Nov 2018 Notiziario

Dante Alighieri Notiziario - Denver


Currently the Nominating Committee has the following nominees:  John Giardino, president; Nick Napoli, vice president; Vera Buffaloe, secretary;  Carol Marsala, treasurer.  The nomination for new officers is still open, and according to Robert’s Rules of Order, nominations can also be accepted the night of the election. The Committee consists of Board members John Giardino (303-463-0971) and Carol Marsala (303-389-4141).  Members at large are Rosalie Spicola (303-423-9010), Pamela Marcantonio (303-494-3080), and Margaret Foderaro (720-212-6041). Anyone interested in running for one of the positions should call a member of the Nominating Committee. The election of officers will take place on Friday, November 9 at the Dante Society’s meeting. Newly elected officers will take their respective positions in January. The term of each office shall commence after the installation ceremony and continue for two years or until successors are elected.

City of MateraFollowing the election of officers, we will show a very interesting documentary on the city of Matera (Basilicata) which has been chosen by UNESCO as 2019 European Capital of Culture.  This documentary tells the history of Matera from its origins to today and focuses on aspects that have contributed to making it a unique place deserving of UNESCO’s award.  Don’t miss it!

As always, the event will take place at Mount Carmel Parish Hall at 7:30 p.m. 3549 Navajo Street, Denver


Denver Film FestivalConcert - Friday, November 2, 2018, 7:30 p.m., A Night at the Opera

With Ari Pelto, guest conductor, presented by the Lamont Symphony Orchestra & Lamont Opera Theatre.  The Opera Colorado conductor leads the symphony and opera theatre singers on an operatic journey from scenes in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore and Verdi’s La Traviata to Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Dante Society has purchased a limited number of reserved seating for $5.  If you are interested, kindly contact our President Veronica Goodrich at 303-421-1547 or e-mail

Complimentary parking in the Newman Center garage one hour prior to the performance (enter on E. Wesley Ave.).


Movie – Free movie showing Ark of Disperata by director Edoardo Winspeare.

This film is part of the Denver Film Festival’s Anna Maglione-Sie Italian showcase, and will be shown only three times, once at DU.  It will take place at Davis Auditorium, Sturm Hall room 248 (2000 East Asbury Avenue) on Tuesday, November 6, at 6:00 p.m. There will be a reception at 5 p.m. and Q&A at 8 p.m.  You must register at or call 303-871-2662.  For more event details please see attached flyer.


- The annual Christmas Party is set for Saturday, December 8 at North Park Association Clubhouse in Westminster.  Details will be in the December Notiziario.

- Jennifer Davis, past Scholarship recipient and performer for the Dante in the recent Concert/Auction, will be part of the chorus when Opera Colorado presents audiences with opulent production of eternal favorite Verdi’s stunning and heartbreaking La Traviata November 3, 6, 9, and 11 of 2018.


Dante Alighieri Silent Auction 2018 and concertAn Evening of Music and Fun

The atmosphere was certainly joyful as Dante Society members and guests gathered to celebrate Italian music from opera to pop. And, we raised money for the Dante Society's Scholarship Fund while enjoying the evening.

We welcomed back former scholarship recipients Jennifer Davis and Pablo Romero, who entertained the crowd with the opera portion of the show. This year's scholarship winner, Celeste Landry brought a new element to the program with her flute performance.

Thank you for joining us for the event

Left to right: Pablo Romero, Tina Phillips, Jennifer Davis, Ricardo LaFore’, and Rosanna Patrona-Aurand

New this time were Ricardo LaFore' and Tina Phillips who highlighted the pop segment, which included a rousing sing-a-long rendition of "That's Amore." A huge thank you goes out to Rosanna Patrona-Aurand for providing piano accompaniment to the performers.

Bidding was brisk at the silent auction tables.

Many, many thanks go out to the Dante Society's sponsors:
Empire Lakewood Nissan, Veronica Goodrich and Phil Long Dealerships.

Also thank you to the many companies and individuals who donated items for the auction. And, of course, grazie mille to those who attended the concert and helped to make it a success.


Vanessa DiMaggio for the insightful presentation


Grazie to Vanessa DiMaggio for the insightful presentation on how politics influenced Dante Alighieri’s writings.

The audience enjoyed it immensely and learned the historical and political side of the father of the Italian language.


