President’s Blog

July 2019

Greetings from the Vice President.

President Giannini is in Italy visiting relatives and has asked me to write his monthly Message to His People. So…

Il Cenacolo nears the end of another most delightful Event Year. This included an especially enjoyable Opera Outing, two Italian Movie Nights with Dinner, partying with the Leonardo folks, a bubbly and well-attended Christmas Gala at the St. Francis Yacht Club celebrating our 90th year (!), a Night at the Opera, a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of same, Symphony Night, and other activities I can’t even remember! The Thursday lunches seem to me to be getting better every year, always with a nice mix of matters Italian, sort-of-Italian, San Franciscan, and completely off-the-wall. I don’t have the numbers, but attendance at the lunches seems to be creeping up, no doubt the result of the quality of the speakers and the continued good food and flow of abundant wine. That said, there is always room at the tables for more. So, switch off the remote, call Uber or Lyft, and join us Thursdays at noon! (Keep in mind that there are no lunches in August and the first two weeks of September.) After the end of July, we will reconvene on Thursday, September 19, same time, same place!

To the satisfaction of most and the amazement of others, our first year as a co-ed organization has been a delight. The conversation at lunch—a mélange of comfortable rumblings among old friends and lively discussions of wide-ranging matters—is spiced by the new mix of members. The tone at lunch is noticeably different and, in my opinion, very pleasant to hear and observe.

Looking ahead to Event Year 2020, we will see all of our traditional Il Cenacolo events, as well as more Opera and Symphony Nights, and the introduction of a few new pleasures including shaded winery lunches at interesting venues out there in the country, and more interaction with other area clubs enjoying our gracious Italian culture. As always your Board of Directors invites any member to participate in the monthly Board meetings, held the second Thursday of every month at the San Francisco Italian American Club at 10 am just before the regular speaker luncheon. Please join us and bring along an idea or two to make Il Cenacolo an even more rewarding part of your life.

David Cobb
Vice President

June 2019

Greetings again, Cenacolisti:

Have we had enough rain for the season?! As a San Francisco native I cannot remember such a wet one—seems more like November and December than May!     

By the time you read this, I will be in Washington, DC attending the High School graduation of one of my grandsons. After that, we will be in London for about a week, then on to Tuscany (Lucca’s Riviera) to see the relatives for the rest of June. Our Vice President David A. Cobb will be handling things in my absence—for which he is very qualified and capable!

Our May 2nd Emeritus Luncheon was such a success that the Board of Directors has decided to make this an annual event. Please make sure to attend next year—it is especially appreciated by our senior members and widows of past members.

A special thanks to Alex Rynecki for the entire slate of May Speakers—outstanding presentations all. The June Thursday Luncheon Speakers have been organized by Stewart Hume and  arrangements for our upcoming Il Cenacolo functions are also proceeding well. Please use this bulletin and our website for making plans to attend and participate in our activities. A special note that our May 24th Italian Symphony was a “sold out” success and the tickets for the June 20th Opera Carmen have also been sold out. Look for repeats of these cultural events in the future and, again, attend and enjoy!

Please note that our Treasurer, Ron Derenzi, is sending out our Annual Dues Notice via snail mail and it is also attached at the end of this bulletin. Please make his job easier and send in your dues as soon as you can.

Finally, our Annual Membership Meeting will take place at noon at our regular Thursday luncheon on June 27th at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club. (Members only, please.) It is an opportunity to participate in the review of what we are all about—past, present and future—and to help elect the members of the Board of  Directors for the new fiscal year
beginning July 1st.

Stay dry & Arrivederci,


May 2019

Greetings Cenacolisti:

Welcome to the month of May—finally warming up with the month named for Maia in Greek/Roman mythology, representing springtime, warmth, growth and nurturing. This month was, until the Gregorian Calendar, traditionally the last month of spring before the onset of summer heat. Do enjoy the rain-fed green fields soon to turn into California brown!

Again thanks to Ken Sproul for his outstanding presenters—including himself for another account of the 1906 great earthquake and fire. We all look forward to our four Thursday Luncheon speakers to be presented by Alex Rynecki, as described in this bulletin. In addition to that, on May 2nd Alex will be presenting those Cenacolisti who have been members for 40 years or more together with widows of our deceased members who participated for at least 40 years. These members and widows will be hosted by Il Cenacolo. Please make an effort to attend on May 2nd to celebrate them, and to demonstrate our appreciation for their membership.

