Meet Our Staff!

Kelly Lombardo began studying Italian at Bishop Watterson High School. She continued her studies at the University of Dayton, and through UD she was able to spend a year in Rome to study at La Sapienza. Hosted by the Fondazione Comunità Domenico Tardini in Rome, she made many Italian friends and benefitted from a real immersion experience. Back in the US, Kelly completed her Master’s Degree in Italian at The Ohio State University, worked as an Italian Instructor at the University of Mississippi, and took students to Lecce (Puglia) and Salerno (Campania). Italia in Ohio, LLC came about as a result of the desire to make Italian language and authentic culture and more accessible to Italophiles and Italian-Americans alike!

Contact Kelly:

Sergio Simon




Robert Sergio Simon grew up in Chicago exposed to German and Lithuanian, later studied French and German which proved useful when working in technical industries in Europe.  He launched into the study of Italian for both business reasons and for love of Italian opera, food, history and culture. In Europe the Simon family is spread through southern Austria and into the Italian Veneto region.

A strong desire to grow the presence of Italian in everyday life in the US led to his partnering with Kelly Lombardo to launch Italia in Ohio, LLC.

Contact Robert:





Jamie Polzin is the Curriculum Director for Italia in Ohio, LLC. She began studying Italian through websites and workbooks in 2006 before taking her first trip to Italy. After falling in love with the la dolce vita, she proceeded to receive her Bachelor’s in Italian at OSU, focusing on art history and poetry. She also participated in a full-immersion program, Siena Italian Studies, where her language skills were solidified. After college, she began teaching English to refugees and took up an interest in pedagogy, curriculum development, and program design. She is currently finishing up her Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Marlboro College in Brattleboro, Vermont, and is using these skills to develop curriculum and teach for Italia In Ohio.

Favorite band: Subsonica
Favorite movie: La vita è bella







Joe Pacilio studied Italian throughout high school and university, having had the opportunity to study abroad in Milan at Universita’ Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in 2005.  Enamored by the Italian language and culture, Joe moved to Milan in 2009 and lived and worked there for two years.  He fondly recalls many an evening “passeggiata” along Milan’s Naviglio Grande, and cannot recommend the pistacchio at the infamous Gelateria Orsi highly enough!




Matteo Amburgy


Matthew “Mattero” Amburgy grew up in an Italian-American family, and began learning Italian at an early age. In high school, he was chosen to be an exchange student in Milan for his senior year by Rotary Youth International. After graduation, he continued his pursuit of Italian at Miami University, taking part in a study abroad opportunity in Urbino. Matteo then transferred to The Ohio State University, where he met and studied with Kelly Lombardo. Since receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Italian in 2009, he has worked as a translator, editor, and language teacher. He has collaborated with School Amici in Cincinnati, and now we are pleased to have him on board with us here at Italia in Ohio!


Samanta Buffa was born in Modica, Italy, a Baroque city in south east Sicily, surrounded by the green hills of the Val di Noto. She studied Lettere Moderne (that is Italian Literature, Latin language and Literature, History of the Lingual Minorities, Linguistics etc.) in Catania and then she moved to Siena (Tuscany) for her master degree in “Teaching Italian to foreigners”. Samanta focused on Italian as a second language, Intercultural pedagogy, while working for I.E.S. Abroad as Resident Assistant. She did her internship at the Italian Institute of Culture, in Melbourne (Australia), where she helped with the organization of the curricula, the promotion of the Italian culture with specific events, and teaching classes for almost five months.

In 2012 she won a national contest to work as a T.A. At Bucknell University, in Pennsylvania, where she taught both recitation and conversation classes, promoted the Italian culture with trips and cooking classes and participated to the Italian table to speak Italian with the students during lunch.

Since 2014, Samanta has been living in Columbus with her husband working with Italia in Ohio, on the curricula organization, one on one classes modeled on each student’s needs, and cooking classes to get a “taste” of the Italian culture!

Favorite place in Italy: La riserva dello Zingaro (TP)

Favorite food: Focacce con la cipolla

Favorite word: Pisolino!