The charismatic Italian won the hearts of a nation back in 2015, when he made his debut on season 10 of Aussie reality show Bondi Rescue.
Bondi’s first ever Italian lifeguard, Mario was working as a coffee machine technician in Rome before he made the move to Australia in 2006.
Though he grew up in Italy’s capital, the 36-year-old was born in the coastal city of Naples and was always destined for a life by the water.
“The decision to live in Australia was in part already made from Italy, because my dream was to live by the ocean and to be a professional lifeguard,” Mario said.
“I believe I was born with a passion for helping people and it’s something that I think about every day, even outside my job.”
Having settled in Australia, Mario spent four years trying to get one of the highly sought-after lifeguard positions at Bondi Beach.
His first task was to learn how to swim in the ocean, which he explained is a vastly different experience from swimming in the Mediterranean.
“There are stronger rip currents, bigger waves and less salt than in the Mediterranean, meaning less floatation,” he said.
He then had to learn how to paddle a rescue board and how to read the ocean in order to recognise any potential danger.
Once he had mastered these three things – along with the art of Aussie slang – Mario was able to pursue a career as a professional lifeguard.
He landed his first job in 2009, working in the idyllic seaside town of Port Stephens.
Having gained substantial experience, Mario moved on to patrol the Sunshine Coast between Mooloolaba and Caloundra from 2012.
Two years later, he returned to Sydney with his eyes set on a job at Bondi.
It wasn’t long before Mario impressed the Bondi crew and was made a full-time lifeguard on the iconic strip of beach.
“I had to prove myself in front of the best lifeguards in Australia and show that I can be a good lifeguard as well as a good pasta-maker,” he joked.
Mario bringing a slice of Italy to Bondi
Mario claimed that the biggest challenge of working at Bondi is keeping tens of thousands of visitors safe all at once.
“You must be quick and ready to respond the jobs as they arise,” he explained.
“Luckily we work as a team so we can minimise the time it takes to complete an operation and be always ready.”
Mario has been working his dream job for two years now, and will be patrolling Bondi Beach again during the 2018-2019 summer season.
For now he has chased the sun back to Italy, living and working on the southern island of Sardinia.
Despite having lit up the screens of many Australian households, Mario never intended on becoming a television star.
“The only reason I wanted to work at Bondi was because of its beauty and good vibes,” he said.
“The thing I love the most is the adrenaline that rushes through my body when I’m at work and the peacefulness when I finish...it’s a powerful place.”
We hope to catch a glimpse of Mario on our screens as he brings a slice of Italy back to Bondi later this year.