Please note that our May 24th San Francisco Italian Symphony has been sold out—thanks to Alex Rynecki and Ron Derenzi.

Regarding the Il Cenacolo gathering for “Carmen” at the San Francisco Opera: the date has been changed from the original June 19 to Thursday, June 20. We are in the process of obtaining approximately twenty tickets at a price of $35 each for orchestra seats—a real deal!!  Please contact Bill Dito if you are interested—these seats are sure to go fast.

Our vice-president David Cobb is scheduling the evening of Friday, Nov 8th for our
annual “Italian Dinner & A Film” in San Rafael. This is always an enjoyable occasion for our members and their significant others. Mark your calendars and ask David to put you on his list.

Do enjoy Il Cenacolo during the month of May—bring your relatives and friends to enjoy lunch and an afternoon of Italian culture.



April 2019

Cari Cenacolisti,

A warm welcome to Spring—love it! The drought is over—
hurrah  hurrah! Hope and pray that the sunshine lasts for a few more weeks at least.

Thanks to Ephraim Hirsch  for the March luncheon programs by outstanding speakers. Our April speakers to be presented by Ken Sproul should also keep all of us entertained and learned in Italian-American Culture intertwining with the history of our fair City.

Not to be hounding you all about this, but do make a point of inviting friends and relatives to the Thursday noon luncheons at the SFIAC—the food and wine are great, camaraderie is memorable and the speakers are always informative and rewarding.

Regrettably, we’ve lost a relative of two of our members: Papa Joe Monastiere, Marie Derenzi’s father and Ron Derenzi’s father-in-law. He was 100 years old  + 8 months. I had the honor of meeting Joe several times—he was quite the gentleman. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Derenzis.

Remember that our Annual Meeting will take place during the luncheon at noon, Thursday, June 27th at the SFIAC. (Members only, please.) During this important meeting, we will be electing four new members for our Board of Directors. Article IV, Paragraph 7 of our by-laws requiring a minimum of one year of membership for candidates has been waived for this year. If any of you are, or if you know of anyone who is, interested in serving a two-year term, please let the Board of Directors know. Email is preferred, or a simple telephone call to anyone on the Board will suffice.

Do carefully review the numerous future programs listed below, mark them in your calendars, invite your friends, and attend to make the best of what Il Cenacolo offers to all of you!

Ci vediamo ad Aprile, Davidé

March 2019

Dear Cenacolisti,

Hope you were all warm and well during February—seems especially cold and wet for this time of the year. March should be better, with a promise of Spring, if it ever gets here!

Our thanks to John Benson for wonderful luncheon programs by interesting speakers. Our March luncheon speakers to be presented by Ephraim Hirsch and listed at the top of this bulletin should also keep all of us culturally up to date.

Sadly I report that we have lost two more of our members since our last bulletin: George Lippi and Ross Hoffman (as noted later in this bulletin under In Memoriam). They were great friends and will be remembered as our loving companions in Italian Culture.


1. The March 13th Italian, Irish & Israeli Club Luncheon at the SFIAC.
Ron Fenolio is putting a Cenacolo Table together—contact him if interested;   

2. The April 5th Leonardo da Vinci Club Gala honoring the 500th anniversary of the
demise of Leonardo—our vice president
David Cobb is putting a Cenacolo table
together—contact him if interested (see announcement page at end of bulletin);

3. May 24th San Francisco Italian Symphony. We have just over 20 tickets left @$25/seat.
Ron Derenzi or Alex Rynecki to purchase at this very reasonable price (see
announcement page at end of bulletin)

4. A June 2019 San Francisco Opera production of Carmen. Bill Dito will be reserving
tickets (details TBA)—call him if interested;

5. Our June 27th Annual Membership General Meeting will be held at the SFIAC—
members only please;

6. Our Sep 22nd Opera Outing will again be held at the Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross. Chuck Stagliano and Stewart Hume are putting this together—should be another enjoyable time;

7. A Sep 2019 Italian Movie by the Leonardo Da Vinci Club is being organized by David Cobb—more details to follow;

8. An October 2019 Italian Dinner & a Film (Italian Film Festival in San Rafael) is also being set up by David Cobb;

9. Our December 15th Holiday Gala will again be held at the St. Francis Yacht Club—
always a popular hit;

10. A Guided Tour of the San Francisco Opera House is being set up by Chuck Stagliano
details to follow.

As you can see, we have serveral interesting and exciting events planned for 2019, (a plethora, in fact!) as well as our usual weekly luncheons, which your Board of Directors strives to make inspiring and enjoyable.  Bring your guests— they won’t be disappointed!


