ICCC Open House 2024

An Afternoon of All Things Italian at the Historic Milford House

The Italian Cultural & Community Center of Houston hosted its third annual Open House on April 21, 2024. Over 350 guests of all ages and from all over the Houston area gathered at the historic Milford House to celebrate Italian culture through food, games, music, language, and more.

Upon arriving at the event, guests were greeted by members of the ICCC Board of Directors. ICCC President Claudia Gentile Sims and ICCC Vice President Monica Ercolani gave opening remarks and introduced Kellan Dunlap and Edmond Rodriguez, students from The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, who kicked off the afternoon’s programming with renditions of Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” and E. A. Mario’s “Santa Lucia luntana.”

Simone Piga of De Cecco Pasta continued the show with live cooking demonstrations featuring ingredients from De Cecco and Pomì. Guests sampled three different pasta recipes: pesto, cacio e pepe, and pasta all’amatriciana (to represent the green, white, and red in Italy’s tricolor flag).

Throughout the afternoon, guests roamed about the 100-year-old Milford House and enjoyed shopping and samples from a curated selection of Italian vendors, including Erwing Realty, Faramano, Morales Beverage Group, Vinello, and Tuttilili Wines and Specialty Foods. Upstairs, guests played tombola, a lottery-style board game that originated in Southern Italy, and participated in demo Italian language classes to get a taste of our Scuola d’Italiano.

The weather was perfect for bocce on the Milford House lawn, and over 60 guests played over the course of the event.

At 2:55 p.m., the winner of the event’s first raffle prize was announced. One lucky guest won an ICCC tote bag, an ICCC apron, an annual Family/Dual-Companion Membership, and two tickets to an upcoming lecture at the Italian Cultural & Community Center.

Then, Gage Campos from the UH Moores School of Music wowed audience members with a performance of “Ombra mai fu” by George Frederic Handel and “Ho capito, Signor sì” by Mozart.

Just before 4:00 p.m., ICCC Vice President Monica Ercolani and ICCC Marketing & Communication Coordinator Tayleigh Greene announced the winner of the event’s second raffle prize (an ICCC tote bag, an ICCC apron, an annual Family/Dual-Companion Membership, and two tickets to La bella estate as part of ICCC’s Italian Contemporary Film Series). A bonus raffle prize of a professional-grade stainless steel pan from Pentole Agnelli was generously donated by De Cecco.

Houston-based singer-songwriter Angela Jardina followed with covers of classic Italian pop songs, including several songs by Mina.

For the grand finale, tenor Jonatán Reyes from the UH Moores School of Music sang “Con te partirò,” popularized by Andrea Bocelli, to the crowd’s delight. Then, Kellan Dunlap and Edmond Rodriguez took to the stage once more for “O sole mio” and invited ICCC guests to join in on the last verse. The ballroom was filled with the sound of a hundred voices in unison singing, “O sole, o sole mio…” The audience erupted into a round of applause and cheers at the song’s final note.

ICCC Board Member Kip Mankenberg gave closing remarks, thanking attendees, volunteers, and ICCC’s event sponsors Acqua Panna, De Cecco, Erwing Realty, Faramano, Morales Beverage Group, Pomì, Sanpellegrino, Tuttilili Wines and Specialty Foods, and Vinello. Mankenberg then announced the winner of the final raffle prize of the event, which included two tickets to ICCC’s Aperitivo Italiano: Sipping Sangiovese.

ICCC Houston extends its sincerest thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers, performers, sponsors, board members, staff, and attendees who helped make this event a huge success.

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