The origins

History
of Società Dante Alighieri

Founded in 1889 by a group of intellectuals led by Giosue Carducci and established as a Charitable Trust with Royal Decree No. 347 of 18 July 1893, it also aims to "protect and spread the Italian language and culture across the world, reviving the spiritual ties of compatriots abroad with the mother country and nurturing love and admiration for the Italian civilisation among foreigners".

1889

1889

Giosuè Carducci and a group of intellectuals founded the Dante Alighieri Society. In the early years and up to 1895, the president was Ruggiero Bonghi. However, it was the Villari presidency (1896-1903) that enacted the first statute, setting the society's aim to "protect and spread Italian language and culture outside the Kingdom". This idea had the Italians of the irredentist lands in mind, but also, amid the great Italian emigration, the need to maintain ties between migrants and the motherland. In the first congress of 1890 there were 23 Committees, all Italian, and a year later one also opened in Thessaloniki. In 1893 the Dante Society was recognised as a charitable organisation by Royal Decree.
1889

1889

Giosuè Carducci and a group of intellectuals founded the Dante Alighieri Society. In the early years and up to 1895, the president was Ruggiero Bonghi. However, it was the Villari presidency (1896-1903) that enacted the first statute, setting the society's aim to "protect and spread Italian language and culture outside the Kingdom". This idea had the Italians of the irredentist lands in mind, but also, amid the great Italian emigration, the need to maintain ties between migrants and the motherland. In the first congress of 1890 there were 23 Committees, all Italian, and a year later one also opened in Thessaloniki. In 1893 the Dante Society was recognised as a charitable organisation by Royal Decree.
1893-1903

1893-1903

At the Dante Society Congress of Verona (1901) Pasquale Villari put the spotlight on emigration journeys, paying great respect to the sacrifices of emigrated Italian workers who were "intent on creating a new Italy outside our borders". The risks faced by entire families sailing to the Americas pushed the government to approve National Law 23 in 1901. This established the General Commissariat for Emigration with special Commissariats at the departure ports of Genoa, Naples and Palermo to monitor compliance with health and boarding conditions.
1893-1903

1893-1903

At the Dante Society Congress of Verona (1901) Pasquale Villari put the spotlight on emigration journeys, paying great respect to the sacrifices of emigrated Italian workers who were "intent on creating a new Italy outside our borders". The risks faced by entire families sailing to the Americas pushed the government to approve National Law 23 in 1901. This established the General Commissariat for Emigration with special Commissariats at the departure ports of Genoa, Naples and Palermo to monitor compliance with health and boarding conditions.
1903-1907

1903-1907

In 1903 Villari was succeeded by jurist and politician Luigi Rava. The Central Council established the Books Commission, which laid the path for one of the most important activities in the Dante Society's history: opening community, public and academic libraries that would allow Italians abroad and in the irredentist lands to continue reading in Italian. Libraries were also set up aboard emigrant ships, so that teachers on board could teach reading and writing to the illiterate. The 1907 Congress of Cagliari and Sassari also modified Article 1 of the statute, adding 'National' to the word 'Society'.
1903-1907

1903-1907

In 1903 Villari was succeeded by jurist and politician Luigi Rava. The Central Council established the Books Commission, which laid the path for one of the most important activities in the Dante Society's history: opening community, public and academic libraries that would allow Italians abroad and in the irredentist lands to continue reading in Italian. Libraries were also set up aboard emigrant ships, so that teachers on board could teach reading and writing to the illiterate. The 1907 Congress of Cagliari and Sassari also modified Article 1 of the statute, adding 'National' to the word 'Society'.
1907-1914

1907-1914

Paolo Boselli was the new President of the Dante Society between 1907 and 1932, when new Committees were created in Tunis, Zurich, Constantinople, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Porto Alegre, Belgrade, Patras, Riva San Vitale in the Swiss Canton of Ticino and Barcelona, as well as two delegations in Leipzig and Monaco. In 1910 the Committee of Rosario and Dante was founded: like other national associations, it printed and distributed manuals explaining legal and cultural protocols for emigrants, with small dictionaries for everyday use. 1909 saw the beginning of the long journey that would lead to the construction of the Oltrisarco nursery school in Bolzano, one of the oldest Dante Society centres for educating young children.
1907-1914

1907-1914

Paolo Boselli was the new President of the Dante Society between 1907 and 1932, when new Committees were created in Tunis, Zurich, Constantinople, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Porto Alegre, Belgrade, Patras, Riva San Vitale in the Swiss Canton of Ticino and Barcelona, as well as two delegations in Leipzig and Monaco. In 1910 the Committee of Rosario and Dante was founded: like other national associations, it printed and distributed manuals explaining legal and cultural protocols for emigrants, with small dictionaries for everyday use. 1909 saw the beginning of the long journey that would lead to the construction of the Oltrisarco nursery school in Bolzano, one of the oldest Dante Society centres for educating young children.
1915-1920

