Talk to the Alderman: New Development Proposal On The Hill


Now the Alderman is seeking your feedback so we made it easy for you:


For nearly the past twenty years at the corner of Daggett and Hereford in the Italian Neighborhood “The Hill”, sits more than ten acres of empty warehouses.  While political leadership points the finger at the owner of the property “Flynn Associates” this writer feels both entities are to blame.  Every owner wants to receive a fair profit for his investment and every neighborhood wants to preserve its history and protect its residents.

The Alderman Joe Vollmer has wanted to keep this property zoned as commercial and felt that is was the best way to preserve its buildings and protect the area surrounding it.  The problem with that is that America no longer manufactures things in the United States.  I would love to see residents walking to work each morning and returning in the evening to enjoy time with their families like the old days.  In today’s world a factory is controlled by large machinery with few operators if you could find someone to locate there.

I have toured the inside and outside of these building with Mr. Bob Flynn and could tell you that this site has been a danger to the neighborhood.  It is impossible to police the inside or outside of this large complex.  So there lies the failure on both parties to agree to a common ground over numerous proposals over the past twenty years.

Even today there are many contradicting reports about number of units.  From the most current report that I feel is the most accurate on the Hill 2000 web site.  There will be 225 apartments, 20 single family homes and 49 (owner occupied) Town-homes.  Sansone Group has found a way to incorporate some condos but upon the Alderman request they will be located inside the apartment building, (which I think is a poor decision).

I have spoken to a number of potential developers over the past six years.  Generally speaking, every developer begin negotiations with 42 units per acre, which would maximize profit potential.  The lowest profit potential would be 32 units per acre (again in general).  This looks to be a good deal for both the residents and the developer, in this writer’s opinion.  I have to give credit to Monsignor Bommarito for getting the number of units this low along with another that does not wish to be mentioned.  With that said if the leadership of the Hill and the property owner had worked together for the good of the neighborhood years ago, we would not be faced with this decision today.  I believe there were better deals on the table that were rejected by the Alderman.

Link to Hill 2000


Movie of the Week from Netflix








Miele is a 2013 Italian drama film directed by Valeria Golino. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival[1] where it won a commendation from the Ecumenical Jury.[2] It was also nominated for the 2013 Lux Prize.

For all we know, Dr. Kevorkian is chatting amiably now with some of the folks he dispatched at their request, but though Dr. Death is not with us here in Earth any longer, the subject of assisted suicide comes up now and then. In Italy, a strongly Catholic country, the idea of suicide is taboo, which affords interest and energy to Valeria Golino’s directing debut for the movie “Honey,” or “Miele” as its Italian title.

While Irene, code name Honey (Jasmine Trinca), the new Dr. Kevorkian who inhabits almost every frame of this film, could be looked upon as a spokesperson for the right of suicide, “Honey” is not really a political tract. It is instead a more interesting look at the many facets of Irene’s character. We watch as she initially feels comfortable with the job she has chosen, helping people do themselves in per their request. Her idea that she is a virtuous angel allowing people to skirt the laws begins to erode. It’s anyone’s guess what really turns the tide in her mind. She may continue to believe in liberalization of Italian law to make her chosen field legal, but as a human being she can no longer find moral justice in what she is doing.

What Valeria Golino seeks in using Angela Del Fabbro’s screenplay is a window onto Irene’s soul, and she could not have found a better actress to portray the conflicted practitioner. Trinca, a gamin-like Italian with her pixie-ish hair style and her strangely shaped two front teeth (teeth numbers 8 and 9 as my dentist would say), may believe she is leading a full, youthful life, but her relationships are tenuous. Stefano (Vinicio Marchioini), her boyfriend, is a married man who sets up trysts in his car and trailer, a man who has no idea that Irene travels each month to L.A. and then across the Mexican border in tourist buses to buy a veterinary drug used for euthanizing dogs. This is the serum she uses for her customers, helping them to be freed of their infirm bodies, whether the bedridden woman whose husband tearfully gives her the potion; the guy with kaposi sarcoma with telltale facial scabs; the fellow in bed, perhaps with Lou Gehrig’s disease, whose sobbing mother is the only person who can understand what the young man is saying.

