phone: (+39) 055-234-0604 - e-mail:

Faculty and Staff

Faculty plays a central role in the study abroad experience. We bring together U.S. Faculty, International faculty and local experts in order to explore a wide-range of topics. Our qualified staff are available to help you make the most of your study abroad experience in Florence. Below is a brief introduction to the FSU Florence Staff and Faculty.



Frank P. Nero


Lucia Website

Lucia Cossari

Associate Director


Ilaria Mugnaini

Housing Coordinator

Ilaria is Italian born and after attending the School for Interpreters in Florence speaks English and German fluently. She is responsible for office administration and student housing. She joined the FSU Florence program in 2008.


Tamara Pfeil

Financial Coordinator

Tamara was born and raised in Switzerland. She graduated from the Upper Commercial School, studying business and foreign languages and has lived in Florence for a number of years. She is responsible for office administration and student police permits. She joined the FSU Florence program in 2006.


Laura Buonanno

Program Coordinator

Laura joined the FSU Florence program in 2014. She is originally from Nashville, Tennessee. She studied abroad during her junior year at the University of Urbino and graduated the following year with a BA from Bellarmine University. She is responsible for organizing student events and activities such as winetasting and cooking classes and more generally keeping students informed about events in Florence.


Charles Panarella

Academic Administrator

Charlie joined the FSU Florence program in 2018. He is originally from Staten Island, New York. He studied abroad during the 2010-2011 academic year in Florence and graduated with his master’s in Italian language and culture from Middlebury College. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Applied Linguistics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas which he expects to complete by the end of 2020.

vanessa pic

Vanessa Kummer

Financial & Housing Assistant

Vanessa was born and raised in Dubrovnik, Croatia. She is fluent in English, Italian, and Croatian. She moved to Florence in 1990 where she graduated from the University Cappiello di Firenze with a BA in graphic design and communication. She joined the FSU Florence Program in 2018 where she assists with administrative services and student housing. She loves her job because it gives her the opportunity to be more involved with cultural events, students, and faculty members. Her main interests are art, opera, theater, and traveling. Vanessa is excited to help students and faculty members experience and explore her favorite city.

Kate pic

Kate Dowling


Kate joined FSU Florence in 2019, and is originally from Virginia, USA. She was living in New York City when she moved to Florence, Italy to begin her Ph.D. in Analysis and Management of Cultural Heritage. She expects to complete her Ph.D. in 2019. She has her MSLIS from Pratt Institute in New York City, and she studied bookbinding and paper conservation at SACI Institute in Florence, Italy. Kate is responsible for managing the Study Center Library, which consists of over 9,000 volumes dating from 1909 to present day on topics ranging from Italian language, culture and art history, to astronomy and political science.

michela pic

Maria Michela Mattei

Fashion & Communication Liaison

Maria Michela joined the FSU Florence program in 2018. Born and raised in Florence, she is the “Made in Italy” Fashion and Communication Program Liaison and Adjunct Professors. She obtained her Ph.D. in visual semantics at the University of Siena in 2012 and in 2007 she graduated at the University of Florence with a thesis about cultural management and event planning. She is also a TV host, journalist and fashion researcher. She lives in Prato, the Tuscan city internationally known for creativity, the textile industry, and contemporary art.

Faculty Directory (Italy based)

Luca Bufano


Holds a Ph.D. in Italian from the University of Connecticut as well as a Laurea in Italian Language and Literature from the Università degli Studi di Firenze (Florence, Italy). He has edited the letters and the short stories of 20th Century Italian writer Beppe Fenoglio, and has published several essays on the same author as well as on Dante. Recently he has been researching, both in libraries and on trails, the ancient European Pilgrimage routes. Dr. Bufano has enjoyed teaching our students at the Florence Study Center since 2004.

Emiliano Wass


Holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and History from the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa, Italy), an MA in Anthropology from the Universidad Autònoma Metropolitana (Mexico City, Mexico) and a BA from the Università degli Studi di Firenze (Florence, Italy). He teaches a variety of subjects in the social sciences field, from Italian History to European Union Politics. Besides teaching, he currently works as a consultant for Mondadori (publishing company) and runs his own consulting company.

Nadia Patrone


Holds a Ph.D. in Foreign Languages from Florida State University. A native of Pisa, Italy, she continued her studies in the United States after attending the Università degli Studi di Pisa. She has published a book in the series Currents in Comparative Romance Languages and Literatures, and various articles. She teaches Italian language and Italian Cinema for FSU in Florence.

Costanza Menchi


Holds an MA in Italian Studies, Culture and Communication from Middlebury College and a BA in Art History with an emphasis on Costume and Fashion from the Università degli Studi di Firenze (Florence, Italy). She is one of the founders of Let’s Work Artisans! Learning through Experience: a project which fosters a deeper understanding of the Italian culture through involvement with Florentine artisans.

Nicole Cuddeback


Has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston and a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College.  She has taught Creative Writing, Literature and Freshman Composition and Rhetoric at Florida State University’s Study Center in Florence, Italy since 2002 and is the author of the book of poems The Saint of Burning Down.

Natalia Piombino


Is specialized in Modern Italian history and in the history of the Italian South. She has a Ph.D. in Italian History from Royal Holloway (University of London) and an MA in Italian Studies from UCL London. She has been teaching Modern Italy at FSU since 2004.

Linda Reynolds


Is originally from London and holds a BA in Italian Studies from Reading University, U.K. and a postgraduate degree in Art History from Edinburgh University, Scotland. She has taught at Universities in England, Scotland, New Zealand and for F.S.U. in Florence since 1995. She has traveled widely to all five continents and has lived in Paris, Sicily, Rome, New Zealand, New York and Washington D.C.

Get To Know Us

Qualified staff and an International faculty make studying abroad at FSU Florence a wonderful experience.