The Newsletter of The Italian Club of St. Louis
Internet Edition
February 2001
Viva Vedri
Annales of the Club
The May Queen
Il Gattopardo
Storia d'Italia is #1
Il Paradiso
Board of Directors

Ugo Foscolo
Storia d'Italia

La Rondine is published monthly by The Italian Club of St. Louis

Optimized for 800x600 viewing)
Franco Giannotti
Internet Edition
(Click on name for email)





La Rondine

Volume 5 - Issue 2
Visit our website at
February 2001


One hundred years ago, it was a battle cry of Italian patriotism, today it is one of the few things about which the world of classical music agrees:  Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi is probably the most popular opera composer ever. 

He was born October 10, 1813 in Le Roncole, near Busseto and died January 21, 1901 in Milan.  Now, on February 21, (one month late) we will celebrate the centennial of his death with a retrospective program of some of Verdi’s most spectacular and beloved works:  from Nabucco, his acknowledged first great opera composed in 1842, to Otello, composed in 1887, with stops along the way at Macbeth, Luisa Miller, Attila, the big 3 (Rigoletto, Trovatore and Traviata), I vespri siciliani, Simon Boccanegra, Un ballo in maschera, La forza del destino, Don Carlos, and Aida, ending with the great Requiem, written to honor the death of the great Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni.

Our guide on this unusual journey is Sue Wohl.  Sue has been a facilitator in the opera classes of the Lifelong Learning Institute of Washington University College and a teacher of opera for OASIS.  She is a retired children librarian with the St. Louis County Library and a retired Support Staff Manager at Metropolitan Insurance Co.  She and her husband are world travelers with Tuscany, and especially Florence, as their favorite destinations.

Next Meeting February 21, 6:30 PM
 Da Baldo's Restaurant
RSVP Marie Wehrle Tel 644-1645


2000 Annales of the Club
Installation of Board of Directors
The following were installed:  President, Dr. Eugene Mariani; Vice-President, James Tognoni; Secretary, Marie Cuccia-Brand; Treasurer, Barbara Klein; Directors, Dr. Roger Gennari, Carolyn Ranzini Stelzer and Vito Tamboli.

Membership Status:  Barbara Klein
As of December 31, 2000, we had 147 members.  During 2000, 18 new members were elected, four members died and five were dropped. 

Financial Report:  Barbara Klein 
The Club is financially stable and increased its income in 2000.  Major expense items are the production and mailing of La Rondine and the annual Washington University Italian language student award. 

Summary of 2000 Programs:
January:  Annual report - The 1999 Annales
February:  La Battaglia della Valle di Nizza  (Cav. Valerio Bianco)
March:  Giuseppe Garibaldi (Vito Tamboli)
April:  Roman Art in the Time of Caravaggio  (Dr. Judy Mann)
May:  Writing a Biography of Michelangelo  (Dr. William Wallace)
June:  The Job of an Honorary Vice Consul  (Joseph Colagiovanni)
July:  The Vatican Necropolis and Tomb of St.  Peter (Rev. Phillip Bene)
August:  Pompeii:  A Window on the Roman  World (Dr. Kevin Herbert)
September:  Italic Languages and Dialects (C.  Stelzer, Dr. S. Sutera, B. Gandolfo, et al)
October:  Italia Trivia Competition (Giorgio  Marconi and Barbara Klein)
November:  Sacred Divas: Music and  Musicians in the Convents of Bologna  (Dr. Craig Monson)
December:  Christmas Celebration with  Gourmet Dinner.  Panettone Players  perform original production of Roman  Sketches - Years Apart (D.Rossomanno- Phillips, R. Gennari, E.Mariani, and A.  Giovanni) 

Classic Italian Film Series at the Bocce Club
Spring 2000:  Il giardino dei Fitzi-Contini and La famiglia.
Fall 2000:  L’albero degli zoccoli, La  Grande Guerra, Ladri di biciclette  and Cinema Paradiso
Introductions by Dott. Carla Bossola.

Dante Discussion Seminar
Inferno and Purgatorio were read and discussed by Dott. Carla Bossola, each over an 8-week period.  The weekly meetings lasted approximately one hour.  Primarily in Italian with some English. 

Members Communication
La Rondine.  Our major source of internal communications.  Luisa Flynn is the editor and the writer of Terza Pagina.  Production and mailing by Barbara Klein, Marie Cuccia-Brand, and Joann Arpiani.
Website.  Our major source of external communications.  The website address is  Franco Giannotti is our webmaster and has linked us to the Italy St. Louis website (  Giorgio Marconi will be working with Franco to keep our site updated.

