percorsoItaliano is run by Italian natives, living in Seattle, who are passionate and eager to share their native language and culture. This unique language school was founded in 2011 by Roberta Tauriello Torgerson, from Piemonte, in collaboration with Elisabetta Valentini from Umbria.
Roberta has taught Italian for more than 20 years, and met Elisabetta while teaching at the Seattle Language Academy, where they became good friends. The two joined forces to create an interactive method of learning Italian, that is both effective and fun. The emphasis of percorsoItaliano is on everyday conversation.
ABOUT ROBERTA TAURIELLO TORGERSON
Roberta Tauriello Torgerson was born in Torino, Italy, and has been teaching Italian in the United States since 1992. She started at the Italian Cultural and Community Center in Houston, where she served as a director and an instructor, teaching all levels of Italian, both privately and in small classes. She was also a Berlitz instructor in Houston and Los Angeles.
During Roberta’s six years in LA, she taught children and adults at the Italian Cultural Center (ICC). The ICC, which attracted famous actors, directors, writers, and visual artists, became Roberta’s introduction to the entertainment industry. She tutored Matt Damon in preparation for his eight-month stay in Rome to film “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” She worked with Natalie Cole on the recording of one of her father’s songs, “Unforgettable,” sung in Italian. She also taught Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Beals and Mariska Hargitay in preparation for their trips to Italy. However, the students who meant the most to Roberta during her time in LA were those who studied with her for years before she moved to Seattle in 2000. In Seattle, Roberta taught Italian to adults at the Dante Alighieri Society and children at Cinquegranelli Montessori School. She also taught children at the Laurelhurst Elementary School in Seattle through “Laser Leaps,” an after-school program for World Languages. Roberta was hired at the Seattle Language Academy (SLA), where she taught for ten years until its closure in December 2010. She enjoyed working for SLA, and many of her students from those days still study with her today.
Her passion for teaching Italian language and culture inspired Roberta to continue her journey with percorsoItaliano, which she founded in 2011 with Elisabetta Valentini. Roberta is also a member of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). She has attended conferences yearly, at which experts in foreign language instruction come together to share ideas and advances in teaching technology and social media.
Roberta travels to Italy once or twice a year to visit her family and friends. On her trips, she periodically visits other Italian language schools and assists in the classroom to gain exposure to different teaching methods, thereby enriching her professional experience.
Roberta’s other interests are traveling, cooking, exercising and knitting. But her true passion is spending time with family and friends while sharing food and wine.
ABOUT ELISABETTA VALENTINI
Elisabetta Valentini was born in Perugia, Italy. Since her move to Seattle in 1999, she has spent many years traveling between Seattle and Perugia, serving as an important cultural link between her two favorite cities. Elisabetta has been part of the Perugia-Seattle Sister City Association since its beginning more than 18 years ago, first as a founding member and then in 2008 as President of the Perugia Committee. Over the years, Elisabetta has played a key role in many exchange activities, relishing the opportunity to meet and work with many wonderful people as she helps nurture the growing friendship between the two cities.
Elisabetta’s teaching career began in Perugia, where she taught Italian language and literature in the local high schools. She also taught Italian to foreigners at the Comitato Linguistico school. Since 1992, she has been working as a coordinator for the University of Perugia in its International Relations and European & World Exchange programs.
When Elisabetta came to live in the United States for the first time in 1998, she lived in Los Angeles, where she volunteered as a librarian and helped reorganize the Italian Library at the Italian Cultural Center (ICC). She then moved to Seattle and taught Italian for four years at Seattle Language Academy, the Dante Alighieri Society, Cinquegranelli Montessori School, and Maria Montessori Language and Cultural Center, an after-school program. She enjoyed teaching her native language to both children and adults at different levels and with different expectations. Elisabetta moved back to Italy in 2002 before returning to Seattle in 2011 where she reconnected with her good friend, Roberta Torgerson, with whom she now enjoys teaching a variety of Italian classes at percorsoItaliano. Elisabetta is enthusiastic about their interactive teaching method, which blends a wide range of entertaining material with the art of everyday conversation.
Elisabetta, the mother of three children, loves being with her family and friends, reading fiction, watching Italian movies—and, of course, sharing good Italian food!
ABOUT LIA LACASELLA FICHERA
Lia Lacasella Fichera was born in Rome and moved with her new husband to the beautiful Hyde Park area near the University of Chicago in 1993.
She started tutoring University of Chicago students and professors, including a history professor who specialized in Lorenzo De Medici and eventually moved to Italy and lectured at the University of Florence.
From 1993 to 1998, she worked for different private language schools and met several of the greatest Chicago Lyric Opera Theater singers and well-known lawyers and bankers. At the same time, she was employed by Chicago Trek as a guide for Italian tourists and architects and by Prudential Relocation to prepare executives of American companies for moves to Italy. That included not only intensive Italian language classes but also a cross-cultural analysis to identify important cultural similarities and differences between the US and Italy. She included linguistic, nonverbal, and social factors involved in effective communication.
In 1998, Lia started to work for the Italian Cultural Institute to supply Americans with information about Italian life, culture, art, music, cinema, design, architecture, science and technology. She also worked for its language school, Italidea. She moved to New York City in June 2000, and in January 2002, her twins were born.
She moved back to Chicago in June 2002 and kept tutoring and teaching (also as a substitute teacher for Trinity High School) until she moved to Seattle in June 2012. The first thing she did was look for schools where she could teach, as teaching is her passion and she finds the interaction with students very rewarding and fun. She interviewed with a few schools, but percorsoItaliano felt like home right away. As she says, “We all love what we do and we are searching untiringly for new and fun ways to teach our beautiful language and culture.”
A few of her ex-students now live in Italy, and many remain her very good friends. Besides her family and pets, Lia also loves traveling, reading, foreign movies, and all humanities and arts.
ABOUT FRANCESCA GIGI
Francesca Gigi was born in Turin, Italy.
She came to Seattle to live in 2016 with her husband (who works at Amazon), two cats, and one dog. Soon she started volunteering as a moderator in the Italian conversation classes offered at Il Punto, Seattle’s Italian cultural center.
At Il Punto, Francesca had the chance to meet Roberta, with whom she shares not only her birthplace, but also a love for promoting and spreading the knowledge of Italian language and culture.
She joined percorsoItaliano as an administrative assistant in December 2017. Prior to her position at the school, she served as an accountant and administrative secretary in Italy.
At percorsoitaliano, Francesca works behind the scenes to plan the daily life at the school, fulfilling her love for numbers and organizing while keeping her Italian heritage alive. She is also pursuing an AAS degree in accounting at North Seattle College.
Francesca loves traveling—she has already visited 14 states in the US and aims to see all 50. She also enjoys East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop dancing. In her free time, Francesca takes care of her family and pets and binge watches her favorite TV show.