; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Villa Santina, Italy Humanoid Incident

Preamble: On August 14, 1947 in the municipality of Villa Santina, Italy, Italian artist R. L. Johannis was out painting when he noticed a 30 ft. disc-shaped object landing nearby. Johannis soon after witnessed two child-sized beings standing alongside the object. The artist hailed the creatures. It is possible that this was interpreted as a hostile gesture, for one of the beings touched the center of its belt and projected a thin vapor which caused the artist to fall dazed onto his back. The creatures approached, picked up the artist's easel, then returned to the craft. The object then rose, hovered, and disappeared.

Incident: On June 24, 1947, airman Kenneth Arnold startled the world with his claim to have seen nine discshaped objects travelling in line ahead, and at fantastic speed, through the skies over Mount Rainier. Arnold likened the objects, and their movements, to "saucers skimming over water". The era of the flying saucer was upon us.

Seven weeks later, according to Italian artist R. L. Johannis, there took place what was probably the first post-Arnold "landing with entities" case in Europe. The story has been recorded in the May 1964 edition of Clypeus (organ of Centra Studi Clipeologici of Turin), and by Antonio Ribera in his book El Gran Enigma de los Platillos Volanies.

Signor Johannis was out painting near the Chiarso creek, at Villa Santina, close by Carnia (Friuli), on August 14, 1947. The time was about 9 a.m. Suddenly he noticed a 30 ft. disc-shaped object that had alighted some little distance from him. Next, Signor Johannis saw two child-sized beings standing alongside the object. The artist said that they were about 3 feet tall, and were wearing dark blue coveralls with a bright red collar and belt. They also wore spherical helmets on heads that seemed larger than normal, but their faces were not covered. Their faces had a greenish colour, their eyes were large and plum coloured with a vertical line (the pupil?) in the centre, and they had no eyelashes or eyebrows. Each had a straight and rather !arge nose. Their hands were claw-like, greenish in colour, and with eight fingers on each, four opposed to four in the same way that our thumbs are opposed to our fingers.

With his paint brushes still in his hand, the artist hailed the creatures. It is possible that this was interpreted as a hostile gesture, for one of the beings touched the centre of its belt and projected a thin vapour which caused the artist to fall dazed onto his back. The creatures then approached to within two yards of the prostrate artist and stood examining his easel. Although weak, the artist contrived to roll over, and saw the beings pick up the easel which had been knocked down; he perceived that it was taller than both of them. He also noticed that they were panting heavily. They then returned to the disc-shaped object and entered it, whereupon it rose from the ground, hovered and, according to the account, disappeared.

When the unfortunate artist had sufficiently recovered his strength to be able to stand, he saw that his easel had disappeared.

There has been some criticism that the artist saw rather a lot, particularly the colours, in a very short time. Surely, however, this is where artists have a great advantage over ordinary mortals: an artist's eye is quicker than a camera, and I do not find it surprising that Signor Johannis's brain could record such a mass of detail.

The description of the belts is interesting, and it calls to mind the belts of the entities in the Antonio Villas Boas case—see Gordon Creighton's article. Also intriguing is the account of the gas or vapour, heralding as it does the incident of Cisco Grove which Mrs. Lorenzen describes elsewhere in this issue. - Charles Bowen - "The Humanoids" - Flying Saucer Review Special Issue (1966)