1915-1920

In joining the General Commissariat for Civil Assistance and Internal Propaganda chaired by Ubaldo Comandini, the Dante Society supported Italy's participation in the war as part of the Entente. The crisis within the Salandra government following the 1916 Austrian offensive (the Strafexpedition) led Boselli to become President of the Council of Ministers, a position he would hold until the aftermath of the Battle of Caporetto (1917). He was replaced by Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, the 'president of victory' and also of the Dante Society after World War II. On 15-17 September 1920 the Dante Congress of Trieste modified the statute again, with Article 1 now reading "The Dante Alighieri National Society aims to protect and spread Italian language and culture outside the Kingdom".
1915-1920

1915-1920

In joining the General Commissariat for Civil Assistance and Internal Propaganda chaired by Ubaldo Comandini, the Dante Society supported Italy's participation in the war as part of the Entente. The crisis within the Salandra government following the 1916 Austrian offensive (the Strafexpedition) led Boselli to become President of the Council of Ministers, a position he would hold until the aftermath of the Battle of Caporetto (1917). He was replaced by Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, the 'president of victory' and also of the Dante Society after World War II. On 15-17 September 1920 the Dante Congress of Trieste modified the statute again, with Article 1 now reading "The Dante Alighieri National Society aims to protect and spread Italian language and culture outside the Kingdom".
1920-1921

1920-1921

In preparation for the 26th Congress of Trento, the Central Council published the main statistical data on the Society's composition: 200 Committees in Italy and the colonies, and 93 abroad. Within the former group, there were many that were new or reconstituted in the post-war period. Those founded or re-founded abroad in Europe, Asia and the United States were particularly symbolic. There were over 70,000 members, and 5,000 of those were permanent members. The Committee of Trieste inscribed 140 members in memoriam: all fellow citizens who were lost in the war. 1921 commemorated the sixth centenary of the death of Dante Alighieri.
1920-1921

1920-1921

In preparation for the 26th Congress of Trento, the Central Council published the main statistical data on the Society's composition: 200 Committees in Italy and the colonies, and 93 abroad. Within the former group, there were many that were new or reconstituted in the post-war period. Those founded or re-founded abroad in Europe, Asia and the United States were particularly symbolic. There were over 70,000 members, and 5,000 of those were permanent members. The Committee of Trieste inscribed 140 members in memoriam: all fellow citizens who were lost in the war. 1921 commemorated the sixth centenary of the death of Dante Alighieri.
1922-1933

1922-1933

After the March on Rome, Mussolini formed his first government and responded "with grateful heart" to the auspicious vote of the Dante Society Central Council. The ministers included Vice-president of the Dante Society Admiral Thaon di Revel (Navy) and Central Councillor Luigi Federzoni (Colonies). The Dante Society's rapprochement with fascism began with Mussolini's visit to the Society's headquarters in 1924, and with the Royal Decree which granted Palazzo Firenze to the Society in 1926. The first president not elected by the statutory bodies, but by the government, was Giovanni Celesia di Vegliasco (1932-1933). In 1933 the deputy of the National Fascist Party, Felice Felicioni, became Special Commissioner of the Dante Society.
1922-1933

1922-1933

After the March on Rome, Mussolini formed his first government and responded "with grateful heart" to the auspicious vote of the Dante Society Central Council. The ministers included Vice-president of the Dante Society Admiral Thaon di Revel (Navy) and Central Councillor Luigi Federzoni (Colonies). The Dante Society's rapprochement with fascism began with Mussolini's visit to the Society's headquarters in 1924, and with the Royal Decree which granted Palazzo Firenze to the Society in 1926. The first president not elected by the statutory bodies, but by the government, was Giovanni Celesia di Vegliasco (1932-1933). In 1933 the deputy of the National Fascist Party, Felice Felicioni, became Special Commissioner of the Dante Society.
1934-1943

1934-1943

Piero Parini, Director General of Italians Abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed in a letter to Felicioni his belief that "The Dante Society's task has been superseded in many of the foreign countries, and perhaps in all of them". This was on 19 May 1937. The intent behind the exchange was to assign that task "directly to the organs of the state". Even in the general context of fascism in the cultural world and its institutions, the project did not come to fruition, also due to the resistance of many of the foreign Committees. In 1938 the infamy of the racial laws also entered Palazzo Firenze. Jewish members and associates were expelled with the delivery of a confidential note to the chairmen of the Committees.
1934-1943

