The Pirandello Italian Language Center (PILC) was founded in 1973 when the Italian Foreign Ministry approached Boston high school teacher and immigrant from Vicenza, Ernesto “Tino” Valdesolo, to start a cultural program for Italians living in New England. Financial assistance was promised only if Tino could self-fund the program and keep it together for the first year. “Tino” applied himself passionately to the task and succeeded in convincing Scalabrinian priests, Father Joseph Fugolo and Father Dominic Rodighiero, to host the program at the Sacred Heart Parish in the North End. The PILC has been hosted there, and Tino has been managing it continuously ever since. Financial support from Italy has since subsided but Tino has still overseen the classes supported by a growing yearly participation.
Since then, on Saturday mornings, over one hundred fifty students from around the Greater Boston area come to the Saint John School in the North End. There, professional native-born Italian teachers provide serious, well-structured courses in the Italian language. The PILC currently employs 10 teachers and can accommodate about one hundred fifty students with classes distributed on the basis of language proficiency and chronological age.
Originally developed for children of Italian descent, between the ages of 4 and 14, the program is now open to everyone. Students from a broad range of nationalities and intentions attend classes. In addition to language teaching, the overall focus of the program is to present the Boston community with a realistic and contemporary image of Italy as a progressive and dynamic country.
After 43 years of leadership Tino decided to nominate Stefano Marchese as the new Executive Director of the Pirandello Italian Language Center. Stefano holds a Degree in Literature and Philosophy from the University of Roma Tre in Rome, and a Degree in Contemporary Music Writing and Production, from Berklee College of Music, Boston. He is currently a full time Music Instructor at The Eliot K-8 Innovation School and he is fully involved among the Italian community. On Saturday mornings, he is fully dedicated between coordinating classes, teaching and producing school related cultural events together with his staff.
During the past 43 years the interest in learning Italian has grown significantly. The PILC has succeeded in filling a real need in the community, and by doing so has brought a bit of real “italianità” among the bistros, bars and cafés of Boston’s North End. Many parents drop off their older children and spend some time shopping at Haymarket and North End’s world famous bakeries, or relax at the many cafés on Hanover Street. Many of the families enjoy an Italian lunch together after school gets out.