Irene’s life changes after she delivers the drug to Carlo Grimaldi (Carlo Cecchi), an aging architect, not realizing that Carlo is not physically ill but simply tired of life. He does not need her presence to take the drug but wants to administer it to himself when alone. Furious when finding out that the man is simply depressed, she yells at her contact person, later developing a close relationship with Carlo, who at first insults her, ultimately warming up to a person decades younger. We don’t know what Carlo will or will not eventually do with the drug, but no matter. Director Golino is interested primarily in the way Irene’s psychological distance from her patients breaks down, leaving her with a toll that she can no longer ignore.

Jasmine Trinca does a spirited job portraying a woman with no close bonds with patients, boyfriend, father (Massimiliano Iacolucci, or mother (Valeria Bilello). It is for her performance—not any political screed for or against assisted suicide—that we come to the theater. The story, which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, is photographed in Italy, L.A., Mexico and even Turkey, the final scene summarizing Irene’s change as she prays inside what looks like Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia mosque. The diverse soundtrack adds a lively backdrop to the picture.

Read more:

Comites of Chicago and your elected representatives for Italians in St. Louis

If you are an Italian Citizen or Dual Citizen living in the St. Louis Area you are represented by the Comites of Chicago.

CIAO Stl will report on the actives and duties of this office. As of this dated we are not aware of any accomplishments, activities or actions that have been planned or passed.  There are three representatives that were elected from the St. Louis Area.

Cav. Anthony Gandolfo
Frank Galati
Angelo Sita

Below you will find the Comites web site and how to contact your elected officials.  Please make them work for you.

Il Presidente del Comites di Chicago, Luigi Sciortino, rende noto che e’ ora operativo il sito

Si ricorda che il Comites é il Comitato degli italiani all’estero, un organo rappresentativo della comunità, eletto direttamente dagli italiani residenti all’estero ed iscritti all’AIRE.

Translation: The President of Comites Chicago, Luigi Sciortino, and announces that ‘now the site operational.

Remember that the Comites is the Committee of Italians Abroad, a representative body of the community, elected directly by Italians living abroad and registered with AIRE.



Get the World’s Only Sicilian Mobile Dictionary $0.99

Don’t let your Sicilian Language Disappear.   Download this app for you phone today.  Go the the Apple Store and search Sicilian Dictionary.  sicilian

Sicilian Dictionary by Novus Laurus, LLC This is a free application


If you want the Google Play App see


Sicilian is a Romance language spoken on the island of Sicily, and in southern Calabria and southern Apulia on the Italian peninsula, with an estimated 5 million speakers inside Italy (principally in Sicily) and many others in Germany, Australia, Argentina, the USA, and elsewhere.  Due to its central location in the Mediterranean Sea (the “Middle Earth” of the ancient world), Sicily has been a meeting place, trading post, and site of conquest and interaction for many different cultures and languages.  Diverse linguistic influences — including Greek, Arabic, Norman French, and Spanish — have shaped the sound system, lexicon, and syntax of Sicilian.

Currently considered a “vulnerable” language by UNESCO, Sicilian faces increasing pressure from standard Italian, though it remains stronger than nearly all other Italian language varieties. An estimated 72% of the population in Sicily itself is reported as speaking Sicilian, but most strong speakers today are older. Based on current trends, only a third of the population will speak Sicilian at the end of the 21st century (Coluzzi, 2008). Moreover, official use and presence in the media are minimal, with Standard Italian dominating these two domains and making Sicilian appear less relevant to some younger Sicilians.

Rio Vitale named Cavaliere by the Italian Government – by Angelo Sita

The President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, has awarded one of St. Louis’ own, Rio Vitale, with one of the highest honors the Italian Republic can bestow on an individual: a honorary knighthood, with the title of Cavaliere dell’ Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity). Mr. Vitale received the award from the Italian General Consul of Chicago, Giuseppe Finocchario, in a ceremony at the Italian Cultural Institute in Chicago on October 18, 2016. His wife Marianna and his son Andrew attended the ceremony.

After World War II the Italian government created the Ordine della stella della solidarietà italiana (Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity). This award was originally created to recognize those who made an outstanding contribution to the reconstruction of Italy after World War II. Currently it is awarded to those who preserve and promote Italian national prestige abroad, promote friendly relations and cooperation with other countries and ties with Italy.