Summary Report: Near Raveo Carnic Alps, Italy - August 14 1947 - 0900A

Ascending a mountain stream, the Chiarao, R L Johannis came upon a 10-meter wide lens shaped object of red burnished metal, wedged into a rock crack so that it stood on edge. It had a low cupola bearing a thin telescoping antenna like a car radio's but no openings. Seeing two "boys" 50 meters away, he called out to them, and began to approach them. When within 25 meters, he saw that they were midget-sized beings not over 3 ft tall, wearing dark blue overalls of translucent material, with bright red belts, collars, and cuffs. Their large heads were covered with broad tight fitting caps. They had immense round yellow green eyes with vertical slit pupils, and a mere slit of a ^-shaped mouth, which kept opening and closing. Their skin was dull greenish; they walked like robots, with arms hanging. After a couple of minute's stupor, Johannis waved his geologist's pick and called out, asking who they were. At this one raised his hand to his belt and a thin puff of smoke received was emitted; Johannis found himself flat on the ground, paralyzed, feeling as if he had received an electric shock. He saw one of the beings pick up his pick, with a green hand that had eight fingers, four of them opposite like our thumbs. Then with small steps they slowly walked to the saucer. A few minutes after they entered the rock crack, the disk rose vertically to about 15 ft above the ground (still on edge, "like a gong") & hovered there, while Johannis tried to get up but fell back again. The disc tipped a bit, and then took off, with a blast of wind that rolled Johannis into the stony riverbed. It was more than 2 hours before he felt able to walk home. When he unpacked his pack, he found that the aluminum objects in it were missing. At this time he had never heard of flying saucers. - Clypeus May 1964, FSR Vol. 13 # 1


by Professor R. L. JOHANNIS

During the first half of August 1947 I was in a small village called Raveo, near Villa Santina, in Carnia (Friuli). I spent a large part of the summers in that district where I am consequently well known.

I have always been interested in geology and anthropology, and I spent all my leisure time studying these, my favourite sciences, an integral and indispensable part of which involves the systematic search for fossils.

On the morning of August 14, 1947, as usual, I was making my way again up the short valley of the mountain stream called the Chiarso. This valley ends on the lower slopes of the central mountain massif, the Carnico del Col Gentile. I had with me a small knapsack and my geologist’s pick.

1 was following a path along the left bank of the stream (which was almost dry) which winds up through clumps of fir trees and deposits of alluvial rubble and detritus. On my right the face of the mountain, with a gradient of about 45 degrees, towered away, consisting of fractured and weathered rock mixed with layers of gypsum.

As I emerged from one of these clumps of fir I noticed, on the rocky river bank, and at a distance of about 50 metres from me, a large lenticular object of vivid red colour. I am slightly short-sighted, and so I quickly put my glasses on. When I had arrived at a spot a few steps distant from the ‘thing’, I was able to establish the fact that it was a disc—seemingly of varnished metal like the metal of an ordinary toy—having the shape of a lens and a low central cupola with no apertures. At its tip a sort of shining metallic antenna, of telescopic form, was pro­truding, roughly similar to those we have on our present-day motor-cars.

(And here I must state straight away that I knew nothing whatever in those days of flying saucers and I do not think that the Italian newspapers had even started to talk about them.)

The object, some 10 metres wide, was embedded, to the extent of about a quarter of its length, in a great transverse cleft in the friable rock of the mountain side, and was at a height of about 6 metres above the bed of the stream.

Without more ado I decided that I would climb up there to it and see what it was, but first of all (and anybody else would have done the same) I looked round to see whether there was anybody about who—should the need arise—could help me.

It was then that I perceived, at a distance of 50 metres or so from me, right on the edge of the grove of trees from which I bad just emerged, two ‘boys’. At any rate, that is what they seemed to be, at first.

I shouted to them and pointed to the disc. And then I started towards them. When I had halved the distance between them and myself, I stopped, petrified.

The two ‘boys’ were dwarfs, the likes of which I had never seen nor even imagined. They were coming towards me slowly, with tiny strides, with their hands at their sides and their heads motionless. When they had come to a few paces from me, they halted. I had no strength left, I seemed to be paralysed, or to be dreaming. But I was still able to observe them in every detail. And those details have remained impressed upon me so indelibly that even now I could make a portrait or even a statue of those extraordinary beings. However I must confess that the dominating sentiment in me then was one of enormous astonishment com­bined with fear, as you will well understand.

They were no more than 90 centimetres in height, and were wearing dark blue coloured overalls made of some material that I would not know how to describe. ‘Translucent’ is the only term for it. They had collars and rather deep belts, all of a vivid red colour. Even the cuffs and the shins of the legs ended in ‘collars’ of the same type.

