They say love conquers all. And, for someone who grew up in Lyle and graduated from Columbia High School in 2002, it certainly appears to be true.
Hayden Knight Weiler moved to Lecco, Italy, near Lake Como, after meeting and marrying an Italian. He recently became an Italian citizen and made a music video to celebrate the occasion, highlighting everything he loves about the country.
The video has gained some traction where he lives and has about 15,000 views now.
Hayden had a happy life growing up with two encouraging and spiritually rooted parents. He said, “My parents are awesome, they’re just awesome! They gave us such an incredible childhood.”
Hayden’s parents taught him and his sister the values of the Bahá’í Faith, a religion based on the oneness of humanity.
“The cool thing about Bahá’í is the first principle –the independent investigation of truth. You’re not born into the religion, it’s something to discover. Like in our case, our parents gave us an upbringing and taught us to see the world as one family, taught us the importance of prayer, kindness, love, and unity – which is the basis of all religions,” he said.
After traveling in South America and teaching children in a Bahá’í community in Ecuador, Hayden returned home and attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, majoring in International Studies and Spanish. After another stint in South America, he returned to the states. A visit to his sister, who was living in New York at the time, would change the course of his life.
His sister had a friend named Elena, an Italian girl who he fell head over heels for. They actually met in Philadelphia, as mentioned in the song in the video. When it came time to decide where to live and build their life together, he said “It was so easy to decide. I really wanted to come to Italy. I had fallen in love with her, but also with the language and culture. I wanted to be immersed in this language, in this environment.”
Music has always been a part of his life. His father, Bill, always encouraged musical creativity.
“My Dad is an amazing musician. He wrote songs for all of us kids. He writes funny songs, deep songs, he is really like my musical inspiration.”
Hayden’s true passion is songwriting, and “I love Italy” was something that came to him quite easily. Sung in both languages, Elena helped him with the Italian grammar and their baby Liam also stars in the video.
The song “I love Italy” was originally written as a love song for Italy to celebrate his Italian citizenship ceremony held at the Lecco town hall. He brought his guitar and wore his flag tunic that day.
He said, “My friends, my Italian friends, told me not to do it. They told me I would be kicked out! But the whole idea and the song were well received. The mayor and vice-mayor, they all really enjoyed it.”
The music video is the evolution of that day and the response has been nothing but positive.
The song and video were filmed here in Lecco. Stefano Fumagalli of HD Studios directed the studio recording and Filippo Pascuzzi directed and filmed the video. To keep the budget low, the video was filmed in 13 hours of rushing from location to location to get the job done.
Scenes of Malgrate, Lecco center, the San Nioclò bell tower, and local businesses Levi Moda Uomo, Pizzeria del Corso, Flylibell Parapendio, Bar Laga as well as his actual students are featured in the video.
When asked if he feels at home here, he replies with a Bahá’í quote, “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”
Watch Hayden’s “I Love Italy” video at https://www.