Visitors from Trentino in 2015 – Spring

Lara Olivetti and Rickard Olseke 

Easter Lunch at Mark & Maria’s Front: Mark & Maria; Middle: Jim, Lara & Michael; Back: David Tureaud, Rickard
Front: Mark & Maria; Middle: Jim, Lara & Michael; David, Rickard

Lara Olivetti and Rickard Olseke recently spent 3 weeks in San Francisco and the North
Coast of California. They were here last year at about the same time. Lara once worked as
an attorney for the Trentini nel Mondo Association imparting free advice on citizenship matters. That remains her specialty. Visit for more information. She now lives in Sweden with Rickard who handles foreign asylum requests. Club member Maria Mortati and her husband Mark Glusker provided lodging to this delightful couple while in San Francisco, and club members Jim Boin and Michael Job provided their customary warm hospitality.


Marco Gabrielli and Michele Sartori

Left: Gabrielli family, Marco, daughters Stefania and Federica, wife Luisa, with Luca Dorigatti in the center Right: Michele Sartori, mayor of Levico Terme, wife Claudia Gabrielli, Rinaldo Cis
Left: Gabrielli family, Marco, daughters Stefania and Federica, wife Luisa, with Luca Dorigatti in the center
Right: Michele Sartori, mayor of Levico Terme, wife Claudia Gabrielli, Rinaldo Cis

For the Easter holidays Marco Gabrielli, bank director at the Cassa Rurale di Ledro, and Michele Sartori, mayor of Levico Terme in the Valsugana, paid a visit to the area with their respective families. Mayor Michele Sartori is married to Marco’s sister Claudia, and so the two families are intertwined. They spent time with son and nephew Matteo Sartori, who is completing a semester of study at the University of California Santa Cruz. Club members Luca Dorigatti and Rinaldo Cis met with the group and took them on a tour of Google and Stanford. In an email they expressed their sincere gratitude to Luca and Rinaldo for having shown a slice of life here in California.

Silvia Bernardi – “There Once Was a Button”

Silvia Bernardi in Scotts Valley with club secretary Dan Aspromonte and daughters Ilaria and Amira
Silvia Bernardi in Scotts Valley with club secretary
Dan Aspromonte and daughters Ilaria and Amira

Silvia Bernardi is spending two months this spring with her Italian-American friend Anna in
Pinole. Silvia is from Storo, in the Valle di Chiese in southwest Trentino. In 1992 she moved to Trento to pursue her studies and has remained there since. Her grandfather Silvio immigrated to the US at the beginning of the 1900s. He married and then moved permanently back to Storo in 1930.
The parents of Anna in Pinole and the grandparents of Silvia were the best of friends, and for years they wrote to each other. Anna discovered these letters after her parents passed, and she sought out Silvia and her family in Trentino. They have remained the best of friends ever since.

Silvia_1In recent years Silvia has begun to make necklaces, bracelets and key rings from buttons. She is especially fond of antique buttons that tell a story. Many families have a box full of old buttons, some of which evoke memories: This one was on a jacket I wore in school; this one is from my mother’s wedding dress, and so on. Silvia has entitled her quest “C’era una volta un bottone. “There once was a button.” Silvia would love buttons from members of our Trentino club.
If you have a collection you don’t mind parting with, contact Silvia at

Farewell to Ben Antoniolli

Annual February Officers Meeting Perk of the job, Trentino lunch prepared by Luca Dorigatti Trustee Luca Dorigatti, Vice President Lino Rizzi, Trustee Alice Amigassi, Secretary Dan Aspromonte, President Giuseppina Piasente Alvarez, Trustee Roger Ecker, departing long-time member and trustee, Ben Antoniolli, Treasurer Laura Floriani Vitlacil
Annual February Officers Meeting
Perk of the job, Trentino lunch prepared by Luca Dorigatti  with Lino Rizzi,  Alice Amigassi, Dan Aspromonte, Giuseppina Piasente Alvarez, Roger Ecker,Ben Antoniolli,
and Laura Floriani Vitlacil

Longtime club member Ben Antoniolli is currently in the process of moving to Ohio, where two of his siblings live. Ben was born in Giustino in the Val Rendena. Like so many others from the Val Rendena, he entered into the knife sharpening business. For years he had a shop in San Carlos, and he maintained the knives of restaurants, hotels, etc. near and far.
Ben’s absence will be sorely missed. We wish him all the best!

