Watch this week’s interview with Vinnie Valenza, owner of Blues City Deli, Joey Valenza of Melo’s Pizzeria

Michael J Cross, VP of Ciao St Louis, interviews Vince Valenza, owner of Blues City Deli, Joey Valenza, owner of Melo’s Pizzeria, and his brother Vinnie Valenza. The Valenza’s have been in the food business for years. Two years ago, Joey decided to open up his own pizzeria next to his dad’s blues bar. It has one of the most authentic Italian pizza in the St Louis metropolitan area using 00 flour imported directly from Napoli and fresh mozzarella cheese.

CIAO St Louis – Online Raffle


Click here to purchase tickets

Ciao St Louis organized in October of 2016, as Missouri 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Its mission is to preserve and promote Italian culture and language. It has established itself as a multi-media outlet reaching out to the greater ItalianAmerican community, using the internet (, social media, radio programing, presenting live Italian performances in music, dance and visual arts. Ciao StL is a proud organizer of community events that support the ItalianAmerican experience. The organization helps people discover and appreciate their Italian heritage and supports them in their search to share the love of their culture with people that have similar interests.

Some of the successes of CIAO St Louis include (1) a successful website hosting numerous features; (2) a Facebook page which has been visited by thousands of users from around the globe; and (3) a popular weekly radio show, reaching listeners from far and near. Future events include the 150th Annual Columbus Day Parade and Festa Italiana on October 1, 2017 and a traditional Carnevale celebration on February 10, 2018.

CIAO St Louis is committed to providing the best Italian cultural experience to St. Louis and the greater Italian-American community by serving as a catalyst to bring all Italians and Italian-Americans together and to provide a common forum for all organizations and clubs in our communities.

In order to continue the success of CIAO St Louis, it is necessary to raise funds.

Please see the information here and consider purchasing a raffle ticket. It’s quick and easy to enter our on-line raffle. YOU COULD BE A LUCKY WINNER!

18th Annual Mercer County Italian American Festival kicks off Friday

The Fralinger String Band is scheduled to perform at the 2017 Mercer County Italian American Festival.
The Fralinger String Band is scheduled to perform at the 2017 Mercer County Italian American Festival.Submitted Photos
The Vivaci Dancers are scheduled to perform at the 2017 Mercer County Italian American Festival.
The Vivaci Dancers are scheduled to perform at the 2017 Mercer County Italian American Festival.

Get ready for Central New Jersey’s number-one festival as the 18th Annual Mercer County Italian American Festival takes over the festival grounds at Mercer County Park for three days of days of great food, music, fun, and culture…Italian-style. Opening at 3:00 pm on Friday, September 22, the festival runs through Sunday, September 24.

Created to share and celebrate all things Italian, the festival includes a Food Piazza; an Italian Market with Italian specialty products; a Heritage Pavilion with art, crafts and memorabilia; the indoor Cultural Theater with cultural presentations throughout the weekend; entertainment on two stages including national acts on the Investors Bank Stage; amusement rides; bocce; children’s activities; and the fireworks spectacular on Saturday.


Sauce or gravy, cannoli or pasticiotti, wine or beer – whatever your preference, it’s all in the Food Piazza at the Mercer County Italian American Festival. Traversing the center of the festival grounds, the Piazza contains more than 40 food vendors serving everything from vodka rigatoni to cannoli. Perennial favorites, Mamma Rosa’s Restaurant and Pete’s Steak House, both located in Hamilton, NJ, return with their crowd pleasing menus including mussels, eggplant and chicken cacciatore. Station One Seafood, from Atlantic Highlands, NJ is back with steamed clams, calamari and more. Buzzetta’s Festival Foods, who have been with the festival since day one, will be serving their crowd pleasing sausage peppers and onions sandwiches and DeLorenzo’s Pizza on the Go will be bringing their world-famous Trenton Tomato Pie to the Food Piazza. North End Deli, traveling all the way from Lawrence Massachusetts is back for just their second year serving their signature entree, arancini (rice balls). They sold out last year so make sure to get there early.

Among the new vendors this year is Cheech A’ Cini’s Truckin’ Trattoria, known as the “Home of the Pastacini”, for their signature dish, a delicious pasta and cheese ball derived from an old family recipe. Italian Peoples Bakery from Trenton, NJ, Scala Bakery from North Brunswick, NJ, and Maddalena’s Cheesecake from Ringoes, NJ will be joined by festival newcomer, Potito’s from Philadelphia, PA offering primo Italian pastries and desserts.

There will be two Beer and Wine Cafes. Bud Light, the official festival beer, will be served in both cafes along with Birra Moretti, Shock Top, Goose Island IPA, and gluten-free Strongbow Cider. The cafes will feature three varieties of wine from the award-winning Hopewell Valley Vineyards including Rosso della Valle, Pinot Grigio, White Merlot.


Enjoy three days of continuous entertainment on two stages including the Investors Bank Stage and the Cabaret Tent. Featuring a stellar line-up of national performers and local favorites, entertainment includes Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms, the best Italian show band in North America, performing both Friday and Saturday. Also on appearing on Friday is The Brooklyn Bridge singing their hits including Worst That Could Happen and Welcome Me Love with their new frontman, Joe “Bean” Esposito.

