Dante Alighieri Society of Washington
logo artYour Door to All Things Italianlogo art

The most amazing experience at the Vatican

Trip to Montepulciano and Rome

September 2016

The most amazing experience at the Vatican

To celebrate our 70th birthdays, my friend Pat and I spent a month in Montepulciano. Joined by our sisters and two cousins, we stayed in a beautifully restored farmhouse on 10 acres of olive trees, conveniently owned by Pat’s nephew, and generously loaned to us. For a month!

We flew into Rome, picked up a car and headed straight for Montepulciano, the Renaissance hill town and comune in the Italian province of Siena in southern Tuscany. It’s most famous for pici pasta and Vino Nobile wine, considered one of Italy’s finest vintages.

The villa is nestled into the base of this medieval hill town. You can actually walk to the top, but it’s quite a climb up very steep streets. A challenge which I managed just once.

It’s a very easy walk, however, to the magnificent San Biagio church, a fine example of the Renaissance Greek cross-central plan. Construction commenced in 1518 with a plan based on a Filippo Brunelleschi design, which was later used by Bramante and Michelangelo for St. Peter’s Basilica, albeit on a much, much grander scale.

Pat’s generous nephew also shared a benefit of his participation in a Patron of the Arts group supporting the restoration of Vatican art. He arranged a private, 4-hour tour of the Vatican Museums. We met our guide an hour before the facility opened, didn’t have to wait in line, and went straightaway to the Sistine Chapel. Even so, there were already two dozen people there, but that’s a far cry from the usual check-to-jowl crowdedness.

Always referred to in the plural, the Vatican Museums host an extraordinary collection of art and historical artifacts. Paintings from several centuries, the great Renaissance of Michelangelo and Raphael, and Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek and Roman, and Christian artists are displayed with decorative arts and historical collections including modern and contemporary art.

Jill, our American tour guide, told us that if you looked at every item in the Vatican Museums for one second, it would take you 80 years to see it all. Of course, a great deal of it is safely stored away.

After this extraordinary tour, we met Patron of the Arts director, Father Daniel, an American priest from Dallas. He offered to say Mass for us on Sunday morning, in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican.

We met him at 7:30 a.m., before the basilica was open. Out of more than one hundred altars, Fr Daniel chose the altar dedicated to St. Gregory the Great (590-604), called the “Savior of the Church” and the “Defender of Rome”. His remains are preserved in a marble sarcophagus beneath the altar. And this choice was amazing because my sister and I grew up in St Gregory the Great parish and school in Whittier, California. It was a wonderful coincidence.

Pope Francis was scheduled to say Mass at 9 o’clock at the main altar, so the basilica remained closed to the public. A choir was practicing, creating a heavenly backdrop for our private Mass, and I read the second epistle that Sunday morning. It was just for our very small group, but it was overwhelming, the highlight of a truly memorable birthday trip.

Nancy McDonald

La Voce della Dante

After many years, the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington has decided to replace it’s monthly pulbication La Voce della Dante with an online journal. We welcome news and articles from members and readers about their travels in Italy and other activities related to Italian culture, music, art, history and cuisine. Enjoy!

The most amazing experience at the Vatican

The most amazing experience at the Vatican To celebrate our 70th birthdays, my friend Pat and I spent a month in Montepulciano. Joined by our sisters and two cousins, we stayed in a beautifully restored farmhouse on 10 acres of olive trees, conveniently owned by Pat’s...

Membership Renewal Time

Just a reminder that Dante Alighieri Society memberships are up for renewal for 2020. The Dante membership year goes from January to December each year. Dues are $40 for a single membership and $50 for a family membership. Your dues help support the many activities of...

Membership Renewal Time

Just a reminder that Dante Alighieri Society memberships are up for renewal for 2020. The Dante membership year goes from January to December each year. Dues are $40 for a single membership and $50 for a family membership.

Your dues help support the many activities of the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington and allow us to keep our event prices as low as possible. All donations are greatly appreciated. You are now able to renew online on our website: https://danteseattle.org/join-the-dante-alighieri-society-of-washington/ . Its simple and easy. Or, if you prefer, we’ll have a membership table set up at the English Meeting on Wednesday, February 12. You can renew there.

The Dante Alighieri Society of Washington promotes the Italian language and culture and welcomes all who share those objectives. Each year we present English and Italian programs open to the public, and host the Christmas party and the Annual Wine Dinner featuring wines from throughout Italy. The Society also sponsors an Italian Language program with beginner to expert classes for everyone who wants to learn, improve or perfect their fluency in Italian. We are an official chapter of the Società Dante Alighieri, an international organization headquartered in Rome, Italy. When traveling in Italy, Washington Chapter members are eligible to receive discounts. Information on the available discounts is available on the Dante Seattle website: https://danteseattle.org/join-the-dante-alighieri-society-of-washington/. Be sure to ask for your Membership Card at one of our meetings.