Romeo Zuech

Romeo Zuech receives Engineer of the Year Award
Romeo Zuech receives Engineer of the Year Award

Trentino Helps Apollo to the Moon On the subject of space exploration, Romeo Zuech, a Trentino immigrant from Brez in the Val di Non, played a pivotal role in getting Apollo to the moon in 1969. Two years ago an article in the Trentino newspaper L’Adige chronicled the fascinating history of Romeo.

Romeo specialized in metallurgy at the Technical Institute of Bolzano. In 1950 he immigrated on his own to Chicago where a maternal uncle was living. Romeo’s father Adolfo was born in Frontenac, Kansas, and his mother in Mexico, though she was registered a US citizen in El Paso.
At the time many travelled from Brez to the US and Mexico to work in the mining industry.
Romeo’s parents settled back in Trentino, but he gained US citizenship through them.
In 1953 Romeo married Margaret and had twin daughters, Maria and Sofia. The same year he landed a job at North American Aviation’s Rocketdyne Division in Canoga Park, CA. From there he worked on the Apollo project to create a super light and resistant alloy able to withstand extreme temperatures caused by high-speed friction. He received three
patents for his work. In 1979, on account of his contributions to the aerospace
industry and Apollo project, he won both the coveted Leonardo Da Vinci Award
and Rockwell’s Engineer of the Year Award. In 1983 Romeo retired from the aerospace industry to pursue another dream of his, winemaking.
He established Piedra Creek Winery in San Luis Obispo, planting various varietals including two that are typical of Trentino, Teroldego and Lagrein. The Trentino eagle is featured on the winery’s logo, and Romeo named one of his most popular blends after the patron saint of his beloved Brez, San Floriano. He also enjoys good food and has written a recipe booklet in English and dialect featuring the soups of the Val di Non.
Romeo continues to pursue life with gusto and vigor, and on his 90th birthday next February, he hopes to release his first vintage of pure Lagrein. He is currently grooming his grandson to take over the production and management of the winery.

Italian Community News Sources

Since 1908 the Italo-Americano newspaper has served our community, and now an online subscription is available. It does a masterful job covering the West Coast and beyond.
On August 3rd a new publication launched, La Scintilla, “The Spark”, dedicated more specifically to Bay Area Italians. It is named after La Scintilla Italiana, a newspaper founded in 1877 in San Francisco by the philanthropist John Fugazi.Their Facebook page:
We the Italians disseminates weekly news in English related to the Italian community of
California. Their Facebook page:
Consul General Mauro Battocchi publishes an informative blog that covers a myriad of
subjects. For a free subscription, visit this page: Moreover, Mauro now writes an insightful column for the Italian weekly, Panorama, entitled San Francisco chiama Italia. The Italian Consulate created a dynamic Facebook page with latest news relevant to our community.

Club’s 35th Anniversary!

logoCircolo Trentino di San Francisco was founded on February 9, 1980 during a visit to the Bay Area by Dr. Bruno Fronza on behalf of the Association of Trentini nel Mondo.
The first president was Vittorio Eccher, our current treasurer Laura Floriani Vitlacil was vice-president, our current president  Giuseppina Piasente Alvarez was secretary, Ursula Leonardi was treasurer and Father Efrem Trettel was moderator. Vittorio tragically died in 1988 during the gala dinner at the Trentini Convention in Denver. Urusula passed away last year at the age of 98. The position of trustee did not exist at the time. From the initial group of 30, the roster has grown to around 200!

The first gathering was at Father Efrem Trettel’s hall and residence on Folsom Street in San Francisco, where he ran a radio and TV program for the Italian community, Apostolato Radio Cristiana. The club has always met 3 times a year. For years the Christmas and spring events were held at Father Efrem’s.

