Published by the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington                                                     April 2023



Ciao a Tutti ~ Aprile! Ritorna la primavera!!

I hope this finds you well, with your crocuses blooming, daffodils thriving, azaleas and magnolias budding and Mason Bees buzzing! E Buona Pasqua, if “Pasqua” is celebrated in your home.Our Dante Society has come through the winter months with great success. Where could you hear lectures on olive growing and on the history of Sicily, experience Dante readings by students of all levels and backgrounds, AND take in a live, professional (and downright amazing) TUBA RECITAL given in real time from Italy? You guessed it – in the Dante Society of Washington’s winter zooms. We also enjoyed a grand return to in-person meetings last week, with Mario Cazzanti’s wonderful presentation on the perpetual readings of Dante in Ravenna.

So now it is spring, and time for the Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) on April 12. PLEASE COME TO THIS MEETING. The business of our organization only occupies one meeting each year. We also must file a report from our AGM every year with the parent organization of the Dante Alighieri Society in Rome, so this is an important event.

The doors at St. Clement’s Church will open at 6:00 PM on April 12. First comes a lovely free dinner provided by your Board: antipasti, entrees (lasagne and a vegan, gluten free option), salad, bread and dessert. Everyone is invited to bring vino to share. During dinner we all visit informally, and the meeting begins as dinner wraps up.

A time-keeper will help us all keep the spoken portions running efficiently this year, so that we can conclude our business on time. You will be invited to share your thoughts about this season in the MEMBER FEEDBACK portion of the meeting. FINANCIAL and LANGUAGE PROGRAM activities for the past year will be summarized by our Treasurer and LP Director.

You will be invited to ELECT the BOARD of DIRECTORS – which is only done by in-person voting at the AGM. The important, recent MEMBER SURVEY will be reported upon, leading us into THE FUTURE OF DANTE SEATTLE – what are our priorities in the years ahead, and who will be our leaders? Your ideas and energy can help shape our future – but we need to see and hear from you!

It would be so heartening to your board to see a large and enthusiastic turnout of both new and long-time Dante members at the AGM this year. Won’t you please mark April 12 on your calendar and plan to attend the AGM? Watch for the separate AGM email, with the Slate of Nominees and the link to register, so that we know how much food to prepare.

A presto ~ Joyce



Upcoming Dante meetings

Our April 12th meeting will be devoted to our Annual General Meeting (AGM). I hope you can all come out to the meeting to hear what the Board has to report about its activities last year, to provide feedback to the Board about how you feel about the last year of Dante meetings and events and, most importantly, to elect the Board for the coming year. Dinner will be provided by the Board.

Our April 26th Italian meeting welcomes back Annalisa Bellerio, who entertained us previously with presentations on Leonardo and Raphael. Annalisa Bellerio is an Italian journalist, editor, and writer. After graduating in Art History from the University of Pavia, she worked in publishing as editor-in-chief, copywriter, author of books, articles, and short stories, and consultant for literary agencies. In Milan, the city to which she belongs and returns every year, Annalisa has also worked as an Italian Language, Literature, and
History teacher, as a guide for art exhibitions, and as a volunteer in a middle school specialized for disabled children.

In the United States, where she has lived for the past nine years, she works as a writer, an Italian language teacher, and for Language Services. Moreover, she is a certified Yoga instructor, “Competent Communicator” by Toastmasters International, and volunteer “Docent” at Bellevue Arts Museum. Her paintings have been shown in private and collective exhibitions.

This year her topic will be “La conquista dello spazio nell’arte del Rinascimento – The Conquest of Space in Renaissance Art.”

Here is her description of her talk:
Nell’Italia del XV secolo, mentre le scoperte di esploratori e naviganti ridisegnavano la geografia del mondo allora conosciuto, e classi emergenti trasformavano alle radici la società del tempo, gli artisti diedero forma nelle loro opere a una nuova visione della realtà attraverso una conquista rivoluzionaria, insieme scientifica e simbolica: la prospettiva geometrica. La rappresentazione dello spazio messa a punto nel Rinascimento, dall’Italia si diffuse in Europa e poi in tutto il mondo, ed è tuttora usata in molteplici settori come l’architettura, l’urbanistica, la scenografia, l’astronomia, nella tattica militare, nelle simulazioni 3d e nella realtà virtuale. La sua lunga storia, dalle origini alla fioritura fino agli sviluppi successivi, rappresenta un viaggio appassionante nel tempo e, soprattutto, nello spazio.

