Italy's envoy to Ukraine plays piano as bombs fall

Ambassador Zazo brought musical relief to those sheltering in Kyiv.

A video has surfaced of Italy's ambassador to Ukraine, Pier Francesco Zazo, playing Bach on the piano to drown out the noise of bombs as more than 100 Italians took refuge at his residence in Kyiv.

The footage, published by the Avvenire newspaper of the Italian Bishops' Conference, shows Ambassador Zazo dressed informally as he plays classical music for his dozens of impromptu guests including more than 20 Ukrainian children and newborn babies.

The ambassador's "elegant residence became a camp for displaced people", writes Nello Scavo in Avvenire, describing Zazo as "just what you would like diplomats to be: an iron fist in a velvet glove."

That night the air raid sirens rang out multiple times, Scavo writes, with the guests running for cover in the basement: "first the women with the children, then the men. Finally him."

Amid the chaos outside, Ambassador Zazo is busy with phone calls, quietly organising emergency evacuation plans, his staff juggling wartime international relations as they heat babies' bottles.

After taking shelter from the "umpteenth" attack, Scavo and some others decided to leave the bunker and settle nervously in the living room above.

"And it was in one of those moments, when only the poetry of gestures and the art of courage know how to make things right," that Zazo sat at the piano and played Libertango by Astor Piazzolla and some timeless passages.

"In those moments of returning to normal", writes Scavo, the ambassador playing under artillery fire "taught us that poetry and art are not afraid of bombs."

Zazo had asked not to be filmed, Scavo said, adding that the ambassador "has already forgiven us for not keeping our promise."

Ambassador Zazo was the last diplomat to leave Kyiv, early last week, making the 500 km journey west to Italy's new Ukrainian embassy in Lviv.

But not before he had evacuated everyone else there first, including the children and newborn babies.