My Final Week in SienaSiena, Spring 2012

I never thought the end would come, but it is definitely here. This past week here has been such a blur.  It has been filled with the "lasts" of every thing.  Every thing from our last walk to the IES center to my last piece of pizza from my favorite place in Piazza Gramsci.  (I've noticed that most of the "lasts" have to do with food). One thing that was really great that I got to do in the past week was attend a "Contrada" dinner.  In Siena, there are seventeen different contradas, which are like small neighborhoods in the city.  All of the contradas are named after animals.  This is very old tradition, and people feel quite an allegiance to their contrada. The famous horse race that Siena is known for, called "The Palio," has to do with the contradas.  Each horse that runs represents a contrada.  I am not exaggerating when I say that the Sienese people live for The Palio.  They talk about it all year, and they are constantly celebrating and preparing for it All of us IES students were lucky enough to get to attend a dinner in the Montana contrada.  The Palio takes places in July, so at this point, they are fundraising and preparing for it.  One of the ways in which they do this is to have a big party with a  huge dinner and lots of music! It was a really good cultural experience to be part of this dinner, and see what tourists do not normally get to see. I have my last few days planned out just right.  I am going to eat my favorite dishes: pizza, eggplant tortellini, and gelato, and I am going to make one last trip to the outside market that happens every Wednesday to maybe buy one more leather product in Italy! This is the longest I've ever been out of the country.  I can't stop thinking about what it's going to be like to come back after four months, and if readjusting will be hard.  There are so many things that I've gotten used to in the Italian culture.  I wonder if there are things I have forgotten about American culture that will catch me by surprise! [caption id="attachment_40230" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Piazza del Campo"][/caption]
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