In 15th-century Italy, while explorers and sailors were redesigning with their discoveries the geography of the world known at the time, and emerging classes were transforming society from the ground up, artists gave shape to a new vision of reality through a revolutionary conquest, both scientific and symbolic: the geometric perspective. The representation of space developed in the Renaissance spread out of Italy to Europe and afterward throughout the world, and is still used today in numerous fields such as architecture, urban planning, scenography, astronomy, military tactics, 3D simulations, and virtual reality. Its long history, from its origins to its blooming and subsequent evolution, represents an exciting journey through time and, above all, space.

We hope to see you at both the AGM and the Italian meeting.



Language Program News
by Giuseppe Tassone

Spring is here and so are our spring quarter classes which resumed on March 30 after spring break. This is our last quarter of the school year 2022-23 and it is always a pleasure to see the tenacity of our students who have enrolled in good numbers to complete their level of Italian. Others unfortunately were not able to continue due to work schedule and/or personal matters.

It is very encouraging to read from the latter their motivations and their desire to keep up with Italian by maintaining access to Canvas and return in the future as one student wrote to us:
“I’ve enjoyed these last 3 years with Dante so much! I want to keep going through level 4 when time allows. The instructors are amazing, as are all our classmates. And I love being able to attend by Zoom.”

By consequence classes size in the spring is typically smaller with an average of 16 students per course or section. This quarter we are offering two sections of A1, one full section of A2 and the B1 level, our third level of Italian. These students will populate our fall quarter classes by enrolling respectively to levels A2, B1 and B2 while new students, with no or little knowledge of Italian, will find in our A1 level course the ideal place to begin their journey of learning Italian.

To conclude I want, in thanking everyone who participate to the Dantedì, to congratulate once again our 13 students Austin, Margaretta, Kate, Steven, Brianna, Shane, Pamela, Marianne, Vasilya, Mark, Juan, Alessandra and Luis, who presented at our Dantedì 2023 celebration on March 8th. I admire the time and effort you dedicate to it. I can’t imagine how proud you must be of reading and presenting in Italian.

Bravi e complimenti sia a voi che ai vostri insegnanti Nicla, Damiano, Francesca e Paola per il loro supporto.

Post viewing of the Dantedì 2023 celebration is now available on our YouTube channel:

Buona visione e arrivederci!



The Italian Connection: Seattle Through the Decades
by Rita Cipalla

Rosaia Brothers’ floral business bloomed for 80 years

Whether designing elaborate window displays, winning awards at flower shows, or helping launch the Italian Commercial Club 100 years ago, the Rosaia Brothers – Palmiro, Felix and George – brought energy, passion and, above all, a sense of beauty to their adopted city.

The brothers arrived in Seattle in 1906, moving here from San Francisco. They spent the next several years building nurseries and greenhouses to launch their business. Then a golden opportunity appeared: the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (see photo above). The brothers provided many of the floral decorations for the 1909 fair, creating the buzz they needed to open their first shop in downtown Seattle. They were on their way.

After successfully opening a flower stall at Second and James, Felix opened the Felix Rosaia Florist shop at Third and Madison, where he remained for more than 40 years. The shop was known for serving hot meals to employees and also to neighboring business owners. At its heyday, the Rosaia family managed greenhouses in Kent and Des Moines, and had flower shops in the Olympic Hotel and several other downtown Seattle locations.

Read the full story here.

This story is part of a new La Voce series about Italian Americans in Seattle, reproduced with permission from l’Italo-Americano, the country’s oldest Italian American newspaper. Stories are printed in both English and Italian, online and in print version. Subscribe here.



Cala del Sasso: The Longest Stairway in Italy
by Janet Lenart

The 4444 steps of the Calà del Sasso, the longest stairway in Italy, from Valstagna to the high plateau of Asiago. 

