Dante ALighieri Society Denver


Dante Alighieri Society of Denver Website: https://dantealighieriofdenver.com/



With the now “Safer-at-Home” directive, things are starting to reopen to the public, though there is still considerable uncertainty about what will be the outcome. Our Board continues to meet via ZOOM, cultural meetings and Italian classes continue to be cancelled until further notice, and the possibility of October’s Italian Heritage Month celebration continues to be in question. However, we really want to stay connected with the Dante Alighieri Society membership. One way we thought would be fun is a virtual wine tasting. It’s been scheduled in conjunction with Argonaut Liquor on June 28. You should have received a special email with the details so, if you’re planning on participating, get signed up now. Hopefully, we’ll be able to resume regular activities in the near future, but if not, we will continue to look for other programs that will help us stay in touch. If anyone has a suggestion for a virtual program, please feel free to contact Susan Gurule, our vice-president in charge of programs. In the meantime, stay safe and stay well and I hope to see many of you at the wine tasting.  Ciao.    John Giardino – President


With regret, the Dante Alighieri Society has cancelled the summer session of Italian language classes which usually begins in mid-June, because of the public health concerns surrounding the coronavirus.  We are very eager to resume classes in the fall beginning in September, and will follow public health requirements and recommendations.  We continue to monitor the situation carefully.  Please check the Dante Society website for updates, which will also be published in the Notiziario in future months. For more information, please contact the Education Chair Suzanne Fasing at suzannefasing@yahoo.com  Information about the classes is also available on the web site:  https://dantealighieriofdenver.com/classes/language-classes/


On June 15 we lost a long-time member and former Recording Secretary for four years.  The Dante Alighieri Society of Denver will indeed miss Jodi Guida and extends to the entire Guida family most sincere condolences.

VIRTUAL WINE-TASTING   Reminder to members and friends:  The first ever virtual wine-tasting is taking place on Sunday, June 28 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. In case you want to participate, the link to the Argonaut website for purchasing the Italian wine is:  SIP WITH A SOMM BOX PT 4 ZOOM ITALY 750ml

This link is used to register for the Zoom wine-tasting conference:


Argonaut, located at 760 East Colfax in Denver, offers a free curbside delivery to your car in their parking lot, after you have ordered the wine through their website.  They also offer delivery for a charge of about $10.


Hi, as you know, all of the Dante Alighieri Society programs and activities have been canceled until things calm down as a result of COVID-19. Since we've all been sheltering at home for several months, the Dante Board would like to know what you've been doing to stay busy and keep yourself entertained. Please send me a line or two explaining what you've been up to. We will be posting your response in upcoming issues of the Notiziario.   We’ve heard from several members. Here’s what they’ve said. Perhaps we can borrow an idea or two from each other. Please share your comments with the Dante Society membership. Send them to Susan Gurule susangurule@msn.com.

Let’s Talk

Gina and Ted   For most of our quarantine time, I have kept busy (except for the times I feel sad and wish we could be more loving toward each other)

  • I have been exercising and putting 10-minute workouts on video for my FOCUS students.
  • I have been studying screenwriting and novel writing while finishing my mother's memoirs which will soon be ready for publishing.
  • I have been trying out lots of recipes for baked goods, which I haven't done before. I’ve kept my weight gain to three pounds and now I’m committed to losing the three pounds.
  • Ted and I are growing vegetables outdoors, and hydroponically indoors. Mistakes are made. 🙂
  • I also spend a lot of time praying for my family, friends, and the world.  A presto!


