The Strange Career of Dueling in Italy,

Presented by Prof. Stephen C. Hughes on Friday, January 10, 7:30 p.m., Mount Carmel Parish Hall, 3549 Navajo Street, Denver.

We’ve all seen the scene in the movies – two gentlemen stand back to back holding their weapons, count out the appropriate number of paces, turn and face each other and determine who wins the duel. Did you ever think dueling was a career practiced by Italy’s elite?

Join us at our January cultural meeting to learn more.

The creation of united Italy in the 1860s was attended by an extraordinary rise in dueling among the young country’s elites.

This “duellomania,” which some suggested amounted to a duel a day, continued through the rest of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth.  Much of this chivalric combat arose out of politics and it is perhaps no surprise that Mussolini – prior to becoming Il Duce – fought no less than five duels against his political opponents.  But he was piker compared to the Radical Deputy Felice Cavellotti who died from a sabre blow during his thirty-third

duel. Yet dueling was not always so popular in Italy.  Although the point-of-honor duel evolved in the Renaissance city states in the late fifteenth century, by 1750 it had become almost moribund on the peninsula.  This talk will trace what is called the “Strange Career” of dueling in Italy from the middle ages to its eventual demise after WWII, and explain why it was so important in the creation of modern Italy.

Steven C. Hughes is professor emeritus of history at Loyola University in Maryland and for six years was director of the Loyola Nachbahr Huis at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. He studies modern Italy, the Risorgimento, Swiss Italian identity, and the history of policing, dueling, honor and masculinity.  Along with numerous articles and reviews, he is the author of Crime, Disorder, and the Risorgimento: the Politics of Policing in Bologna (Cambridge, 1994) and Politics of the Sword: Dueling, Honor, and Masculinity in Modern Italy (Ohio State. 2007).  He has twice been awarded senior research grants by the Fulbright Commission to study in Italy and has been a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome.  He is currently researching honor killing or delitto d’onore in Italy and its relationship to Italian society as a whole and the dilemma it created for political elites desperate to prove their country a model of law and order. From 1982 to 1985 he taught Italian language at the University of Colorado, Boulder which is his Alma Mater.


celebrate happy new year



It’s that time of year again.  Membership renewal cards will be going out at the end of the month.  I hope you will join us for another year of interesting lectures, movies and fun.  Please review the information on the card and make any corrections before mailing it back to me with your payment.

Attention students:  If you plan to continue taking language classes in 2020, it will be necessary for you to renew your membership regardless of when you joined the DAS.  Please pay for your class and membership at the same time.  If I receive payment prior to mailing the renewal cards, I will not send a card to you.  Instead I will check your current information from your registration and fill the card out for you.   Grazie, Rhonda.


Buon Anno Nuovo a tutti.  I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my Board, the members of the Society, our Italian language teachers, presenters and all who have helped keep the Dante Alighieri alive and relevant for the past 34 years. 2020 is already shaping up to be an exciting year. With interesting and intriguing programs, fun events, cooking classes and more, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.  Our website, dantealighieriofdenver.com, and the monthly Notiziario will have all the information you might need to take part in any of our activities. If you ever need more information or have other questions, please feel free to contact me at johncgiardino@comcast.net or 303-378-9736. Grazie!


The Dante Alighieri Society of Denver gives a warm welcome to our latest members:  James Bammert, Kelsey and Justin Bannister, Sandra Brines, Susan Bruss, Sarah Burton, Colton Digby, Jana Durbin, and Maureen Geittman.

ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARTY   It was fun and the most attended party ever.  The committee was able to accommodate all participants but it also suggests to please RSVP in the future by simply email or call the number supplied in the announcement.  Grazie to the entire committee members who arrived early to set up the festive room.  Food and drinks were plenty and members in attendance were happy to socialize and have a great time while enjoying the white elephant gift exchange.

NEW FEATURE COMING IN THE NOTIZIARIO    The Society is starting a new feature in the Notiziario that will be called “Dear Dante Alighieri Society”.  You will be able to write in with your thoughts and suggestions. Letters should be 50 words or less. We will publish four letters a month and respond when appropriate.  We are anxious to hear from you.  Vice President Nick Napoli niju315@gmail.com or 315 Monroe St., Denver 80206.

SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE   Applications for our Dante Alighieri Academic and Music Scholarships are now available online at the Dante website, https://dantealighieriofdenver.com/ .  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 4, 2020, giving the Scholarship Committee ample time to determine scholarship winners prior to the May 3, 2020, Scholarship Awards Luncheon at the Arvada Center – save the date now.

