of the Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz
a 501(c)(3)corporation

Mary Altier is a travel photographer and writer whose work has been published all over the world. She has Italian citizenship from her paternal grandfather who was born NE of Naples. When not traveling, she and he husband, John Walker, make their home in La Selva Beach. For more information, please visit www.maryaltier.com

Sam (Salvatore) Bertuca is an FBI (full blooded Italian). He received a BA and an MA and a teaching credential from California State University at Long Beach and has been a public school teacher for 36 years. He has been to Italy several times including visits to the villages of his parents in Sicily and Calabria. He continues to study Italian and has a deep appreciation for his heritage.

Kelly Cuffe is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area with a BS in earth sciences from UCSC and MS in coastal geology from USF Tampa. Her strong interest in the landscape and physical processes of the earth have inspired Kelly’s interest in both the physical and cultural landscape of Italy. Kelly has taken a few Dante language classes to help make her travels to Italy richer and more culturally interactive. She continues to study Italian with folks she met through the Dante Alighieri Society.

Roger Fargeon was born in Egypt to an Italian mother and raised and educated in Italy. Mr. Fargeon has a degree in foreign languages from the University of Liugi Bocconi in Milan. He has taught foreign languages in Europe for nine years. He now resides in Aptos and teaches language classes throughout the Monterey Bay area.

Santa Cruz native Andree LeBourveau fell in love with Italy when she represented Santa Cruz on a trip to its Sister City, Sestri Levante. Since then she has lived and studied for one year in Venice, where she perfected her Italian., led art tours throughout the country, and spent a month studying in Sicily with Cabrillo College's Italian program. She is a much-exhibited artist who is employed in Cabrillo's Visual and Performing Arts Division as their Visual Resource Curator.

Ellen Lowenstein is a sculptor, working primarily in stone. She is an associate professor of sculpture at Skyline College, San Bruno, where she has been on the faculty for 32 years. Already in love with Italy, an opportunity to study marble carving in Liguria further cemented the relationship. Seven visits later it continues to grow.


Irene Chissotti Bargetto was born and raised in Chieri, Piemonte, Italy, where she graduated with a degree in Accounting. Before she moved to the United States, she traveled to many regions in Italy and various European countries. Her passion for foreign languages brought her to California. She also speaks French and Spanish. Irene returns to Italy every year to visit her family and to keep well connected to her Italian heritage. Over the years, Irene has enjoyed tutoring family members and friends in Italian. She is currently teaching conversational Italian for the Santa Cruz Dante Society. She lives in Soquel with her husband, Peter, and their two bilingual children, Simone and Sabrina. Irene is the Business Manager for Santa Cruz Ear, Nose and Throat Medical Group in Santa Cruz and also helps her husband with their business, Soquel Vineyards.

Carolyn Dille is a writer and poet and leads workshops and retreats in writing and creative expression. Her four years in Italy as a freelance graphic artist gave her an abiding love of Italian food, people, art, and language. In the United States Carolyn has worked as chef at Café Chez Panisse and other restaurants and as a restaurant consultant and culinary educator. Her dozen books on food and gardening include the award winners and best sellers Seasons of the Vineyard, The Chile Pepper Book, and The Garlic Book.

Kathy Tappero is a first generation Italian-American. Her father and grandparents emigrated from the Piemonte region of Italy after World War II, specifically from a small town near Torino called Aglie'. Kathy has had the opportunity to visit many areas in Italy and she enjoys learning about Italian history, culture, and language. She has been employed in the public service sector for many years, and is currently working for the Superior Court of Santa Cruz County.

Mariabruna (Varuna) Sirabella MS, LMFT, was born and raised in Italy but moved to the United States as an adult. In her first career as a researcher in theater anthropology, she spent many years in Asia, as a liason of Rome University. Currently she has a psychotherapy private practice in Watsonville, is Adjunct Faculty at JFK University, and a SoulCollage Facilitator. Mariabruna teaches internationally, "Seeds of Enchantment," a series of self-discovery workshops with either a general or a clinical focus. She paints and sculpts clay to keep the muse alive.