A very unique and challenging hike in northern Italy is the Calà del Sasso. The hiker will imagine they are walking with loggers of the 15th century as they transported logs down a steep ridge to the Brenta River where the logs were floated to Venice and used for building. The following article is translated from an article by Manuela Dona in Vicenza Today

The trail, known in Italian as “I 4444 Scalini della Calà del Sasso”, begins in the high plateau of Asiago and descends to the small town of Valstagna on the Brenta River.

Paolo Rumiz, a journalist and travel writer describes the trail as “long like purgatory, dark like a thunderstorm… one of the most fantastic trails in the alps.”

The trail

This moderately difficult trail of 2400 feet elevation gain or loss is 8.7 miles round trip. It passes through a beautiful valley which at times is narrow gorge. The hiker may begin the trail in meadows of the high plateau and proceed down through a forest of hornbeam and beech trees. Or the hike may be started at the lowest point in Valstagna.

The legend 

It is said that in 1638 Loretta and Nicolo’ were expecting the birth of their child. Loretta became ill and Nocolo’ walked down the mountain to Padova to find a miraculous ointment. By dark he had not returned and the inhabitants of Sasso decided to descend the trail with torches to meet him. But halfway down there were other lights ascending, coming toward them. It was Nicolo’ accompanied by people from Valstagna, carrying the miraculous ointment that saved the life of Loretta who then married Nicolo’. Since then the trail is considered to bring good luck to couples who walk it. In addition, every year on the second Sunday of August there is a commemorative torch-light walk in the late evening.

History of the trail

The trail is among the oldest works on the high plateau of Asiago and considered the longest man-made stone stairway in the world. The work began at the beginning of the 1300s for a nobileman from Milan, Gian Galleazzo Visconti who governed the high plateau of Asiago. In 1403 the area and the trail became part of the Venetian empire (the Serenissima).

The trail allowed tree trunks harvested from the plateau to be moved down to the Brenta River where they were floated to Venice. The trunks were used to create the foundation pilings of palaces in Venice and to build ships.

The Calà del Sasso trail consists of 4444 stone steps 20 inches deep and 6 inches high. The steps are bordered by a gutter large enough to allow a tree trunk to slide down the incline while being controlled by 10 men using harpoons and ropes to prevent the trunk from catapulting down the mountain.

Special openings in the retaining walls at the hairpin turns allowed the trunk to come out and rotate to continue the descent.

It is reported that the workmen made two trips up and down the trail in a day, with wooden shoes, a humid slippery surface in a dark shady forest.

Women carried a gerla (basket) on their backs in which they took products down to Valstagna (e.g. berries, herbs, milk products, items made of wood) and up to Sasso (e.g. salt, tobacco, flour, pasta, rice). In fact, Valstagna became known for its market in which items from the north were available. It became known as the gateway to the high plateau of Asiago.

The people of Valstagna were known for their creativity. They developed the zattera (a raft) by tying together the tree trunks and loading it with products to sell downriver in Bassano, Padova and Venice. The Calà del Sasso sustained the economy of the plateau and river valley for hundreds of years.

Calà del Sasso today

In 1956 the Costa highway was completed providing access by car to the high plateau of Asiago. The Calà went into complete decline and only in 1998 did the Comunità Montana start a restoration project.

Helpful links



Florence, Dante and Me
by Robert Thomson

Robert Thomson gave a talk for us in September of 2019, telling us about his book that was still being written. We are delighted to share that it has now been published. It is a very personal story of his travels and time spent in Florence and should make a good read. You can find the book on Amazon here.


Thank you to everyone that completed the survey! If you would be interested in any volunteer positions, please let us know!

Connect with us!
You can find past meetings on our You Tube channel here.
You can find our website here.


The Dante Alighieri Society of Washington is a nonprofit corporation organized to promote Italian language and culture within the state of Washington. Membership is open to anyone interested in the goals and ideals of our society regardless of ethnic origin. La Voce della Dante is published eight times a year by the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington. All rights reserved.

Dante Alighieri Society of Washington
Società per la diffusione della lingua e della cultura italiana nel mondo
Mailing address:
PO Box 9494 Seattle, WA 98109