Want to play Italian Card Games?

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN PLAYING ITALIAN CARD GAMES?  As the twenty plus people sat around the card tables on Saturday afternoon on October 26th, the feeling was that we wanted to continue on a regular basis to play Scopa. We were having so much fun playing Scopa we didn't get around to learning Briscola, which we want to learn how to play. Because we want to include all members and guests, what I'd like to know is who wants to continue to play Scopa on a monthly basis. Please email me at susangurule@msn.com or call me at 720-484-1014 to let me know if you want to play. Thank you, Susan

The registration deadline for the winter session is January 6, 2020.


The Dante Alighieri Society will offer a 10-week spring session of Italian language classes, beginning March 23, 2020.  The schedule for spring classes is posted on the Dante Alighieri website, and it is listed below.  Students must register and pay for classes through the website.  The classes are taught by experienced and talented bi-lingual teachers.  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 $115 for members and $145 for non-members.  New members are welcome to join the Dante Alighieri Society when they register for classes.  For more information, please contact the Education Chair Suzanne Fasing at suzannefasing@yahoo.com  To register and pay for classes, visit the web site:  https://dantealighieriofdenver.com/classes/language-classes

                        The registration deadline for the spring session is March 16, 2020.


Beginner Level Italian Classes

Beginner 1.  Wednesdays, 7:30 to 9:00 pm, beginning March 25, 2020 through May 27, 2020 (Brunetti). In this class students with little or no knowledge of Italian will learn to communicate in simple everyday situations. Students will study the basic building blocks of the Italian language, including the alphabet, rules of pronunciation, basic syntax, and grammatical structures. Topics include subject pronouns, definite and indefinite articles, regular verbs in the present tense, and noun-adjective agreement.
Required Text: 
The Italian Project 1a.

Beginner 2.  Mondays, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, beginning March 23, 2020 through June 1, 2020 (no class on Memorial Day, May 25, 2020) (DiMaggio). In this class students will build upon their existing knowledge while incorporating new vocabulary and grammatical structures through conversation, role plays, listening, reading and writing activities. Topics include irregular and modal verbs in the present tense, articulated prepositions, and possessive adjectives.
Required Text: The Italian Project 1a.

Beginner 3.  Tuesdays, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, beginning March 24, 2020 through May 26, 2020 (Jensen).  In this class, students will build upon their existing knowledge  through conversation, role plays, listening, reading and writing activities.  Topics include past verb tenses, prepositions, telling time, and ordering in a restaurant.
Required Text: The Italian Project 1a.

Beginner 4.  Thursdays, 7:30 to 9:00 pm, beginning March 26, 2020 through May 28, 2020 (Brunetti). In this class students will build upon their prior studies through role plays, listening, reading and writing activities. Topics include the past and future verb tenses, and train travel.  Required Text:  The Italian Project 1a.

Note: Spring 2020 Session has been cancelled due to the concerns with coronavirus. Please check back for updates on the next session.

Intermediate 1.  Mondays, 7:30 to 9:00 pm, beginning March 23, 2020 through June 1, 2020 (no class on Memorial Day, May 25, 2020) (DiMaggio).  In this class students will build upon their prior studies through role plays, listening, reading and writing activities. Topics include past verb tenses and possessive pronouns.  Required Text:  The Italian Project 1b.

Intermediate 2 will be offered in future sessions.

Intermediate 3.  Wednesdays, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, beginning March 25, 2020 through May 27, 2020 (Brunetti).  In this class students will continue to expand their studies of increasingly complex grammatical structures and vocabulary through listening activities, role plays, readings, education videos and written assignments. Topics include direct object pronouns, reflexive verbs and the impersonal form.
Required Text: The Italian Project 1b.


Italian Literature 202.  Tuesdays, 7:30 to 9:00 pm, beginning March 24, 2020, through May 26, 2020 (Jensen).  Advanced Intermediate class on Alessandro Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi.  The book is a shortened and easier version than the original.  Students will read, listen and discuss book as well as do grammar, vocabulary and comprehension exercises on each chapter of book.  A strong knowledge of language is necessary to engage in conversation.  Students will discuss the book in present, past, future and conditional tenses. Required Text: I Promessi Sposi (ISBN: 9788853617637)  Students may purchase this book from internet booksellers, including applauselearning.com, bookdepository.com, europeanbookshop.com or by clicking this link for the publisher of ELI graded readers:     by clicking this link: 


Conversation 207.  Thursdays, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, beginning March 26, 2020 through May 28, 2020 (Brunetti).  This class will be full immersion. Students will be able to converse, understand, and write on a variety of subjects including but not limited to art and literature. Emphasis will be on becoming “linguistically flexible.”
Required Text: The Italian Project 2b.