Dr. Bruno Fronza with Ralph Job. Dr. Fronza initiated our club 35 years ago during a visit on behalf of the Trentini nel Mondo Association; Now 90, he still maintains contact with us from Trentino
Dr. Bruno Fronza with Ralph Job. Dr. Fronza initiated our club 35 years ago during a visit on behalf of the Trentini nel Mondo Association

Historically, there are a few events that stand out. One was an excursion in 1993 to San Simeon, where we met with members of the Southern California and Tijuana Trentino Clubs. On the same trip we visited San Miguel Mission where Father Efrem’s brother, Father Flavio Trettel, was serving. Over the years our club has also proudly hosted many Trentini that have travelled to the area, including several high school classes and three choruses: Coro Sosat of Trento, Coro San Osvaldo of Roncegno and Coro Brenta of Tione. The event that was our crowning glory took place in 2004 when we hosted the ITTONA convention, a gathering of Trentini from Canada and the US.

Noteworthy is Cristina Piasente’s thesis for the University of Trento on the composition of our membership. Cristina then received a grant from the Province of Trento to transform her thesis into a book, Inseguendo il Sogno: L’Emigrazione Trentina nel Nord California (Pursuing a Dream: Trentino Emigration to Northern California), which was published in 2001.

We now have a website and a FB page with more than 200 members as today!!

Join us on Facebook if you have not already.

Early gathering of the club at former Hacienda Winery in Sonoma. Back row: Vittorio Matuella, Byron Alvarez (Giuseppina’s husband), President Vittorio Eccher, Luigi Matuella, Frank Cazzoli, Giacinto (Gino) Galliani, Antonio Vitlacil, Father Efrem’s brother-in-law and sister Alma visiting from Trentino Front row: Marco Guerra, Mary (Ester Eccher’s twin sister), Laura Floriani Vitlacil, Giuseppina Piasente Alvarez, Ursula Leonardi, twins Rosanne and Janet Guerra, Vittoria Piasente Guerra (Giuseppina’s sister), Ester Matuella Eccher (Vittorio’s wife).



Trentino Club of Toronto Celebrates 50th Anniversary

adOn February 7th over 700 gathered to celebrate the Toronto Trentino Club’s 50th anniversary. The event was featured on Omni News with snippets from current and past club presidents, Davide Corazza and Sergio Marchetti, and the president and director of the Trentini nel Mondo Association, Alberto Tafner and Anna Lanfranchi.
For the event’s printed program, Alice Amigassi created a tribute from our club.
Congratulations to our friends and family members in Toronto!

Canederli di Spinaci (Spinach Canederli)

Canederli di Spinaci (Spinach Canederli)

300 grams (10.5 ounces) of dried bread cut into cubes, 2 eggs, 50 grams (1/3 cup) of flour,  1/8 liter (1/2 cup) of milk, 1 onion, a little bit of butter, 400 grams (14 ounces) of
chopped, cooked spinach, salt, pepper, nutmeg, 50 grams (1/3 cup) of grated parmesan

Put the bread in a bowl, and pour the milk over the bread. While the bread is absorbing the milk, sauté the onion in butter. Then mix in the spinach and add a bit of nutmeg and pepper. Cover with a lid and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Beat the eggs and add them to the bowl with the bread, along with the spinach, flour, salt and cheese. Use your hands
to mix all the ingredients together as though you were kneading bread. Form small canederli balls. Place them in boiling, salted water and cook them lightly for 15 minutes. Top them with with a bit of melted butter and grated parmesan. Note these are
not served in broth as traditional canederli. Also, Maria found that some were following
apart in boiling water and opted to place them in the oven rather than boil them. Either
boiled or baked, you’ll be in Trentino heaven with this recipe Maria shared with us.

By Maria Mortati

Luca Dorigatti

lucaIt is with immense pleasure and pride that we announce that our very own Luca Dorigatti was recently chosen as the US representative (“consultore”) to the Province of Trentino. Interestingly, Luca’s parents read the news in the Trentino newspaper before he received the official announcement. Luca was our club’s secretary in the past, and he is now one our trustees. He is always at the forefront of any initiative our club undertakes and is most deserving of this honor. The Province has a total of 10 representatives from abroad covering areas of high Trentino emigration. Luca will join representatives from Canada, Mexico, Australia, Chile, Uruguay and two each from Argentina and Brazil. We wish Luca well on this new endeavor.