There are many individuals who work tirelessly to improve the Italian community of St. Louis and Mr. Vitale has been doing this for years. He has served as the President of the Italian American Heritage Corporation and in the process completely restructured the St. Louis Columbus DayParade and convinced Italian restaurants to participate at the Festival. He served as President of the Italia America Bocce Club. Mr. Vitale is also a member of the Italian Club of St. Louis, the Fratellanza Society, and a founding member of the Sicilian Cultural Association of St. Louis.

Mr. Vitale wrote the book, St. Louis’s The Hill (Images of America) on the Italian neighborhood “The Hill” in St. Louis and all the proceeds are dedicated to the Italian American Heritage Corporation. This book includes two hundred historical pictures and provides the reader with a good introduction of what life was like living on The Hill from 1890’s through the 1970’s.

In order to receive this award nomination was presented before the Head of the Diplomatic Ceremony for the Republic (Il Capo del Cerimoniale Diplomatico della Repubblica) for their recommendation. Then their recommendation is sent to the Foreign Minister who presents the nominees to the President of the Italian Republic.

The nomination process involves an advisory committee called Il Consiglio dell’Ordine, whose members include il Capo del Cerimoniale Diplomatico della Repubblica (the head of Diplomatic Ceremony for the Republic). They make recommendations to the Ministro degli Esteri (Foreign Minister), who presents the final nominees to Il Presidente della Repubblica.

This is the second honor that Mr. Vitale has received in October 2016. Earlier in the month, Mr. Vitale was the Grand Marshall of the St. Louis Columbus DayParade. The Italian Community of St. Louis is proud that one of its most active members has been recognized for his service to the Italian community by the Italian Republic.

Rio Vitale, Marianna Vitale, Italian General Consul of Chicago, Giuseppe Finocchario, Anderw Vitale
Rio Vitale, Marianna Vitale, Italian General Consul of Chicago, Giuseppe Finocchario, Anderw Vitale

John Tucci becomes one of contributors for CIAO St. Louis

Below is an article in the St. Louis Business Journal Rick Desloge wrote about me and trivia.

 St. Louis Character

John Tucci one of the future contributors to CIAO St. Louis, he will provide us with book reviews.

St. Louis Business Journal – by Rick Desloge 

John Tucci writes the questions, but do you know the answers? Here’s a sample of his work:

• Who hit the most home runs as a Cardinal in the second version of Busch Stadium, the one from 1966 to 2005?

• Who played George in the last episodes of “Facts of Life?” (Hint: He starred in “Up in the Air”)

• Name the Missourian (from Blue Springs) who won “American Idol” in 2008?

• What U.S. president had a breakdown at age 24 and spent time in a sanitorium?

 Tucci considers the “American Idol” question easy and the others tricky for trivia buffs. (The answers are at the end of the story.) He’s been writing and serving as MC of charity trivia games since 2007. It’s an unpaid night and weekend job that began when he volunteered to write the questions and host the event for Cathedral Basilica School, which his children attended. Since then, the list of charities that call upon Tucci to develop personalized trivia contests has expanded. He’s handled the task for Friends of Kids with Cancer, Webster Child Care Center, the Union Avenue Opera, the Central West End Association — and that’s just a sample of his lineup so far this year.

It’s an avocation for Tucci, 43, a criminal defense attorney by day. He’s been practicing solo since 2004 after spending the early part of his legal career prosecuting bad guys for the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office.

“This time of year is probably the busiest (for trivia contests), from January until May,” said Tucci. When he’s not working one of his events, he’ll join a select group of friends that make the rounds of benefit trivia contests.

Tucci’s wife, Mary, accompanies him to some of the events, and sometimes their children also attend. The couple lives in south St. Louis.

 What’s it cost for your trivia services?

 It’s completely pro bono for good causes. There are trivia contests in bars, but those are not the ones I do. It’s a very easy fundraiser in terms of overhead. If you have space and someone who wants to write questions, you can have a trivia night.

 Does every contest get different questions?

 There may be a question that I like that sneaks into somebody else’s contest, but usually no more than one. If I have to recycle questions, then that’s an indication it’s not fun any more. And if it’s not fun any more, what’s the point of doing it?

 How big a time commitment is this?

