La Mia Famiglia Visits Italy!Siena, Spring 2012

I was not too sad to return from Spring Break because I was meeting my family! My mom, dad, brother, sister, and my cousin, all made the trip from New York.  It had been 10 weeks since I saw them and I was very excited.  We started our time together in Rome.  Since they arrived a few days before I met them, and I had already been to Rome, we didn’t do anything touristy together except for take some pictures in front of the Spanish Steps. I took them to a restaurant that I loved in front of the Pantheon.  The place has a special where you get a drink, bruschetta, and a pizza or pasta dish for 10 euro! It was really great to see my family love Italian food the way I do, and to catch up with them while we sat in front of an Ancient building in an Ancient city.  After dinner, we went to a gelato place that is apparently quite famous, and that Rick Steves recommends! (Giotti’s). Saturday we all headed to Siena.  I was beyond excited about showing them Siena.  To me, Siena is the perfect Italian city.  For one thing, there are very few tourists, so when you walk the streets, you hear Italian.  The city is still preserved in its ancient glory, with its narrow streets and medieval architecture.  I couldn’t wait to see my mom’s face when she saw the amazing things I get to see daily: vistas of the Tuscan countryside, the duomo, and the tower in the campo.  I hadn’t been in Siena for over a week, and I missed it so much.  It made me realize how much I am going to miss it when I leave in May (even though I know that I will be back someday). My family and I spent their first night in Siena in Piazza del Campo.  I have always heard that the restaurants in the Campo are more expensive, and the food is not as good, but I didn’t find this to be the case.  My family was just diving into their Italian food frenzy.  Although I had experienced this exhilaration months earlier, I was ready to experience it all over again!  I pigged out this week as if it was my very first week in Italy... and it was wonderful. On Sunday, we took the bus to Florence for the day to see all the major sites: The Accademia galleria, (where Michelangelo’s statue of David resides), the Uffizi galleria, and the duomo.  On Monday we climbed the Tower in Siena, which I had been waiting to do all this time so that I could do it with my family.  It was much more of a climb than I had anticipated.  It was narrow and steep, and to be honest, it made me a little bit claustrophobic! But the view from the very top was breathtaking.  Even the rooftops were a sight to see- they were all orange, tiled, and uniform.  You can see every alley and it looks like a maze.  San Domenica looks like a small place.  The hills in the distance are endless. On Tuesday we went to Chianti for a wine and food “experience.”  It was definitely an experience.  I never had a liking for wine before.  However, it really was amazing to see how it was made, and hear about how passionate these people are about making it.  Our guide really enjoyed making wining and dining into an experience.  It makes me think about how sometimes Italians are just so much better than Americans at appreciating life, and simple moments, like each individual meal.  The food was delicious.  Even the biscotti was great, I’m not ashamed to admit that I ate 12. On Thursday, we made the trip to Pisa.  To get to Pisa from Siena you have to take two trains, first to Empoli and then to Pisa.  I explained to my family that public transportation is just different here in Italy... in other words, it is a bit more unreliable than in the States! Tickets are rarely checked and schedules are only slightly followed.  Twice before I have waited for trains that just never came… for no reason! Luckily, nothing went wrong when my family was visiting.  I realized how independent I had come when I was telling them about the transportation.  I am now able to navigate myself in a foreign country, even when just a few months ago I only knew how to say Ciao! I’ve become a lot more confident.  If something goes wrong, I just figure it out, and I get where I need to be. I had been to Pisa before, but just on my way home from London.  This time we climbed the tower! My family really loved seeing the tower.  My dad made a comment that he couldn’t believe how much it really leaned, just the way it looks in pictures (which made me laugh!) The climb was a little strange; you could literally feel gravity pulling you to one side of the tower.  The view from the top was beautiful too.  It was a sunny day, so after we climbed, we ate lunch outside and lay down in the grassy fields that surround the tower.  It was a really nice day. On Friday, the last day of my family's trip, we spent the day in Siena.  We hung out on Piazza del Campo for a while in the sun.  I also showed them San Domenico church, where the relics of St. Catherine reside (her finger and her head)! And also the Duomo, which is one of my favorites, and is, in my opinion, better than the duomo of Florence! My family really enjoyed Italy.  They loved the food, (especially gelato, which my sister got after ever single meal) and the souvenirs they got.  Their visit made me realize how much I miss America: home, the English language, friends, and food.  But it also made me appreciate my experience so much.  I can already tell that I’ve grown as a person in these past few months, and I still have a few weeks to look forward to. [caption id="attachment_38886" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="My brother, mom, and I in front of the Spanish Steps in Rome"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_38885" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="My Parents and I standing at a lookout spot in Siena"][/caption]
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