Published by the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington                                                     March 2023



President’s message

Ciao a Tutti,

This is Janet Lenart, Board member in place of Joyce Ramee, President.

The Dante Board members greatly value your participation in Dante activities and would like your input on future programs. Please complete a survey at if you have not yet done so. You probably received this link by email last week.

March is a month in Italy when numerous festivals occur. March 8th is La Festa Delle Donne also known as the International Women’s Day which is actively recognized in Italy. Beautiful yellow mimosa flowers are given to women and often women share dinner together. If you eat at a pizzeria in Italy on March 8th you may see some very raucous, fun female groups.

Also in March, on the 25th is the National Dante Day designated by the Italian Government in 2020. It is thought that in March Dante began his fictional journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven, which he described in his book “The Divine Comedy.”

Don’t forget to renew your Dante membership if you haven’t done so as scheduled in January. Our membership fees are the lifeline of all our programs.

Save the date for our Annual Meeting Dinner: April 12, 2023 at St. Clement’s Church. Plan to attend and share conversation over dinner with your Dante friends. Details will follow.

As always, please consider writing a couple of paragraphs on an experience in Italy, or a book or article, or a recipe that you’d like to share in the next issue of La Voce! Send your work to Thank you!


Vice President’s message

Greetings all! It is I your humble vice president Bruce Leone to address you this month. As I write this there are very small tips of green emerging from the ground and boy am I ready for it. As I get older it feels like winter lasts longer each year. I’m not anti-rain mind you, just anti cold rain. I am all about moss and ferns and mushrooms and liverworts all created by our wet surroundings. Yes I think liverworts are way under-rated and need more publicity.

For quite a long time now I have been hearing nothing but encouraging things from our language school which makes me very happy. Dante is the only Italian group around here with an emphasis on language learning which is very important to me personally as well. I am eternally grateful to Giuseppe for his time and skillful direction of the school.

Joyce has done a superb job of informing and motivating and organizing us for the last couple of years and I am so grateful. I hope someone else can take the baton and continue the race for all of us.

Of course please renew your membership and please tell your friends and acquaintances about Dante. New members will help to maintain our organization into the future. The world is attracted to everything Italian so it is an easy sell. Recently I have seen multiple times in the media about the importance of active and varied social connection for a long and healthy life. I think I can safely say “be active in Dante and you will live longer.”

I also wanted to share this interesting article on Italy’s unusual vegetable ritual.

Lastly, I have an interesting puzzle around my father’s name.

Lezzini Leone or Leone Lezzini?
I have always wondered about my grandfather’s true name. He was born in 1882 in Milan Italy and arrived in New York in 1909. I’m not sure he was even able to read and write. I heard that he never learned much English. As is still customary, I think, in Italy in legal and formal situations it is typical to give your last name first and your first name after. I believe that when filling out legal documents and asked for his name he probably would give his last name first as was customary. I am still puzzled as to why it goes back and forth.

His funeral card read Lezzini Leone. His wedding license in NY says Leone Lezzini. His draft card says Leone Lezzini  (form labeled first and last name) and it also shows wife Maria’s signature as Maria Lezzini. He also signed it as Lezzini Leone In the 1910 census he is listed as Leon Lecini. His passport says Lezzini Leone.

What do you think it really was?



March Meetings

March is the month Italians celebrate their beloved poet, storyteller and visionary, Dante Alighieri, the eponym of our own Dante Alighieri Society. And so during this month both presentations will focus on Dante.

March 8 via zoom
First up, at the meeting on Wednesday, March 8, the classes from our Language School – under the able direction of our talented faculty and LS Director, Giuseppe Tassone – will each present their reflections on Dante. Many of you will remember the presentations from last year which were so warmly received. I’m sure we are all looking forward to hearing what the students have prepared for us this time.

This presentation will be in Italian and English.

March 22 in person
For our Wednesday, March 22 Italian meeting, Mario Cazzanti, a native of the area around Ravenna and Ferrara, will relate his experience participating in the “Lettura Perpetua” of the Commedia organized by the city of Ravenna on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante in 2021.

Here’s Mario’s summary of his talk:
“Storia della partecipazione di un Circolo Culturale di Seattle alle celebrazioni per il 7mo centenario della morte di Dante con l’iniziativa di Ravenna della ‘Lettura Perpetua’ della Commedia.

Ravenna e’ stata crocevia di culture che hanno modellato una parte rilevante del bacino del Mediterraneo e del  continente Europeo. I mosaici che  decorano basiliche ed i battisteri testimoniano l’intensità di un periodo storico unico. La bellezza di tale arte ha contribuito quasi certamente in  Dante a descrivere in modo ammirevole la bellezza dei cieli del suo Paradiso. L’incontro con l’assessore alla cultura di Ravenna Fabio Sbaraglia e’ stata la prestigiosa conclusione della nostra visita alla città, col seguito della lettura del V Canto Inferno.

History of the participation of Seattle Cultural Circle in the celebrations for the 7th centenary of Dante’s death, specifically the initiative in Ravenna of the “Perpetual Reading” of the Comedy.

Ravenna has been a crossroads of cultures that have shaped a significant part of the Mediterranean basin and the European continent. The mosaics that decorate the basilicas and baptisteries testify to the intensity of a unique historical period. The beauty of this art has almost certainly contributed in Dante to admirably describe the beauty of the heavens of his Paradise.