The Dante Society’s Italian conversation group usually meets on the fourth Saturday of every month, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Brew Culture Coffee Shop, 3620 West Colfax Avenue in Denver.  Meetings are scheduled for January 25, and February 22, 2020.  The conversation group is open to all Dante language students and Society members from beginners to fluent speakers.  There is no charge to meet.  This conversation group gives students and members a chance to practice speaking Italian in a welcoming and supportive environment.  It complements the very robust program of Italian language classes offered by the Society.  Future dates will be published in the Notiziario.  If you would like to participate, or if you would like more information, please contact the Education Chair, Suzanne Fasing at suzannefasing@yahoo.com


Dante discount card

Once again, the agreement between the Vatican and the Dante has been renewed once again for the year 2020.   It allows us to visit the museums at a lower price and get in front of the long lines simply by presenting the Dante Society membership card. The cost to visit the Museums is 16 euros per person, and 1 euro if you decide to purchase the Art and Faith DVD on the Treasures of the Vatican.   The Dante membership card may be obtained by contacting Rhonda Hopkins at 720-596-4169, rhop626@gmail.com, or Gianfranco Marcantonio at 303-494-3080 glm3942@yahoo.com .

For additional privileges for Dante members while in Italy, please visit the following site: http://ladante.it/diventa-socio/le-convenzioni



Over the past 2 years, King Soopers has generously donated over $1,200 to our Scholarship program based on your purchases.

Unless the bottom of your King Soopers receipt says “we are donating to the Dante Alighieri Society..” the Dante isn’t benefiting from your purchase.  You can link your King Soopers loyalty card (phone #) to The Dante by selecting BF884 from King Soopers website/community rewards.  It’s a bit complicated:  contact Carol Marsala (clmarsala@gmail.com 303.237.0688) for information.


Silvio Cipro

  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?

Both sides of my family are from the province of Caserta north of Naples in the Campania region. My maternal relatives are from Baia e Latina and my paternal relatives are from Calvi Risorta. The villages are about 15 miles apart. I will be making my first trip to Italy this September. I have been emailing two second cousins on my mother’s side of my family for a year and a half and we are planning to meet each other when I arrive. On December 7th I mailed 20 letters to people living in Calvi Risorta with the same last name as mine and hope to correspond with relatives on my father’s side before we depart.


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

My maternal grandparents were both born in the US though my grandfather moved to Italy when he was three. He moved back to the US after serving in the Italian army during WWI in spite of his protests that the Italians could not draft an American citizen. My paternal grandparents immigrated independently of each other in the 1920s. They met and married in the US. I am originally from western Pennsylvania. Many people from Campania emigrated there to work in the US Steel mills, as did both of my grandfathers.

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

Good-humored. I have always had a good sense of humor and I appreciate that quality in others. I like to make people laugh because it makes us both feel good. I also think that my humor has a self-deprecating component to it. I think it is important to not take one’s self too seriously and my sense of humor helps me keep myself in check. 

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

This is an easy question. It was my mother who was widowed at 28 years old. She had already given birth to three boys and was pregnant with my youngest brother at the time of my father’s sudden death. Life could have taken a very ugly turn for us then but she carried on in the face of this tragedy and re-enrolled in college and completed her undergraduate degree in nursing. She then went on to graduate school and got a master degree in health. This was

S Cipro

at a time when few women had master degrees. Her faith in God, her family and herself left an indelible mark on me and one that I appreciate more fully with every passing year.

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

I moved to Colorado in 1983 when I was hired to work on a system conversion. I am an avid hiker and have logged every hike I have ever taken. I hope to reach my 4,000th mile hiked within the next two years. I am married to a wonderful woman, Mary Jean and have a daughter and twin grandchildren, a boy and a girl not quite 18 months old. After working for many years managing computer projects, I transitioned into sales and have spent most of my sales career in two very different industries: petroleum and insurance.

  1. How would you most like to be remembered?

It’s hard to answer that question without contemplating one’s own mortality but I would like to be remembered as someone who tried to be a good husband, father, grandfather and friend and someone who tried to bring a smile to the face of others.