The Dante Alighieri Society will offer a 10-week winter session of Italian language classes, beginning the week of January 7, 2019.  The schedule for winter classes will be posted on the Dante Alighieri website by December 1.  Students must register for classes through the website.  The classes are taught by experienced and talented bi-lingual teachers, and include beginner, intermediate, advanced, and conversation classes.  Each class meets for 90 minutes, once a week, at 3549 Navajo Street, Denver, in the parish offices of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.  Cost is $100 for members and $130 for non-members.  New members are welcome to join the Dante Alighieri Society when they register for classes.  Please register early because classes do fill up.  For more information, please contact the Education Chair Suzanne Fasing at or call 303-810-9042.   To register for classes, visit the web site:


Applications for our Dante Alighieri Academic and Music Scholarships are now available online at the Dante website, .  Colleges and universities have been notified of this opportunity for those students who are hoping to participate in study-abroad programs in Italy.

The application deadline is April 6, 2019, giving the Scholarship Committee ample time to determine scholarship winners prior to the May 5, 2019 Scholarship Awards Luncheon at the Arvada Center – save the date now! Finally, I would like to say a special thank you to all who helped put together the very successful Concert and Silent Auction to raise funds for our scholarship program. And another thank-you to all who attended the gala and participated in the silent auction or contributed to the cause.  I am constantly amazed by the generosity of our members and friends. Mille grazie!   John Giardino, Scholarship Committee Chair”


Performance at Dante Silent Auction and Concert 2018
Soprano Jennifer Davis and tenor Pablo Romero
Tina Phillips and Ricardo LaFore'

BOOK REVIEW   Submitted by Nick Napoli of Carlo Levi’s Cristo si e’ fermato a Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli).

Cristo Si E' Fermato a EboliMany of us know something about Italy. Some of us know quite a bit and have been there more than once. The cities of Rome, Florence and Venice are overflowing with tourists. We know about the good –the food, the art, the fashion—the bad, the politics, the immigration problem and the ugly – the Mafia, Mussolini. But we are just beginning to learn about the present day Meridione {the south}. Carlo Levi’s book, CHRIST STOPPED AT EBOLI, tells us things most of us did not know about the south of Italy in the early 20th century.

Carlo Levi was from Turin. He was a physician, an intellectual, an artist and a writer. He did not see eye to eye with Mussolini and was vocal about it. As a result he was banished for a year to a small town in southern Italy in an area we now know as Basilicata. He called the town Galiano but the town is really Aliano.

Aliano exists today untouched by the throngs of tourists. Levy is buried there. He is honored because he and his sister, his sister is the one who went to Matera, exposed the primitive conditions in that part of Italy and forced the government to improve conditions.  Even now southern Italy is very different from the north but in 1935 it was like a foreign country, a third world country.

Levi’s description of his year in Basilicata takes us to an Italy few of us knew about. He describes the villages as “splashes of white on the tops of hills”. The town square is nothing more than a widening in the main street. He walks into a room that is black with flies. Most of the houses are one room with one opening. When the door is closed in winter to keep out the cold and the wood-burning stove is on for heat the house f ills with smoke especially if the wind is

blowing which it frequently is. But he doesn’t feel like he is in jail because the land around him is open and barren.

The people greet him warmly. They know he is a doctor and immediately ask him to see a man who is dying of Malaria. There are two other doctors in the town but the people don’t trust them. His description of the people is warm and touching. They are down trodden people. They feel abandoned and abused by the Italian government, which is probably why Roosevelt’s picture – not Mussolini’s -- is in every house. Yet they are not angry. They have little hope that things will improve but they have not despaired. They make do with what they have.

This is not the Italy of multi course meals in four-star restaurants. What they eat is what they grow and what they can salvage from the stingy land around them. They offer what they have to anyone who walks through the door. The food barely sustains them but I can’t help wondering if much of it tastes better than the “Italian” we frequently get now.

The Catholic priest is there and the church is there. They are more in sync with the Church and are antagonistic toward the priest. In a sense they don’t think of themselves as Christians because they feel that Christ stopped at Eboli and did not go as far south as Aliano. Their mores are very strict in some ways and not in others. They are very superstitious, they believe in spirits and the night is not safe to them.

They live in a world of contradictions. There is no shame for an unmarried woman to have a child but it is strictly taboo for a woman to speak with an unmarried man in the absence of other women. They are plagued by Malaria and quinine is scarce but when it is available they are reluctant to take it. They live on hills to get away from the mosquito infested swamps down below but have to trudge down to work their fields in the heat then the government takes most of their profit.

This all sounds as though it makes for a depressing read and Levi has been criticized for exposing a shameful side of Italy. The only thing that is shameful here is the government. The people are beautiful and the whole picture is fascinating.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU:  Anthony Andrews.

Anthony Andrews

1. What region in Italy were your ancestors from?  If you do not have Italian ancestors, what is the ethnic background of your family?  Have you ever been there and what was your experience?

