Monthly Newsletter



  • April Saturday 22nd – Trip to London Hampstead (participation closed on 08.04)
  • May Friday 26th – Meeting at Portchester Parish Hall
  • June Friday 9th – Day trip to Winchester (guided tour and lunch)


La MERENDA or how to snack the Italian way


La merenda is the typical mid-afternoon snack that most Italians tend to associate with coming home from school as a child—that moment of the day, somewhere around 4 or 5 o’clock, when little tummies are groaning and need a small something to help make it to dinnertime. It is often something sweet such as a slice of bread spread thickly with Nutella.

Then there are those merende that go back to another time, before prepackaged snacks lined aisles at the supermarket—like the uovo sbattuto. An egg yolk and some sugar are whipped up in seconds with a fork in a small teacup. Pellegrino Artusi describes this in his 1891 cookbook as “the antidote to a crying child.”…
A merenda can happen pretty much anywhere and at any time that justifies a little something to get you through to mealtime.


Aperitivo is a sort of a grown-up extension of a merenda. Patience Gray, who spent many years living in Italy and wrote the cookbook Honey from a Weed, devoted an entire chapter to the subject of la merenda, noting the main cultural difference between the British “snack” and an Italian “merenda”: “The snack is snatched, la merenda is shared.”

White’s, the oldest gentlemen’s club in London was founded by an Italian in 1693


England’s oldest club was founded in 1693 by an Italian immigrant Francesco Bianco (anglicised as Francis White). It started as an Emporium under the name Mrs. White’s Chocolate House. White’s quickly made the transition from teashop to exclusive club and in the early 18th century, it was notorious as a gambling house; those who frequented it were known as “the gamesters of White’s”. Charles III is one of today’s most illustrious members, while Prince William became a member shortly after his birth. White’s continues to maintain its tradition as an establishment exclusively for gentlemen; brief exceptions were made for the visits by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991 and 2016.


This nonsensical translation from Italian into English is a cutting from a newspaper sent by a member. It should in fact read “Still and sparkling white house wine on tap”. The drawbacks of google translate perhaps? And an example of how complexity and context cannot be interpreted without true knowledge of the language.

LA LOCALITA` DEL MESE – The place of the month

MANTOVA (Mantua)

Two members of the Bollettino team met in Mantova recently and we thought this could be the “foreign correspondents” contribution for this issue.

Mantova is located in Lombardy, northern Italy. The city is surrounded on three sides by lakes formed by the Mincio River, southwest of Verona. The centro storico is a pleasure to ramble around. Its narrow cobbled streets abound with independent shops, atmospheric cafés and delis. If you are familiar with other northern Italian cities, Mantua will strike you as being a mixture between Bologna and Venice. Spiritually and geographically also. It has the same elegant arcades and the joyful comings and goings of bicycles as Bologna. With Venice, on the other hand, the connection is on a deeper level: water.Just like the Serenissima, water seems to be the lifeblood of the city.

Approaching the city, its medieval skyline of towers and domes appears almost completely surrounded by it. The river Mincio has swollen out into three lakes, which turn the city almost into an island. The bond with water also constantly changes the ambience of Mantua: humid and sticky in the summer, when its western lake turns violet and pink with delicate lotus blossoms; moody and misty in the winter months. The fog, which is regarded by many as a curse, only adds to its charm. In its vapours, the city is still the sombre background of Verdi’s Rigoletto and the setting of Romeo’s exile.

Our team at the Rotonda di San Lorenzo
The famous oculus by Mantegna on the ceiling of the ‘Bridal Room’ in the Palazzo Ducale
The palazzo Ducale was built by the noble family of Gonzaga as their royal residence in the capital of their Duchy
Window shopping Mantova style, pasta fresca, pumpkin tortelli and mostarda

L’ARTE DEL MESE – Art of the month

(created by a member)

Thank you Myrtle for sharing your watercolour made after our visit to Hinton Ampner earlier in March.
It is a representation of the statue of “Diana the huntress” which can be seen in the Sunken Garden at Hinton House.

LA CELEBRAZIONI DI APRILE/MAGGIO – The events of Aprile/Maggio

LA SAGRA DEL PADELLONE (Fish Festival) Camogli- Liguria

The Camogli Fish Festival is famous for its enormous frying pan, which weighs 2.8 tonne, has a diameter of 4 metres and a handle of 6 metres, and during the day it fries 3 tons of fresh fish, using 3,000 litres of oil. The money raised from the 30,000 fish dishes sold goes to charity. The festival started in 1952 and has become one of the most anticipated events in town, it is dedicated to San Fortunato, patron saint of fishermen, and is usually celebrated on the second Sunday of May.

Click on the link below to watch a short video of the festival. Once opened, click on ‘CC’ Closed Captions if you wish to view the text version of the spoken audio, which is in Italian.

Camogli Film Festival

LETTURA DEL MESE – Long read of the month

The Italian girl by Lucinda Riley


Rosanna Menici is just a girl when she meets Roberto Rossini, the man who will change her life. In the years to come, their destinies are bound together by their extraordinary talents as opera singers and by their enduring but obsessive love for each other – a love that will ultimately affect the lives of all those closest to them. For, as Rosanna slowly discovers, their union is haunted by irreversible events from the past . . .
Rosanna’s journey takes her from humble beginnings in the back streets of Naples to the glittering stages of the world’s most prestigious opera houses.

About the Author
Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland and wrote her first novel at twenty-four. Since then, her novels have gone on to sell over five million copies worldwide and are translated into thirty languages.

LA RICETTA DEL MESE – Recipe of the month

As we are allegedly into the Spring season, a RISOTTO PRIMAVERA (Springtime risotto) seems perfect and delicious! Buon appetito!

DATES WITH YOUR … SOFA (films, videos and documentaries)

The Advocate by Marcello Fois – BBC Sounds

(recommended by a friend of SAIS)
Sardinia in the late 1890s. A lawyer is persuaded to defend a young man who is on the run after being accused of sheep stealing by the family of the girl he is in love with. To listen click on the link below

The Medici: Bankers, Gangsters, Popes – BBC Sounds

(recommended by a friend of SAIS)
Cosimo de Medici inherits his father’s bank. Through shrewd trade and business innovation he became the richest man in Europe. To listen click on the link below:

Anton & Giovanni’s Adventures in Sicily BBC iPlayer

If you haven’t already, watch the two ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ taking a three-episode road trip around Pernice’s native Sicily.

Inspector Ricciardi – Channel4 Walter Presents

Supernatural Italian period drama set in Naples. An obsessive police inspector is cursed with the unusual gift of hearing and seeing ghosts of people who have died violently.

The Red Door – Channel4 Walter Presents

Haunting Italian crime drama set in Trieste. Maverick detective Leonardo Cagliostro, desperate to stop a killer, meets a teenage clairvoyant. Can she help?


The bollettino team thanks all the members that forward articles, programs you’ve enjoyed watching or listening to. We appreciate them and look forward to receiving your contributions. Please keep them coming.

The membership for 2022/23 is now £10. Please pay online using these details: Ppayee SAIS, Sort code 20-11-43 Account no. 63538591.

We hope that you are all well, staying alert and safe!

A presto