Their heads, according to the impression that I got, were bigger than the head of a normal man, and gave them a caricaturish aspect. But I think the sight of their ‘faces’ would have put an end to anybody’s desire to laugh.

At this point, I am obliged to explain that the terms I have used in this description are purely indications, and are of a purely anthropomorphic nature, because I don’t know, today, whether those things that I have defined as nose, mouth, eyes, and hands were like that or whether it would be more correct to name them in some other way.

They had no signs of hair but in place of it they were wearing a sort of dark brown tight-fitting cape like an alpinist’s bonnet.

The ‘skin’ of their faces was an earthy green (verde terroso). The only colour that comes close to it is that of the plasticine commonly used by sculptors or of clay dipped in water. The ‘nose’ was straight, geometrically cut, and very long. Beneath it was a mere slit, shaped like a circumflex accent, which I saw opening and closing again at intervals, very much like the mouth of a fish. The ‘eyes’ were enormous, protruding and round. Their appearance and colour were like the colour of two well ripened yellow-green plums (due prugne giallo-verdi ben mature).

In the centre of the eyes I noticed a kind of vertical ‘pupil’. I saw no traces of eyebrows or eyelashes, and what I would have called the eyelids consisted of a ring, midway between green and yellow, which surrounded the base of those hemispherical eyes just like the frame of a pair of spectacles.

I remained there in astonishment, for what seemed to me an interminably long time, gazing at the two extraordinary creatures. Only later was I able to calculate roughly how long it was. I think the silent confrontation lasted no more than two or three minutes. Then I raised my arm with the pick and waved it in their direction and then in the directionof the disc, and, in an agitated voice, I shouted and asked who they were, where they came from, and if I could be of any help to them. They wheeled round very quickly and I can’t remember what I saidafter that, for things began to happen fast.

I now believe that the two beings had interpreted my precipitate gestures as being threatening to them. But I don’t know for sure, and don’t suppose I ever shall. What is certain is that one of them raised his right hand to his belt, and from the centre of the belt there came something that seemed as though it might be a thin puff of smoke. I now think it was a ray or something of the sort. Anyway, before I had time to move or do anything, I found myself laid out full length on the ground. My pick shot out of my hand, as though snatched by an invisible force,

Only once in my life have I had the experience of suffering a ‘violent electric shock. That was in 1924, when I was a student at the Technical Institute in Udine, and the physics professor made us all form a chain and take the charge from a Leyden jar.

Well, I can only tell you that as soon as I was struck by that smoke-ray, I felt a similar sensation. Moreover I felt myself deprived of all strength and all my efforts to raise myself meant an expenditure of energy that was beyond me.

Meanwhile, the two midgets were coming towards me, and they halted at a spot 2 metres from me, where my pick had fallen. I managed to roll over on to one side and I saw one of them bend down and pick up the tool, which was longer than he was. And this was how I was able to see his green ‘hand’ quite distinctly. It had eight fingers, four of them opposable to the others! It wasn’t a hand: it was a claw, and the fingers were without joints.

I also noticed that the chests of the two beings were quivering: like a dog’s chest when it pants after a long run.

I made fantastic efforts to get up, and finally managed a sitting position. But I had to brace my arms against the ground so as not to fall back again.

Meanwhile the two entities had arrived beneath the disc. I saw them climb up, slowly but surely, to the cleft in the rock and disappear into the disc itself, which was imbedded almost ver­tically in the rock.

A few more minutes elapsed, and then the strange object shot straight out from the rock and rose into the air. A cascade of stones and earth fell down on to the bed of the river. And that was the only noise that broke the silence in that lonely spot. The stream, being at low water, was trickling silently over the pebbles.

The disc remained there stationary in the air, like an enormous suspended gong. I could distinctly see its sharply cut flange 4 or 5 metres from me, and for a moment I was seized with terror that it was going to come down and cut me in half like a worm.

I am not sure, but I think I shouted at the top of my voice. At any rate, I am certain that I made every effort to get up and es­cape. The result was that I kept falling back again, supine and racked with pain.

