A 12-year-old Italian boy had a frighteningly close encounter with a bear while hiking with his family on Sunday. He says it was the greatest day of his life. Video of the encounter shows Alessandro slowly and cautiously walking away as the brown bear follows him down a mountain path, with stepfather Loris Calliari urging him to be careful, the BBC reports. The bear rose to its hind legs a few times, but eventually stopped following. Alessandro and his family had been hiking in the mountains in Trentino, northern Italy. Relatives believe the bear, a member of the endangered Marsican brown bear subspecies, had been sleeping when the boy disturbed it while picking pine cones.
Calliari tells CNN that Alessandro loves bears and when he first spotted the animal, he asked if he could have a picture taken with the bear behind him. The stepfather says he told Alessandro he would take the picture if he started slowly walking away from the bear. "This is so cool," the boy says in the video. "I was nervous at first but then saw that the bear was not scared, was not acting, so I calmed down," but the boy's mother and grandmother were screaming, Calliari says. The stepfather says that around a month ago, they watched a YouTube video explaining what to do during a bear encounter, "so he was prepared." (Read more Italy stories.)