Italian Club of St. Louis Survey Results - Marie Cuccia-Brand
A very preliminary report on the member survey results was given.  We are asking that you submit your survey now if you have not done so.  A full report will be given in the next issue of La Rondine.

Reports on Club-Related 
Italian-American Community Activities

Federation of Italian-American Organizations (FIAO) - Pete Puleo.
The FIAO is comprised of 17 Italian-American organizations, including the Italian Club.  The FIAO has established an office at 2105 Marconi.  The goal is to have an Italian Cultural Center that will include a library, an Italian travel information center, and assistance for Italian genealogical research.  The Federation is sponsoring a Young Artists’ Competition.  The concert will be in April at St. Ambrose Church.  Students will be performing the works of Italian composers.  The Federation has also submitted a proposal to the Italian government for financial support of a comprehensive Italian language program to be FIAO-administered and taught at Shaw Community School.  Peter Puleo is the Italian Club’s representative to the Federation. 

Italian-American Radio Show - Josephine Barrale
The Italian Radio Show began in February 1997 and has been on the air every Sunday from 1- 3 pm on WEW AM 770.  Beginning Sunday, February 11, 2001, the show will be heard from 1-2 p.m.  Its purpose is to promote Italian culture and the tradition of Italian music.  Each week there is a guest host (many are Italian Club members) who introduces musical selections and makes various presentations in Italian. 

Italiano Per Piacere - Franco Giannotti (who was unable to attend). 
The IPP group meets bi-monthly on the first Wednesday of the month at Da Baldo’s.  At the next meeting on Wednesday, February 7, Dott. Carla Bossola will speak about Eduardo de Filippo.  Only Italian is spoken at IPP meetings.

Columbus Day Association - Angela Mazzola
The next Columbus Day celebration will be on Sunday, October 7, 2001.  The celebration includes a Parade and a festival at Berra Park followed by a dinner in honor of the Columbus Day Queen and her Court.

Committee Members Needed.  Please contact Gene Mariani or another member of the Board if you are interested in volunteering to help on one of our committees.  The committees are:  Hospitality, Programs, Communication/Public Relations, Facilities, Activities, and the Panettone Players.


The May Queen

She was the daughter of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium and a talented young woman with deep artistic and intellectual inclinations.  Umberto of Italy.  In 1930 she married the Italian royal heir Umberto of italy and became the Princess of Piedmont.  Their first child, Princess Maria Pia was born in 1934.  In 1937 an heir was born when Marie-José gave birth to Prince Victor Emmanuel, who was followed by Marie-Gabrielle in 1940 and finally Marie-Beatrice in 1943.

At the time of Marie-José's marriage to Umberto, Italy was under the political dictatorship of Benito Mussolini.  Marie-José, raised in the very democratic atmosphere of Brussels, felt a deep aversion to the fascist undercurrent expanding throughout Europe.  She clashed constantly with Italy's government, and even confronted Adolf Hitler during the Second World War.  She vainly tried to obtain the freedom of Belgian prisoners of war.

Queen Marie-José was also recognized as one of the world's leading specialists in the history of the House of Savoy.  She has published several works on her husband's family and a biography of Prince Emmanuel-Philibert, ancestor of her children.

Her life, after a happy childhood and youth in Belgium, was filled with challenges, suffering and tragedy.  Her marriage to Prince Umberto was not a happy one, for neither royal spouse was much interested in the other.  Their children caused the royal couple several headaches during much of the 1960's.  One of her grandsons died in mysterious circumstances by falling off a window just a few years ago.  Marie-José's father died tragically as a result of a climbing accident.  One of her sisters-in-law, Princess Mafalda of Hesse, died while in a concentration camp.  Another sister-in-law, Queen Astrid of Belgium, died in a car accident.  She and her husband, King Umberto II were ousted by popular plebiscite in May, 1946.  In exile, Umberto II and Marie-José separated.  He settled in Cascais, Portugal, she in Switzerland. 

