Photos by Autumn Swain, (University of Virginia) Student Correspondent CET Siena, Fall 2018 The Piazza del Campo is the central hub of Siena. This place is wildly popular due to its open layout and equal accommodation for everyone. Tourists rush to ready their cameras and selfie sticks to take the perfect picture before returning to their group tour. On the other hand, locals both young and old, come to the Piazza to either sit, stroll, or sunbathe under the Sienese sun. However, you will find both tourists and locals eating outside at the numerous restaurants or enjoying their gelato while they simultaneously “people watch” each other. The day after my arrival in Italy, we went on a walking tour of Siena. Walking around is the best way to get familiar with a new city. Each day I become more and more familiar and comfortable with finding my way around Siena. Also, I try to limit my use of Google Maps because it can sometimes distract me from recognizing the beauty of this historic Tuscan city. For CET Siena, we had the choice of either living in an apartment or a homestay. For me, the apartment was the obvious answer. The only thing we couldn’t choose was which apartment we were going to be assigned. Before I came to Italy, I read that one apartment was connected to CET and the other was a 10 minute walk away. Admittedly, I wanted the lazy option, but I soon grew to accept and appreciate my assignment to Via del Poggio. Ten minutes is not a long time. I enjoy the walk between home and school because it gives me time to reflect on this new study abroad experience every day. This was taken during Urban Trekking, which is a slow-paced walking tour of local life in Siena. This tour explores the scenic route and discovers a personal look into Sienese culture. Urban Trekking was born in Siena where it continues to be most popular. Urban Trekking, Pt. 2 Urban Trekking, Pt. 3 After Urban Trekking, we had lunch at Fonte Giusta, where this photo was taken. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of this delicious dish but it was some sort of stuffed ravioli. Food is highly valued in Italian culture. In particular, pasta is a huge part of their diet. Everyone loves ice cream, but I haven’t met anyone who has a greater love or appreciation for ice cream than me. I eat it almost every day, literally. To be honest, I am actually addicted to ice cream, which is why I keep repeating “ice cream” and why La Becchi Latteria is my second home. This gelateria is number one on Yelp and TripAdvisor for a reason. This is the place where locals go to get their gelato fix. Tip: if the locals go, you know it’s good. I am so thankful to have authentic Italian gelato only 3 minutes away from my apartment. My two favorite flavors to get are amarena, or black cherry, and vaniglia e lampone, or vanilla and raspberry. I always get the blue cup because it is the largest size; it costs €4,50. Long live ice cream. Upon arrival in Italy, my first notable Italian experience happened on the shuttle from Florence airport to Siena. I was sitting shotgun while the driver told me the story of the glorious pizza margherita. The story goes that the best pizza maker during that time created a pizza with basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes to reflect the Italian flag; he also named this pizza to honor Queen Margherita of Italy. My Italian professor took the class to breakfast last week. While we were there, we tried a fresh batch of amaretti. My professor also told the class that these Italian cookies are mostly made of sugar and almonds. He also said that they are very popular during the Christmas season. When I tasted these cookies, the outside was crispy and coated with powdered sugar while the inside was warm and chewy.