Alfredino: TV series revisits story that still haunts Italy after 40 years

40 years have passed since the Vermicino tragedy but for many Italians the story remains a wound that has never healed.

Earlier this month Italy marked the 40th anniversary of the death of Alfredino Rampi, the little boy who died more than 60 hours after falling down an artesian well in the Roman countryside.

Despite the passing of four decades, the story still brings a shudder to Italians old enough to remember the tragedy in Vermicino.

In June 1981 the nation was gripped by the desperate race to save Alfredino, with the failed rescue attempt watched by up to 21 million Italians in an 18-hour live television broadcast.

That painful memory will be reignited again with Alfredino: Una Storia Italiana, the first TV docu-drama made about the tragic story.

The Sky Original mini-series will be screened on 21 June and 28 June and can be streamed on NOW.

Alfredino: Una Storia Italiana - Sky

The series will focus on the important but lesser-known result of the tragedy, namely the establishment of the ministry for civil protection, backed strongly by then Italian president Sandro Pertini after Franca Rampi, Alfredino's mother, told him how the rescue effort had been hampered by a lack of coordination.

The mini-series is directed by Marco Pontecorvo who said he followed "a precise, ethical route" in telling the story, attempting to avoid falling into melodrama, pity and what he describes as "television of pain."

Instead the director's focus is on the construction of the Franca Rampi Centre, built just weeks after Alfredino's death and which for 40 years has been dedicated to promoting civil protection and safety.

The part of Alfredino's mother is played by Anna Foglietta, who told Italian news agency ANSA: "I did not want to see any of the archive images and I did not meet Signora Franca Rampi to respect the will of this woman, who has once again demonstrated great dignity in pain."

Anna Foglietta in Alfredino: Una Storia Italiana - Sky

"I respect her infinitely, in those days she was the mother of Alfredo and of everyone: attentive, proactive, available also to all the people who were trying to help her son get out of that cursed well" - said Foglietta - "To react like this you need an extraordinary soul, energy, strength, preparation, empathy."

Ahead of its screening, the series has sparked controversy on social media, with some commentators claiming it reignites a voyeuristic interest in a story that has no place on television, now or 40 years ago.

However Anna Foglietta underlines the sensitivity with which the series was handled: "I think we treated this film as one does with a child, knowing that it belonged to everyone... And respect goes to that extraordinary woman who is Franca Rampi. I dedicate my film to her.”

For the actors in the mini-series, the story remains an "open wound," with Pontecorvo describing the tragedy as "a story that belongs to Italy, which has become part of the DNA of us all."

Photos SKY: Alfredino - Una storia italiana