Exploring a Market
Every Wednesday morning, a market takes place around the Fortress (Fortezza Medicea). It’s filled with vendors selling clothes, jewelry, shoes, bags, and more—a shopaholic dream! My CET friends and I spend hours wandering through it each week.
On a side street at the market, one can find a small selection of vendors selling local meats, cheeses, fruits, and other food products. The highlight of this section is the porchetta, a type of savory Italian pork, which you can purchase from the vendors on a panino.
Beach Trip to Sestri Levante
I took a day trip to Sestri Levante, a town on the outskirts of Genova, where I spent the day at the beach on the Baia del Silenzio (Bay of Silence). It was so peaceful and serene, with crystal-clear water and minimal tourists; the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Palio di Siena
This week was the event we have been waiting for during our time in Siena—the Palio di Siena! The Palio gets its name as the winner of the horse race is awarded a painted silk banner—a Palio. We attended the ceremony in which the Palio was unveiled to the public, bearing the image of the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary is an important figure in Siena (seen in the middle-right of the photo on the far left).
The next day, we had our weekly activity with CET, where we visited the church and museum of the Nicchio (shell) contrada. A member of the contrada detailed to us the history of the Palio and toured us through the contrada’s museum, where we saw the banners the contrada had been awarded for winning various Palios over hundreds of years.
At last, the day of the Palio arrived! While the race itself didn’t commence until 7:30 pm, we arrived at 2 pm to secure front-row spots in the inner ring of the track. This picture shows my CET friends and I about 3 hours into our wait. While it was a scorching hot day, it was certainly worth it for the view we received later on.
Before the race itself takes place, the Corteo Storico (Historical Procession) travels throughout Siena. It begins at the Siena Duomo and makes its way throughout Siena’s streets, arriving in the Piazza del Campo a little after 5 pm. The 17 contrade participate alongside many other Sienese. In the far left photograph, you can see the banner of the Palio displayed.
When the Corteo Storico concluded, the track was cleaned, and the entirety of Siena waited in anticipation of the race. I captured this photo of the piazza, which had been almost empty a few hours before when we arrived (middle image). I had never seen Siena this crowded up until this moment. I was in awe of how many people the Palio had drawn to the city.
While I didn’t take any photographs during the race itself, as it lasted only a few minutes, the Selva (forest) contrada was victorious. After the race, all of the contrade paraded around the piazza once again while people sang and celebrated the victory.
4th of July Celebration with CET
After an exciting week leading up to the Palio, we had an American holiday to celebrate—the 4th of July! CET arranged a picnic for us, and each apartment brought a homemade dish to contribute. It was a fun way to bring a small piece of home to Siena and celebrate with other program participants.