Photo Essay: CET Siena

Photos by Autumn Swain, (University of Virginia) Student Correspondent CET Siena, Fall 2018

The week after the traveling seminar to Sicily, I took a trip to Venezia, or Venice. I had a wonderful time. When I found out I was accepted to study abroad, Venice was the number one place I wanted to visit in Italy. It was a fascinating experience because there are no roads, just canals including the beautiful Grand Canal. I did the most touristy thing and went on a gondola ride. It was so much fun, but it was a little unsettling because it felt like the boat was going to tip over. I for sure recommend going to Venice, because being in a city without roads is so strange, yet so cool at the same time. Instead of city buses and taxis, they have water buses and water taxis. I even saw a water ambulance!


Venice part 2


I took a day trip to Milano, or Milan, during my weekend trip to Venice. It was really cold there. I’m so glad I took a hop on hop off bus tour because I was able to see everything without going out in the cold. This is a picture of the cathedral. I also went to a wonderful restaurant and had the best margarita pizza.


Milan part 2


During my weekend trip to Venice, I took a day trip to Verona. Nothing too exciting happened that day. All I did was walk around for a bit. I found a park area and took some pictures.

One of the CET activities we did last week was tile painting. I painted Christmas trees in celebration of the holidays. First, we sketched the drawings in pencil then painted it. After that, it was sent to the oven. This picture was taken before it was sent to the oven. We got the finished product a few days later, and it turned out pretty cool. Painting and decorating my own tile was fun. It felt like I was back it art class.


Last Thursday after class, I took went to see La Torre Pendente di Pisa, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. On the train ride there, an older Italian man sat next to me. He noticed that I was reading a book in English and then asked me if I spoke English. He only spoke Italian, so I had to use the things I learned from taking Italian this semester to communicate with me. When I told him I spoke English, I assumed that he knew I was American because of my accent. To my surprise, he asked if I was Nigerian. I replied, “No, sono americana.” As soon as I told him I was American, he jokingly asked me about Trump. I had a similar experience when I studied abroad in London last fall semester. When people hear my American accent, they generally ask me where in the US I’m from and then they mention a comment about Trump. I just think it’s funny that when people bring up Trump’s name it’s usually accompanied by a smile, giggle, or laugh because the world knows he can’t be taken seriously. Anyways, enough with politics. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was cool to see in person. It leans more than I thought it did. I recommend going to Pisa, but there is no need to spend the whole day there, just a few hours will suffice.


Before leaving for Pisa, I was recommended by one of the guys in my program to go to a sandwich shop in Pisa. He sent me the name of the restaurant and I saved it on my phone. After visiting the Tower of Pisa, I went to the sandwich shop called L’Ostellino. It’s only a five minute walk from the tower. The sandwich I ordered was so delicious. It was horse meat. I know it sounds strange, but just give it a try. The first time I had horse meat was in Sicily. I was spectacle at first, but after I tasted it, it changed my outlook about trying new foods. The sandwich was so good I went back and ordered another one to go. I ate it as soon as I got on the train back to Siena.


My last trip this semester was to Roma, the city of amor, love. In Italian, Rome spelled backwards means love. I was nervous to go at first because I knew it would be crowded and hectic. However, I ended up having a great time. The number one thing on was list was to see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in person, and I saw it! I spent most of my short time in Rome exploring the wonders of Vatican City, which is home to the Pope and it’s the smallest country in the world. I was able to see the Vatican’s Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. Seeing the artwork in person was a wonderful experience.


Rome part 2


Rome part 3


Rome part 4


Rome part 5


First let me say that I’m so thankful that I have been given the opportunity to study abroad this semester in Italy. However, there are some things about Siena that I will not miss. I won’t miss the loud drums of the contrada’s playing at random hours of the day and night. I won’t miss the yelling and chanting of their songs. By the way, in this picture you can see some of the contrada flags from the third palio, Siena’s horse race, this year. I also won’t miss the sound of the cathedral bells ringing every thirty minutes. The one thing I already miss is my favorite gelato shop, La Vecchia Latteria, which has already closed for the winter.


As my last days in Italy come to an end, I have done some reflecting about my time here. I have learned a lot about Italian culture from the various conversations with some Italians, the things I learned in class, and from my own experiences. From all this, I have concluded that while Italy is a great place to visit, I personally wouldn’t want to live here. The food, the art, and the relaxing atmosphere all make Italy the perfect vacation destination. However, the overarching blanket of disorganization is what hinders me from wanting to stay. I’m not saying I never want to come back to Italy, it is a beautiful place, I just couldn’t want to stay here for an extended period of time. Our time together has been fun, but I’m ready to go home.