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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


I was born into a politically active family in northern New Jersey in 1972.  Both sides of my family have Italian roots from the regions of Puglia, Molise, and Campania.  Growing up, my father was mayor of my hometown and eventually worked in the administrations of several governors of New Jersey and the White House, before moving to Florida in 1990.  Southern Italian traditions were strong in my family, and in later life was something I decided to research.

I graduated with degrees in History and Public Administration, and a minor in Italian Studies, from Florida State University in 1994.  During my time as an undergraduate, I attended FSU’s Florence Program, which changed the course of my life and dedicated me to the mission my university represents.

After working three years as a history teacher in a public school in Miami-Dade County, I decided to return to Florence, where I began teaching myself Italian, and exploring the history of Renaissance art.  In 2001, I earned my M.A. in Italian Renaissance Art History from Richmond, the American University of London.

Currently, I am a Ph.D. candidate in Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture at my alma mater, Florida State University.  In 2005, I became part of the teaching faculty of the Florida State University Florence Program, and in 2016, was appointed the director by the Executive Committee of Florida State University International Programs.  In 2007, I became a dual American and Italian citizen thanks to my family’s Italian heritage.

I believe my main mission as director of Florida State University International Programs is to act as a bridge between Florida and Florence, America and Italy.  Our goal is to foster not only exciting academic opportunities, but build a culture where American students begin to consider themselves as student ambassadors for America, seeking to create greater understanding and collaboration between the young people of our two great nations.


Lucia Cossari

Associate Director


Ilaria Mugnaini

Housing Coordinator

Ilaria attended the School for Interpreters and Translators in Florence and speaks English and German fluently. Once a study abroad student herself, in England and Germany, she understands the experience of living and studying abroad. She also has over 20 years of experience working with study abroad students from all over the world. She joined the FSU Florence program in 2008, and is responsible for all FSU Florence student housing.

As a native Florentine, Ilaria has great knowledge of the city. She is constantly on the move from residence to residence, and works daily to ensure that each residence is operating smoothly which can range from coordinating with security guards to supporting our cleaning and maintenance crews.


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.

Panarella, Charles - 4

Charles Panarella

Academic Administrator

Charlie joined the FSU Florence program in the summer of 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. In addition to his duties as the Academic Administrator at FSU Florence, Charlie also teaches Italian I & Italian II. 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.

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Vanessa Kummer

Faculty Services Coordinator

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 the FSU Florence faculty with various aspects of their courses. 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.

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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.

Sanin, Eduardo

Eduardo Sanin

Progam Admin. & Community Engagement Coordinator

Eduardo was born in London and is of Colombian descent, growing up mainly in Florence and places around the globe as his family traveled. Eduardo’s passion is his study of Peace, Non-Violence, and Conflict Resolution, which led to his M.A. from the University of Basel in Switzerland after having earned his undergraduate degree at Syracuse University. Eduardo’s vast experience includes working for the Colombian Government as an International Advisor to the Green Party during the Colombian Peace negotiations. He also worked for an environmental advocacy group in the US after his time in South America. Yet, his heart was always in Florence, and four years ago he began working with various Study Abroad Programs as a teaching assistant, student manager, admissions officer, and most recently, internship coordinator and Professor of Human Rights.

Sproccati, Giacomo

Giacomo Sproccati

Student Life & Health Services Coordinator

Giacomo was born and raised in Milan where he earned a dual degree in Communications and Communications & Society from the University of Milan. He continued his studies at John Cabot University in Rome where he was awarded a cum laude B.A. in Communications. At John Cabot Univ., Giacomo became interested in teaching Italian as a foreign language, eventually taking this dream to California State University Long Beach. While pursuing his master’s degree in Italian Studies and Rhetoric at California State, Giacomo taught Italian Language classes as a T.A. His thesis focuses upon how TED Speakers use narratives to construct a sense of national belonging in Italy. In his free time, Giacomo plays sports, practices public speaking, and loves to travel.

Mench, Costanza 3

Costanza Menchi

Fashion Merchandising & Communication

“Made in Italy” Program Laison

Costanza Menchi, born and raised in Florence, joined FSU Florence in 2007, where she has been teaching Italian Language and Culture courses at various levels. Earning her Laurea degree from the University of Florence in Art History, with a concentration in History of Costume and Fashion, she pursued her M.A. at Middlebury College (VT) in Culture and Communication, focusing on fashion trends through cinema. In the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester, Costanza also became the Coordinator of the Fashion Merchandising and Communication Program. She also is one of the co-editors of the student magazine, ItaliaNoles, and is continuing leading the volunteer efforts at the Montedomini Senior Citizen Center.

