CULTURE + LIFESTYLE
This section is for all lovers of Italian culture and cuisine who are looking for ways to celebrate their love of all things Italian.
Throughout Italy this is the time of year to harvest the grapes. The harvest is the culmination of a year's labor, its relative success or failure determined in conjunction with the fickle and arbitrary fortunes of Mother Nature and the weather. A sudden summer hailstorm can entirely strip the grapes and foliage from one row of vines, yet leave adjacent rows virtually untouched; torrential autumn rains can dilute and sometimes even destroy and entire year's effort and toil.
The earliest grapes may be gathered in late August or early September, while the main harvest continues through the autumn months, sometimes even well into November. Teams of workers in the vineyards, old experienced farmhands who have worked the land forever alongside a new, younger generation, undertake the backbreaking task of selection and picking the ripe bunches manually. The grapes, once picked, must be transported to the winery as quickly as possible to minimize oxidation and ensure that fermentation does not begin prematurely.
2023 italian heritage award recipient
The Italian Club of St. Louis is honored and pleased to announce that the 2023 Italian Heritage Award was presented to Pat Merlo. Patricia Ann Merlo was born to Anne Ceriotti and Joseph James (Timmy) Merlo. Soon afterwards, Pat welcomed her brother, Jim Merlo, and sister, Kay Merlo Grein.
Pat began her education at the Sacred Heart Villa, then St Ambrose Catholic Grade School and Nerinx Hall High School followed by Miss Hickey's Business School.
Her first job was at International Shoe Company where she worked for 9 years. She then worked at Monsanto Corporation for 22 years where she began as a Secretary and rose to the position of Office Manager. Pat took early retirement and while retired worked part-time.
Having grown up with music, Pat sang with the Sounds of Plenty which also included: Jim Merlo, Tom Sant'Ambrogio, Skip Torretta and Dusan Gagich. Pat also coordinated music groups upon request for special occasions.
Pat spent so much of her life volunteering for organizations on The Hill and in the Italian-American community. She was involved in the following:
Hill 2000 committees
Directed the Hill Day performances
Directed musical comedies at St Ambrose: King of Hearts, Little Mary Sunshine, Déjà vu Reviews, Duck the Garlic's Flying, Apple Fever, O Mona, Mona Mi at St Ambrose
USO shows at Union Station on Veteran's Day weekends and at Military Reunions
Assistant Director for the CYC shows - Wonderful Town and Annie Get Your Gun
Sick and Elderly Program of the Hill - Silent Auction Coordinator
Columbus Day Corporation/Italian Heritage Corporation
Bologna Sister Cities organization - one of the Founding members with Cav. Joann Arpiani and Msgr. Sal Polizzi
St Vincent de Paul Society at St Ambrose - Vice President
Mount Carmel Society member
RISTORANTI ITALIANI LOCALI
Cremona by Angela Pasetti Holland
One of my favorite places to visit when I’m in Italy is the beautiful, ancient city of Cremona. My mother grew up in this fair Lombardian town and lucky for me I’m able to visit my relatives there any chance I get.
Cremona is located in Lombardy a short train ride south from Milan. It is of course known for its lengthy musical history of producing the famous Stradivarius violins and other stringed instruments. It was the birthplace of Antonio Stradivari and to this day is home to the world’s best luthiers. A visit to the Museo del Violino is a must for any first-time visitor. There and throughout the city one can stop to admire an artisan crafting one of these fine masterpieces. It’s a pure delight to stroll through its narrow streets and hear the soft sounds of violins tuning and playing nearby.
Of course, like other Italian cities Cremona boasts a breathtaking piazza with its unique Romanesque Duomo, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta and its octagonal Baptistry. The Torrazzo is the symbol of the city and by the way is the third tallest brickwork bell tower in the world. I’ve enjoyed many a gelato or apperitivo here at a café overlooking this beautiful setting.
Cremona is also known for its contributions to ‘la cucina Italiana’. It’s known for its stuffed pastas like marubini or tortelli di zucca and various styles of risotti. I had some of the best marubini in brodo, outside my home at the very casual neighborhood Trattoria Cerri. They tasted just like the ones my Nonna used to make. On the sweet side Cremona is known for the famous nougat candy, Torrone which we see during the holidays but there you can find anytime. The sweet-spicy, syrupy fruit, Mostarda is also original to this city. My parents used to serve it with their turkey instead of cranberries, but it’s usually served with bollito misto.
So, the next time you have the opportunity to travel to Italy take a side trip to this often overlooked treasure. You can stay at Hotel Impero, Piazza della pace, 21—literally steps from Cremona’s beautiful Duomo and its town center. Vi auguro una buona permanenza!
Italia America Bocce Club
Check out the newest events at the Italia America Bocce Club or join a league. stlbocce.com
The Hill Neighborhood Center at 1935 Marconi Avenue
Concerts at Piazza Imo
For concert schedule and ticket information click here.
The Hill St. Louis Food Tour
Eat at the top restaurants On The Hill. Food tours last about 3 hours and run on Fridays and Saturdays. See: The Hill St. Louis Food Tour | EAT St. Louis Food Tours. saintlouisfoodtours.com
Winter Opera of St. Louis
Italian Film Festival USA
Runs Italian Films in St. Louis venues during the month of April.
Pasta e fagioli
—dalla cucina di Jeanne Florini
A nickname for Tuscans is “mangiafagioli” (bean eaters). Beans (legumes) have been cultivated for centuries in Tuscany, with the the oldest a black eyed bean from before Roman times. Pliny the Elder wrote about the nutritional contributions of the fava bean (he was a naturalist and died trying to rescue friends after the eruption at Pompeii). The white cannellini bean appeared in Florence shortly after the discovery of America in 1492. Because beans are easy to grow, the peasants of Tuscany quickly learned to grow them and incorporated them into their diet. I, for one, am glad they did! Here is my version of pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean soup) which provides excellent nutritional benefits (including folate from the beans which helps the brain work better and protects the heart), and is an ideal comfort food. Serve with crusty bread!
Total yield: 8 cups Serving size: 8 oz
Equipment needed: stockpot (large), immersion blender, measuring spoons/cups, cutting boards and knives
NOTE: How To Make Vegetable Stock
Ingredients: 1 to 2 onions
2 to 3 carrots
3 to 4 celery stalks
4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme (if use dried - 1 T.)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
8 cups water
Optional Extras: leeks (especially the green parts), fennel, tomatoes, mushrooms, mushroom stems (mushrooms will provide the umami flavor—that is typically found in a meat stock)
Heat a few tablespoons olive oil over a medium heat.
Add diced onion, celery and carrot.
Cook, covered stirring occasionally until vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes).
Add remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook gently for about an hour or until the stock tastes rich and full.
Strain stock and compost vegetable solids.