- Vince Santoro
Some things you may not have known about me.
Updated: Mar 27
Would you have guessed that I flew in a flight simulator? While working for a large aircraft manufacturer I wrote some articles about flight safety and pilot training. The company had a simulator on site to train pilots for the aircraft it manufactured.
I interviewed the manager of the flight training school. After asking questions about the fight simulator, he invited me to see it and then asked if I want to try it out. I immediately said yes. I sat in the pilot’s seat and the instructor was in the co-pilot’s seat. After he gave me a few pointers what to do, we began the flight. Take off went well and during the flight he introduced a few scenarios; flying at night, adding some turbulence, etc. Every once in a while, the instructor would take control to keep me on track. Actually, to keep me from crashing.
Then came the landing. I did everything as instructed. At least I thought I did. We touched down, a rather bumpy landing. When we came to a stop he said, “That wasn’t too bad. Except you didn’t land on the runway.” I landed in the field next to the runway.
Would you have guessed that I lived in three countries? I was born in Italy, then at the age of three we moved to Belgium where my father worked in the coal mines and then at the age of five, we moved to Canada which has been my home ever since, and I love it!
Would you have guessed that I had a full knee surgery exactly one year ago (Sept 3, 2021). After many, many years of sports, including professional basketball in Italy, the injuries finally caught up with me. Everything went well. No more pain but no more high impact sports. I stick to golf. So, there’s another thing you might not have guessed about me. I played professional basketball.
After I graduated from university I set a personal goal, to see how far I could go with basketball. I excelled in the sport, but I was also realistic. So, I set my eyes on Europe. I made some contacts and off I went and ended up playing professional basketball for a few years, where else, in Italy.
During my time in Tuscany, I met a very interesting person. While I lived for a while in Siena, I vividly remember reading Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy, the story of the life of Michelangelo. During one of my several jaunts to Florence, I stopped at the Piazza della Signoria. Sitting at a café, reading about Michelangelo, while drinking one espresso after another, I knew I was at the very place where the political and social life dominated fourteenth-century Florence. A place where great triumphs were celebrated, and protests occupied the public square. I looked up, across to the Palazzo Vecchio, where next to the entrance stood a replica statue of Michelangelo’s David. I imagined the original – gigantic and impressive. Even from where I sat, I could make out the veins that Michelangelo painstakingly carved to bulge out of David’s right hand.
But my experience with reading the story of Michelangelo didn’t end there. Back in Siena, I was fortunate to have met and had tea with Ginevra Bonelli Chigi Zondadari Colonna, also referred to by Irving Stone, in his credits, as a descendant of Vittoria Colonna. While we sipped from fine China cups, sitting across from each other on antique divans in her salon, adorned with Renaissance artifacts and paintings, Signora Colona recounted her meetings with Stone and how she helped him with his research about the Marchesa di Pescara, Vittoria Colonna.
The Marchesa, an Italian noblewoman ranking above a countess and below a princess, developed a close relationship with Michelangelo. The well-educated Vittoria Colonna had become one of the most popular female poets of sixteenth-century Italy. Michelangelo and Colonna were united by poetry. Some of his finest sonnets were about the Marchesa and he made drawings of her too. In turn she gifted him with a manuscript of spiritual poetry. During that time, she was 50 years old, and he was 65.
I still hold dear to me the original paperback of Irving Stone’s novel, signed by Signora Ginevra Colona.
Ok, now for something embarrassing. During my professional career in aerospace, I attended a conference where I was asked to speak about Canadian regulations regarding the export of controlled military products to foreign entities. I was ready for the presentation, having rehearsed it at work and in the hotel room the night before.
When it was my turn to present, I reached into my bag for the presentation. To my dismay, it wasn’t there. I checked and checked. No luck. Where was it? What do I do? I must have left it in the hotel room.
I walked up to the podium, empty-handed and smiled. I owed to my faux pas and said I would do my best. Luckily for me, I had made a similar presentation in the past. It’s nice to be among supportive colleagues. The presentation went well. I answered questions and everyone appreciated my effort with an applause. All’s well that ends well.
Until next time!