Passages 2014, Remembering those we lost.

Livio Cristanelli, a founding member of the club in 1980, passed away on April 1st.
Livio’s parents immigrated from Fondo in the Val di Non to the coalmining town of
Superior, Wyoming. He retired after working for Sunset Scavengers for 34 years,
reaching the position of president. As stated in his obituary: For some my decisions
were not always the most popular, but I always considered taking care of the working.
Livio also owned and operated the Tropicana Motel in Lake Tahoe and other investments around the lake. We extend our sincerest condolences to Livio’s wife, Marlene, and to his entire family. Livio will be sorely missed by us all.
Sister Rosangela Angeli, a native of Cloz, Val di Non, passed away on October 14th in Besozzo (Varese). She was the sister of club member Gemma
Angeli Zueck and aunt to many nephews and nieces here in California. She worked as a registered nurse for years at a hospital in Merano, primarily with the
minority Italian-speaking patients. She then transferred to the San Pangrazio Hospital in Arco, Trentino. Suora Rosangela belonged to the Order of the Santa Croce (Holy Cross) that was founded in Switzerland in the 1800s. She spent her final years at the order’s institute in Besozzo, As a side note, the nuns at the institute risked their lives during the war hiding Jews and finding safe passage for many to Switzerland (click here for more information). We send our condolences to Gemma and the entire family.

Michael J. Parks
On November 7th Michael J. Parks passed away at Stanford Hospital after a long battle with myelofibrosis and myeloid leukemia. Michael’s great-grandparents, Giorgio and Ida Mengon, were from Piazzola in the Val di Rabbi. They immigrated to Columbia Falls, Montana at the beginning of the last century. Michael’s cousin, Father Alberto Mengon, invited him to our 2012 Christmas event. Michael looked forward to becoming an active member of the Circolo Trentino. It is with great sorrow that we heard of his passing at the
young age of 45. Michael was originally from Seattle. He attended UC Berkeley and received a PhD in applied mathematics in 1994. He worked as a software engineer and held three US patents. Our sincere condolences go out to Michael’s family.

Ursula Leonardi
On February 14th Ursula Leonardi passed away at her home in Menlo Park, just shy of her 99thbirthday. Ursula was a founding member of our club and our first treasurer. Her parents, Luigi and Maria Leonardi, immigrated from Daone in Trentino. We send our deepest condolences to Ursula’s friends and family.

James Harrison Disney
James Harrison Disney passed away on December 13th. He was a native of North Dakota and long time resident of Walnut Creek. He became an honorary Trentino when he married Olga Degiorgio, whose family immigrated to Utah from Spera in the Valsugana. We send our sympathies to the entire family.

Giorgio Bortolon, nephew to our treasurer Laura Floriani Vitlacil and to club member Pierluigi  Bortolon, unexpectedly died from a heart attack in Trentino. On the day of his funeral, Christmas Eve, Laura’s oldest sister, Anna Floriani, also passed away. We send our heartfelt sympathies to Laura, Pierluigi and the entire family.

Our condolences also go out to Tom Ecker whose wife Jan Ecker lost her battle with cancer on August 4th.

Lucille Norris, nee Zanoni, passed away on November 29th at the age of 76. We send our deepest sympathy to husband Tom in Newport Beach, CA, and to brothers Bob, Paul, Richard, Larry and Leonard Zanoni.

Christmas Gathering

Christmas Gathering in Richmond
A big thank you to Father Alberto Mengon for arranging our Christmas event at the Salesian High School in Richmond. We had nearly 100 attendees. Club President Giuseppina and VP Lino brought versions of their own crauti and Maria Mortati and her husband Mark served up their delectable salad. Lunch was followed by music, samples of Lino’s homemade grappas, and even a little dancing. Everyone was impressed with the venue, and if Father Alberto can work his wizardry, we will return to Richmond in the

Here some pics 🙂