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Italian Film Festival Movie: ‘Easy’ on April 24, 7:00 p.m. *Special Guest: director Andrea Magnani

“A bizarre and poetic road trip, between a fairy tale and reality.”  LA REPUBBLICA

Where: Terry M. Fischer Theatre,
St. Louis Community College

Plot: Isidoro, aka Easy, is lonely and depressed. His promising career as a race car driver ended when he gained too much weight and could no longer fit into his car. Now he’s gone back home to live with his mother, sleeping in his childhood room and passing his days watching TV and eating. One day, his brother, an entrepreneur with questionable ethics, offers him an “easy” job:  drive a coffin containing the body of a Ukrainian bricklayer from Italy to a small town in Ukraine.
He might go by the nickname “Easy,” but for him, unfortunately, nothing is.
Director: Andrea Magnani
Cast: Nicola Nocella, Ostap Stupka, Veronika Shostak, Libero De Rienzo, Barbara Bouchet, Lorenzo Acquaviva, Nadia Magnani, Orest Garda, Katerina Kosenko, Beso Moistsrapishvili, Orest Syrvatka, Volodimir Kuchma, Nina Naboka
Year: 2017
Length: 91 min.
Genre: Comedy
Awards: •Nominated Best Emerging Director, Best Actor (Nicola Nocella): David di Donatello
Rating: USA: no rating

St. Louis: April 24, 7:00 p.m. *Special Guest: director Andrea Magnani

Film screened with English subtitles.
Distributor: Premium Films, Paris
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Italian Film Festival SHORT FILM PROGRAM April 7, 7:00 p.m.

Shorts SHORT FILM PROGRAM Seven recent short films will be presented in one short film program lasting approximately 2 hours. The audience will vote on their favorite short.

Where: Liberal Arts Theatre,
Southwestern Illinois College

Il tratto

Title:THE LINEPlot:Federico is an introverted and lonely child. A meeting with an old artist from Senegal helps him discover his talent and teaches him to see others for what they are. Director:Alessandro Stevanon Year:2017
Length:15 min.Genre:Drama

A casa mia

Title:AT MY HOMEPlot:Left alone as the only inhabitants of a deserted fishing village, elderly Lucia and Peppino live in the hope that winter will never end.Director:Mario PireddaYear:2016Length:19 min.Genre:Drama


Title:PIPINARAPlot:In a hamlet that overlooks the sea near Rome, two young boys divide their time between petty thefts and soccer games, until an unexpected proposal will bring darkness into their lives and to Italy’s history: the death of Pier Paolo Pasolini.Director:Ludovico Di MartinoYear:2017Length:14 min.Genre:Drama, History


Title:SIMPOSIO SUINO IN RE MINOREPlot:In the middle of a forest full of spirits and legends, a pig lives in a bakery together with an old woman, the owner of the bakery. A quarrel between them will reveal their true intentions and feelings.Director:Francesco FilippiniYear:2017Length:10 min.Genre:Animation

Crosstich Road

Title:CROSSTICH ROADPlot:An upset young woman runs into a mysterious biker at a rest area bar in the middle of nowhere. She is looking for someone who will listen to her and, unfortunately, ends up attracting the attention of two mischievous truckers.
Director:Ivan SelvaYear:2017Length:15 min.Genre:Comedy


Title:THE FISHERMANPlot:Davide travels by sea searching for the gold that the sun spreads over the water, the same gold his father told him he harvested to forge his wedding ring. He is accompanied on his journey by Michele, a fisherman and storyteller.Director:Simone MarangiYear:2017Length:15 min.Genre:Fantasy


Piccole Italiane

Title:THE LITTLE ITALIAN GIRLSPlot:In 1943 the fascist regime bans production and sale of toys. Toy factories will be reconverted for war industries. During a school play, Italia, a strongly fascist and polemic little girl, takes the decision to rebel against the edict.Directors:Letizia LamartireYear:2017Length:18 min.Genre:Comedy – History


The Short Program was curated by the Italian Film Festival USA.

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How to drink coffee like an Italian

Mary Beth Albright

Visiting an embassy in Washington actually places you officially on foreign soil. You feel transported to another culture, even though your house might be just a few blocks away. Often at embassies, a mindfulness surrounds the enjoyment of a country’s great food traditions, the enjoyment of the moment, even if the moment lasts only a few seconds. I realized that this idea is bigger than coffee. The Post’s seat in Washington lets us show global diversity of food and culture through embassies and is an opportunity to document food diplomacy.


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St. Joseph’s Day – March 19th, 2018 and the Pasta

If you cannot make it to one of the many St. Joseph’s Day Celebrations during the month of March, try this dish to serve at home.

