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'Welcome to the neighborhood' | Piazza Imo opens its gates in historic Hill neighborhood

The iron gates are finally open at Piazza Imo on the Hill after years of planning.

ST. LOUIS — The iron gates are finally open at Piazza Imo on the Hill, after years of planning. 

An Italian band celebrated with welcoming tunes as hundreds of people crowded the streets Sunday afternoon eager to take a look.

Piazza Imo took two and a half years to build its 11,000-square-foot attraction. It's an extension to St. Ambrose. 

"Almost every major town in Italy has a piazza and a lot of times they are associated with a church or close to a church," Bill Frisella, a member of the Piazza Committee.

As you peak through the gates from the outside, you can see the beautiful marble Frisella family fountain imported from Italy, granite walkways and benches with several prayer gardens. 

But you're probably wondering 'What, exactly, is a piazza?' 

When translated, it means a square. And for the rest of the location's name? Imo comes from the Imo's family name because they bought the land and the gates. 

This centralized location will be a way for guests to relax and meet, just like they do in Italy.

But restaurants are also excited about their new neighbor.

Mama's on the Hill and the Carnivore both said this can mean a boost in sales.

"It's going to bring people here to come check out the area, see what we have going on," Carnivore co-owner Joe Smugala said.

The piazza will also be utilized by students of St. Ambrose school for education. They've partnered up with the Missouri Botanical Garden so students can learn about plants. It will also be a field trip location for students to learn more about Italian culture and life.

Piazza Imo can be a great spot to hang out after scarfing down some toasted ravioli as you enjoy another location that makes the Hill a neighborhood worth visiting.

"I always thought this would be a tourist attraction, not only for the hill but St. Louis. I think it’s the centerpiece of the Hill and focus of the Hill will be the piazza," Frisella said.

In order to get this up and running, it took a lot time from the piazza committee and donations from multiple donors. If you'd like to donate for more of their efforts, click here.

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