John G “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” When health officials determined that the most effective way of flattening the COVID-19 curve was to stay at home, I decided to embrace their directive as the perfect opportunity to tackle projects I’ve been putting off until I “had the time”. The first thing I did was make a list, which kept growing as I thoughtfully scribbled to-dos down the page. Some of the items I listed were cleaning and reorganizing my woodworking shop, repairing the noisy roll-up mechanism on the dining room shade, getting the paint we bought last fall up onto the bedroom walls – done! Not surprisingly, it became a true sense of accomplishment, almost a catharsis, when I could scratch something off that list. Of all that I accomplished, my most gratifying and meaningful achievement was finishing the hope chest I had been working on as high school graduation gift for our granddaughter. My wife was very grateful that I was spending so much time out in my shop working on that project. But it wasn’t all work. For fun, and to help slice through pall of separation, we ZOOMed with family and friends, took short trips into the foothills and held socially-distanced gatherings with our neighbors. Our Dante Alighieri Board has even conducted our meetings via ZOOM. I’ve also spent considerable time practicing my banjo, guitar, ukulele and piano. However, I’m going to need a longer pandemic quarantine before I can be considered an accomplished musician! All in all, I feel I’ve spent my time productively. Though I look forward to a return to normal, whatever that might look like, I plan to continue using my time to accomplish those things which are the most important to me. You know, I really like lemonade!


Dee & Tom   I seem to be able to find something to do, Tom and I go for a daily walk (most days), Tom loves doing jig saw puzzles. Tom also takes 45 minutes walks with his long legs which I can't do, order groceries on line and Tom picks them up,  talk on the phone, wave to neighbors, clean out closets, color and paint items, do some reading, Tom works in the yard and keeps an eye on the bird feeder and keeps the squirrels from eating the seeds, watch our soap, watch some TV, do some sewing, Tom works in the garage or his work shop and Tom's always on his computer too.  I'm sure these are the same things as so many other people are doing and of course doing lots more cooking than I did for a while.

Hope you’re well, we miss seeing everyone.


Suzanne  I completed an excellent class in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, which is offered by the Archdiocese of Denver.  It will be offered again in the fall at St Peter & St Paul Church in Wheat Ridge.  I've done free Zoom conferences offered by Senior Planet and AARP, with topics ranging from health to financial matters.  Zoom conferences are also good for keeping in touch with friends and family.  I've also planted tomatoes and herbs in containers on my deck. Grazie

Gianfranco   My love for philately goes back to age 6 when I was still living in Rome.  I kept up with the hobby till present time, but due to my busy schedule I was not able to devote enough time to organize all my collection. Then corona-virus happens and life is no longer as chaotic.  Therefore, I found the necessary time to resume, after many years, my love for stamps.  I purchased new albums for the five different countries that I concentrate collecting the most (USA, Italy, Vatican, San Marino and United Nations).  It is a lengthy procedure but "thanks" to the virus I am now able to see some organization and satisfaction.  The only downside is "what will happen to my collection when I am gone" since the new generation does not show much interest in my beloved hobby?


Joyce   Drinking heavily!!!


Margaret   I have been gardening. Last summer, I intentionally killed some of my Kentucky bluegrass lawn because I struggled to mow it (the lawn is on a slope) and I did not want to spend lots of money watering it. In the fall, I began planting buffalo grass plugs into the dead sod, and I also planted some low-water use shrubs and perennials. Buffalo grass is a native grass that does not require a lot of water once it is established. Most of the plugs I planted in the fall survived and are now thriving and the grass is spreading. My shrubs and perennials also survived the winter and are growing.

This spring, I have continued planting buffalo grass plugs and I am almost finished. By the end of summer, most of the area should be covered in buffalo grass.

Not having to water this section of Kentucky bluegrass will drastically reduce my water bill.


Vera   Staying at home during the COVID-19 quarantine has given me time to downsize and pack for my upcoming move.  It is a huge project that I started many months ago, but having this time to concentrate was a good thing.  Never bored, always having a box to pack. U-Haul on Wadsworth was my favorite safe shopping store. Some of you know that I am moving to the DC area to live near my daughter Sarah.  I am originally from the East coast and any family left is located there. My new home will be in a retirement community much like Wind Crest here in Colorado where I will have a two-bedroom apartment with a balcony. This is bitter sweet since I will miss all my friends in Colorado and particularly in the Dante Society.  It has been fun to be a part of this wonderful Italian cultural group and partake in the activities.


Veronica   I've been baking, doing yard work and keeping e-mail and phone contact with friends and social distance conversations with neighbors.

I have probably watched more British and foreign TV than ever before, almost anything to keep from organizing my basement or cleaning my garage. Thank heaven that I can order food from Parisi’s and Smoking Fins because after a while I get tired of my own cooking.