My ancestors are traceable to a village, Bedollo, about 20 miles north of the city of Trento in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige.  This is on my mother’s side of the family (My father, also Italian, left us early on and has not been of consequence.).   My wife, Mary, and daughter, Alia, and I had the distinct honor and pleasure of visiting Bedollo in the fall of 2016, where we were treated to a dinner attended by a number of the Svaldi family (my maternal grandfather’s family).  Below is a photo of that dinner’s attendees, with my wife, daughter and me (seated) as guests of honor.  It was my second visit - on the first, three years earlier, the family historian, Fabio Svaldi, a second cousin, introduced me to some of our family’s heritage; Fabio (white shirt, back row behind us) organized the cena della famiglia Svaldi three years later.  A highlight of my life...

1. When did your ancestors arrive in America, and where did they settle originally? Did they come right to Colorado? 

My grandfather, Domenico Svaldi, arrived in NYC at the end of 1906, had friends, including my grandmother's brothers, in Blackhawk, Colorado, where he settled in as a quartz miner,  My nonna, Rosina Dallapiccola (name derives from "from the small (house)" in Bedollo; Casagranda is another common name in the village), arrived in NYC in the spring of 1909, and the two were married in Denver a week or so after her arrival.   Upon arriving in the US, my grandparents were noted to have been born in Austria (the region was part of Austria until 1919), but of Italian (northern) heritage.  Domenico and Rosina had 6 children, three of which tragically died in 1918, and my grandfather followed in 1922.  Until high school, I was raised my nonna, Rosina, in north Denver.

3. If you had to describe yourself in one word, what word would that be, and why?

Sanguine.  I once was described by a teacher as sanguine; I looked. It up and decided that was as good description as any - cheerful, optimistic, hopeful. Although I must admit I am impetuous as well - leap first, then reconsider.

4. Who was most influential to you growing up, and why?

Considering that much of our early upbringing stays with us throughout our lives, I would have to say that my nonna, Rosina, was the most influential person in my life.  She instilled a spirit of independence and industry, as well as old world honesty and humility - she was not shy about taking a polentar(used to stir polenta) to my seat if I came up short of her expectations.

5. Tell us a little about you, employment, family, interests and so on.

I attended St. Patrick’s Grade School, in north Denver, went on to the Abbey School, in Canon City, Colorado, then went on to college in Kansas (St Benedict’s), Colorado (Regis - BA & Univ of Denver - MA) and California (Claremont Grad School - ABD) - major: philosophy.  Faced with a shortage of teaching positions in philosophy (1973), and married, with four children, I then settled into a career in the trucking industry (dock worker, driver, salesman, sales manager, mentor), until my retirement last year - all the while in the Denver area.  Divorced, then remarried, each of us with 4 children, we now have 17 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

As you can imagine, we spend lots of time watching children, and ferrying them about, plus we care for a delightful 19month-old great granddaughter during the week while her dad works.  We have it in our heads to once again return to Italy, and to Bedollo, sometime soon (some grandkids want to see the ancestral village).  Meanwhile, I also read a lot and, of course, study my Italian.

6. How would you most like to be remembered.

As someone who was helpful when I was able.

7. What attracted you about joining the Dante Alighieri Society?

I joined the DAS to take the Italian classes and to deepen my knowledge of i vecchi paesi.


Matera is the 2019 Capital City of European Culture, but Is Matera’s crumbling beauty ready for its year in Europe’s cultural sun? Roads and venues remain unbuilt as the southern Italian city struggles to be the 2019 capital of culture.

When the southern Italian city of Matera found out it had been selected as the 2019 European capital of culture, its ancient streets echoed with cheers. Thousands gathered in October 2014 to watch the announcement live from Brussels in a central piazza. “It reminded me of the day when Napoli announced it had acquired Diego Maradona,” said Daniele Kihlgren, an Italian-Swedish businessman who has invested in a hotel in Matera. “The same uproar was heard throughout the town.”

But the euphoria was quickly replaced by a sense of anxiety. “After the celebrations,” said Eustachio Nicoletti, Matera’s secretary for Italy’s largest labor union, the CGIL, “people began to wonder, ‘and what the hell are we going to do now?’”

Today, with little over three months remaining until 2019, that concern has become a real fear that the city’s big opportunity could instead be a colossal failure. Local organizations and business owners are warning that the city will simply not be ready. Rome and Brussels secured €400m (£360m) to organize the year’s events, money that was supposed to pay for restoring buildings and repairing streets in a place famed for its stunning but dilapidated beauty and history of dire poverty.  But, according to the unions, most of the money is still trapped in the labyrinth of Italian bureaucracy and has not yet been spent.  “Of the seven buildings that should have housed the cultural events, at least five will not be ready in time for 2019,” said Nicoletti.

