About Siena Italian Studies

Professors and Staff

  • Lavinia Bracci

    Director, Professor

    Born in Siena, Italy

    Lavinia Bracci is founder and director of Siena Italian Studies – Intercultural Education and Study Center, which hosts educational exchange programs for undergraduate students as well as the Italian portion of the Graduate Program of International Development and Service organized by the International Partnership for Service-Learning (IPSL). Her research focus and interests are centered on innovative pedagogies in the field of Intercultural Studies and IC assessment. Through using service as an instructional tool she invented the FICCS (Full-Immersion: Culture Content and Service) approach to develop reflective intercultural competence and has co-authored a book on this approach entitled L’educazione riflessiva interculturale: L’approccio FICCS allo studio della lingua e cultura italiana. The FICCS approach was implemented in other European contexts (Portugal and Spain) and co-financed by the European Union through the Lifelong Learning Programme (Key Activity 2 Languages) turning into the EUFICCS (European Use of Full-immersion, Culture, Content, Service) methodology for Language Learning. Recently she has co-authored several publications on the FICCS and EUFICCS approaches as well as research on the Reflective Intercultural Competence Assessment (RICA) Model. Her and her team’s research has been presented in numerous conferences in Asia, North America and Europe. She holds a degree in Translation and Simultaneous Interpreting in German and Russian and taught foreign languages and Italian as a second language for many years. Currently she is teaching Reflective Writing for both undergraduate and graduate students at Siena Italian Studies.

  • Fiora Biagi


    Born in San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy

    Fiora Biagi was born in San Giovanni Valdarno but has always lived in Siena. She holds a dregree in Foreign Languages and Literatures (1998), the DITALS Certification cum laude (2001), the Diploma of Specialization in Teaching Italian as a Foreign Language cum laude (2001) and a PhD in Linguistics and Teaching Italian to Foreigners (2005).
    She has been working for several years as a teacher of Italian language and culture for foreign students. She is a researcher in the fields of language acquisition, language teaching and didactics, intercultural studies, intercultural competence and its assessment, the role of service-learning in a full-immersion context and in acquiring advanced linguistic competencies and deeper intercultural knowledge. She has also worked in the field of teacher training. She has been a lecturer in several meetings and conferences concerning
    language and content teaching, teacher training and intercultural competence and studies.
    She has also been working as teacher of English and translator. At SIS she currently teaches Italian Language, History of Italian Cuisine, Medieval History, Intercultural Communication, International Education, and she is the program coordinator for master courses. Fiora is also interested in children teaching, psychology and has been herself a ballet instructor.

  • Alfonso Casella


    Born in Francavilla Fontana, Italy

    Alfonso attended the Università degli Studi di Siena: Degree in Law with specialization on the History of the Italian Legal System. In addition to teaching, Alfonso works as a journalist for a local newspaper. Alfonso currently works for the University of Siena and has worked for the European Parliament in France. In 2007 he published a novel entitled Cicoria, which has received critical acclaim.

  • Elena Cellai


    Born in Montevarchi, Italy

    Elena Cellai holds a M.A. in Political Sciences with a concentration in International Relations from the University of Siena and a postgraduate diploma in “Management of EU co-funded projects” from LUISS Business School in Rome. She is an instructor at Siena Italian Studies (SIS) teaching the courses of “International Education”, “Italy land of migrations” and “European Development Policy” to undergraduate and postgraduate foreign students. Beyond instructing, she is an integral part of the research team at SIS, contributing to the development of the Non-Level Concept (NOLC) didactic method. She coordinated the EUFICCS project, co-funded by the European Union between 2011 and 2014, and aimed at transferring the EUFICCS methodology developed at SIS to other European Higher Education Institutions. She has also  been working for 12 years as project manager and coordinator for several EU projects in the fields of Education and Training, Youth, Integration of Third-Country Nationals, Culture, and European Neighbourhood Policy, in collaboration with public and private Italian entities.

  • Antonella Filippone


    Born in Siena, Italy

    Antonella attended the Università degli Studi di Siena: M.A. in Modern Literature with a Modern Languages focus. Antonella holds the DITALS specialization in teaching Italian as a second language from the Università per Stranieri di Siena as well as a Master in Italianistica (Università “Gabriele D’Annunzio”, Pescara).
    She worked as a professor at the Università per Stranieri di Siena for more than a decade. Antonella has published many texts on the acquisition of Italian as second language: she is co-author, for example, of “Dimmi Tutto!”, “Affresco italiano” – 6 books, Le Monnier, “Caccia ai tesori” – Loescher, “Il Buongustare” – Loescher, “Lo stivale di moda” – Loescher. She is also co-author of a text on the FICCS instructional approach called “L’educazione riflessiva interculturale: L’approccio FICCS allo studio della lingua e cultura italiana” – Carocci. She also has published several articles about the acquisition of the Italian language.
    She is President of the Associazione Culturale Ulisse; at Siena Italian
    Studies, she teaches Italian language, Art History and Italian Literature.
    Antonella also holds a Master in “Filosofia orientale e comparativa” (Scuola  Superiore di Filosofia Orientale e Comparativa – Università degli Studi di Urbino “Carlo Bo”). She attended many courses of Indian Philosophy and she regularly teaches Hatha Yoga (degree from Efoa –European Federation of Oriental Arts).
  • Alice Vannucci


    Born in Siena, Italy

    Alice attended the Università per Stranieri di Siena: MA, Lingustics and Intercultural Communication, BA, Linguistic and Cultural Mediation. DITALS specialization in teaching Italian as a Second Language.
    Alice has been with Siena Italian Studies since 2009, when she attended a training course concerning the FICCS instructional approach and volunteered as a tutor for SIS students. She currently teaches Italian language and Sociolinguistics.
    She has worked as a cultural mediator and Italian teacher with immigrants during her national community service at ARCI Association in Siena and in addition to her work and research in Language education, she is interested in Eastern philosophy and she is a member of the International Tai Chi Chuan Association – Yang School Tuscany.
    In her spare time Alice loves traveling, reading, learning new languages and taking care of animals.

