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December 2023


Buon Natale! Except for the last remaining days of December, 2023 is all but past. I’m happy to report that the Dante Alighieri Society has had another successful year of fulfilling its mission – to share and celebrate the richness of the Italian culture and language with the entire community. Looking back, this year has been a busy one with language classes, cultural programs, films, awards, scholarships, Italian Heritage Month, and more, culminating in our Annual Christmas Party. I hope you plan to be a part of the festivities not only to celebrate the season but to be with friends and family who share your love of all things Italian. See you there! If you can’t make it then let me now wish you a Joyous and Peaceful Christmas.

John Giardino


The Christmas party will be held on Saturday, December 9 at 12:30 p.m. at the North Park East Association Clubhouse, 9996 Grove Street, Westminster. As in the past, the Society will provide wine, coffee, and sodas along with cups, plates and plasticware. Members whose last name begins with A through M are asked to bring heavy hors d'oeuvres, and members with last names beginning with N through Z are asked to bring a dessert. For additional information and RSVP, please contact Rhonda Hopkins at rhop626@ or 720-596-4169. 

We are asking that you bring a white elephant gift for the member exchange; no need to go shopping, just look around your house for something you wondered why you bought in the first place.  In addition, we will play a game of Tombola, the Italian version of Bingo, which was so popular during the October Italian Heritage Month.  We hope you will all join us to usher in the holiday season.


It's that time of year again.  Membership in the Dante Alighieri Society runs from January through December so 2023 renewal cards will be mailed near the end of December. Please make any corrections on the card before mailing it back with your payment. Language students:  You can renew and pay for your 2023 membership online when you register for the January classes. Thank you, Rhonda

JANUARY 2024 CULTURAL MEETING:  Night at the movies

On Friday, January 12, 7:30 p.m., we will show “Pranzo di Ferragosto” (Mid-August Lunch) in Italian with English subtitles; this film stars Gianni DiGregorio in a charming tale of great food, feisty ladies and unlikely friendships during a very Roman holiday. Refreshments and social hour will follow.  Join us for a bit of summer warmth in mid-winter.

Refreshments and social hour will follow

LOCATION:  Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church Parish Hall.
ADDRESS:  3549 Navajo Street, Denver.


Registration begins December 1, 2023 for the winter 2024 session of Italian language classes offered by the Dante Alighieri Society of Denver.   In-person language classes will be held at 3549 Navajo Street, Denver 80211 in the parish office of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.  Each class meets for 90 minutes, once a week, for 10 weeks, beginning the week of January 8, 2024.  The class schedule is listed below, and it is also posted on the Society website.  Classes are taught by talented bilingual instructors who have significant experience teaching Italian.  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.


The registration deadline for the winter session is January 1, 2024.

Beginner 1.  Mondays, 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm, beginning January 8, 2024 through March 11, 2024 (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 New Italian Project 1a

Beginner 2.  There are two sessions of this class.  One meets Wednesdays, 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm, beginning January 10, 2024 through March 13, 2024 (Brunetti).  The other meets Thursdays, 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm, beginning January 11, 2024 through March 14, 2024 (Tasker).  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 New Italian Project 1a

Beginner 3.  Thursdays, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm, beginning January 11, 2024 through March 14, 2024 (Tasker).  In this class, students will build upon their prior studies through listening, reading and writing activities. Topics include the past tense of regular, irregular and modal verbs and use of adverbs.  Emphasis will be placed on everyday conversational situations using grammar and vocabulary from the textbook.  Required Text:  The New Italian Project 1a

Beginner 4.  Wednesdays, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm, beginning January 10, 2024 through March 13, 2024 (Brunetti).  In this class, students will build upon their prior studies through listening, reading and writing activities. Topics include future verb tenses and learning about holidays and train travel in Italy.  Required Text: The New Italian Project 1a

Intermediate 1.  Mondays, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm, beginning January 8, 2024 through March 11, 2024 (Brunetti).  In this class, students will build upon their prior studies through listening, reading and writing activities.  Topics include past tenses of verbs and possessive pronouns.  Required Text: The New Italian Project 1b

Intermediate 2.  Thursdays, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm, beginning January 11, 2024 through March 14, 2024 (Brunetti).  In this class students will continue to expand their studies of increasingly complex grammatical structures and vocabulary through listening activities, role plays, readings, and videos. Topics include direct object pronouns, reflexive verbs and the impersonal form.   Required Text: The New Italian Project 1b

Advanced.  Thursdays, 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm, beginning January 11, 2024 through March 14, 2024 (Brunetti).  This class will be predominantly in Italian and will introduce more advanced grammar and vocabulary with related cultural topics.  Specific content will be determined by the instructor.  Students will continue to develop their speaking, listening, reading and writing abilities. Required Text: The New Italian Project 2a


Ended on October 27 with a presentation by noted music historian Betsy Schwarm who shared with us music by composers Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Ponchielli and Pacini, all who were inspired by Dante Alighieri's literary masterpieces, The Divine Comedy and La Vita Nuova.   Grazie, Betsy.


