal following the incident. However, a little under six months later, a fourth incident would unfold. And this one would involve other witnesses with fatal consequences.

Something In the Voice “Makes Me Obey!”

At a little after 10:30 pm on the 2nd December 1979, again while on patrol, colleagues would lose contact with Zanfretta once more. This time in the Genoa region. Several colleagues would actively search the area for their colleague. Four of them in one vehicle would have their own encounter experience.

As they were negotiating the hilly roads, they noticed a “cloud-like object” suddenly appear above them. Then, two bright columns of light stretched down to the ground from the craft. All around bathed in the glow of this urgent, white light.

At the same time, the engine on their car stalled and went dead. The four men got out of the car, with one of them firing his weapon on the strange craft. The lights suddenly went out and the craft disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.

A picture of Zanfretta with a blended artist's impression of the incident over the top

A picture of Zanfretta with a blended artist’s impression of the incident over the top

One of the four security guards, however, Germano Zanardi, would never recover from the bizarre experience. Several months later, he would commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Zanfretta was found shortly afterward, but the following evening while filling up his car with petrol, he would hear someone calling his name from the shadows of the courtyard of the petrol station. When he looked, he could see a tall, humanoid figure, with a bald, “egg-shaped” head. Bizarrely, the figure wore a checkered suit with an obvious steel breastplate.

There was, Zanfretta would claim later, something in the figure’s voice that made him obey it without question. He wasn’t sure if the voice was audible to his ears or if it was telepathic. However, he would receive instructions to drive his car into a nearby cloud just down the road near the station.

He would do as requested.

An Unwanted, And Now “Hidden” Gift!

Within moments of driving into the waiting cloud, his vehicle was “lifted” from the road and onto a craft nearby. Rather bizarrely, he was allowed to leave the vehicle once on board. And with several of the tall, reptile-like humanoids, was allowed to explore his surroundings.

He would claim to see large glass-like cylinders that were full of clear, blue liquid. In one of these cylinders was a body similar to that of a frog. His hosts would inform him these were “an enemy” of theirs “from another planet”.

At some stage during this impromptu tour, one of the tall humanoids offered to Zanfretta a glass sphere which contained a pyramidic structure inside. They claimed that by using this sphere, it would allow humans to understand their world and who they were. However, perhaps in shock or perhaps with genuine conviction, Zanfretta would refuse the “gift”, claiming he just wished to “go back to his normal life”.

However, the figure would insist he take the sphere. He should give it, apparently, to Dr. Allen Hynek. Rather bizarrely, however, rather than pass it on to Hynek’s family or his colleagues, he would claim to have hidden the cosmic gift somewhere in the Genoa hills.

Another incident occurred only months later on 14th February 1980. After going missing for several hours, colleagues would find once again. Once more, local residents would claim that just before their arrival, strange lights were present overhead. He would suffer a similar incident in August 1980 and then, just like that, the abductions would cease.

There is perhaps another encounter that involved humanoid entities and also occurred in Italy around the same time as the Zanfretta case. Before we sum-up the Zanfretta case, it is to this incident we will turn our attention to next.

The Rimini Alien Encounter

According to the files of Italian UFO researcher and investigator, Antonio Chiumiento, an incident in Rimini unfolded one evening in November 1978 (just before Zanfretta’s encounters began) involving two apparent alien entities.

According to the report, at around 11:30 pm on the night in question, a local resident known only as “Antonio F” was at home waiting for the start of a boxing match on the television when he suddenly heard his dog begin to bark with a sense of urgency about it. In fact, Antonio would recall, it was the kind of bark that usually meant that a person was outside the front door.

Thinking it could be an opportunistic burglar, Antonio went to the window to investigate. The night outside appeared particularly cold, foggy and under a persistent drizzle. Much to his amazement, though, rather than seeing a person outside his home, he noticed an “unusual dazzling light”. Even stranger, a “completely segmented” light emanated from the bright light – one that changed color from orange to purple, and even silver.

Before he realized what he was doing, Antonio called out to anyone who might still be awake in the house that there was “a UFO” outside the house. He turned his attention to the room behind him to see if anyone had entered. When he returned his focus outside, though, the strange, glowing object was no longer there. Although his wife, his sister, and his wife’s mother all entered the room a few moments later, they only saw the apparent afterglow of the object as opposed to the object itself. All the while, the dog continued to bark insistently.