  • Juan Carlos Ruiz-Coll

    Program Coordinator

    Born in Valencia, Venezuela

    Juan Carlos is originally from Venezuela, moved to the United States, and has been living in Italy since 2010. During his studies at The Ohio State University, he came as a student to SIS in 2009. He is currently pursuing a M.A. in linguistics and cognitive studies at the Università degli Studi di Siena.
    As the SIS Program Coordinator, he is in charge of organizing activities, setting the course schedule, dealing with academic credit transfer, and serving as the main liaison between SIS and the students’ home institutions.

  • Christina Angelilli

     Program Coordinator, Instructor

    Born in San Diego, USA

    Christina is a SIS alumna from 2007/2008. After completing her Master’s degree in Italian Studies and Second Language Acquisition at The Ohio State University, she was more than happy to return to live and work in Siena. Christina worked as a Resident Director for CET Academic Programs for five years, where she gained her first experiences in the field. In addition to being a program coordinator at SIS, she currently teaches Italian language and Reflective Writing. Christina loves sharing her love for Italy and the Italian language with students, and in her spare time loves wine tasting, traveling and reading any book she can get her hands on.

  • Michael Manchester

    Service Learning Coordinator, Host Family Coordinator

    Born in Denver, USA

    Mike is originally from Denver, Colorado.  He attended Lewis and Clark College, earning a B.A. in Communications. He has been with Siena Italian Studies since its beginning in 2004 and has lived in Siena since 2002.  Currently Mike is the Service-Learning Coordinator for SIS and he is also one of the main coordinators for all homestays for the program.  He has experience as a translator for the AC Siena professional soccer team and as an English language teacher for children ranging from kindergarten through high school. In his free time Mike enjoys cooking, brewing beer, basketball and anything and everything about the outdoors and mountains.  You can read Mike’s personal blog at: mikeallovertheplace.wordpress.com

  • Antonio Giorgi


    Born in Siena, Italy

    Antonio attended the Università degli Studi di Siena: M.A. in Law with specialization in Bankruptcy Law. Antonio spent many years working with Sienese Agricultural Commission and then for the Studio Notarile Coppini, where he specialized in inheritance law. For the International Center he serves as a financial and legal consultant. Antonio currently acts as an administrative consultant for various International Education structures and is also a founding member and Treasurer for the Associazione Culturale Ulisse.

  • Eliza Nash

    Finance, Academic Outreach

    Born in Ashland, USA

    Eliza attended Mount Holyoke College: B.A. in Art History, Master from the Università degli Studi di Siena in Oenogastronimic Toursim and Marketing. Eliza, along with Roni Kennison and Mike Manchester, is a founding partner of Nove Culturae Ventures LLC, based in Avon New York, which collaborates with the International Center for Intercultural Exchange as well as Siena Italian Studies to organize study experiences in Siena. She worked as a student affairs coordinator for six years with the University of California’s Education Abroad Program in Siena. At the IC she currently serves as a Program Coordinator and works on the development and implementation of future study programs. Eliza is also a founding member of the Associazione Culturale Ulisse.

  • Andrea Cancelli

    Administration, Local Expert

    Born in Siena, Italy

    Andrea attended the Università degli Studi di Siena: Master Degree in Environmental Economics. He has 5-years of experience in sales administrative assistance, management control and data analysis in 2 different companies in the sector of waste management. Andrea is passionate about basketball and has years of experience as a coach for children’s and adult teams and as a physical education teacher in local elementary schools and in summer sports camps. Andrea also has the DITALS specialization in teaching Italian as a second language from the Università per Stranieri di Siena. Andrea is passionate about his city and local culture and loves to share his passion with the students.

  • Jakob Lysakowski


    Born in Lublin, Poland

    Jakob is a native of Lublin, Poland. He moved to Italy as a young child and attended in Siena elementary, middle and the local linguistic High School, Monna Agnese. His bilingual background (Italian/Polish) together with the languages he studied at school (English, German, Spanish and French) make him a truly European multilingual young citizen. He is currently a “History and documentation management” student at Università degli Studi di Siena. Jakob joins Siena Italian Studies in 2015 as the youngest member of the staff. 

  • Nevin C. Brown

    Senior fellow

    Born in Long Beach, USA

    University of Virginia, M.A. in American Southern History, University of California Santa Barbara B.A . in History. Nevin Brown has built an extensive career with educational organizations in the Washington D.C area such as the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE), The Education Trust, and District of Columbia Public Schools. He has most recently worked as Dean of Academic Programs and President of the International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership, and as Senior Fellow in Postsecondary Initiatives at Achieve. Nevin has published numerous articles regarding higher education, global civic engagement and service-learning. At the IC he acts as a Senior Fellow, contributing to the development of IC initiatives regarding intercultural exchange.

  • Roni Kennison


    Born in York, USA

    State University of New York at Geneseo: B.A. in History. Roni is a founding partner of Nove Culturae Ventures LLC, based in Avon New York, which collaborates with the International Center for Intercultural Exchange at Siena, as well as Siena Italian Studies to organize study experiences in Siena. After more than a decade in Siena, she is currently based in the U.S. and acts as Director of Marketing and Recruiting and North American Representative for the International Center and Siena Italian Studies. Roni also works as a freelance translator and is a founding member of the Associazione Culturale Ulisse, a Sienese association that works to promote volunteerism and service.

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