Alfredo Rampi
Alfredo Rampi, nicknamed Alfredino which translates as "little Alfredo" (April 11, 1975 - June 13, 1981), was an Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 child who died after falling down a well near Vermicino
Vermicino is a village and civil parish of the Italian municipality of Frascati, in the Province of Rome, Lazio. In Italian language its name means "little worm", in an unused form.-Geography:...

, a village near Frascati
Frascati is a town and comune in the province of Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy. It is located south-east of Rome, on the Alban Hills close to the ancient city of Tusculum. Frascati is closely associated with science, being the location of several international scientific...

, on Wednesday 10 June 1981.

The incident

At about 7:00pm on that day, Rampi fell into an artesian well
Artesian aquifer
An artesian aquifer is a confined aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure. This causes the water level in a well to rise to a point where hydrostatic equilibrium has been reached. This type of well is called an artesian well...

 which was only 30 centimeters wide but 80 meters deep. Rescuers tried desperately to save him. They estimated that Rampi was trapped at a depth of about 36 meters, so they constructed a narrow tunnel to try and rescue him. When they tried to reach him, they discovered that the vibrations from the machinery used to build the tunnel had caused Rampi to fall a further 30 meters into the aquifer
An aquifer is a wet underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials from which groundwater can be usefully extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology...


The drama attracted unprecedented media attention and was broadcast on television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 for 18 hours by RAI
RAI — Radiotelevisione italiana S.p.A. known until 1954 as Radio Audizioni Italiane, is the Italian state owned public service broadcaster controlled by the Ministry of Economic Development. Rai is the biggest television company in Italy...

 unified channels where an estimated 21 million Italians anxiously watched events unfold on television. Publicity was such that Italian President Sandro Pertini personally visited the scene.

As rescue attempt became more desperate, several volunteers were lowered down the aquifer to try to save the boy. One named Angelo Licheri did manage to reach him and tried to secure a harness around him to pull him out of the aquifer, but the harness failed to tie on three occasions. He instead tried to grab Rampi's arm, but in doing so he broke his thin wrist and the child slipped even deeper into the aquifer. Licheri was upside down in the aquifer for 45 minutes when the natural limit is estimated to be around 20 minutes . He never completely recovered from the injuries caused by the descent.

After many hours, Rampi's voice (relayed by a microphone) was getting weaker and he is thought to have died around 6:30am on 13 June, probably from injuries sustained from his falls. It was another volunteer, Donato Caruso, who realized that Rampi was dead while trying once again to secure a harness to the child. Rampi's body was finally recovered on 11 July, 28 days after his death.

Subsequently Rampi's mother, Franca Rampi, founded the "Center Rampi" that helps and encourages the Civil Protection of children.

Media furor

The attempted rescue was a major media event. It was the first time in Italy that a live outside broadcast had attracted millions of people to follow the events on TV. Initially, images were transmitted live because it was believed that there would be a quick and positive outcome. After some time the situation appeared to be slowly worsening, but it was too late to interrupt the transmissions. It posed many questions about privacy and the ethics of broadcasting such events which sparked a widespread public debate.

Mystery surrounding the accident

There was later some speculation surrounding the circumstances of the accident. During the autopsy of the frozen corpse, it appeared that the boy was wearing a harness. During police questioning of the attempted rescuer, Angelo Licheri, he said that he had placed the harness on Rampi when he was falling in the hope that it might be used to save him. This theory was challenged by the Fire Brigade who use a similar harness, stating that it would have been virtually impossible to have put it on the boy in the confines of the aquifer. The judge of the case speculated that Rampi may in fact had been lowered into the aquifer, rather than falling in by accident. The investigations were, however, suspended as it was impossible to reach a verdict.

Lasting impact

Italian alternative rock band Baustelle
Baustelle is an indie rock / Pop / Electronic music band from Siena, Italy.-Biography:Formed in the mid-'90s in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano, Italy, Baustelle didn't receive much mainstream attention for their first two albums, 2000's Sussidiario Illustrato della Giovinezza and 2003's La Moda...

 wrote a song about the tragedy. The song, "Alfredo", is track 10 on their 2008 album "Amen". Among other prizes, Amen won that year's "Targa Tenco", one of the most prestigious music acknowledgments in Italy.

External links

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