It's actually amazing how well one can get by staying home.  I have come to appreciate grandparents or relatives who homesteaded.  They went for long weeks even months without seeing anyone else.

I must say I do look forward to seeing Board members on Zoom.


Susan   Initially it was a time for fun. I started reading books on how to align my chakras, put together some essential oil mixtures, meditated and journaled. I also tried several new beauty treatments like a coffee facial and an oatmeal and honey facial. (I don’t recommend either one; they are incredibly messy and I don’t know if either one produced the desired results!) Then I got serious and can now say that all the closets, drawers and cabinets in my house are neatly organized. I also utilized the time to clean up some overdue shredding – old tax forms I no longer needed to keep and old canceled checks from the early 2000’s. Now I’m tackling other household projects that have been on the back burner for some time. I bought a sewing machine and am in the process of making new kitchen curtains. Once the weather has warmed up, I took out all the flowers in the garden in front yard and planted new items that require less maintenance and don’t take over the entire space.

FROM ITALY   Earliest evidence of Italians' extraordinary genetic diversity dates back to 19,000 years ago,  by University of Bologna.

In Europe, Italians have the highest genetic diversity. The gradient of their genetic variability, scattered all over the peninsula, encloses on a small scale the whole genetic variance between southern and continental Europeans. This amazing diversity started to accumulate soon after the Late Glacial Maximum, which ended approximately 19,000 years ago.

This is what researchers of the University of Bologna have reported in a paper published in BMC Biology . It is the first time that researchers have traced Italians' genetic history. Results also show that there are genetic peculiarities characterizing people living in the north and south of Italy that evolved in response to different environments. These peculiarities contribute to reducing the risk of kidney inflammation and skin cancers, and the risk of diabetes and obesity, favoring a longer lifespan.

"Gaining an understanding of the evolutionary history of the ancestors of Italians allows us to better grasp the demographic processes and those of environmental interactions that shaped the complex mosaic of ancestry components of today's European populations," explains Marco Sazzini, one of the principal investigators of this study and professor of molecular anthropology at the University of Bologna. "This investigation provides valuable information in order to fully appreciate the biological characteristics of the current Italian population. Moreover, it let us understand the deep causes that can impact on this population's health or on its predisposition to a number of diseases."

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

An unexpected outcome

To carry out this study, researchers sequenced the entire genome of 40 participants who were selected as representatives of the biological variability of the Italian population with a good approximation. The analysis brought to the fore more than 17 million genetic variants. Scientists then made a twofold comparison. First, they compared these data against the genetic variants observed in other 35 populations from Europe and from the Mediterranean. Second, they compared the same data against the genetic variants found in studies on almost 600 human remains dating from the Upper Palaeolithic (approx. 40,000 years ago) to the Bronze Age (approx. 4,000 years ago).

These comparisons reached such high levels of precision that it was possible to extend the investigation to very remote time periods with respect to those achieved by previous studies. Eventually, the researchers identified traces left in the gene pool by events that followed the last glaciation, which ended more or less 19,000 years ago.

The bulk of the scholarship in this field has so far suggested that the oldest events leaving a trace in Italian DNA were the migrations during the Neolithic and the Bronze Ages, between 7,000 and 4,000 years ago. The results of this study show, on the contrary, that the earliest biological adaptations to the environment and migrations underlying Italians' extraordinary genetic diversity are much older than previously thought.


Climate changes and post-glacial migrations

Researchers traced the evolutionary history of the two groups at the opposite ends of Italians' gradient of genetic variability. This means that they evaluated and measured differences between the gene pools of participants from southern and northern Italy and observed when these differences became evident.

"We observe some partially overlapping demographic trends among the ancestors of these two groups from 30,000 years ago and for the remaining years of the Upper Palaeolithic," says Stefania Sarno, researcher at the University of Bologna and one of the co-first authors of the paper. "However, we observed a significant variation between their gene pools from the Late Glacial period, thus some thousands of years before those great migrations that happened in Italy from the Neolithic onward."