Since St. Joseph’s Day always falls during the season of Lent, a period of penance and fasting, no meat is served.  Instead, fish and pasta are staples of the feast.  One traditional Sicilian dish is Pasta con le Sarde or Pasta with Sardines and another is Spaghetti with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs.  Since St. Joseph was a carpenter, the breadcrumbs, which are an ingredient in both dishes, are meant to symbolize sawdust.  Both of these dishes are also commonly served as part of the Eve of the Seven
dinner on Christmas Eve.

The pasta used in Pasta with Sardines is typically a long hollow pasta such as bucatini or perciatelli.  In Italy, wild fennel is used and also fresh sardines. Since it is usually difficult to find fresh sardines in the US, this recipe substitutes canned sardines.


Pasta con le Sarde (Pasta with Sardines)

(Serves 4)


1 pound pasta (spaghetti, bucatini, perciatelli)
1 fennel bulb
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/3 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
4 to 5 anchovies, chopped
3 (3.75 ounce) cans sardines in olive oil, drained
1/3 cup dried currants
1 pinch saffron
Salt and pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Heat a small skillet; toast the pine nuts until lightly golden, 3-4 minutes.  Transfer the nuts to a small plate; set aside.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet; add the breadcrumbs.  Stir the breadcrumbs over medium eat until golden, 3-4 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Remove the fronds from the fennel, chop them, and set aside.  Remove the core from the fennel bulb; coarsely chop the bulb.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onions, garlic, and chopped fennel bulb until lightly golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the anchovies and half of the sardines; stir to break up the sardines and anchovies.  Add the currants and toasted pine nuts.  Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes.
Scoop a ladle of the pasta water into the sardine mixture.  Stir in the saffron; season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water.  Add the drained pasta to the sardine mixture in the skillet.  Stir pasta well to coat with the sauce.  Gently stir in the remaining sardines.  Allow to cook for another minute, just to heat the added sardines.  Add some of the reserved pasta cooking water if the sauce is too dry.  Transfer the pasta to a serving dish.  Sprinkle some of the toasted breadcrumbs and chopped fennel fronds on top.  Serve, passing the remaining breadcrumbs to be added, if desired.

Spaghetti with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs

(Serves 4)


12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, minced
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2/3 cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs


Finely chop 6 anchovy fillets; cut the remaining 6 into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.  Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic, red pepper, and finely chopped anchovies.  Cook, stirring until the anchovies dissolve.  Remove the skillet from the heat.  Stir in the parsley and remaining anchovies.

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.  Add the pasta to the skillet with the anchovy sauce.  Toss until the strands are well coated.  Add some of the reserved pasta water if the mixture seems too dry.  Set aside 2 tablespoons of the toasted bread crumbs.  Add the remaining crumbs to the skillet and toss the pasta again.  Transfer the pasta to individual serving bowls.
Top each serving with a sprinkling of the reserved bread crumbs.

Toasted Fresh Bread Crumbs
(Makes about 3/4 cup)

Toasted breadcrumbs can be made by sauteing them in a skillet or baking them in an oven.

In a skillet: 
Warm 2 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add 3/4  cup of fresh breadcrumbs and stir to coat with oil.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the crumbs are golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes.

In the oven:
Place 3/4 cup of fresh bread crumbs in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Using your hands, gently combine the ingredients.  Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree F. oven.  Bake about 8 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until golden brown and crisp.

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Easter Baking – Pupa Con L’Uova (Italian Easter Cookies) by Marianna Santangelo Vitale

Easter Baking – Pupa Con L’Uova (Italian Easter Cookies)

I love this time of year when winter ends and spring begins. There is such a sense of renewal and hope.  It has warmed up earlier than normal many plants are in full bloom and the spring flowers are opening every morning.

Easter is just around the corner.  Every year I have an Easter cookie tradition that is a pleasing reminder of days gone by, baking pupa con l’uovo. It can be a sweet yeast bread that is braided around colored eggs or it can be a cookie dough braided around the egg. My Sicilian mother made these every year.

It is a wonderful combination that smells so good and tastes great. My favorite part is icing the cookies and topping  them with various sprinkles, such as little chocolate eggs, marshmellow bunnies  or non-pareils.

Pupa Con L’Uova

4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 sticks of butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
Moisten with about 1/3 cup of milk

Blend butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  slowly add the four and baking powder and milk to bring dough together. Let dough rest in the fridge for an hour.