The Soup Exchange event of Friday, November 10, 2023, was truly a success all around with delicious recipes and a fantastic attendance which included young and old.  Grazie a tutti i cuochi.



We wish our members a Buon Compleanno during their birthday month.

Silvio Caputo - 2
Michele Shimomura - 3
Alissa Amato - 6
Robert Brashears - 6
Kyle Piccola - 6
Sabrina Iacovetta - 8
Constance DiBacco - 9


Ross Paolino - 10
Ramona Olivas - 13
Nancy Allan - 16
King Browne - 23
Mary Hayduk - 26
Pamela Pescosolido - 28
Mia Dixon - 30


The Dante Alighieri Society of Denver gives a warm welcome to the following new members: Marc Bonaca, Janice Fortarel, Mark Madsen, Lucia Morsoletto and Anna Righi.


Hospitality Chairperson Camilla Marcantonio would like to thank the members who have provided refreshments for the cultural meetings.  If you would like to contribute to our gatherings in this way, please contact Camilla at the following:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU:  Anissa Madrill 

annisa madridQ) What region in Italy were your ancestors from?

My great-grandfather, Alfonso Zazzaretti immigrated to America in 1924 from Spoleto, Italy.  That is located in the only land-locked province in Italy, Umbria – often referred to as the “heart of Italy”.  I have family that still live in Spoleto and Perugia.  We also have relatives that came from Lucca Sicula, Sicily.  My hometown is Pueblo, CO, and there are lots of immigrants from Lucca Sicula in Pueblo as well. 

Q) Have you ever been there and what was your experience?

Last year, my mother (Barbara Ferrero, longtime member of Dante Alighieri Pueblo chapter) and I toured Italy for the first time.  We visited Venice, Pisa, Rome, Florence, Assisi, Naples, Sorrento and Capri!  When we were in Assisi, I contacted my cousin but could not see her because people on our tour group contracted Covid-19 and we couldn’t risk spreading that to my cousins.  The tour we went on was way too fast!  It was a whirlwind tour of Italy!  We went with the Italian Professore, Dr. Chris Piccici of CSU-Pueblo.  Then this past September, my mother went to Sicily on a Rick Steve’s tour which was much slower paced.  It is on my bucket list to tour Sicily next.  I had a wonderful time in Italy and can’t wait to go back.                                                                             

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

My great-grandfather Alfonso Zazzaretti came over in 1924 by himself.  We have traced the boat he came over on through Ellis Island.  He left his wife and 3 daughters back in Spoleto.  He came straight to Colorado to work in the coal mines.  When he got enough money, he went back and got his wife and children.  The family settled in Florence, CO and had 4 more children (6 girls and 1 boy), my grandma Louisa Zazzaretti-Hansen being the youngest.  My nana is 93 and the last of her family still living. 

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

Courageous.  Courage has been defined as “feeling fear but doing it anyway”.   I can honestly say, that is how I have lived my life.  When I was younger, I really didn’t feel a lot of fear.  I always have just jumped in headfirst.  But as I have grown older and wiser, knowing all the things that “can happen” and often do, I have become more cautious and “courageous”.  I have lived in Shanghai, China for two years, I have survived breast cancer in 2020 and many other crazy things!  Just ask me! I promise you won’t be bored.

Q) Who was most influential to you growing up, and why?

My beautiful mother, Barbara.  She is a strong woman who took care of me and my brother very well against all odds.  She’s successful, has great style and is my best friend.

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

I have two beautiful daughters, Gabriella (24 yrs.) and Daniella (23 yrs.); been happily divorced since 2006; I am a corporate securities mergers & acquisitions paralegal and I work for an international law firm, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP; I love my job!  I am into live music, rowing, fun adventures and traveling.  I am an awesome cook, but since I am an empty nester, don’t do it as much anymore.  I have two adorable little grandsons, Angel (3 yrs.) and Saint (2 yrs.) who have captured my heart and my wallet these days.

Q) How would you most like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as a caring, fun person, who was a life-long learner and an adventurous old lady!

Q) What attracted you about joining the Dante Alighieri Society?

I have been a member of the Dante Alighieri society since I was 16 years old (sometime in the 80s – I won’t say!).  The Pueblo chapter’s claim to fame is that we kept the Italian language in all the high schools.  I was in honors Italian in high school.  Rosalie Caputo was my Italian teacher.  (Some of you may know her and her husband, Silvio).  Ms. Angela Biondi taught the Dante language classes and I would attend those as well with my mother and my Aunt Janet (oldest daughter of Alfonso Zazzaretti and born in Italy).  It is just something I have always done.  However, my Italian is terrible.  I can’t really speak.  But if I lived there, I feel like I could pick it up quickly.  Since I have moved to Denver, I have joined the Denver chapter and am enjoying it as well.