She has always been interested in costume and fashion as a mirror of culture and society, and as a medium of communication. Her research is interdisciplinary, ranging from costume-visual arts to fashion in theater-cinema, craftsmanship, fashion archives and trends, music, and photography. She has a strong interest in the interdisciplinary aspects of Fashion Studies, particularly in exploring fashion as an approach to understanding cultural diversity. Costanza has worked with numerous fashion companies in Florence such as the Ferragamo museum, and numerous independent local brands to help create an online platform to provide International visibility. She is interested in every aspect of the fashion world, particularly in the production system behind the scenes, and in promoting the values of Made in Italy through a deep understanding of the artisanal production. Costanza believes in the experiential learning approach and is always ready to involve students in practical activities in order to get a better appreciation of valuable goods, especially in the luxury market. For more information on projects that Costanza is involved in, go to:

Faculty Directory (Italy based)

Luca Bufano


Dr. 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.

Stefano Matini


Stephen has worked with both mid-sized and Fortune 500, especially in the engineering, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals sectors. Stephen works directly with business and functional leaders to identify competency gaps and design learning development programs to boost business performance. Since 2011 Stephen has been an adjunct professor for Organizational Communication and Organizational Behavior at New York University and Florida State University. Stephen holds a Master of Arts in Business Communication from Emerson College and a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Literature, Music & Theatre from the University of Florence, where he graduated with honors. Stephen is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF), and an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

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.

Michela Mattei


Maria Michela joined the FSU Florence program in 2018. Born and raised in Florence, she is an adjunct professor for the “Made in Italy” Fashion and Communications Program for FSU Florence. 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.

Lucas Lanci


Professor Lanci grew up in San Diego, California. He then obtained his undergraduate degree in International Agricultural Business with a minor in Viticulture. Continuing his studies in food and wine, with a major focus on sustainability and food cultures, he completed his master’s program in Italy before moving to New York for six years to work in the food and wine industry.

Amy Gulick


Originally from Sacramento, Amy Gulick studied English Literature (B.A. and M.A., Composition emphasis) before completing a Second B.A. in Italian Studies during an academic year in Florence. She is also a certified teacher of English as a foreign language (CTEFL). Amy’s experience includes magazine writing, translations (Italian to English), editing, blogging, and tutoring. She has lived in Italy since 2002.

Aoife Keogh


Aoife Keogh graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Italian and History from University College Cork, Ireland. She specialized in history at postgraduate level obtaining a MPhil in History from University College Cork and later a PhD in History and Civilization from the European University Institute in Florence. She has researched in archives all over Europe and collaborated in several academic publications. She has been living in Italy since 2007.

Gaia Pianigiani


Gaia Pianigiani is a reporter based in Italy for The New York Times. Her main interest lies in social change. She has written features on Italy’s potent criminal organizations and the consequences of their reach on workers, women and refugees. She has reported on Rome’s decay, the rise of populist movements in the country, covered breaking-news stories involving two popes and six prime ministers, and disasters of various kinds including shipwrecks, earthquakes and bridge collapses. She enjoys digging out stories about Italy’s multifaceted food and wine culture. Professor Pianigiani began her career in journalism at a London-based business wire service, and joined The Times as an intern in Rome in 2010. She grew up in a village in the Chianti region of Tuscany, and studied at the University of Siena, the Free University of Berlin, and Columbia University in New York City where she received a master’s degree in journalism.

Rachel Baron


Rachel completed her PhD in Psychology at Exeter University (UK) in 2003. She spent several years working as lecturer in the UK, where she conducted research on the neuropsychology of language and memory. When an opportunity arose to take time out and enjoy a few months of travel, it was meant to be a temporary sabbatical. However, several years later, still travelling the world while working remotely as a scientific editor, she arrived in Italy and realized she had to stay. She is now enjoying sharing her passion for Psychology with FSU’s enthusiastic students, while also pursuing her alternative career as Assistant Chief Editor of a publishing company in Hong Kong.

Alan Pascuzzi


Alan Pascuzzi is a painter, sculptor, and professor of art history. A Fulbright scholar to Florence, he obtained his PhD from Washington University with specializations in Greek and Roman sculpture and Italian Renaissance art. He has been teaching Renaissance art techniques to students for more than 20 years. As a professional artist, he has several permanent frescoes, paintings and sculptures in the center of Florence and in other cities in Italy, Europe, China, the US and Australia. An expert in traditional Renaissance drawing, painting and sculpting techniques, he has appeared in TV documentaries on Renaissance art, including the BBC’s The Color Blue and Inside the Mind of Leonardo, and on 60 Minutes. Recently, an exhibition of his sculptures, The Ten Madonnas, opened at the Vatican. He has just published his first book, ‘Becoming Michelangelo,’ which deals with the early drawings of Michelangelo.

Pia Ferracin


Pia Ferracin was born and raised on the outskirts of Florence, Italy. From a very young age she had a passion for math and teaching. She earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Mathematics from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. While in Lowell, Ms. Ferracin enjoyed working both as a tutor and a youth advisor at Lowell Public High School. Upon graduation, Ms. Ferracin received her teaching license and became a math teacher at Essex Agricultural and Technical High School in Danvers.  She then decided to branch out into Higher Education and started teaching at Fisher College in Boston a few evenings a week. After spending over a decade in the United States, she realized how much she missed the city she once called home, and decided to return to Florence in the summer of 2018. FSU Florence welcomed her back with open arms, and she has now found the perfect balance by teaching math to American students and living in her hometown.

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