Meet Our Staff!

Kelly Lombardo Mathews 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!

Today teaches Italian from beginning Year 1 through AP at Bishop Watterson High School and also the Italian Language Summer Boot Camp at Italia in Ohio.

Contact Kelly:


Robert Sergio Simon grew up in Chicago exposed to German and Lithuanian, later studied Latin, 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.

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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!

Rosa Di Grottole was born in Basilicata, a small region in the south of Italy. When she was 10, she started studying Piano at Matera Conservatory. After a Scientific diploma, she moved to Tuscany to attend Art and History classes at University of Florence. In this period she studied Italian Literature, Italian Language, History, Medieval, Modern and Contemporary Art. At the same time she keep studying Piano at Conservatory in Florence.

In 2008 she graduated in History and Artistic Heritage, and she did an internship at Archivio Scala, a prestigious Photografic Archive in Florence, owner of the images of the world’s most important museum collections. In 2009 Rosa moved to Paris and studied at Sorbonne University for her thesis’s master degree about François – Xavier Fabre, a French painter who spent his all life in Florence. After her graduation in Art History in 2010, she studied as Turistic Guide of Tuscany and lived and worked for an event organization in Lucca, a beautiful gems close to Florence.

In February 2016, Rosa moved to Columbus because of her husband’s job and she has started a new adventure in the US! Now, she is working as Italian and Art teacher with Italia in Ohio. Her favorite hobby is Traveling…in Italy, in the US and all over the world!

Matthew “Matteo” 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!