TIPS ON ITALY by Tonya Clement

As I write this article, my husband and I are in Northern Italy on vacation.  Each month I try to choose an appropriate and timely topic that I think you will find interesting.  This month the topic was easy and in my face. 

This is our first vacation to Italy in November as we usually come in the summer months.  When we arrived at the grocery store, we were shocked to see the numerous displays of panettone piled high all throughout the store.  There were so many!  Now being from the US, we do not like fruit cake, and at first glance, this looks like the exact same thing, but we decided to try it.  It is a rather committing purchase as it a very large round loaf hidden in a beautiful colored box.  The classic panettone weighs just over 2 lbs. and is about five to eight inches tall.  The ingredients are rather simple (flour, eggs, butter, yeast, dried raisins, candied oranges, and the zest of lemons or other citrus fruits). 

panettoneTraditionally panettone was intended to be a dessert, but given that Italians rarely have any room left over after a meal, it is common to eat it in the mornings with a good cup of cappuccino.  Most believe this special bread dates back to the 15th century and was started in Milan.  The tale many believe is that the court baker to the lord of Milan allegedly burned a cake planned for a special Christmas Eve feast for the Sforzas.  A younger cook named Toni took a sourdough starter he was saving for his own family and began to create a last-minute substitution by whipping together some flour, eggs, sultanas, candied fruit and sugar.  The result was so pleasing to the Sforzas that they named the cake “pan di Toni” after the young baker.  The name eventually became called panettone.  The truth is that the history of panettone is not really known and many stories exist and are passed down from grandparents all over Italy.

Bakeries go into production during the months of August and September to make panettone.  It is said that some families can receive as many as 20 panettones each season, as it is typical that a dinner guest bring a gift such as panettone to the hostess along with a bottle of wine.  Typically, one would think the local bakeries would make a far superior panettone than what would be available in the supermarket but that is not always the case in Italy.  The grocery stores offer a very nice product that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Lastly, I wanted to share an interesting fact about the panettone.  It is cooled upside down which ensures the large crown on the top of the loaf.  Italians do consider this a bread vs. a cake and it does come in a number of varieties with candied fruit or without and in recent years with chocolate chips and cream filling. 



Buon Natale




Merry   Christmas


Diver’s huge discovery of ancient coins off coast of Italy hints at hidden shipwreck.

More than 30,000 large bronze coins dating back to the fourth century AD have been found by a member of the public during a dive off the coast of Sardinia, Italy—a discovery that could point to the presence of a shipwreck, according to the Italian culture ministry.  The diver spotted some “metal remains” in shallow water near the town of Arzachena. These turned out to be “follis” or Roman bronze or copper coins also later used as Byzantine currency. (CNN)

Milan announces plan to ban bars from city center in 2024.

Mayor Giuseppe Sala said Milan is set to banish bars (and thus cars) from its center by the middle of next year amid rising emissions. He has moved to limit outside drinking in the busy Porta Venezia nightlife area as the city struggles with noise and rising crime rates. (The Local)

Trento is ranked as Italy’s “greenest” place to live.

Trento was named as the most environmentally-friendly place in Italy by a new report, which urged other cities to follow its example. (The Local)

New rail routes are planned to take visitors from Italy's major cities to smaller destinations under a scheme aimed at making tourism in the country more sustainable.

One of the many is from Rome to CortinaItaly's state rail company is to open in December the first route in its “tourist trains” initiative from next month, connecting Rome to the famous ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo. (The Local)

Italy set to be first-ever country to ban synthetic food.

“Italy will be the first country free of synthetic food and wants to set an example of how it can be regulated,” agriculture minister Lollobrigida said, who participated remotely in the event held in Kilkenny, Ireland. (Modern diplomacy)

Italy, Slovenia committed to restore free border when possible.

Italy and Slovenia are committed to restore free border circulation as soon as conditions allow, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said after holding talks with her Slovenian counterpart. (Reuters)

France, Germany and Italy have reached an agreement

On how artificial intelligence should be regulated, according to a joint paper seen by Reuters, which is expected to accelerate negotiations at the European level.

The three governments support "mandatory self-regulation through codes of conduct" for so-called foundation models of AI, which are designed to produce a broad range of outputs. But they oppose "un-tested norms."

Vatican museums open ancient Roman necropolis to the public for the first time.

For the first time, the Vatican is allowing the public to enter a necropolis. On November 17, it opened a gate along its walls to enter the Via Triumphalis Necropolis, an ancient Roman burial ground that lies beneath Vatican City. It is replete with marble sarcophagi, open burial graves, and Roman mosaics and frescoes. The tombs date between the 1st century CE and the 4th century CE. They contain the remains of “slaves, freedmen, artisans of the city of Rome,” Leonardo Di Blasi, an expert from the Vatican Museums, told Euro News. Some were even identified as the imperial property of the Emperor Nero.   (We the Italians)



January 12
Night at the movies


December 9
Annual Christmas Party


January 8
Winter session begins

The Dante Alighieri Society of Denver strives to share and celebrate
the richness of the Italian culture and language with the entire community.