1 c. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp anise, almond or lemon extract…..optional

In mixer combine butter and sugar. add the eggs. Combine flour, baking powder and add one cup at a time until you have a soft dough that is easy to handle. Break off a baseball-size piece of dough and form into a disk;  then form a double twist with the ends and wrap around egg. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet  Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes until firm and pale golden, but not brown. Cool on rack. Combine icing ingredients and whisk until smooth. Use a silicon pastry brush to brush cookies with icing, then sprinkle with non-pareils. You can adjust the flavor of the dough with combinations like almond and orange, or lemon and vanilla if desired. Makes about 12 cookies

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St. Joseph Altar on Sunday, March 18, 2018 – St. Ambrose on the Hill

St. Ambrose Parish at 5130 Wilson Ave., on the Hill in St. Louis, will present the traditional St. Joseph Altar on Sunday, March 18, 2018.

The celebration begins with Mass in Italian in St. Ambrose Church at 11:00 a.m.  After Mass, around noon, there will be a short procession to the school building where two altars, piled high with baked goods and Italian specialties, will be set up, one in the café and one in the gym.  About 12:30 p.m., the altars will be blessed, and the buffet lines, featuring food from restaurants on the Hill, will be open.

There will be breads, cakes, cookies, pastries, and other items for sale for the duration of the event, until around 3:30 p.m.  There is no admission charge to attend, but a thoughtful donation is requested for the buffet line.  All money collected during the event will go to St. Ambrose Tuition Assistance Program to help school families in need.

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Restaurant Week on The Hill Apr. 23rd – 29th

Restaurants on The Hill are coming together to form the 7th annual “Restaurant Week on The Hill.” Restaurants will offer a three-course pre-fixed menu starting at $25 and $35.

There are no coupons to carry or cards to purchase ahead of time. All you need to do is show up to one of the amazing participating restaurants, and you will be offered the special three course menu.

The purpose of “restaurant weeks” are to drive business to local restaurants while offering diners the chance to enjoy an old favorite, or experience something new for an affordable price.

We will be collecting donations for World Pediatric Project at each restaurant. You can donate by filling out a donation slip provided at the end fo your meal.

To learn more visit us at

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Now Playing on Ciao USA Radio – Rio Vitale’s Top 200 Italian Songs

Now Playing on Ciao USA Radio

Rio Vitale’s Top 200 Picks

Non Stop Italian Music Hour from 12 – 1 pm Central

Tune in and don’t miss out!


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Ciao St Louis Application Now Available – Android or IPhone


CiaoSTL app launch
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The Vignelli Legacy on Show in D.C.

TOMMASO CARTIA (March 15, 2018)
There’s an Italian hand behind the iconic designs of the New York and Washington subway maps and lettering, or the logos of companies like American Airlines and Bloomingdales: it is the hand of designers Massimo and Lella Vignelli. The Embassy of Italy in Washington, the Italian Cultural Institute and the Rochester Institute of Technology, celebrate the genius of the Vignellis in an exhibition opening on March 16 that will be on view until April 29, 2018. The opening event will include a lecture, among the others, by R. Roger Remington, Professor of Graphic Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a video-interview with Massimo Vignelli by the Editor in Chief of i-Italy, Letizia Airos introduced by Renato Miracco, Cultural Attaché of the Italian Embassy in Washington. We had the chance to talk with Emanuele Amendola, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in DC, who shared with us his enthusiasm about the exhibition and the influence of the Vignellis on modern design.

“The idea was born a long time ago from a series of conversations that took place atRochester Institute of Technology, an important university where the Vignelli Center for Design Studies is.” Told us Emanuele Amendola, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, when we asked him how the idea of the homage to Massimo and Lella Vignelli came about.

The Vignelli Center for the Design Studies was founded in 2010 after the Vignellis donated their archives to RIT, and it holds their creations. The chair holder of the design department is Professor R. Roger Remington. “With him, we began thinking of an event that we called, The Vignelli Legacy which is a symbolic name because the figures of Massimo and Lella are so important not only to the history of Italian design, but also to global design.” Continued Amendola.

The Vignellis moved to the United States at the start of the ‘60s, and with the birth of Unimark International and then Vignelli Associates, they worked on a series of projects that redefined the meaning of industrial graphics in the States. “There is so much pleasure to organize an exhibition about something that has such strong ties to the U.S. territory.” Said enthusiastically the Director.

“Not everyone knows that the hand behind the iconic New York City and Washington D.C subway maps were the ones of Massimo and Lella Vignelli.  Also, few people know that they created the iconic logos for important American companies, like American Airlines, and Bloomingdales.”