Meanwhile, the disc had tipped slightly away from its vertical position. Then it suddenly grew smaller, and vanished. Im­mediately afterwards, I was struck by a tremendous blast of wind (the air shock?), which rolled me over and over on the ground and filled my eyes with dust. I ended up against the stones in the river bed and remained there for I don’t know how long. Finally I managed to get into a sitting position again and it was then that I looked at my wrist watch. It was 9.14.

But it was only at about midday that I was in a fit state to get back home. In the meantime, I even slept for an hour. My bones all felt as if they were broken and my legs wereweak and trembling, as though after a fearful bout of drinking. I looked in my rucksack for my thermos flask of coffee, and was not surprised to find it shattered to pieces, but what did surprise me was not being able to find any trace of its metal casing. Also gone were my aluminium fork and an aluminium can that had contained my cold lunch.’

Everything had been soaked with coffee, including a pack of cards with sketches of the region which I usually carried with me.

I had to be content with bread soaked in coffee and throw away the salami and all the rest.

Finally I should add that I searched in vain for my pick, which would have been very useful to me at that point as a walking stick.

At 2 p.m. I reached Raveo and went to bed. I told the proprietress of the inn where I was staying that I had fallen from a rock, and she replied that served me right for it was high time I stopped going around picking up stones (she has known me for more than thirty-five years since I was a boy).

Next morning I armed myself with another pick and—I con­fess—with a revolver, and went back to the spot. Naturally there was nobody there. I climbed right up to the cleft in the rock since I thought the two creatures might have thrown my old pick—to which I was very much attached—in there, but I found nothing.

I believe that that old pick of mine is now in a museum on some other planet. I hope that somebody up there is trying to decipher the marks cut in the handle, my name and a mountain­eering motto, and a pair of stylised alpine flowers, and an eagle. And I hope they rack their brains to a standstill trying to make it out.

Finally I must tell you that at that time I tried to explain my strange adventure in many different ways, but none of them having anything whatever to do with flying saucers orother craft of extra-terrestrial origin. At first I thought the ‘saucer’ was an experimental machine of the allied forces which were then in occupation of the Campoformido aerodrome in the Friuli area. My next thought was of some device of Russian origin. Finally, I wondered about some unknown civilisation still hidden away in some unexplored regions of the world like the Matto Grosso of Brazil. The most absurd hypotheses could be adapted to fit my extraordinary adventure. But not one of them was satisfactory, since not one of them could account for the presence of those two little men.

Anybody else in my position would have decided that the sensible thing to do was to say absolutely nothing whatever to anybody about what had happened. And this was what I did, quite consciously. I had no wish to be considered a crazy vision­ary, or worse, and I don’t think anyone could blame me.

Two months later, I sailed for New York. During the crossing I heard for the first time about the flying saucers seen by Kenneth Arnold. Only then did I realise that I had seen a flying saucer.

During my five years in the U.S.A. I followed with the greatest of interest all developments in the ‘flying saucer story’, and in 1950 I decided to relate my experience to two persons in whom I have confidence, who can give their testimony about it at any time, and whose addresses I have given to the president of the Centro Studi Clipeologici in Turin which has now been good enough to publish my account,

In 1952, before returning to Italy, I read an article in the weekly review L’Europeo, about the book by the American Scully, who spoke of two flying saucers that had landed in America and, as he stated quite clearly, contained the corpses of little men. Then I sent a letter from New York to the director of L’Europeo, asking him to publish the account of my experience which, at any rate, possessed the merit of priority in time.

When, two months later, I returned to Italy, I went to Milan, and called upon the director of L’Europeo. There I was told that the subject was an interesting one but that, in order that it could be published, it was necessary for me to furnish ‘proofs’ (I) of its authenticity.

I replied that if on that morning in August 1947 I had imagined that I was going to encounter creatures from another world, 1 would certainly not have hesitated for one moment to take along with me a whole troop of journalists, cinematographers and (why not?) a company of soldiers too.

