Ciao Italia

Ciao Italia

(PBS, 1989—) cooking series

For the show's 2001 season, host Mary Ann Esposito traveled to Italian-American and Italian-Canadian cities in search of food good enough to come home for, landing in Providence for show #1003. There, Mary Ann rode in a Venetian gondola with then-Mayor Buddy Cianci, then helped out while Cianci prepared his Aunt Anna's eggplant parmesan casserole for the television viewing audience.

View Buddy's segment:

Ciao Italia Executive Producer Paul Lally recalls that "Buddy was gracious, bombastic, and fun to be with. Just before we filmed in his kitchen he phoned his great-Aunt Anna to make sure he got the recipe right. [Then] he and Mary Ann cooked up plenty of eggplant. A memorable occasion to say the least."

Time moves on, and so do mayors, so 2008 brought us an episode filmed in the kitchen of Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline. The theme was "Entertaining with the Mayor," and Esposito helped hizzoner make enough antipasti to serve a passel of post-Columbus Day Parade guests. Italian-style cold meat products were supplied by Daniele, Inc., and other ingredients were provided by Eastside Marketplace.

S18E21: Recipe #3: Stuffed Red Pepper Boats:

Ciao Italia, in its thirtieth season as of 2023, is the longest-running cooking series in America. The series was filmed at the studios of Rhode Island PBS beginning in 2001, when Esposito was invited down from New Hampshire by Rhode Island legislators who saw a chance to spotlight Providence's Italian heritage. Most of each season's twenty-six episodes are shot in one marathon two-week session. For the first eighteen seasons the show's set was a duplicate of Esposito's own kitchen back in New Hampshire, but in 2008 she got a brand new, bigger kitchen set. All of the design, materials, and labor to build the set were donated by Rhode Island companies—HSI Construction, Kenneth Castellucci and Associates, Douglas Lumber and Home Center, and Ann Huntoon Design.

Production left Rhode Island PBS after the summer of 2015.

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