It's tempting to envision UFO sightings as only happening along backwoods roads with no witnesses, no cameras, and a single frothing abductee describing a scene lifted from The X-Files.
Throughout both ancient and modern history, however, there have been numerous large-scale UFO sightings, including the military-led Operação Prato in Colares, Brazil, that generated 1,000 pages of documents about actual UFO attacks on civilians, and the Belgium Wave of 1989-90, which, as History reports, resulted in the photograph of a big, triangular ship in the sky. There’s the description of a UFO fight and the possible deployment of nuclear weapons in the Mahabarata, which Britannica describes as a Hindu text written in Sanskrit, dating back to 400 BCE. History reports cave paintings depicting modern-looking UFOs. And many more, up through the 21st century.
The 1954 sighting at a football match in Florence, Italy stands out, possibly for how it intervened in a completely commonplace activity, as cited by the BBC. On October 27, during a game between rival teams Fiorentina and Pistoiese, 10,000 fans turned their heads up from the field of Stadio Artemi Franchi and towards the sky. The players stopped, and the ball rolled away, unattended.
There, above the stadium, were multiple glowing objects. Some looked like eggs, as world cup player Ardico Magnini said, and some like “Cuban cigars,” as described by Gigi Boni. Some silvery glitter started falling to the ground, which the newspaper La Nazione would describe as “glass fibers.”
Silvery strands of fallen angel hair
Newspapers immediately referred to the phenomenon as extraterrestrial, and the sand as coming from Mars, specifically. Roberto Pinotti, president of Italy’s National UFO Center, rather deliberately describes the objects only as intelligent, technological, and not associated with any known occurrence on Earth. Of course, the material that fell from the sky, which he calls “angel hair,” was the most fascinating part of the event, as the substance actually fell in such great quantities and thickness that it draped itself over rooftops, and within an hour, disintegrated.
Professor Giovanni Canneri of the Institute of Chemical Analysis at the University of Florence managed to procure a sample of the silvery substance. Spectrographic analysis indicated that it contained boron, silicon, calcium, and magnesium, and was not radioactive. The testing process, unfortunately, destroyed the sample. On the flip-side, US Air Force pilot and astronomer James McGaha, who calls the entire idea of extraterrestrials mere magic and myth, classified the cigar-shaped UFOs as pieces of a falling meteor, which happened to occur at the same time that, ludicrously, a whole bunch of spiders cast some webs in the sky that draped themselves over houses. Of course, spiderwebs aren’t composed of things like boron.
Whatever happened, it can’t be attributed to mass hysteria (clinically known as collective obsessional behavior, according to Medical News Today; more akin to society-wide peer pressure), because there are too many witnesses and records. It’s unlikely, though, that a legion of flying spiders was involved.