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February 2019

Dear Cenacolisti,

Writing this from the Island of Kauaii, Hawaii—yes, Paradise is indeed beautiful! And what a beautiful season it has been in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last couple of weeks. Loving the crisp clear weather and possible false spring after the heavy downpour we experienced earlier in January, but we do need the rain and snow. Still hard to believe that it’s now 2019!

Congratulations to Professor Don Zingale and thank you for presenting your friends from San Francisco State during our Thursday Luncheons last month. Each one was interesting and informative, highlighting various studies and education processes—some of them rooted in Italian culture, such as the Montessori teaching methods which are the basis of pre-school learning throughout the world.

We all look forward to John Benson’s four February presentations outlined above. Please make sure that you all attend and bring friends and relatives to experience what we are all about and hopefully join Il Cenacolo.

Alex Rynecki of our Board of Directors has acquired 28 tickets to Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony on May 24th at 8pm performed by the San Francisco Symphony. This performance will also include Elgar’s Violin Concerto in B minor. Our cost for all of this will be a mere $25 per ticket—a bargain!!  Call our treasurer Ron Derenzi (650) 737-9484 to reserve.

Director Bill Dito is making progress with the San Francisco Opera for tickets to Carmen in June. Stay tuned for date, time and cost to be announced and plan to attend!

Chuck Stagliano is in the process of setting up the 2019 Opera Outing for Sunday, September 22, 2019, again at the Marin Art & Garden Center in Ross. Mark your calendars to attend this delightful annual event and plan on bringing guests—they are always welcome!  And while you are at it, mark your calendars for December 7, 2019 for our annual Holiday Gala! Finally, Ron Derenzi has set up photo albums from our 2018 Holiday Gala. Call him if you are interested in acquiring one.

Finally, on a sad note, our esteemed member Alex Kugushev’s wife Mimi is fighting cancer. Please keep her in your prayers.

Signing off from Kauaii,

Aloha, DTG


Dear Cenacolisti,

Well, here we are at the end of 2018. Notwithstanding an annus horribilis of natural disasters here in northern California, our Il Cenacolo Cultural Club enjoyed a banner year of renewal.  Our (humble brag) “usual” interesting Thursday Luncheon Speakers, together with: a performance of Tosca by the San Francisco Opera, another successful “Dinner & Film” event at the Marin Italian Film Festival in San Rafael, an exuberant Opera Outing in Ross, and finally, our memorable Christmas Gala at the St. Francis Yacht Club, celebrating our 90 years (read on!). Thanks to Chuck Stagliano and his team, we have a completely revamped website with so much more to offer! To top it all off, we “went co-ed” during 2018: 13 of our 18 new members are women. We welcome all of our new members who have already contributed to making Il Cenacolo a better club.

The upcoming year looks even more promising. Along with our traditional Annual Meeting in June, Opera Outing in September, and Christmas Gala in December, your Board of Directors is planning new events for members, such as:

• A San Francisco Symphony with a meal (possibly in April or May);

• An evening at the San Francisco Opera with a meal (Carmen in June);

• An Italian movie at the Castro Theater (with the Leonardo da Vinci Society).

And of course we can look forward to our weekly Thursday Speaker Luncheons curated by your Board of Directors. We seek out stimulating presenters on an array of subjects, including Italian culture both here in the Bay Area and abroad. We all hope that you, the Il Cenacolo members, will avail yourselves of all of these cultural presentations.

Remember, you are welcome to invite your friends and relatives who might be interested in joining and participating in our club.

The year 2019 promises to a be full one! Looking forward to seeing each of you, soon!

Felice anno nuovo!


December 2018

Dear Cenacolisti,

Hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving and are ready for the approaching Holiday Season.

First, our thanks to Peter Sherwood for his excellent November luncheon programs. Dr. Winslow’s Field Adventures were captivating as were the presentation about rural Tuscany and Sicily by Peter and Susi (our dear “Den Mother”). Laura Ackley again reminded us about San Francisco’s historic 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition—great book by the way! Finally, Chuck Stagliano wrapped up the month of programs with another fascinating (and timely) presentation about how commercial airlines get us all safely and expeditiously “from here to there.” All wonderful and interesting Thursday luncheons with our fellow Cenacolisti.