Here, the main hypothesis is that with temperatures rising and glaciers shrinking, some groups of people who made it through the glaciation period thanks to "glacial refugia" in central Italy, moved north and drifted away, thus progressively isolating themselves from the inhabitants of southern Italy.

The DNA of people living in northern Italy shows traces of these post-glacial migrations. If compared to individuals from southern Italy, Italians from the north present a close genetic relation to human remains attributed to ancient European cultures such as the Magdalenian and the Epigravettian cultures and dated respectively between 19,000 and 14,000 years ago and between 14,000 and 9,000 years ago. Moreover, in northern Italians' gene pool, the researchers observed ancestry components that were even more ancient, such as those proper of eastern European hunter-gatherers, which are thought to characterize all European populations between 36,000 and 26,000 years ago, and that later on spread to western Europe with migratory movements from "glacial refugia" during the Late Glacial period.

Conversely, in southern Italians, these post-glacial migrations traces seem to vanish, as more recent events significantly reshaped their gene pool. This is confirmed by their closer genetic relation with Neolithic human remains from Anatolia and the Middle East, and with Bronze-Age remains from south Caucasus. Differently from the north of Italy, the south was a main hub for migratory movements, which first spread agriculture to the Mediterranean area during the Neolithic transition, and then, during Bronze Age, fostered a new ancestry component. The latter differs from the ancestry component associated with populations of the Eurasian steppe that spread during the same time across continental Europe and northern Italy.

Genetic adaptations: differences and peculiarities across Italy.

Nineteen thousand years ago, after the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, ancestors of northern and southern Italians started living in increasingly different environmental and ecological contexts, which gradually led to the emergence of differences and peculiarities in their gene pools.

For millennia, the populations resettling in northern Italy endured abrupt climate changes and environmental pressures similar to those of the Last Glacial Maximum. These circumstances brought to the evolution of specific biological adaptations. For instance, populations in northern Italy developed a metabolism optimized for a diet rich in calories and animal fat, which are essential to survive in cold climates. "In the subjects from northern Italy, we observed changes in the gene networks regulating insulin and body-heat production as well as in those responsible for fat tissue metabolism," says Paolo Garagnani, professor of experimental medicine and pathophysiology at the University of Bologna. "These changes could have resulted in key factors reducing the susceptibility to diseases like diabetes and obesity."

While this was happening in northern Italy, in the south, a warmer climate exposed its populations to different kinds of environmental pressures. The genomes of people from southern Italy show changes in the genes encoding for mucins, which are proteins found in the mucous membranes of the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems and that prevent pathogens from attacking the tissues. "These genetic adaptations may have evolved in response to ancient micro-organisms," says Paolo Abondio, Ph.D. student at the University of Bologna and another co-first author of this study. "Some scholars have linked some of these genetic variants with a reduced susceptibility to Berger's disease, which is a common inflammation affecting the kidneys and is indeed less frequent in the south than in the north of Italy."

Researchers also identified other peculiarities in the genome of southern Italians. For example, there are some modifications in the genes regulating the production of melanin, the pigment that provides color to the skin. Most probably, these alterations developed in response to more intense sunlight and to a higher number of sunny days that characterize the Mediterranean regions. In turn, these alterations may also have contributed to a lower incidence of skin cancers among southern Italians.

"We observed that some of these genetic variants have been also linked to a longer lifespan. This is also true for other genetic modifications which are characteristic of southern Italians. These are found on genes involved in the arachidonic acid metabolism and on those encoding for FoxO transcription factors," according to Claudio Franceschi, emeritus professor of the University of Bologna.

The article was suggested by Marta Tanrikulu.  The study, titled "Genomic history of the Italian population recapitulates key evolutionary dynamics of both Continental and Southern Europeans," was published in BMC Biolog.


The Society is going to miss our recording secretary Vera Buffaloe.  She is going to move back to Maryland to be reunited with her family.  She will be missed not only in her role as a fabulous secretary but also for her involvement with various society’s events.  Grazie di tutto e please stay in touch!


Due to the coronavirus, the going away gathering was limited to the members of the Board only.  Missing in the photo is our treasurer, Carol Marsala, wh  is presently out of state.



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.




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