1934-1943

Piero Parini, Director General of Italians Abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed in a letter to Felicioni his belief that "The Dante Society's task has been superseded in many of the foreign countries, and perhaps in all of them". This was on 19 May 1937. The intent behind the exchange was to assign that task "directly to the organs of the state". Even in the general context of fascism in the cultural world and its institutions, the project did not come to fruition, also due to the resistance of many of the foreign Committees. In 1938 the infamy of the racial laws also entered Palazzo Firenze. Jewish members and associates were expelled with the delivery of a confidential note to the chairmen of the Committees.
1944-1947

1944-1947

In 1944, the year of Rome's liberation, the Dante Society youth group issued a manifesto. It was a sign of rebirth after great tragedy. In 1945 a further, more democratic statute was enshrined, stating that "the Dante Alighieri Society, founded in 1889, aims to protect and spread Italian language and culture in the world, regardless of any particular politics, race, nationality, confession or ideology. It is the free association of those in the world who are united by the love for the Italian language, which is linked to cultural humanism and the universal language of music, morally inspired by the high model of Dantean character". Reorganisation of the Committees in the United States was revived at the time of De Gasperi's famous journey in 1947.
1944-1947

1944-1947

In 1944, the year of Rome's liberation, the Dante Society youth group issued a manifesto. It was a sign of rebirth after great tragedy. In 1945 a further, more democratic statute was enshrined, stating that "the Dante Alighieri Society, founded in 1889, aims to protect and spread Italian language and culture in the world, regardless of any particular politics, race, nationality, confession or ideology. It is the free association of those in the world who are united by the love for the Italian language, which is linked to cultural humanism and the universal language of music, morally inspired by the high model of Dantean character". Reorganisation of the Committees in the United States was revived at the time of De Gasperi's famous journey in 1947.
1948-1949

1948-1949

In 1949 a decree of the President of the Republic approved the first Dante statute of the republican era. The quotation of "Dante Alighieri" in quotation marks confirmed the consolidated notoriety of the institution. Interest in Italy began to emerge not only among Italians who had emigrated from their homeland some time ago, but also among foreigners who were attracted or interested in the country's language and culture. The "aim of the Society", according to the text, is to work to "revive the spiritual ties of compatriots abroad with the mother country and nurture love and admiration for Italian culture among foreigners".
1948-1949

1948-1949

In 1949 a decree of the President of the Republic approved the first Dante statute of the republican era. The quotation of "Dante Alighieri" in quotation marks confirmed the consolidated notoriety of the institution. Interest in Italy began to emerge not only among Italians who had emigrated from their homeland some time ago, but also among foreigners who were attracted or interested in the country's language and culture. The "aim of the Society", according to the text, is to work to "revive the spiritual ties of compatriots abroad with the mother country and nurture love and admiration for Italian culture among foreigners".
1950-1960

1950-1960

After the reconstruction and economic boom, the Dante Society continued in its commitment to the Italian language in schools, and published magazines including Il Veltro, with historic editions of the Divine Comedy with Dantean artists such as Natalino Sapegno and Giorgio Petrocchi. The form of the statute was confirmed in 1960, with minimal changes, and Italy saw great strides in literacy. This was also helped by the spread of television, which would become an important tool for Italian language and culture. A number of Committees were now active in Italy's border regions, working to protect minority and local languages, which would be guaranteed with the approval of Law 482 in 1999.
1950-1960

1950-1960

After the reconstruction and economic boom, the Dante Society continued in its commitment to the Italian language in schools, and published magazines including Il Veltro, with historic editions of the Divine Comedy with Dantean artists such as Natalino Sapegno and Giorgio Petrocchi. The form of the statute was confirmed in 1960, with minimal changes, and Italy saw great strides in literacy. This was also helped by the spread of television, which would become an important tool for Italian language and culture. A number of Committees were now active in Italy's border regions, working to protect minority and local languages, which would be guaranteed with the approval of Law 482 in 1999.
1961-2005

1961-2005

Law 411 of 1985 established state funding which recognised the Dante Alighieri Society for its role in the public interest. Eight years later there was the first framework agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 1999 the Dante Alighieri Italian Language Project was born with the PLIDA certification (Progetto Lingua Italiana Dante Alighieri). In the twenty years between 1994 and 2014, the president of the Dante Society was Ambassador Bruno Bottai. In 2003 the Dante Alighieri Society (in collaboration with the Special Superintendence for the Florentine Museums Complex, Florence Museums and the Florence Savings Institute) created the first major exhibition on the history of the Italian language at the Uffizi Gallery: "Where the 'Sì' doth sound. The Italians and their language". On 1 June 2005, the Dante Society received the Prince of Asturias Award for its "contribution to the common goal of preserving and disseminating European cultural heritage by teaching millions of people on every continent their respective national languages, as well as the literary and artistic traditions and ethical and humanistic values on which Western civilisation is founded".
1961-2005

