Meet the team!

Team Festival Italiano AucklandAlessandra Zecchini
Festival Director
Alessandra comes from a small village in the Apennines of Emilia Romagna, and initiated the Festival for the Dante Alighieri Society of Auckland in 2005. She has been working at the event ever since, relishing the convivial and community spirit of the event, and making many friends along the way. Her passions are food, travel, books and, of course, working at the Festival Italiano.

Festival Italiano - The teamMarcella Monti
Art Director
Marcella, who grew up in Napoli and reached Auckland by yacht, has also been with the Festival since the very first year. She designed the Festival Italiano logo, the first Festival Italiano poster in 2006 and has continued to do so every year since even after leaving New Zealand. She now lives on a sailing Catamaran with her husband Carmine but continues to help us with design and with the website. Her passions are the sea, and the beautiful jewellery that she produces under the label Segni di Mare (

Festival Italiano - The teamFlavia Berucci
Stage manager
Flavia comes from the beautiful city of Rome. She moved to New Zealand in 2011 with her husband and began collaborating with the Dante Alighieri Society soon after. As Vice President of the society she is involved in many events and activities to promote Italian language and culture here in Auckland. She loves to meet new people and discover new places, and is passionate about cinema, fashion, travel and of course food and wine.

Festival Italiano - The TeamFederico Evangelisti
Event Manager
Federico comes from Bologna, and has spent the last 5 years in Down Under, first in Australia then in New Zealand, where he happily started working with Alessandra and the team. Curious about a bit of everything, Federico likes to get involved in all sort of jobs, especially events. A background in Physiotherapy, he is now managing a coffee shop in Auckland and keeps himself busy with many different occupations!

Festival Italiano - The teamDianne McGowan
Festival Market Liaison
Dianne is an Aucklander born in Australia of Scottish immigrants, has a degree in European
languages and literature …and loves all things Italian.
A volunteer since its inception, Dianne loves being part of Festival Italiano, currently assisting with
stall liaison and accounts functions.
Dianne now divides her time between her two favourite NZ locations -Titirangi Village in West
Auckland and The Abel Tasman region in the South Island. In between she hosts tourists, teaches
English as a second language and continues to learn Italian at The Dante Alighieri Society.

Festival Italiano - The TeamMatteo Telara
Event Manager
Matteo comes from Carrara, a small Tuscan city located between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea, famous for its white marble, beautiful scenarios and stubborn citizens. He moved to New Zealand in 2005 and has worked at the Dante Alighieri Society of Auckland ever since. Former editor for an Italian Publisher, he holds a Degree in Literature, Critic and History of Cinema, loves surfing, writing, reading and anything connected to the Italian language and culture.

Festival Italiano - The TeamFiorella Tomasi
ids Area Manager
Fiorella is from Treviso, in the Veneto region, but was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Her Mum says that at the moment of her birth there was an earthquake tremor. An active child whose first priority has always been playing, and then sport, Fiorella became a PE teacher and has always worked with children, whom she adores and describes as enthusiastic and sincere. After moving to Auckland she has continued working with the bambini at the Dante Italian School.

Festival Italiano - The teamValeria Santillo-Harris
Administration Manager/Treasurer
Valeria arrived in Christchurch, NZ, in 1991 and has been involved with the Society since moving to Auckland in 1996. Valeria started as a volunteer, helping with the children Playgroup and the Italian Children Friday School. She has been involved with the Italian Festival every year, from the very first edition and  in many different roles.  Valeria loves travel, food, wine and tramping the great walks of NZ.

Festival Italiano - The teamDante’s Community
Festival Italiano wouldn’t exist without the work of many Dante Society volunteers, students and friends. Our Festival is truly a community event, and a great place for Italians and Kiwis of all backgrounds to meet and work together to celebrate diversity in Auckland. But not pineapple on pizza!