The meeting with the councilor for culture of Ravenna, Fabio Sbaraglia, was the prestigious conclusion of our visit to the city, followed by the reading of the V Canto of the Inferno.

We hope you’re able to attend these meetings. An email with a pre-registration link will be sent to everyone on the Dante emailing list. There is, of course, no charge for our meetings but we urge to become a member or take one of our Italian classes in support of our promotion of Italian language and culture.


Language Program
by Giuseppe Tassone

The Italian Language Program of the Dante Alighieri Society is approaching the end of the second quarter with classes ending on March 14th. After our spring break, classes resume on March 30th with the third and last quarter for the school year 2022-23.

March is a special month for us since we commemorate Dante Alighieri, the poet, and the man under which our organization is named. March 25th is Dantedì (the day of Dante). It is the day universally dedicated to Dante. When Dantedì was officially established in 2020 we thought that being Dante considered the “father of the Italian language”, it was appropriate to have our students enrolled in the Italian language program involved in celebrating him.

At the same time by having our students as protagonist of the event, meant to us also celebrating their accomplishments in Italian language and their commitment to the study of the language. So, we decided to dedicate one of the March meetings of the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington
to students’ presentations on Dante and his work: readings from the Comedy, illustration of historical and mythological characters, thematic presentations etc. all under the coaching of our talented instructors and my coordination. Thanks to the encouragement and the positive feedback from students who participated in the event as presenters or audience we will have the third edition of it on March 8th. My thanks to our winter quarter instructors Laura, Nicla, Francesca, Damiano and Paola for their collaboration.

To conclude, speaking of accomplishment, I want to congratulate our PLIDA B1 candidates since while I am writing this news, I received communications from Rome that all candidates at our last session successfully passed the exam with excellent results in the listening, speaking, reading, and speaking sections and they will receive their certificate. The PLIDA exam is challenging but as demonstrated by these candidates is doable with patience and dedication in preparation. The same is true for those who wish to learn our beautiful language. It takes time and this is one of the reasons to structure our program into quarters and levels.

Don’t miss March 20th registration deadline for spring quarter and June 9th for PLIDA.

Arrivederci al Dantedì.


The Italian Connection: Seattle Through the Decades

Henry Suzzallo and the crown jewel of the UW campus
by Rita Cipalla

Next time you’re on the UW campus, standing in front of the massive Suzzallo Library, be sure to check out the 18 terra cotta figures along its façade, each representing an individual who made significant contributions to learning and culture. Did you know there are three Italians represented: Dante, Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo?

But that’s not the only Italian connection. Anthony Henry Suzzallo, who served as the UW’s 16th president, was descended from Italian roots. His father, Peter Suzzallo, went to sea at an early age, got caught up in gold-rush fever, made some money, and sailed home to marry a distant cousin. The couple returned to San Jose, Calif., where Suzzallo was born in 1875, the eighth of nine children.

Not a terrific student, Suzzallo worked in a San Jose clothing store after high school. The owners took a liking to him, though, and convinced him to go to college, even loaning him the money. It turned out that Suzzallo was an excellent student after all, and turned his passion for learning into a career as an educator.

Suzzallo instigated a campus redesign and vowed that the UW library would take its place “with the best in the world.” 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.


Master Glass Painters in Perugia
by Beverly Paladeni Riter

The Studio Moretti Caselli in Perugia (Umbria) has an extensive and very interesting exhibit on the production of painted stained glass. Francesco Moretti (1833-1917) and his nephew, Lodovico Caselli studied ancient chemistry and glass art textbooks until they mastered the art of painting on glass along with their ancient stained-glass work. In time, the family produced and restored numerous stained-glass windows in many churches, cathedrals, and other buildings in Italy and other countries. Often, a piece of glass must be made four or five times, until no part of it breaks during the firing or cooling process. Therefore, working with glass is very time consuming.

Moretti’s beautiful portrait of Queen Marguerite of Savoy (1881) was exhibited in Italy and abroad. Marguerite (Margherita) was married to Umberto I, the first king of Italy. (It is said that when in Naples, she requested that her pizza be made with tomatoes, white mozzarella cheese, and basil. Thus, began the Margherita pizza!) This portrait was one of several tries that had a broken piece.

Another masterpiece is the massive (almost 30 feet wide and 15 feet high) stained glass version of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, “The Last Supper” by Rosa Caselli Moretti, taking her seven years to create. It is in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA. Moretti mixed powdered colored glass with oil before painting on the glass. This piece broke five times, always the piece with the figure of Judas Iscariot, before they got one that didn’t break. The below photo is a diagram for the work.

The building where the studio is located is in the former family residence dating back to the 15th century. Between the 15th and 16th centuries, the building belonged to the Baglioni family, an important Perugian family that contended against the Pope for power over the town. When the Pope reaffirmed his supremacy by building the large Rocca Paolina fortress over nearby buildings, the Baglioni house was the only one spared. The building was sold to Francesco Moretti in 1894, where the family has lived and worked for five generations of master glassworkers.

Today, visitors can see the original 15th century rooms with many frescoes, photographs, sketches, glass-working tools, kilns, and samples of the color compounds still used today to produce their beautiful painted stained-glass windows.



We are looking for cooks!

I would like to find out if anyone would like to volunteer to cook for any of our meetings in which we have dinners. If there is anyone interested in volunteering, I would be happy to answer any of their questions, for example, how many to prep for, the timing involved, how the kitchen is equipped, menu options, etc.

If anyone is interested, they can reach me at


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


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