An Exhibit featuring Ancient Rome on the Hill

An Exhibit featuring Ancient Rome

Where in the world would you find public baths warmed by thermal springs, elevators lifting live wild animals onto an arena battlefield, paved roads throughout the empire, citizens dressed in ‘sheets,’ a currency system and grand monuments depicting ‘glorious’ dictators?

Where is the place that believers of a religious idea were martyred, yet later the society that carried out the executions adopted the teachings of same group, thereby changing the course of human history?

ROME!!  And you can learn more about it at the Hill Neighborhood Center!!

The Hill Neighborhood Center was invited to host a display on key features of ancient Rome with a highlight on the Vatican. Annette Graebe and Barbara Klein created the exhibit as part of Collinsville’s Italian Fest 2017.

After Collinsville, the exhibit traveled to the Hill where it will stay until December 17, 2017.

It then travels to Herrin, IL where many residents of Herrin and of the Hill share familial connections.

The Hill Neighborhood Center will have extended hours during the Rome exhibition. We’ll be open on:

Wednesdays 4pm-8pm

Thursdays 10am-6pm (closed Thanksgiving day)

Fridays 10am-3pm

Saturdays 10am-5pm

Any time is available by appointment. Please call!

The display is complimentary for all visitors (donations to the Center are welcome).

If you have questions, please call LynnMarie Alexander at the Center 314.260.9162 or at 314.556.2437

The Hill Neighborhood Center

1935 Marconi (on the corner of Marconi and Daggett)

St. Louis MO  63110

Grazie Mille!

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U.S. Bank Wild Lights

When: Starts Nov. 24. Wednesdays-Sundays, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Dec. 18-23, 5-8:30 p.m. and Dec. 26-30, 5-8:30 p.m. Continues through Dec. 17
Price: $7-$10

Last year readers of USA Today determined that the Saint Louis Zoo (1 Government Drive; had the third-best holiday light display in the country. Buoyed by that ranking, the zoo is determined this year to come out on top — so expect to be dazzled by U.S. Bank Wild Lights. This year’s light installation is open from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday (November 24 to December 17) and then goes nightly from December 18 to 23 and December 26 to 30. There will be carolers and costumed characters, fireside storytellers and children’s craft projects in the Woodland Workshop. Penguin & Puffin Coast, Sea Lion Sound and the Monsanto Insectarium are all open during the evening event, as is the gift shop. Admission is $7 to $10.

— Paul Friswold


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St. Charles Christmas Traditions

When: Starts Nov. 24. Fri., Nov. 24, 11 a.m., Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sundays, 12-5 p.m. and Wednesdays, Fridays, 6-9 p.m. Continues through Dec. 24
Price: free admission

With Thanksgiving officially out of the way, we progress on to (sigh) Christmas (look, I don’t make the rules). If you’re a fan, there’s only one place you should be: St. Charles Christmas Traditions. Historic downtown St. Charles harkens back to an earlier generation’s Christmas, with chestnut roasters, carolers and costumed Santas from around the world wandering its brick streets. Following the opening ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, November 24, at Frontier Park (First Capitol Drive and South Riverside Drive;, the Santas partake in a parade with their seasonal friends (the parade is repeated at 1:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday ’til Christmas). The Cobblestone Wassailers sing after the parade, followed by the Land of Sweets dance party. You can get in a little shopping or just soak up the atmosphere. St. Charles Christmas Traditions continues from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday through December 24. Those Wednesday nights are also Krampusnachts, when Krampus, the Mouse King and Belsnickel make their appearances — bring your naughty kids and it’ll straighten ’em up quickly, before it’s too late. Admission is free.

— Paul Friswold
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A journey through Italian cinema soundtracks with Modula

Written by 


Sourced direct from rare records, cassettes and VHS tapes.

Straight out of Naples’ burgeoning electronic music scene, Modula is the producer behind one of our favourite 10″s of the year so far. Released on Firecracker, The 780 Chronicles is an elastic workout on the Yamaha PSS 780, the versatile five-octave synth released in 1989. It’s an era Modula references heavily in his music, lodged between lost Prince b-sides and the purest PPU electro-funk.

To accompany the release, Modula aka Filippo Colonna Romano has delved deep into the analogue archives to source a selection of his favourite Italian film soundtracks from rare records, cassettes and ripped from VHS for a superb mix, laced in melodrama and magnetic fuzz.