 In terms of the event, it’s a few hours on a Friday or Saturday night. In terms of composing the questions, it’s impossible to calculate. It’s something I enjoy doing and something I usually do in my spare time at nights.

 Is there a bit of showmanship in being MC?

 The best parallel I can draw is the game show host — the Alex Trebek or Bob Barker when he was on “The Price is Right.” People watch those shows because they like the game. They don’t watch because of the game show host.

 What are your favorite topics?

 U.S. presidents, and it’s my favorite as a player too. I like TV and movie categories. That goes hand-in-hand with what I think a good trivia contest should include. There should always be a TV category, a movie category, a sports category, a music category, and I always put in the presidents. Those are the topics most people are interested in, the trivia nucleus.


And your least favorite topic?

 As a writer, if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t write it anyway. I write science questions, but as a player, it doesn’t break my heart if there isn’t a science category.


Do you get challenged often?

 Maybe one out of a 100 questions in an average trivia contest. I usually have documentation.


When did the trivia bug bite?

 I started going to the contests in the mid-2000s. I was at the Cathedral School in mid-2007 and raised my hand and said, if we had a trivia contest, I would write the questions. That year I did two. Then another group would ask, and another group. There’s been about six so far this year. Then there are four groups of friends that will ask me to play. Now we have a routine, like playing in the Saint Louis University Law School Alumni contest, and the St. Louis County Bar Association contest. We’ve won both two years in a row.


Where do you draw your ideas? 

They can come from anywhere. I saw “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” and developed a category about people who were in that movie. You want to be different, but you don’t want to be so different that the category is no fun. I’ll link to a local event, like the movie, “Up in the Air.” That movie was mostly filmed here, so there’s a local connection. One music question I liked that stumped me as a player was, “Who was in the original Jackson 5?” I missed Jackie. The other four were Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael.


Your volunteer work is far different from your law work. 

My bread-and-butter is criminal defense — misdemeanors up to murders, and everything in between. I’m a former public defender with the Missouri State Public Defender System, where I represented death row inmates from 1998 to 2003. My first job after law school was as a city prosecutor with the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office. I was hired by George Peach in 1991, and later I worked for Dee Joyce-Hayes. I hit a milestone in my career last year: I reached 100 jury trials.


When did you decide to be a lawyer? 

Frankly, I thought I was going to be a reporter when I was growing up. I was always interested in the news, even as a young kid, growing up in Shrewsbury. During the summer I would walk to Art’s Market to get the Post-Dispatch when it was still (delivered) in the afternoons. Originally I was a journalism major in college. I was at the University of Missouri-Columbia for a brief time, then I went to UMSL, then to law school at Saint Louis University. All through law school I worked at Schnucks in the deli department.


Tell me about your family. 

I’m a life-long St. Louisan. Those scenes from “Up in the Air,” where George Clooney was sitting in the bleachers. That was filmed at Affton High, and I sat in those same bleachers in high school. I’m the oldest of three, and my brothers, Frank and Tony, are sometimes part of the trivia teams. My wife and I have three adopted children, two from China and one from Korea. The kids are 12, 9 and 5. We’ve been fortunate to work with good adoption agencies.


 How do you keep up on trivia topics? 

In terms of TV, my two favorite channels are MSNBC and the Game Show Network. They’re a wealth of knowledge.

 What are you reading?

 I would say 90 percent of what I read for leisure are presidential biographies. I just finished reading “Theodore Rex” about Theodore Roosevelt. I read the Pulitzer Prize-winning “American Lion,” about the presidency of Andrew Jackson, by Jon Meacham of Newsweek. I reread David McCullough’s “John Adams,” who remains inspiring to trial attorneys for taking on a lot of unpopular causes. I get excited when there is a new presidential biography out.

