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A large quantity of puzzling testimonies unevenly distributed in time and space

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The Centro Italiano Studi Ufologici (CISU, the highly respected leading Italian UFO organization) has collected over 13,000 alleged UFO sightings ranging from 1900 to 1998. Such a huge amount of material is definitely the most complete documentation currently available about the UFO phenomenon presence in Italy: this is an undeniable evidence of a remarkable mass of witnesses related to the sighting of seemingly unusual aerial phenomena.

Italian UFO cases come from a large selection of sources, most of them featuring a quite low information quality (mainly press sources). As pointed out in several serious studies from other countries, a percentage around 90% is related to cases having a conventional explanation or, anyway, has no enough data to be efficiently evaluated by a scientific method approach.

As in other countries, Italy experienced some UFO waves, namely quite short periods of time (since a few weeks to a few months) featuring a very high concentration of UFO sightings distributed in a quite large area. The cause of such waves is not known yet, even though some researchers speculated about social and/or economic crisis, mass-media vehiculation or even more exotic "explanations".

Most of such cases has been stored in computer files, thanks to a regular updating work started by CISU members since 1984. An early database of sightings taken place between 1900 and 1994 (in excess of 10,000 entries) is now available. Each case features its main identification data, including a by-the-kind classification. During 1999 the CISU Board of Directors will develop a new set of guidelines aimed at the development of a new record layout for the sighting database and at the selection of a new standard software platform.

Some early statistical analyses have been already carried out in order to have some results about time and geographical distribution of Italian UFO sightings, but available data are often inaccurate and poor or even very poor in quality. As the year 1978 was the source of about 2,000 sightings, a special research study has been launched just about that record year. Sighting reports are currently collected and included into a special catalog for further analyses: an early statistical table about the monthly distribution of sightings plotted against the Italian regions is now available.

The Italian most important waves:









As an example of the CISU sighting database, you may have access to the listings of the Italian sightings recorded in the years 1990 e nel 1991. More, an additional listing with all the alleged UFO events taken place between 1900 and 1947 is now available. Cases are listed with their basic raw data and mostly unchecked. Please take in mind that the percentage of data errors among them is quite high.

C.I.S.U. is currently engaged in a massive merging and checking of all available Italian UFO databases, in order to create a new updated one in a standard format. An outstanding effort will be devoted to removing all double and uncorrect entries, as well as to mark all of those cases originated by one same event. Statistical results coming from such a new survey are expected to be more reliable than in the past.

Other years feature a discontinous high level of sightings or local "flaps" (large deal of cases in a local area and in few days or weeks):

December 1962

Summer 1974

Summer 1977

January 1979

August 1985

August 1995

Region Puglia: now is available a regularly updated catalogue splitted in its five provinces. Each case is reported with its original sources and a short description (in Italian). A significant example of CISU cataloging process on Italian UFO sightings.

A fully-searchable database including all the basic data for each case will be soon available on-line. It will include filter and sorting features, just to process in real time all the available data. Please check regularly the link above.

1978 was a record year: around 2,000 UFO sightings were recorded, most of them between October and December, in Central and Southern Italy. The quantity of cases was so high and the subject so popular that some form of psychosis took place, generating even more sightings.


Here following the geographical distribution of an over-9,000 entry sample of Italian alleged UFO sightings (updated to 1992).
Clicking on several cities you get a listing of all collected UFO sightings for that province.


The geographical distribution of UFO sightings does NOT supply a picture of "where UFOs are seen more often".
It also depends on a large quantity of factors, including: quantity of journalists and newspapers and quantity of UFO buffs active on the field to collect claims of alleged UFO sightings. Both factors change throughout the time, making their analysis quite difficult.

In the '60s some ufologists thought to have found an evident inverse correlation between UFO sightings and population density. UFOs - they told - seem to appear more frequently in scarcely populated area. Such a statement was later refuted by other surveys. This same webmaster developed a couple of unpublished studies in the early '80s about the subject. Instead of taking into consideration the population density (an uneven figure in many countries) he pointed out the "witness probability" of the single sighting spot.

In other words, he evaluated the single sighting spot just to check whether he had communication  (roads, railways) or installation (villages, but lonely houses as well) facilities next to it. In such a case it was evident that the probability to have a potential witness on that same spot was quite high. On the contrary really lonely spaces in open countryside or far from houses and roads were considered as places with low or very low witness probability.
A study on over 400 Italian UFO landing cases supplied an interesting confirmation: well  more than 80% of sightings had took place in places with a witness probability (namely "populated areas")!

This lead to another conclusion: it it likely there is a directly relationship between UFO sightings and the presence of witnesses, as UFOs are mostly seen just where they could have chances to be seen. More: this could lead also to think about a tight connection between UFO sightings and witnesses.

Of course there is also the other side of the coin: one could argue the small percentage of sightings in really lonely places has a huge weight when compared with the others, just because they are observed in areas where the witness presence is unlikely. This brings us back to some favourite arguments of the ufologists in the '60s: the number of sightings is hugely higher than we know, because most of them take place in places where there is no witness. Who know?