He’s called the mix Cinema Italiano – The Italian Film Scores, and explains, “I wanted to share a selection of my favourite Italian film soundtracks which have accompanied my life and form my music background. The mix shifts through comedies, romance, crime, Poliziotteschi and documentary scores. It’s mixed in a similar way to how a film is structured, moving the needle at the point of drama up and down to keep the listener interested and with a sense of “what’s gonna happen next?””

Listen to the mix above and read Romano’s track-by-track insights below.

Stelvio Cipriani
‘Alligator Attack’ from Il Fiume Del Grande Caimano


Directed by Sergio Martino, this is like an Italian version of Jaws set in a tropical environment. I played a few tracks off this record and it’s probably one of the best scores I’ve heard so far. With ‘Alligator Attack’ Stelvio Cipriani creates the perfect balance between suspense and stillness, which I believe is key to keeping the audience biting their nails. I really recommend watching this film.

Guido & Maurizio De Angelis
‘I Metodi Di Piedone’ from Piedone A Hong Kong


The great Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) appears in another episode of Piedone directed by Steno. This is the second film of the trilogy and is the best example of the Italian comedy/Poliziotteschi genre. The De Angelis brothers delivered a great electronic funk soundtrack emphasising each scene, especially those saturated with punches and kicks from the great actor.

Ennio Morricone
‘Dance On’ from Così Come Sei


What can you say about Morricone? His music speaks for itself. ‘Dance On’ was first included in Così Come Sei, directed by Alberto Lattuada, and subsequently included in Bianco Rosso E Verdone, directed and interpreted by Carlo Verdone.

‘Disco China’ from Squadra Antigangsters


Squadra Antigangsters stars Tomas Milian (dubbed by Ferruccio Amendola, the Italian voice of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino) and was directed by Bruno Corbucci, well known for directing the first release of Django (1966). Goblin’s soundtrack is such a great combination of tension and its amusing theme, which works really well in helping tell the story of each scene.

Fred Bongusto
‘Super Maratona’ from Super Fantozzi


A great comedy that shows the “L’ Italiano Medio” (Italian middle class) succubus of the Italian mobbing. Everyone born in Italy from the ‘870s onwards probably grew up watching this series of films. I love the funny main theme.


01. Stadio – Lunedì Cinema [Sigla Lunedì Cinema Rai Uno]
02. Stelvio Cipriani – Alligator Attack [Il Fiume Del Grande Caimano]
03. Stelvio Cipriani – Night Escape [Concorde Affaire 79]
04. Daniele Patucchi – People Come In [Turbo Time]
05. Alessandro Blocksteiner – Apocalypse [Apocalypse Domani]
06. Guido & Maurizio De Angelis – I Metodi Di Piedone [Piedone A Hong Kong]
07. Stelvio Cipriani – Rites Percussion Theme [Il Fiume Del Grande Caimano]
08. Stelvio Cipriani – Ready To Attack [Il Fiume Del Grande Caimano]
09. Ennio Morricone – Dance On [Così Come Sei]
10. Goblin – Disco China [Squadra Antigangsters]
11. Riz Ortolani – Il Corpo Di Linda [La Ragazza Dal Pigiama Giallo]
12. Alexander Robotnick – Litbarski Drive [Ragazzi Fuori]
13. Fred Bongusto – Super Maratona [Super Fantozzi]
14. Fabio Frizzi – Luca Il Contrabbandiere Seq. 14 [Contraband]
15. Guido & Maurizio De Angelis – Appostamento [Piedone A Hong Kong]
16. James Senese – Habanera [No Grazie, Il Caffè Mi Rende Nervoso]
17. Vasco Rossi – Stasera A Casa Di Alice [Stasera A Casa Di Alice]



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5½ Misconceptions About Italy

It’s easy to misjudge a country. You hear a lot, you see a lot and you imagine even more. Some of it is true but much of it isn’t and it’s up to travelers to get beyond clichés and discover what’s authentic. That’s even harder when the country is Italy and art, history, food and a thousand other things come to mind. Before I arrived I was positive the streets were filled with soccer balls and Marcello Mastroianni lookalikes. It didn’t take long to realize I was wrong and over a decade to rectify all my misconceptions. I learned to accept Italy for its contradictionsand imperfections and discover a country I had never imagined. It requires curiosity and comfortable shoes to escape stereotypes and distinguish between misconceptions and reality but it’s worth the effort.