 Answers to Tucci’s questions: 1) Ray Lankford, 122 homers 2) George Clooney 3) David Cook 4) Warren Harding


What they say

“I think he would do trivia contests full time if he could. He told me long after his youngest son graduated from the (Webster Child Care) Center, he’ll still be running our trivia night.”
Lisa Jones, executive director, Webster Child Care Center

“He’s helped me on my trivia nights, sharing questions. He’s happy to do that, while some people are protective of their questions. He tailors questions to a broad audience, which keeps people interested. The questions are always just right, and the answers all documented.”
Ron Elz, aka Johnny Rabbitt, KMOX

LiUNA Event Center – by John Mandala




On October 22, 2016 I had the opportunity to attend a fund raiser for the Italian Earthquake victims, it was held at Liuna Event Center on Lindbergh and Gravois.  The place was very welcoming and spacious and clean, even though many people attended we still had enough space to not feel overcrowded.  Each table had an appetizer tray of various Italian lunch meats and cheeses accompanied by fresh loaves of Italian bread. Red and white wine was also on each table.  The buffet was delicious, it included fresh bread and creamy butter, Italian salad with an awesome savory dressing.  For the main course chicken spidini, just broiled perfectly stuffed with Italian cheese and bread crumbs, bow-tie pasta with fresh tomato sauce and plenty of parmesan cheese if you desired. Grilled salmon was also on the buffet, just grilled to perfection with a buttery garlic sauce, accompanied with fresh charcoal grilled asparagus. The cook is a former cook at Boccardi’s Restaurant. After dinner everyone enjoyed home made cassata cake, and home made Italian cookies made by all the Italian ladies. I recommend the Liuna Event Center for any organization looking for a venue for any of their events. I hope you all enjoyed by first critique for Ciao Saint Louis.

john3 john2


FYI TV and Volpi on the Hill – Sunday Oct. 23 at 7:00 am

Watch FYI at 7:00 am on Sunday, October 23th 2016

See some great video on The Hill and how Volpi Foods makes pepperoni.   If you have Spectrum TV channel 21 or 125.


Delivered or in a restaurant, thick crust or thin, plain cheese or loaded with toppings, pizza is the favorite we can’t resist. Americans eat 350 slices every second–or 100 acres of pizza every day. Over the course of a year, that’s enough pizza to cover every inch of Manhattan–twice! Host Bobby Bognar explores the fascinating world behind every bite of pizza we take. Did you know that one of its key ingredients is bacteria? That the crust starts off as a living, breathing organism? That there’s a never-ending race to get fresh basil to your local pizzeria to pep up your sauce? Bobby helps transform milk into mozzarella, discovers the surprising spice that gives pepperoni its kick, ventures deep into an abandoned mine to see the secrets of the world’s largest mushroom farm, and finds out what turns green olives black. And at a New York factory that makes brick pizza ovens, he learns why millions won’t eat a pizza cooked in anything else.


Holidays on the Hill – Winter Opera

Winter Opera Saint Louis Celebrates 10th Anniversary Season

Performances that warm the soul.
Holidays on the Hill

5101 Wilson Ave on the Hill

Tuesday & Wednesday
December 6 & 7, 2016 at 7 pm

$85 per person includes a delicious four-course dinner and holiday concert sung by Winter Opera artist.

For reservations, call Winter Opera at 314-865-0038


Pumpkin Risotto instead of Chili

This is a wonderful dish to make for this season, instead of chili try making Pumpkin Risotto.  This recipe was provide by Angela Pasetti Holland

Photo by Rainette
Photo by Rainette



Risotto Con La Zucca

7 to 8 cups chicken stock
4 Tbs. Olive oil
2 Tbs. unsalted butter separated
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups Arborio rice
1-1/2 cups cooked pumpkin (I use butternut squash)
Fresh sage leaves, minced (approximately 6-8)
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ – 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Sage leaves for garnishing (optional)

In a saucepan, heat stock to simmer and hold at a slow simmer. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan (next to stock), heat 1 tbs. butter and olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add onion and garlic. Sautee for 2 minutes or until translucent. Remove garlic cloves when slightly browned and discard. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until well coated and ‘toasted’ about a minute. Add 1-1/2 cups hot stock. Stir until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid but is not sticking to the pan. Add another 1-1/2 cups hot stock, stirring again until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat a third time adding the pumpkin and sage. Continue to stir until the rice has absorbed most of the stock. Repeat with another 1 to 1 ½ cups hot stock as needed and add salt and pepper to taste. After about 20 to 25 minutes, rice should be firm but tender (al dente). Leave risotto a little runny before adding the cheese so it will have a creamy but not stiff texture.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Stir to blend. Ladle onto plates, garnish with a sage leaf, serve topped with additional grated Parmigiano.

Makes four main course servings or six appetizer servings

Saint Louis

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