Although Antonio still pondered whether someone might indeed be outside, he dismissed the dog’s agitation with the strange object’s presence and returned to watching television. However, after only several minutes, he got up from where he was sitting, grabbed a flashlight, and headed for the front door. He opened it and looked outside.

Two Strange Figures In The Garden

He scanned the scene outside, looking toward the gate where the strange object had been only moments earlier. As he did so, he heard the sound of the tall grass being walked through in the field near to his home. He turned the flashlight on swiftly pointed it in the direction of the sound. There in front of him, at a distance of around 20 feet, were two strange, looking humanoid figures, one around 7 feet tall, the other around 6 feet tall.

Each of the figures was extremely thin with a large oval-shaped head and a “particularly thin neck”. Each had “large, almond-shaped” eyes and each wore a tight-fitting grey bodysuit with a particularly large belt that featured a silver “buckle”. This is perhaps an interesting detail to note – many close encounters feature the detail that these apparent aliens not only wear this typical one-piece, dark bodysuit, but they often wear these larger than required belts. Antonio further established that the belt buckles were shining, although he wasn’t sure if this was an internal glow or whether it was reflecting off his flashlight.

The two creatures stared directly at Antonio as he stared back – both seemingly as in shock as the other. Eventually, Antonio broke the silence of the moment by calling out to his family to “come and see this”. However, by the time he had finished speaking, the two figures and disappeared, as if they had simply melted back into the darkness.

The following morning Antonio would venture outside to where he had seen the bright light near the gate in his garden. On the ground, he discovered a round burned patch of land approximately five feet across. Amazed he then turned his attention to where he had seen the two strange figures. He almost laughed to himself when he found a small hole on the spot where the two entities had stood. It appeared clear to him that the reason one of the creatures appeared smaller is that it was most likely stood in this hole. He also noticed that a section of the long grass had also been significantly disturbed.

A Connection To The Zanfretta Case Or Proof Of Multiple Alien Races?

Whether the bright object that was witnessed by Antonio was indeed an alien craft or not is perhaps open to debate. We should note, though, that many witnesses would report seeing bright lights overhead at the time of the Zanfretta abduction.

It would appear certain, however, that the encounter was one with what we would recognize as the “grey” aliens, based on the detailed description given by Antonio. Given that there is no apparent missing time, it is unlikely that anything other than the discreet face-off between the witness and the two figures took place. It would appear that the entire episode was one of chance rather than a predetermined visit.

It is also not clear whether any subsequent encounters occurred following this incident in 1978, although it would appear there were not. While it is not completely beyond the realm of possibility that other encounters took place that were simply not reported, or maybe even not remembered in the first place, it is unlikely that these would sneak under the radar and remain so for decades. And we should perhaps also note the thoroughness of Chiumiento, who would have surely reported even the possibility of such events.

Were these apparent extraterrestrials witnessed by Antonio connected to those who seemingly abducted Pier Zanfretta? And if not, does that suggest – as many researchers and whistleblowers have claimed – that there are more than one alien race visiting our planet, all for different reasons? What is for certain, is that the Zanfretta case, and the above encounter, continue to fascinate researchers and investigators today, as we head into the third decade of the twenty-first century.

A Case That Still Divides Opinion

Almost four decades after the last abduction took place many in the UFO community still debate the apparent alien abductions of Pier Zanfretta. Indeed, his accounts and claims still divide opinion today, in what is arguably one of the most well-known such encounters in Italian UFO history.

We should note that many of the details in this case are similar in others. And perhaps more credible in that many of them are apparently incidental details. For example, as mentioned above the technological device used to understand language comes up in several seemingly unrelated cases.

If we accept for a moment that the encounter is true, what should we make of it? Are these apparent reptilian entities friendly and looking to make contact and have regular communication with humanity? Or might the incident be one of many that are ultimately a precursor of a future incident? One that might involve “larger numbers” upon their return?

Check out the video below. It looks at the hypnotic regression sessions mentioned above. They are in Italian but with subtitles underneath. Very compelling viewing.


1 The Zanfretta Case: Chronicle of an Incredible True Story, Rino Di Stefano

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • Victoria Ringo says:

    We’ve come a long way with technology.

    Ufos are real. I want to believe.

    The truth is out there.

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