The long Mussolini dictatorship, as well as the German alliance during the Second World War, doomed the future of the Savoy monarchy.  After the Allied invasion of Italy, King Victor-Emmanuel III abdicated in his son's favor in a last effort to save the Italian monarchy.  As a result, on 9 May 1946, Umberto II and Marie-José became the new Italian monarchs.  Their opposition to Mussolini had gained them vast popularity, yet the crown's cooperation with the fascist dictator had raised widespread opposition among many Italians.  The house of Savoy had tainted itself by allowing, and contributing, to Mussolini's ascendancy to absolute power in Italy.  Even though Umberto and Marie-José tried to restore the tarnished image of the Savoys, their efforts were too late.  Barely one month after ascending the throne, Umberto II called for a referendum to decide the future of the Italian monarchy.  The referendum of 1946 gave the republicansectors a marginal majority therefore many politicians close to the Savoys tried to convince Umberto II to fight the results, but taking this action could have plunged the country into civil war.  Italy, already devastated by the Second World War, could hardly afford any more civil and political strife.  Faced with these choices, Umberto II and Marie-José, accompanied by their family, left Italy without abdicating the crown.  The exiled monarchs joined Umberto's parents in Egypt.  Some time later, Umberto settled in Cascais, Portugal and Marie-José in Switzerland.

From exile in Portugal, Umberto II unsuccessfully tried to convince the Italian government to abrogate the law of exile imposed in 1947.  This law singled out male members of the House of Savoy from ever entering Italian territory.  As their life in exile continued without the hope of a royal restoration, Umberto II and Marie-José separated.  The children were deeply affected by the collapse of family life and began to provide their parents with much grief and embarrassment.  Divorces, drug-addiction, love scandals and court proceedings became commonplace among the younger generation of Savoys.  Umberto II died in 1983. He was never able to return to his beloved Italy.  His body was interred in Portugal, where it remains to this day. 

Marie-José has remained a constant presence in the life of her children, most of whom seem to have encountered some degree of inner peace.  The Italian law of exile remains in place:  Victor-Emmanuel and his son, Emmanuel-Philibert continue to live in exile but Italy was no longer barred from Queen Marie-José.  She visited the country several times, usually in the company of her daughter Marie-Gabrielle, another accomplished historian and Savoy expert.  Yet, Marie-José refused to settle in Italy because the Law of Exile still applied to her son and grandson. 

She died 27 January 2001 in a hospital in Geneva, Switzerland at the age of 94.



The St. Louis Art Museum and the Italian Club cosponsored a January 19 screening of the great film, Il Gattopardo.  The evening was a huge success with the 480-seat Art Museum Theater completely filled and with many regretfully having to be turned away for lack of space.  Obviously, people did not want to miss this rare opportunity to see this magnificent classic, adapted from Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s great 1958 novel depicting the passing of power in Sicily from the old aristocratic families to a new social order at the time of the Risorgimento.  The film was made particularly enjoyable thanks to an excellent introduction by Dr. Carla Bossola, Italian government-sponsored lecturer in Italian film, language, and literature at both Washington and St. Louis Universities.  Dr. Bossola’s comments provided interesting information on director Luchino Visconti, background on the making of the film, and a helpful analysis of the plot.  Thanks and congratulations to Club members who helped on this project and especially to Carla Bossola and to Barbara Klein, who located the film, organized and coordinated the entire program, and personally handled all publicity and PR. 

Clic for a photo view

Congratulazioni, Luisa!

The Storia d’Italia (History of Italy) written by Luisa Gabbiani Flynn, which appears serially each month in Terza Pagina, was the most popular item with viewers of the Italy at St. Louis website during the month of January 2001.  A total of 33,282 “hits” from all over the world were recorded by the website during that month and La Storia d’Italia received more than any other feature. 

The Italian Club of St. Louis’ newsletter, La Rondine, was number four and the Club’s general information page was number 5.  Congratulations to Luisa, to La Rondine, and to the Italian Club. 

You may find these statistics, along with much more, at


Malena, a film by the Acadamy Award-winning director of Cinema Paradiso, opened this week at the Tivoli.  The setting is a small Sicilian village in 1941, during World War II.  It’s the story of a beautiful war widow (Monica Bellucci) seen through the eyes of Renato, a 13 years old boy whose life is changed forever by the experience. 