1] Italians only eat pizza and pasta
Food is an essential part of Italy but to the outside world Italian gastronomy often gets condensed to pizza and pasta. That’s not to say those dishes aren’t popular but Italian diets include many other dishes. In fact there are parts of Italy where it’s difficult to find either. In regions like Alto Adige and Veneto pizza is only for tourists and locals palates prefer polentaand cicchetti. Northern Italy produces enormous quantities of rice and menus in Milan and Turin are more likely to feature risotto than pasta. Even where pasta is king it comes in sauces and shapes that are hard to imagine until you’re sitting down in front of a plate of tagliattelli or strozzapreti. To lose culinary misconceptions requires finding small trattorie on quiet side streets away from the crowds and putting your gastronomic faith in the dish of the day.

2] Italy is Expensive
Getting to Italy can be expensive but once you arrive food and accommodation are no more costly than they are in the United States. Often they are less expensive and of higher quality. That of course depends on currency but the trend is favorable for travelers heading to Europe and one dollar is nearly worth one euro. That means you can drink espresso for €1, get a sandwich for €3 and order a three course meal for under €25. The trick is to avoid tourists and adopt the practices of locals like drinking at bar counters and buying food in supermarkets. Outside major cities prices are even lower and the farther south you travel the less you will pay for house wine or a good night’s sleep. Outdoor markets are ubiquitous throughout the peninsula and offer the best deals on clothes and original souvenirs. Water is always free, admission to monuments and museums minimal and traveling around the country by train surprisingly cheap.

3] All Italians are the same
It’s easy to believe all Italians are the same
 but in a country that wasn’t founded until 1861 there are many regional differences. That doesn’t just mean menus are different. It means the words and expressions Sicilians use are different from the slang that rolls off Romans tongues and a Puglian accent is distinct from a Tuscan dialect. Differences go beyond language deep into the DNA of 60 million Italians whose family trees include incursions and invasions that brought Greeks, Normans, Arabs, Turks, Jews and many more to the shores of this multicultural haven in the center of the Mediterranean. New faces are still arriving with names that aren’t always easy to pronounce but somehow adapt and integrate into Italy’s own particular melting pot. Don’t be surprised therefore if your waiter has Polish origins or the man slicing your pizza was born in Bangladesh. That’s Italy too and this misconception will be quickly erased as you stroll through any large city and discover the communities who have made Italy their land of opportunity and constitute the new Italians.

4] Driving is risky in Italy
Driving any place you’ve never driven before can be risky. It’s not that Italians drive better or worse but that they have a different mentality to driving and are accustomed to a different driving environment. Patience and courtesy are not always at a premium on Italian roadsand Roman or Neapolitan rush hour can leave the uninitiated commuter in a panic. But there are also many parts of the country where courtesy and kindness are the rule and allowing a pedestrian to pass or giving precedence to a bicycle is second nature. It’s true streets are narrower and cars smaller wherever you go but country roads are often deserted and the scenery along the hillsides of Tuscany and Le Marche will make you glad you chose to drive. Only by getting behind the wheel can you determine whether this misconception is valid or not but you are assured a thrill either way and should always drive with caution.

5] Italians go nuts for soccer
The quickest way to make conversation with an Italian man is to mention soccer
. That much is probably true and it’s also true millions of Italian males from an early age until the grave have an unwavering loyalty to a soccer team. The most popular is Juventus, which also happens to be the most despised, and the one that has won the most trophies. They are a little like the New York Yankees except they are never upstaged by basketball or football. Soccer dominates the Italian sporting panorama and nothing comes close to receiving even a fraction of the media attention. Nevertheless a large portion of the population (males and females alike) don’t care if Inter have won or how many points Roma need to qualify for the Champions League. Many Italians don’t even know what offside is and live perfectly pleasant lives without ever watching or listening to soccer. That said television audiences for a World Cup match featuring the Azzuri (Italian national side) are astronomically high and Italians love to win which they often do.

5½] All Italians smoke
Italians have been addicted to tobacco
for ages and scanning the pavement near any bus stop will reveal a plethora butts. Cigarettes are sold in dedicated shops (tabaccheria) and the price of a pack is quite reasonable compared to most western countries. That doesn’t mean Italians have free reign to smoke anywhere they like. Smoking in bars and restaurants is banned and it’s one rule Italians overwhelmingly respect. Cigarette packages are covered with gruesome images of deformed lungs and missing toes and messages couldn’t be clearer regarding the dangers of nicotine yet smoking persists and is unlikely to be eradicated. Smokers are everywhere and although numbers are declining they are unlikely to disappear anytime soon.


5½ Misconceptions About Italy

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