CIAO Celebrates Italian Heritage and the End of the Semester with Nutella

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By: Willy Nichter, Staff Writer Photographer: Willy Nichter

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, the Ehinger Center lounge became host to Nutella Night, an event sponsored by the Cultural Italian-American Organization, also known as CIAO.

The event, a campus tradition going back at least ten years, allows students to partake in a variety of Italian and Italian-American treats made with or that could be dipped in Nutella, a brand of sweetened hazelnut cocoa spread.

“There’s been Nutella Nights since before we got here,” said Talia Smith (’19), who was voted co-president of CIAO for the 2018-2019 year. “They’re just a tradition I’m carrying.”

The event is open to everyone, allowing students, professors and Madison community members to stop by, take a plate (or several) of food and then enjoy it at their own pace. However, the event is not just about eating Nutella; it is also about connecting the Italian-American community and exploring their heritage.

“We want to offer some exposure to Italian culture, Italian-American culture, and it’s a nice place to gather,” said Smith.

Antonio Arce (’18), current President of CIAO, agreed, saying, “It’s a good time to mingle and interact.”

Arce also said that CIAO tended to do one Nutella Night per semester, usually around the end, in order to relax students who are dealing with finals. “We try to give them a lot of desserts and free food,” he said.

The guests at this latest Nutella night included a variety of students, several Madison residents and even faculty members, all gathering to eat Nutella and staying to talk amongst one another, with some people even conversing in Italian. Professor Emanuele Occhipinti, a native of Italy, an Associate Professor of Italian and the Coordinator of the Italian Program, was particularly pleased by both the event itself and the amount of people who attended. “I’m so glad that there’s such a turnout, and that so many students show up and enjoy themselves,” he said of the event.

Professor Occhipinti himself has fond memories of Nutella going back to his early childhood. “It’s a very popular snack in Italy,” he said.

Student Meghan Hulmes (’21) agrees, saying that she came to the event because she “just likes Nutella.”

Nutella Night is one of CIAO’s largest events and is something many students look forward to. “Nutella [has been an] Italian staple since the 60s, and has grown in worldwide popularity,” said Smith. “It’s also delicious, so it’s a way to incorporate Italian culture into our school.” Nutella Night is not only a celebration of a great tasting food, but also a chance to get more connected to one’s Italian heritage, or to Italy in general.


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