By Gene Mariani

We are very pleased to announce that Laura Iezzi Stadelman and Giuliana Fiorani Saylor were elected members of the Italian Club of St. Louis at the January 17, 2001 meeting.  Welcome, Laura and Giuliana to our group.  It is good to have you with us. 
Grazie, Baldo e Madda

Great Italian cuisine is as important a part of the culture of Italy as its art, architecture and literature.  For Italians, be they in Italy or here in the United States, the enjoyment of a great meal with family and friends is a metaphor for the enjoyment of life in general.  To celebrate this dimension of our heritage, each year at Christmas the Club plans a very special dinner.  At the December meeting, the meal represents not simply a part of the evening’s overall cultural program but the most important part.  To organize the dinner, Director Carolyn Stelzer meets with restaurant owner Baldo Gandolfo, also a club member, and together they develop what ultimately becomes our Christmas meal.  Each course, antipasti, primi piatti, sorbetto, secondi piatti, through the final dessert is carefully planned along with the appropriate wines.  The results have been consistently excellent.  Obviously, we have to charge more for this dinner, but we believe that it is a very reasonable charge for what amounts to a spectacular meal.  So, this is to thank and congratulate Baldo and Madda (and Carolyn too) for the elegant evenings they create for us each Christmas; and also to thank and compliment them for the wonderful meals that we have at our regular monthly meetings throughout the year. 

Are you a beginning, or perhaps an intermediate level, student of Italian and would like to practice speaking the language on a regular basis?  Then, cari amici, please read on - because this proposal might be of interest to you. The Italian Club would like to establish an Italian conversation group - or as we may choose to call it - La tavola italiana.  The project is still in the planning process, but essentially, our "Italian Table" would be intended for anyone interested in practicing Italian in a small group setting with a knowledgeable facilitator who can help out when somebody gets stuck.  The conversation group would be particularly for those for whom Italian is a second language.  The “Table” would meet informally about an hour per week during which time everyone would be encouraged to practice Italian, learn more about Italy ? and have some fun.  If you are interested in participating, please contact Audrey Giovanni (863-8453), Barbara Klein (618 233-7261) or Gene Mariani (352-5484). 

Students interested in enrolling should contact the Registrar's Office at 314-968-6991.  Classes began January 15, 2001. 

ITAL 1090.01 - Elementary Italian.  Level I, Credit: 3 Units A.  Course for beginners with emphasis on oral communication.  Reading and writing done for homework and classroom time spent practicing the language, with grammar explanations as needed.  One-hour language lab practice per week is recommended.  You will be given frequent opportunity to practice your vocabulary and grammar structures in group or pair work. 

The course will introduce you to Italian culture through authentic materials like songs, short documentaries about topics and places.  By the end of this course you should be able to master the basic skills of communication in standard situations.  You should be able to read and understand the main ideas in simple texts, with the help of a dictionary.  Grade based on class participation, homework, and final oral and written exam.  Attendance is required.  Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9:00 AM to 9:50 AM, Prof. Graziella Postolache.




Seminar on Dante's Paradiso
Last year the Club initiated a very successful program to study one of the greatest works of western literature, the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri.  Under the talented direction of  Dott. Carla Bossola, lecturer sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and member of the Italian Club, the group studied Inferno and Purgatorio, the first two books of the poem.  We are extremely pleased to announce that the program will continue this fall with the study of Paradiso, again under Carla's guidance.

Our format will remain the same.  Carla's lectures will be in Italian but participants may ask questions or make comments in English or Italian.  The group will meet on Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 P.M. beginning February 8 and ending April 5 (there will be no session March 15).  The location again will be the conference room at Southwest Bank, thanks to member Ed Berra.  For more information or to make reservations, please contact Barbara Klein at or by telephone 618-233-7161 (evenings).

The Italian Club of St. Louis

President:  Gene Mariani
Vice-President: James Tognoni
Treasurer:  Barbara Klein
Secretary:  Marie Cuccia-Brand
Directors: Carolyn Stelzer
Vito Tamboli
Marie Wehrle
Program Committee:  Gene Mariani
Tony Perrone
Pete Puleo
Vito Tamboli
Patty Viviano
Newsletter:  Luisa Gabbiani Flynn
Website: Franco Giannotti




I capolavori della poesia italiana

28.  Il mese scorso abbiamo visto chi era Ugo Foscolo e abbiamo letto il suo famoso sonetto “Alla sera”.  Questo mese pubblichiamo un altro sonetto famoso dello stesso poeta intitolato “A Zacinto”.  Zacinto (Zante), l’isola del Mare Ionio dove il poeta nacque e dove trascorse la prima giovinezza, ispira nel Foscolo il tema malincolico del rimpianto e immagini legate alla mitologia greca che impregna queste isole:  l’immagine di Venere, la dea della fecondità e della creatività, e l’immagine di Omero, il poeta che celebrò le gesta di Ulisse.  Ma mentre Ulisse tornò nella sua Itaca, il Foscolo non tornerà nella sua amata isola, essendo destinato ad essere sepolto in terra straniera dove nessuno piangerà sul suo sepolcro.