Second, I am sure that you do not want to miss our December 7th Holiday Galamarking Il Cenacolo’s 90th Anniversary! If you stop to think about it….it really is a momentous occasion!  Since 1928 our Club has ridden the waves of history, from a World War, to Elvis Presley, to men landing on the moon, and to the advent of the internet! How many organizations do you know that have lasted this long with this amount of consistent support and enthusiasm? We are proud of the contributions and participation of all our members who have helped our mission of preserving Italian Culture throughout all these years.

Well, our well-deserved party promises to be a great time for all—not only another five-star-worthy banquet arranged by Ron Derenzi and his committee, but also special presentations and a few surprises! (One clue: we will be taking a group photo of all those members attending, the old-timers and the new-timers!)

We have only two luncheons this month due to the holidays, and of course I hope to see you there. I am especially looking forward to celebrating with you at our Gala on December 7. (Don’t forget: RSVP* before it is too late!)

Ciao, David


November 2018

Dear Cenacolisti,

October has really been an active month for Il Cenacolo, what with film, opera, and provocative lunchdon speakers.

To start with, our Vice President David Cobb assembled and
presented four highly informative scholars and authors, on topics ranging from a war correspondent’s experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, the capture of a German submarine during the War of the Atlantic, modern Italian life and mores to Italian architecture surviving today in Eritrea, formerly part of Ethiopia.

David Cobb also organized an evening for Cenacolisti which began with a delightful dinner at La Toscana Restaurant in San Rafael, and followed it by La Tenerezza (The Tenderness), a film featured at the Marin Italian Film Festival. Several members and their guests were able to enjoy this event. Thanks David!

Finally, Bill Dito organized a visit to the San Francisco Opera to watch the monumental new production of Puccini’s “Tosca.”

We are planning to offer these cultural opportunities again next fall. For further information about Italian cultural activities currently held in the Bay Area and beyond, check out the links to other Italian organizations on our website page under “What We Love—Compatrioti” (

For November we look forward to another month of provocative speakers presented by Peter Sherwood, as detailed above, and make sure to attend our weekly Thursday luncheons! Of course, we will not be meeting on Thanksgiving, November 22nd.

As you know, our annual 2018 Holiday Gala will be held on December 7th at the St. Francis Yacht Club, a beautiful site we have enjoyed for several years. This year, our 90th anniversary, we will be celebrating our own Cultural Club, recognizing past Presidents, Board members and widows of former Cenacolisti for all they have accomplished in promoting and preserving Italian culture. You should have already received your very own snail-mail invitations (as shown on the following two pages). Mark your calendars and make sure to attend this most enjoyable repast with old friends and new acquaintances. Please don’t hesitate to let us know you will be joining us! New this year, with our transition to more online convenience, you can also make your reservations on our renovated website, at

Arrivederci in November, David.



October 2018

Dear Cenacolisti,

Welcome to Fall—which started on September 21st & 22nd. My favorite time of the year with lots of natural color and I am sure it is also yours!  Actually, this is our “summer” in the San Francisco Bay region. Get out and enjoy the weather, which is “just right” for most of us San Franciscans—not too hot or cold! 

Our annual Opera Outing was held on September 23rd at the Marin Art & Garden Center with about 100 attendees including three San Francisco Opera singers and principals. For those of us who were privileged to attend, it was a typical warm (not too hot!) Marin County Fall day in a beautiful outdoor forest setting, all organized by out tireless former president Chuck Stagliano. The operatic singing for approximately 45 minutes by a special group was memorable! The food and wine was also great. What better way to celebrate the opening of our 2018-2019 Opera Season?

Thank you, Chuck! For those of you who did not partake of this occasion, make sure to come next year—to be planned for September 2019.

On this subject, our immediate past President Franz Cristiani has, as the September Chairperson, presented two San Francisco Opera principals: Kip Cranna (the Dramaturg) and Greg Henkel (the Artistic Managing Director) both of whom detailed the operas being presented this fiscal year. Please make sure that each of you Cenacolisti attend and enjoy as many of these operas as you can.

Further on this same subject, we have been given the opportunity to attend Tosca on the evening of Tuesday October 30th—orchestra seats at $36 each!  Great opera at a very reasonable price!  Call Bill Dito for tickets at (415) 563-3365 or email him at You won’t want to miss it!

As to our other upcoming events, please note that our November 3rd Italian Film Festival & Dinnner has been postponed, but stay tuned for the new date.  Don’t forget, however, to put Friday, December 7, 2018 on your calendar for our Annual Holiday Gala!

Arrivederci to all, and enjoy this great month of October!