Concern also surrounds accessibility: half of the funding, about €200m, had been allocated for the construction of a new railway line. The station is there – it was built in 1986 – but there is no railway. Matera can still be reached only by a slow, secondary rail line from Bari, which takes nearly two hours to cover 60km, while work to complete the Bradanica highway, connecting the city with the north of the Basilicata region, began almost 40 years ago and has yet to be completed.  “The truth is that the disregard for not meeting deadlines was already well known in 2014,” said Enzo Acito, former director of tourism for Matera. “Everyone knew that with the snail’s pace of Italian bureaucracy and the typical waiting times for the construction industry in Italy, the facilities would never be completed by 2019.”

Matera was the first southern Italian city to be recognized as a European capital of culture. But, like many towns across the region, it bears the wounds of structural deficiencies, such as high youth unemployment, alleged corruption and obscure political maneuverings. In July the president of the Basilicata region, Marcello


Pittella, was placed under house arrest by prosecutors in Matera for alleged involvement in rigging healthcare contracts. He denies all the accusations against him.

Such problems, often chronic in the south of Italy, are exacerbated by historic and deeply rooted difficulties in a town which was virtually abandoned for more than 40 years after the second world war. Cut off from the modern economy, Matera was one of Europe’s poorest cities, where families lived in grottoes, the “Sassi” (literally stones) carved out of the limestone that dated back to Matera’s prehistoric era.

The extent of the squalid conditions in the Sassi only came to international attention when writer Carlo Levi was exiled by Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime to a town close to Matera in 1935. In his book, Christ Stopped at Eboli, published in 1945, Levi described the horror he witnessed – the paltry furniture, children either naked or in rags, bodies ravaged by disease – and concluded: “I have never seen in all my life such a picture of poverty.”

In 1952 Italy’s prime minister, Alcide De Gasperi proclaimed a state of emergency in Matera, described by Rome as “a national disgrace”. The inhabitants of the Sassi were eventually evacuated and relocated a few kilometers away. Matera would remain deserted and silent until 1993 when Unesco declared the Sassi, once a source of national shame and a symbol of poverty and disease, a world heritage site, following a long list of achievements that eventually led to its selection, along with Plovdiv in Bulgaria, as a 2019 European capital of culture.  But Matera’s fate after next year is an open question. “It’s the fear that we all share at this time,” said Nicoletti. “When it’s all over – the firework display, the cultural events and the attention – what will be Matera’s fate?”

Paolo Verri, director of the Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation in charge of the organization of the cultural events, shrugs off any blame and insists the year of culture will go ahead. “We will carry out the events as we have planned,” he said. “We can’t control infrastructure. It’s not our responsibility. What I can say is that in the past few years we have quadrupled the number of visitors in Matera and, at the end of the event, it will always be in the spotlight.”

Nicoletti has a different view. In 2017, the CGIL published a report – entitled Matera 2019: missed opportunity? – in which researchers tried to analyze the city’s future after the event. The conclusions seem anything but rosy.  “The risk is that the facilities slated for completion by 2019 won’t even be ready by 2020,” said Nicoletti. “The risk is that the city will have lost an opportunity to create jobs for its people, who each year emigrate toward northern Italy. The risk is to have missed a train that won’t be coming back.


Cultural Meetings

November 9


Concert at DU Nov. 2

Movie at DU Nov. 6

Election of Officers Nov. 9                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Christmas Party Dec. 8


Language – Winter classes begin Jan. 2019

NOTE: Cultural meetings, movies, and cooking classes take place at Mt. Carmel Church Parish Hall, 3549 Navajo St., Denver.

Language classes are taught at Mt. Carmel Church Office.


Next time you head out to King Soopers, be sure to take a Dante Society King Soopers gift card with you. King Soopers offers organizations a simple way to raise money by returning 5% of grocery sales made on the card to the organization. The cards initially cost $25 but can be reloaded for any amount at checkout.

Every time you reload your card, King Soopers/Kroger adds the amount to Dante’s Reward account.  When the account balance in any given month reaches $5,000, Dante gets a check for 5% of the total.  If we don't hit $5,000 in that month, the balance rolls forward to the next month. The card can be used for purchases at King Soopers/Kroger Stores including gas.  (You cannot use the card for services such as Western Union, lottery tickets, stamps, money orders, ticket master or any other gift cards).

By continuing to use the cards for purchases, Dante members will provide an on-going source of income for scholarships. If you give gift cards to friends, family or charitable organizations, consider giving a Dante Society King Soopers gift card. The Dante Society cards cannot be purchased at King Soopers. The Dante Society cards must be purchased through Dante by calling Veronica Goodrich at 303-421-1547.