Luigi Mastroianni, an influencer who reckons his inspiration comes from his Down Syndrome brother Salvo

Written by Erika Petrie

July 11, 2020

Two brothers who have over a million followers in Italy, Luigi and Salvo Mastroianni, to the point that Luigi first gained fame by being invited onto Maria De Filippi’s TV show (she is a well known Italian TV presenter when it comes to talk shows), to talk about his success. One special difference here though, given by the fact that his brother Salvo has Down Syndrome, although he has never let this define him, in fact Luigi says ‘it is Salvo that inspires me rather than the other way round’.

These two brothers have such a strong bond that they have defined ‘disability as a mere point of view’ going on to state that ‘diversity lies in the eyes of the beholder’. They have become social media influencers in their country and have hit the headlines and front page of the Corriere and other major italian papers.

Their story is indeed moving: Luigi reckons that when his parents first brought his new born brother home, he was ecstatic. He wouldn’t ever leave his brother’s cot because he was so happy to finally have a brother. One day he made him a promise: ‘I don’t know how or when, but we will always be together and aim high’. They were children then…but those words remained in his heart. He whispered them in his brother’s ear and never forgot them, carrying the meaning of those words deep within his soul. They have always shared everything, also because there is only a small age gap between them (two and half years). They live in Catania and have always shared play dates and holidays among other things.

Even now in their mid twenties they are inseparable. Salvo still carries these precious moments in his heart: ‘we always enjoy ourselves so much, it is truly special’, he adds speaking about their closeness. They have travelled widely together just the two of them, visiting the beaches in Greece, sunbathing in Malta, losing themselves in the streets of New York. Luigi with his tatoos, the gym and his music. Salvo who despite having Down Syndrome has never let this stop him, with his contagious smile that conquers everyone he meets and that sweet reserved-ness he has. So different and yet so united, as is the case with some many siblings these days, with or without disability. I can actually relate to this on a personal level because there is little more than 22 and a half months between my two girls and yet they are closer than ever, even bearing in mind the fact that my youngest, Micaela, has Down Syndrome.

Luigi Mastroianni has a million followers on Instagram and over two hundred thousand on Tik Tok with over two million likes. His stories and posts have tens of millions of views including many hearts of approval. Social influencer and deejay, he is currently completing his degree in law at the university of Messina: ‘a lifetime goal of mine. My passion is constitutional law’ he adds.

He was already fairly well known as a deejay given his frequent presence in some of the Sicilian discotheques where they live. However, his popularity came following his appearance on Maria De Filippi’s show ‘Uomini e Donne’ (Men and Women). Of this he reminisces: ‘destiny sometimes plays some strange cards. In Catania there was casting taking place for the programme and I just happened to be passing that way with some friends of mine. For a time they had asked me to take part in the programme and I refused, finding it a little disconcerting. Then I asked Salvo whether he thought I should participate, to which he answered ‘why not?’ Salvo also adds: ‘in truth I was a little jealous, but I knew it was impossible for him to find a girl I didn’t like’. At this point Luigi decided to accept also to win a challenge against himself.

This was an important chapter in Luigi’s life, although it ended with some disappointments. Luigi relates: ‘I didn’t feel like it anymore…I was being accused of taking Salvo on the set of the programme to attract sympathy from the viewers and this greatly saddened me. My brother has always done everything with me and that programme was a defining moment for me. However, it helped me greatly to see how much he enjoyed himself and this for me was enough’. Salvo studied at artistic college, he has some hearing problems too, which became apparent when he was just over four years of age. He likes going out with his friends, knowing his parents are waiting up for him even when he gets back late, but he has his own keys to let himself in. He likes to keep in shape so he too goes to the gym, a habit he has acquired from his brother. He is actively job hunting as well. Luigi however, has an idea as to what Salvo could do: ‘I am working on a start-up company that should be active come September. I would like it to have a social scope moving forward, Salvo could have a job within my start-up and maybe, if things go well, we could involve other differently-able people, whether with Down Syndrome or otherwise.

An inspiring story, wouldn’t you agree?


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