Autumn’s Arrival in TuscanySiena, Fall 2009
Autumn has officially arrived here in Siena! The hordes of “Italia” sweatshirt- wearing, gelato- eating, English- speaking tourists are beginning to trail off along with the hot summer days we grew accustomed to at the beginning of the program. Now, on my morning walk to class, I meander through the fog- filled piazza and grab a cappuccino at my usual café near the IES center.
As the days progress, I am beginning to feel more like a local and less like a tourist. When we first arrived, the IES program directors explained that we are not technically “tourists” but, rather, “travelers.” At the time, I thought they were just trying to make us feel better about standing out like sore thumbs. Now that I’ve been here for a month and a half, I understand what they mean. Although we are by no means true Italians yet, I have definitely seen a change in myself along with others in the program. I can’t quite place a finger on what the change is but I think each of us are simply adapting to Italian life one day at a time while learning to be less of an American and more of a citizen of the world.
During the past few weeks, I have tried to fit in several weekend trips before the weather turns bad and traveling becomes slightly more difficult. On one trip, a few friends and I went to Florence for a weekend by taking the short hour and a half bus ride from Siena. We made a pact that on this trip, we would try to see as many cultural attractions as possible, while avoiding the very tempting markets filled with beautiful Italian leather! While there, we saw the Duomo, Michelangelo’s David statue, the Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, Basilica di Santa Croce and the Palazzo Pitti, which connects to Boboli Gardens. Phew! So many attractions, so much walking!
Nevertheless, it was truly all worth it. One notable characteristic of Florence is the presence of English speakers. Everywhere you go, you encounter a group of either tourists or American study abroad students speaking English. In fact, I had not heard so much English spoken since I left America! Although this was nice for a few minutes, it really made me extremely happy that I chose to study in Siena, where much less English is spoken, therefore, encouraging me to use and practice what little Italian I do know.
In case you were worried, I did make another trip back to Florence for the sole purpose of buying a leather purse. Mission accomplished! Now I’m back in Siena, where the air is crisp, midterm exams are approaching, and gelaterias are beginning to close for the season…
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