As a result of my experience, I had made enquiries in the village next day (August 15, 1947), as to whether anybody had noticed any sort of ‘aeroplane’ the day before. Two people (an old man and a boy) told me, separately, that they had seen one, in the one case at 8.30 a.m. and in the other case at approximately 10 a.m. The old man had been sitting down in the village square enjoying the sunshine. He noticed a red globe being ‘carried aloft by the wind’ behind the mountain on the slope of which the village lies. The boy was with his mother and other people, working in a field scarcely outside the village, and he noticed a red ball (‘like the ones they have at fairs’) which was rising at great speed and vanished in the clear sky.

That is all that I have been able to gather in the way of ‘local testimony’. It is doubtful whether it would have been of any interest to the director of L’Europeo.

And with that, my story is finished. I will only add that I was deeply disgusted by the mean campaign of vilification which has been carried on in the U.S.A. in connection with the matter of flying saucers and which I followed closely in all its details between October 1947 and 1952. And my disgust ended by turning into bitterness here in Europe when I realised the enormous levity with which the important question of the flying saucers is treated. I say ‘levity’, because I don’t regard as worthy of any sort of consideration at all the hoaxes and the frauds per­petrated for the purpose of making money or for witless propaganda.

And I must conclude this brief account with a warning similar to the one with which the American, Major Donald E. Keyhoe, closes his book Flying Saucers from Outer Space.

‘There are intelligent beings that are coming from outer space and have been observing us for years, perhaps for centuries. Perhaps there will be beings similar to us. Others might be very different from us as regards their physical aspect (I am not sure about this).

‘We must be ready, at any time, for meetings with these beings, and ready to demonstrate that we are “civilised”. When? Perhaps tomorrow or perhaps in two centuries from now. We don’t know. But it is certain that, immediately, at the first meeting, we must give them the impression that we are in fact not their enemies. Because, while we can surely learn from them things that will increase our scientific knowledge, we might be treated by them on the same level as inferior beings or savages. And we cannot deny that our own “highly civilised” exploratory expeditions in Africa, Australia, Malaysia and Arizona, have answered the poor arrows of the natives with their more lethal leaden bullets. What sort of reply might the “flying saucer people” give to our modern weapons? The mysterious power (magnetic?) which silently drives their craft should make us think.’


Letter from Professor R. L. Johannis to Gianni Settimo, Director and founder of the Centri Studi Clipeologici, Turin.


March 20, 1964.

‘My dear Settimo:

‘In accordance with your request, I am sending you two China-ink sketches to illustrate the account of my meeting with a “saucer” and two of its “pilots” in Carnia away back in 1947.

‘As I told you, at such a distance in time, many of my recollections’—exact enough at the time—have weakened and have consequently become a little confused. I refer particularly to the exact appearance of the “bodies” of the two ‘beings” met by me, as well as the shape of the eyes since I am no longer certain whether they were vertical or horizontal slits or whether there weren’t any pupils at all.

‘When I sent my account of’ the episode from America to the Italian weekly L’Europeo, I sent with it a sketch of the “pilots”, but when I came back to Europe that sketch was not returned to me because their editorial office had lost it.

That sketch was done by me two months after the meeting, and consequently was much more faithful a reproduction than the ones done by me now.

‘However, generally speaking, the front view of the “head” can be taken (apart from the pupils) as corresponding to the truth. The profile sketch is uncertain in respect of the form of the ‘nose’ and in respect of the absence of ears or something similar that I can’t recollect absolutely.

‘The sketches of the complete figures are to be considered as rough and approximate outlines and consequently of purely general value. Besides, I am at present inclined to believe the two pilots were nothing more than two “robots” whereas in 1947 I was convinced that I had met real and actual extra­terrestrial beings.

Charles Bowen - "The Humanoids" - Flying Saucer Review Special Issue (1966)
Gordon Creighton - "The Villa Santina Case" - Flying Saucer Review (1967)
Christopher Humphrey - "UFOs, Psi, and Spiritual Evolution"