Dante Alighieri Society of Washington is a 501(c)(3) organization. Membership dues and donations are tax deductible to extent allowed under federal law. Tax ID: 91-0988808.

Laura Ciroi

Laura CiroiLaura Ciroi has been teaching with the Italian language program of the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington since 2003. She was born in Palmanova, in Northern Italy, a star shaped fortress built by the Serenissima Republic of Venice to protect the territory from the invasions of the Hapsburg and the Ottoman Empires. She was raised speaking Italian, French and Friulano (her native Northern Italian dialect). Laura received a Laurea in Linguistics from the Università di Udine where she specialized in Spanish and English literature. Since then she has lived and worked in Holland, Switzerland, Spain, England, America, and Italy.

Giuseppe Tassone moved to Seattle from Italy in 1993. He has been the director of the Italian Language Program of the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington since 1998 and the PLIDA coordinator since 2011. He is a language educator, coordinator, and advocate of Italian language and culture. He has a background in economics and finance (B.A. in Economics), but chooses to specialize in Italian language and culture  (M.A. in Italian Studies). He has 20+ years of experience teaching, developing curricula, coordinating, testing, and assessing in public and non-profit organizations (e.g. Seattle University, University of Washington, Shoreline College). Giuseppe reviewed and/or contributed to several Italian language textbooks, such as Da Capo, Oggi in Italia, Avanti, Piazza and Sentieri. He is the author of Ricordati di me,  Buongiorno Notte – Italian Films Series by Edizioni Farinelli and Un buon AffareItalian for Business by Hackett Publishing Company available in print (2016) and e-book (2019). Giuseppe teaches at Seattle University and heads the Italian Section in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. Personal interests are: reading, traveling, cinema, economics, politics, playing and listening to music, swimming, biking, gardening and cooking.


E-mail: tassone@danteseattle.org

Francesca Giambartolomei

Francesca GiambartolomeiFrancesca is an Italian native, born in Cremona, northern Italy. She holds a laurea in Biology from the University of Padua and Masters of Biology from Eastern Michigan University. She left Italy in 1994 and has lived in New Zealand and the United States. She has a passion for teaching her native language, as a way of maintaining and exploring the Italian language and culture with different eyes. She has taught privately and in many institutions to students of different proficiency levels groups. Francesca is interested in literature, art and design, and in her free time, she likes reading, cooking, and making jewelry and ceramics.

Email: francesca@danteseattle.org

Damiano Pinton

Damiano PintonDamiano is a native of a small town in the Northern Italy countryside, about 17 miles away from Padua, a city famous among other things for its university, the fifth-oldest surviving in the world. He received his B.A. and M.A. Cum Laude in Japanese language and culture from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, while specializing in linguistics and translation. He lived in Japan for three and a half years, where he continued his studies and his sociolinguistic research on (im)politeness in language. While in Japan, he also started working as an Italian teacher, discovering his passion for conveying the beauty of the Italian language and culture abroad.

Email: damiano@danteseattle.org

Roberta Punzi

Roberta PunziRoberta was born in Salerno a city located in the region of Campania in Southern Italy where in the ninth century flourished the renowned Schola Medica Salernitana; the forerunner of the modern university medical schools.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Economics and Management for Arts, Culture, Media and Entertainment from the Luigi Bocconi University, and a Master’s Degree in Piano from the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Music in Milan.  Roberta has been working in the field of arts management since 2008. She has served as a project manager, fundraiser and arts administrator in high-profile nonprofit organizations and music festivals in Italy.  She has taught music and Italian language in middle schools, and has held lectures in performing arts management as a teaching assistant at the University of Milan and at the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala.  She has performed many solo and chamber music recitals across Italy.  Roberta moved to Seattle from Italy in 2018, and in March 2019 she started working with Greenpeace U.S.A. as a fundraiser.  She loves classical music, visual arts, reading, traveling, hiking and of course teaching Italian.

E-mail: roberta@danteseattle.org

Valentina Robles

Valentina RoblesValentina was born in Bitonto, a small town in Puglia, South of Italy. She has a Laurea in Lettere (Degree in Humanities) and a Laurea Specialistica in Scienze dello spettacolo e della produzione multimediale (Master degree in Media Studies). During her studies, she spent seven months in Spain where she was a tutor for Spanish students enrolled in Italian classes. Her passion for the theatre and cinema brought her to work in the production department for several projects for media, theatre, and live concerts.

Email: valentina@danteseattle.org