The History of the International Society

The Dante Alighieri Society was founded in 1889 "to safeguard the Italian spirit beyond the national frontiers." In 1926 headquarters were officially set up in Rome.

From its very beginning, the Society received an enthusiastic welcome, particularly among the many Italian communities that had established themselves throughout the world. Article One of the Society's consitution states that the aim of the "Dante Alighieri" is to safeguard the Italian language and culture, to promote the Italian identity in the world, to revive the spiritual ties between expatriates and the mother country, and to develop among non Italians a knowledge and appreciation of Italian civilization.

There are currently 450 "Dante Societies" around the world with the number continuing to grow. Each chapter promotes the mission as prescribed by the Society, yet is operated autonomously, electing its own officers, managing its own budget, and organizing its own programs.

The Society was given its name in honor of Dante Alighieri, one of the greatest writers and poets in Italian history, who was born in Florence in 1265. It was through the powerful and experimental verses of Dante's Divine Comedy that Tuscan became the literary language of Italy.

History of the Santa Cruz Chapter

The Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz was cofounded by Michela Martini and Jane Hancock in 2002. Michela Martini, a native of Genoa and a free-lance writer, was an Italian language lecturer at UCSC and Cabrillo College . Jane Hancock, educator and musician, had recently returned from a choral tour in Italy. Their vision was to create an Italian society that would promote the best of the Italian culture in a city that has such a prominent legacy of Italian heritage. Before moving to Boston in 2004, Michela served as the first director of the Dante Society for two years, helping to create a solid foundation for the society. Jane continued to ably lead the organization until her departure from her post as President, and from the Board, in mid 2012.

The Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz is a 501(c)(3)corporation.