A Zacinto
di Ugo Foscolo

Né mai più toccherò le sacre sponde
ove il mio corpo fanciulletto giacque,
Zacinto mia, che te specchi nell’onde
del greco mar, da cui vergine nacque

Venere, e fea quell’isole feconde
col suo primo sorriso, onde non tacque
le tue limpide nubi e le tue fronde
l’inclito verso di colui che l’acque 

cantò fatali, ed il diverso esiglio
per cui bello di fama e di sventura
baciò la sua petrosa Itaca Ulisse.

Tu non altro che il canto avrai del figlio,
o materna mia terra; a noi prescrisse
il fato illacrimata sepoltura.

Ugo Foscolo fu sepolto a Chiswick, sul Tamigi, nel cimitero della chiesa parrocchiale di Chiswick (che risale al 7mo secolo) dove riposano, tra altri illustri personaggi, Hogarth e Whistler.  E’ un cimitero molto romantico che si addice allo spirito di questo grande poeta italiano.  Nel 1871, dopo l'unità d'Italia, i suoi resti furono rimossi e trasportati a Firenze, nella chiesa di Santa Croce, accanto ai grandi italiani che egli aveva celebrato nel carme Dei Sepolcri. 



(Continua dal numero precedente)
19.  Caligola (12-41 d.C. - Imperatore 37-41 d.C.) 

Gaio Cesare Augusto Germanico era il terzo dei sei figli di Germanico e Agrippina.  Da piccolo Gaio accompagnava i genitori nelle campagne militari vestito anche lui da soldato e perciò era diventato una specie di mascotte per i soldati del padre, che lo chiamavano Caligola per via dei calzari (caliga) che portava.  La sua vita e gli anni del suo potere non sono stati documentati molto accuratamente, perciò è quasi impossibile ricostruire la verità su di lui.  I resoconti che ci sono pervenuti sono più che altro aneddotici e caricaturali e rappresentano un uomo crudele, megalomane e pazzo.
Quello che si sa con certezza è che crebbe in un’atmosfera di violenza, sospetto e delitti.  Il padre fu assassinato, forse per ordine di Tiberio, nel 19 d.C., il fratello Druso nel 23, il fratello Giulio nel 31, la madre nel 33.  Nel 27 fu mandato a vivere con la bisnonna Livia e nel 29, dopo la morte di lei, con la nonna Antonia.  Nel 31, a richiesta dello zio, andò a vivere nella suntuosa villa di Tiberio a Capri e lì visse fino a quando divenne imperatore. 

Caligola entrò a Roma con grande trionfo il 28 marzo 37.  In principio agì con grande magnimità:  diede doni di denaro alle guardie pretorie, onori pubblici al padre ed altri parenti defunti e distrusse le carte personali di Tiberio che avrebbero potuto implicare molti personaggi importanti coinvolti nell’uccisione dei suoi familiari.  La sua popolarità fu immensa ma ebbe poca durata.  Recenti ricerche sembrano indicare che forse Caligola non era pazzo, ma soltanto un giovane arrogante, egoista, sprezzante, senza tatto o esperienza, posto in una posizione di illimitato potere. 

Durante il suo impero la Mauretania fu annessa e riorganizzata in due province, Erode Agrippa divenne re della Palestina, e gravi rivolte scoppiarono tra i greci e gli ebrei in Alessandria, ma questi eventi non hanno ricevuto molta attenzione.  E’ risaputo invece che Caligola ebbe un affetto incestuoso per la sorella Drusilla, che dopo la sua morte nel 38 fu consacrata dea, la prima donna romana ad ottenere tale onore.  Alcuni studiosi pensano che forse Caligola voleva stabilire a Roma una dinastia di tipo Tolemaico sposando la sorella. 

Nel 39 condusse una campagna in Germania dove estinse una rivolta e condannò a morte gli istigatori, tra cui il vedovo di Drusilla.  Nel 40 marciò con l’esercito prima in Gallia e poi in Britannia e al suo ritorno volle che una statua in suo onore fosse eretta a Gerusalemme:  soltanto l’intervento del governatore della Siria e di Erode Agrippa riuscirono a prevenirlo e ad impedire lo scoppio di una rivolta in Palestina che ciò avrebbe provocato. 
Fu assassinato dalle guardie pretorie nel 41 d.C.  Aveva 28 anni.

(continua al prossimo numero)