  1. What attracted you about joining the Dante Alighieri Society

The initial attraction was the language classes but since I have become a member I have come to look forward to our cultural events. I have also come to enjoy the company of those in the society with whom I have met.

The Story of Befana, The Italian Santa Claus.  

Befana storyItaly is a historically Catholic culture with many holidays, traditions and beliefs coming from biblical and religious roots. They celebrate many more national holidays from the Christian religion than some other countries and therefore have more traditions for the holidays. In the Western world we have Santa Claus and Italians also believe in Old Saint Nick during Christmas. However, there’s another holiday they celebrate that has a similar concept of Santa with some similarities to Krampus from other European countries. Befana is a folklore tradition attached to a January holiday, but has some unusual characteristics that go along with it.

Befana is said to be an old woman and many refer to her as a witch, who visits all the children in Italy on the eve of the Epiphany, celebrated on January 6. She fills the children’s stockings full of either candy or coal, depending on their behavior the year before. Sound familiar so far? In some poor parts of Italy, the children receive a stick in their stocking instead of coal if they’ve been naughty. Befana is portrayed as a hooded old hag, similar to the type of witches we see during Halloween, covered in soot (she enters homes through the chimney) and rides a broom. She carries a bag full of candy and is said to be the best house keeper in all the land due to her habit of sweeping the houses of the children she visits before she leaves.

The children are told that she will give them a swift thump from her broomstick if they try to see her when she arrives, but the tradition could just be to keep kids in their beds. To be gracious and thankful hosts, families leave her a glass of wine and a bit of their traditional local food to refuel her for the rest of her journey. So, Santa gets fat and jolly from all the sweets families leave for him and Befana drunkenly rides her broom from house to house leaving candy.

If the legend didn’t date back so far, it would seem like the Italians just mixed western Halloween and Christmas traditions to create their own January celebration. While encompassing early Christian and Roman traditions and celebrations, many of which we still celebrate today such as Christmas gift giving and New Year’s celebrations, some anthropologists have also tied some aspects of tradition of Befana to some pre-Christian elements of the Neolithic period and some Celtic aspects as well. There are a few different legends of how Befana started.

One story says the Three Wise Men from the Bible stopped to ask her for directions a few days before the birth of baby Jesus. She did not know and although she couldn’t help them, she did offer them food and shelter for the night. She had such a pleasant and tidy home and the Three Wise Men were so pleased, they invited her to accompany them on their journey to find baby Jesus. She declined as she had much housework to do, but later had a change of heart. It was too late, so she left on her own search looking for them and baby Jesus, leaving candy or fruit for the good children and coal, onions or garlic for naughty children. A variation of this story also says that she saw a light in the sky and went to follow it thinking it would lead her to the infant. She continues to look and even though she hasn’t found him, she still leaves gifts for all the children, because the goodness and innocence of Jesus can be found in every child.

Another Christian story that takes a darker turn says Befana was an ordinary mother who was suffering from the loss of her child. She went crazy with grief and when she heard about the birth of Jesus, she went to find him in the delusion that he was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented gifts to make him happy.

He was overcome with joy and gave her a gift in return, to be the mother of every child in Italy.

BefanaThe modern day Befana is now celebrated throughout Italy. Some regions where the religious holiday of the Epiphany is held in a higher regard, such as Umbria, Le Marche, and Latium, have big festivals and markets, and many people like to dress in costume as Befana. Every child is naughty at least some of the time, so it has become normal that each child gets a little lump of “coal”, rock candy made with black caramel coloring in their stocking among the other candy. Some places celebrate Befana more than others such as Piazza Novana in Rome, where you can find some candies and mini coal candy on sale during the Christmas and Epiphany market where lore says she shows herself in a window at midnight, bringing a crowd to “see” Befana every year at midnight in early January. It is an annual tradition for many families to wait in the piazza at midnight and pretend to spy Befana up in a high window, fooling the kids.

Traditions are part of what make each culture unique, and this Christmas and Halloween hybrid is definitely unique to Italy. House cleaning witches on brooms, candy or coal in stockings, and all in the name of the biblical holiday of the Epiphany. Befana is an interesting folk tradition in Italy that keeps the children behaving and something to look forward to after the Christmas and New Year holidays.  (The Culture Trip)

2020 Calendar


Cultural Meetings






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.


2019 gathering