Saturday, funnyman Floyd Vivino makes his third appearance at the festival after a rousing, standing-room-only performance last year. Plus creating a “Saturday Night Fever” will be the world’s #1 Bees Gees tribute band, Stayin’ Alive. Closing out the night is the festival’s annual fireworks spectacular.

On Sunday, perennial festival favorites, Gil ‘Bud’ Palmer and Lou Sciara, return with their tribute to Bud Abbott and fellow New Jerseyan and accomplished Italian American, Lou Costello, in “The Abbott and Costello Show” appearing in the Cabaret Tent. Also on Sunday, for opera lovers, Boheme Opera NJ appears on the Investors Bank Stage. One of New Jersey’s premier regional opera companies, Boheme Opera NJ has been recognized by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts with three Citations of Excellence.

The stellar line-up also includes the “Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Show” with Sonny Averona Jr. as Dean Martin and Johnny “Bones” Cipparone as Jerry Lewis; Vivaci, the Italian dance troupe from Philadelphia appears Saturday; the BRAG Band appears Sunday playing AM Radio Gold; and for the little ones, Penny and the Puppettes will be appearing all three days with several shows each day. The complete line-up of 36 performances from 24 performers can be found online at


The festival features more than 20 amusement rides from Majestic Midways. Munchkinland is back, featuring attractions and rides for guests too small to ride the main attractions. It includes a soft play area for children under 36” tall and coin operated rides and games for those under 42” tall. There will be a changing station for parents with young children and benches for adults to rest.


The Mercer County Italian American Festival’s Fireworks Spectacular lights up the sky on Saturday following Stayin’ Alive’s performance.


Presentations happen all weekend in the Cultural Theater. Located in the Heritage Pavilion, the Cultural Theater’s presentations extend from the Traditional Italian Remedies of an Italian Grandfather to world famous pizza tossers.


Shop the streets of an Italian village in the two Italian Market tents with vendors selling traditional and contemporary Italian products. Jewelry and other crafts are in the Italian Heritage Pavilion.


Bocce, located under its own tent on the main festival grounds, is available all three days. Play for fun; join a mini-tournament or watch and cheer.


Start Sunday with a Catholic Mass at 11:00 am at the Investors Bank Stage. Then join the recreation of a long time Chambersburg “Feast of Lights” tradition when the statue of the Madonna di Casandrino is carried in procession, complete with a traditional Italian street band. Parking and admission are free for those arriving before 11:00 am on Sunday to attend Mass.

The 18th Annual Mercer County Italian American Festival will take place September 22 – 24, 2017 at Mercer County Park in West Windsor, New Jersey. Created to celebrate and share all things Italian, the festival will be open 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Friday, September 22; 12:00 noon to 11:00 pm on Saturday, September 23; and 12:00 noon to 9:30 pm on Sunday, September 24. Admission to the festival is $5.00. Children 12 years of age and younger are admitted free compliments of XFINITY. Senior Citizens, 65 years of age and older, pay only $4.00. The Mercer County Park Commission will be charging $5.00 for on-site parking. Military personnel in uniform receive free parking and admission. The festival is a rain or shine event with plenty of covered areas for your comfort. Pets are not permitted. Complete details and schedules can be found at Contact the Mercer County Italian American Festival Association at 609-631-7544 or visit the Festival facebook page for the latest news. The Mercer County Italian American Festival is a presentation of the Mercer County Italian American Festival Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Picasso’s Italy journey celebrated in Rome expo

In the frosty first months of 1917, Spanish master Pablo Picasso travelled to Italy in search of inspiration for the sets he was designing for the “Parade” ballet.

One hundred years on, a new exhibition in Rome celebrates that journey with 100 paintings, drawings, watercolours, sketches and stage costumes looking at how Italy and the Ballets Russes theatrical troupe inspired the artist.

“Picasso between Cubism and Neo-Classicism: 1915-1925” opens on Friday at the Quirinal Stables, but the highlight — an enormous work titled “Parade” — is going on show at the nearby Palazzo Barberini.

It was one of the few spaces in the Italian capital able to accommodate the monumental stage curtain with its winged horse and street performers, which measures 16.5 metres by 10.5 metres (52.5 feet by 33.8 feet).

“It is the biggest work painted by Picasso but it also marks the end of his Cubist period and return to the figurative,” Palazzo Barberini director Flaminia Gennari Santori told AFP.return to the figurative,” Palazzo Barberini director Flaminia Gennari Santori told AFP.

“The trip to Italy was very important for Picasso, who was very interested in artists like Bernini, in Baroque sculpture and painting,” she added.

Picasso, who was based in Paris, arrived in Italy in February 1917 to meet Serge de Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes, for a collaboration which would revive his spirits.

“The world was at war, and he, a Spanish man on French soil, had seen many of his fellow travellers go to the front. He was sad and had little work,” said curator Olivier Berggruen.

The two months of his Grand Tour around Italy would prove fateful for the 36-year-old. Shortly after his arrival in Rome he met Olga Khokhlova, a ballet dancer who would become his wife and principal muse.

