Re-Discovering Siena

Gelato stop while exploring Siena with my cousins

Written by Brenna Sullivan (University of Virginia) Student Correspondent CET Siena, Summer 2017

By the six-week mark I felt I had established a little life here in Siena.  I love this life.  I love that my roommates and I spend lunch break sitting around the table doing homework and planning trips, that we have turned our bidet into a foot wash, and that we measure our life in cones of gelato.  In this semi-normalized schedule, I have stopped feeling like a tourist, but for a while I was not sure I was actually living in Siena, or just existing here.  I was suffering from a slight cold and sever exhaustion and worried the lifestyle was wearing me out.  But just when I was in danger of shutting myself in the apartment to power through the last few weeks of classes, my family came to town, and in showing off Siena, I fell in love with the city again.

My cousin keeping watch over the campo

My aunt and uncle from Switzerland drove down with their two children to meet another aunt and uncle on their way north from Rome, allowing everyone to converge in Siena for two days.  I got to take them to my favorite café and show them the perch above the Campo where I eat a mid-morning pastry.  I made them listen to all the facts I had learned about Sienese art and architecture in class.  We ate two-euro pizza followed by two-euro gelato and talked about the charming oddities of  Siena.  I got to watch them fall in love with bright flowers in window boxes and giant wooden doors with heavy brass knockers.  By having them here, I started exploring again, and observing again, and for that I am deeply grateful.

I am currently writing on a stone bench by a beautiful church in a part of Siena in which I have not spent much time.  For these final few weeks, I want to truly live here, to find new favorite spots and solidify my status as a regular, to eat at restaurants that serve local dishes, to spend nights speaking Italian in the Campo, to strive to understand what it means to live in Siena.
Chances are it will be awhile before I find myself here again.