The Vignellis Poetic

Director Amendola shares the same aestethical approach to design Massimo and Lella Vignelli had: “Truth be told, the American Airlines logo was recently changed which is something that I don’t agree with.  Vignelli had a conservative approach to graphics and design, and he had done “rebranding” and “restyling.” The same logo was used by American Airlines for 40 years and it was based on the logo before that.  Vignelli thought that an image that is familiar to the public and to the client didn’t need to be distorted: it needed to maintain its identity by simply refreshing it and modernizing it.”

“This is also probably one of the most interesting aspects of Vignelli because he was a poet of design.  One of the most important texts for understanding Vignelli is the Vignelli Canon written by Massimo in which he provides a manual on what a good designer should do.  With these pointers, fundamentally, it is the respect for graphic identity and concreteness.  Graphic design is above all a creative job, but also very concrete. A designer needs to consider certain questions when designing something. They need to always ask themselves, ‘what is this serving,’ and ‘what does it want to say?’ This gave life to very linear, and cut and dry poetics respective to the companies’ identities that Vignelli worked with.  They didn’t want to add anything more than what was necessary to communicate a specific message.”

The Opening Event and the Exhibition

The night, organized in collaboration with the Embassy, will open with the inauguration of a collection of some of the Vignellis’ most celebrated works, from graphic designs for various companies to reproductions of prints of all the biggest logos- starting with American Airlines, Cinzano, Benetton, Ford, Lancia, Ducati.  There will be the original maps for the New York and Washington subways, and the ones from his design project for the National Parks Service.

To illustrate everything, there will be an inaugural conference by Roger Remington, the chair holder of design at Rochester Institute of Technology.

“Together we will recount the Vignellis’ careers from their start in Milan to their transfer to the U.S.,” continued telling us Director Emanuele Amendola, “then, introduced by Professor Renato Miracco, cultural expert from the Embassy in Washington, and Vignelli’s good friend, a video interview from a few years ago with Massimo and Letizia Airos from i-Italy will be projected.  Also from RIT, will be Professor Elisabetta d’Amandawho handles the Italian program and works with the Design Center often integrating language learning with the Vignellis’ designs.”

Lella Vignelli

Professor d’Amanda will also talk about Lella Vignelli’s role going in depth about her contributions, especially as a woman, and her work.

Amendola shared his thoughts on the Lella Vignelli profile as a woman and as a designer:  “Lella was always put second respective Massimo, and in a certain respect, she was even less well known. There is a beautiful anecdote that talks about Massimo’s adoration for Lella.  She suffered a bit because of the male dominated work environment and Massimo, with respect and sensibility, tried to hide from her all the magazines and the publications that only gave him credit for their creations. She was instead, the pragmatic mind of the two: she was the one who managed the budget and the accounts for their company.  And she herself, was also an incredible designer: her many creations for Poltrona Frau and Poltronova, not to mention the beautiful jewelry for San Lorenzo. As you know, behind every successful man, there is always a great woman.”

The Director hopes that this exhibition can become a traveling project and can also extend to other Italian Cultural Institutes in the United States.

Italian Design Day and Cavallini’s Exhibit in D.C.

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has placed design at the very core of its promotional strategy known as “Vivere all’Italiana”. The Italian Design Day 2018 is really in tune with the theme selected for the 22nd Triennale International Exhibition, “Broken Nature – Design Takes on Human Survival”.

On March 3rd, the Italian Design Day was celebrated in the biggest Italian venues around the world. “Design is one of the focal points that promotes Italian Culture abroad. Because of this, for 2 years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation organized March 1 as an international day dedicated to this theme.” Told us Amendola.  “Although the exhibit on Vignelli opens a little bit after, but only for logistical reasons, the initiative definitely goes along with the celebration. This inspiring idea is to recognize design as a real cultural tradition that speaks to the world about the excellence of our country in this sector.  Especially in the U.S., Italian design attracts a lot of interest and is seen as synonymous with “well made,” elegance, and quality.

“With our other initiatives dedicated to design, we have a program in May for an exhibition of works from the artist Emilio Cavallini. Emilio is a stylist: he is the owner of Stil Novo, the most important Italian producer of tights.  His creations have been paraded on the catwalk by some of the biggest designers: Dior, Celine, Balenciaga, Gucci, Alexander McQueen. Cavallini is the one who gave Mary Quant, the inventor of the miniskirt, the accessory that made the miniskirt so iconic – the stockings. Emilio is, however, also an artist, and with his yarns he creates abstract and very interesting works inspired by the italian tradition.  They will be on view as an exhibition at IA&A at Hillyer, a gallery in Washington D.C starting May 4, and closing at the end of the month.”

For more info please visit the Italian Cultural Insitute in Washington website here >>>

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