“When he was not with Olga, the artist liked to immerse himself in the lively atmosphere on the streets of Rome or Naples, attracted by popular shows but also by classic monumental sculpture,” Berggruen said.

And the Vesuvius volcano in southern Italy created such an impression on the artist he included it in “Parade”.


Movie: Mona Lisa is Missing at Washington University November 3, 2017

Mona Lisa Is Missing – TRAILER from Joe Medeiros on Vimeo.

Did you know the Mona Lisa was stolen… and that she was missing for nearly 2-1/2 years? Find out how and why in “Mona Lisa Is Missing,” a fun, fascinating, and award-winning documentary about the 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece. Now more than a century since this unthinkable theft, writer/director Joe Medeiros finds the real reason an Italian workman named Vincenzo Peruggia stole the masterpiece from the Louvre — a reason even Peruggia’s only daughter didn’t know.

Admission: $5 per person

Friday, November 3, 2017 – 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
Laboratory Sciences Room 300
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO
Contact: Kathy Lewis
314-935-7378 /
Live & A with Filmmakers


Vince and Virginia DiRaimondo Given The Spirit of Columbus Award, Parade Oct. 1st On The Hill

Vince and Virginia DiRaimondo are certainly one of the many “pillars” of the Hill neighborhood. They are great examples of the family spirit that is so evident with living in the Hill community.

Vince 91, and Virginia (soon to be 90) have been married for over 66 years and have lived on the Hill their entire lives.  They raised three children, and are now the proud grandparents of eight, and great grandparents of eleven.  They were born, grew up, worked, and now enjoy their retired lives in the same ten square blocks of the Hill neighborhood.

Vince was born in 1926 to Vincent and Mary (LoRusso) DiRaimondo, who came to the Hill from Castertermini, Sicily.  They lived at 5121 Daggett during his childhood years and he attended Shaw School for grade school.  Vince never attended high school, like so many others in those times, but instead went to work at Ravarino & Freschi to help his parents provide for his sister, Vincenza (Vee) and himself.  While growing up, Vince played baseball and soccer in the streets of the Hill with many of the neighborhood kids who would become his many lifelong friends.

In 1944, Vince entered the US Army serving our country during World War II.  He spent eighteen months in the Philippines and returned to civilian life in 1946.  Vince returned to the Hill and began work at the Magic Chef Company.  He also joined the Ravens, one of the many sports social clubs that were part of the Hill neighborhood at that time.  Fellow members of the Ravens became, and are still many of his lifelong friends, even today.

Virginia was born in 1927 to Angelo and Jenny (Pezzene) Valli.  Angelo was part of the Valli Clan that was originally from a small village outside of Milan, Italy.  Virginia was born and grew up at 5343 Shaw and was the only child of the family.  She attended Shaw School for grade school and then moved onto Southwest High School where she graduated in January 1946.  Upon graduation, Virginia started her work career at Ralston Purina.

Vince and Virginia were acquaintances during their childhood days as they both attended Shaw School.  One cold night in November 1946, Vince and Virginia were at the Excel Ice Cream Shop, located on Marconi Avenue, when Vince asked if he could walk Virginia home.  That evening was the beginning of a beautiful life together.

On November 24, 1949 (Virginia’s birthday), Vince asked Virginia to marry him.  Unfortunately, only one week after his proposal, Vince was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which he contracted while serving in the Philippines.  Vince and Virginia were forced to postpone their wedding plans as Vince was admitted to Mount Saint Rose Hospital where he spent seven months until his release in July 1950.  They were finally married on September 8, 1951.

Their first son, Paul, was born in 1954, at which time Virginia quit her job at Ralston Purina.  In the same year, the Magic Chef Company discontinued operations and Vince went to work for the City of St. Louis Water Department.  There he spent the next 34 ½ years as a dispatcher until his retirement in 1988.  Vince also had a second job delivering medicine for Cunetto’s Pharmacy for over 15 years until they closed in 1970.

Their family continued to grow with the addition of son Michael, born in 1957 and daughter Mary in 1960.  In 1961, they outgrew their flat on 2118 Edwards and moved to 2230 Stephen where they still live today.  In 1964, their household increased even more as Virginia’s sick parents moved in so Virginia could care for them until the passing of her father in 1966 and her mother in 1970.  Virginia then returned to the workforce joining Crescent Parts and Equipment where she worked until her retirement in 1992.

Nowadays, you can find Vince and Virginia living their busy daily lives in the Hill neighborhood as they always have.  You will probably find them attending daily Mass at St. Ambrose, hanging out and having coffee with their friends at Hardee’s, participating in St. Ambrose Senior Citizens activities, attending Holy Name and Mount Carmel meetings, playing bocce at the Bocce Club or Milo’s, playing cards on Tuesdays with the Hill Ladies, having breakfast at Chris’ Pancake House on Sunday morning, or attending 5PM Mass on Saturday (they arrive at 4:20PM so they can sit in “their” pew in the back of church), or visiting the casino with their longtime Raven friends, Joe and Rose Mazzuca.

Vince and Virginia are true examples of the Italian family heritage so prevalent on the Hill.


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