1961-2005

Law 411 of 1985 established state funding which recognised the Dante Alighieri Society for its role in the public interest. Eight years later there was the first framework agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 1999 the Dante Alighieri Italian Language Project was born with the PLIDA certification (Progetto Lingua Italiana Dante Alighieri). In the twenty years between 1994 and 2014, the president of the Dante Society was Ambassador Bruno Bottai. In 2003 the Dante Alighieri Society (in collaboration with the Special Superintendence for the Florentine Museums Complex, Florence Museums and the Florence Savings Institute) created the first major exhibition on the history of the Italian language at the Uffizi Gallery: "Where the 'Sì' doth sound. The Italians and their language". On 1 June 2005, the Dante Society received the Prince of Asturias Award for its "contribution to the common goal of preserving and disseminating European cultural heritage by teaching millions of people on every continent their respective national languages, as well as the literary and artistic traditions and ethical and humanistic values on which Western civilisation is founded".
2006-2014

2006-2014

In 2007, among the initiatives that the Dante Alighieri Society carried out together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, those aimed at bringing together the future inhabitants of our country in their countries of origin were particularly significant. On 16 July 2007 of the same year, the Dante Alighieri Society also received the 1st Class Diploma with Gold Medal of Merit for Culture and Art for its services to Italian culture. This work would continue, culminating in the obligatory linguistic certification for obtaining the European residence permit in 2010 (Ministerial Decree 4 June 2010 and Presidential Decree 179/11). The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – CEFR – became a commonly known acronym. In 2012, with the Roma Tre Universities, the University for Foreigners of Siena and the University for Foreigners of Perugia, the Dante Society founded the CLIQ association – Italian Language Quality Certification (convention with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
2006-2014

2006-2014

In 2007, among the initiatives that the Dante Alighieri Society carried out together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, those aimed at bringing together the future inhabitants of our country in their countries of origin were particularly significant. On 16 July 2007 of the same year, the Dante Alighieri Society also received the 1st Class Diploma with Gold Medal of Merit for Culture and Art for its services to Italian culture. This work would continue, culminating in the obligatory linguistic certification for obtaining the European residence permit in 2010 (Ministerial Decree 4 June 2010 and Presidential Decree 179/11). The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – CEFR – became a commonly known acronym. In 2012, with the Roma Tre Universities, the University for Foreigners of Siena and the University for Foreigners of Perugia, the Dante Society founded the CLIQ association – Italian Language Quality Certification (convention with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
2015-2021

2015-2021

Since 2015 the president of the Dante Alighieri Society has been Andrea Riccardi. In a 2018 provision, it revoked the provision for the expulsion of Jewish members and associates that dated back to the racial laws of 1938. In support of the cultural sector and the nation, a new phase of Italian extroversion (Italsimpatia) has taken shape in the inauguration of the Italian School in Tirana, and the Italo Calvino School in Moscow. For the first time in the Society's history, the 83rd Congress (Italy, Argentina, World: Italian unites us) was held outside Europe. The surprising unifying ability of the Italian language overseas is clear to see. In 2016, a coordinated technical round table was launched with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Rai Television at Palazzo Firenze, leading to the creation of an integrated promotion plan entitled #Vivereall'Italiana. On the seventh centenary of the death of the Supreme Poet, the Society is embarking on a major digital transformation with the Dante.global platform, a "monument to Dante" and an opportunity for a relaunch of the Italian cultural system.
2015-2021

2015-2021

Since 2015 the president of the Dante Alighieri Society has been Andrea Riccardi. In a 2018 provision, it revoked the provision for the expulsion of Jewish members and associates that dated back to the racial laws of 1938. In support of the cultural sector and the nation, a new phase of Italian extroversion (Italsimpatia) has taken shape in the inauguration of the Italian School in Tirana, and the Italo Calvino School in Moscow. For the first time in the Society's history, the 83rd Congress (Italy, Argentina, World: Italian unites us) was held outside Europe. The surprising unifying ability of the Italian language overseas is clear to see. In 2016, a coordinated technical round table was launched with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Rai Television at Palazzo Firenze, leading to the creation of an integrated promotion plan entitled #Vivereall'Italiana. On the seventh centenary of the death of the Supreme Poet, the Society is embarking on a major digital transformation with the Dante.global platform, a "monument to Dante" and an opportunity for a relaunch of the Italian cultural system.
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