La Primavera Italiana: Sunshine, Palio Preparations, and a trip to Perugia! – OurWarwick
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La Primavera Italiana: Sunshine, Palio Preparations, and a trip to Perugia!

My second month has finished, and the second season has finally begun. Spring is here, and I don’t need to wear my winter coat every day, which is very exciting! (She says, terrified, sweating at the thought of surviving the Italian summer). In fact, Siena even reached 25 degrees the other day (the perfect temperature, if I do say so myself), something myself and my fellow Erasmus students totally embraced, by having a picnic lunch on my friend’s roof terrace, which may or may not have also led to many a photo shoot… Oh its a hard life…

I mean, wouldn’t you?

Although given it was still mid-March when we welcomed all things summer, it was a bleak reminder of our impending doom with climate change and global warming… Reusable water bottle bought and vegetarianism introduced, I am trying my hardest to reduce my personal consumption, something which we can all try more with. Check out Manpreet’s blog https://our.warwick.ac.uk/caring-for-the-environment-part-2/ for more ideas on how to care for the environment. I too no longer buy yoghurt, and am trying to only buy second-hand books! Moreover, I was inspired the other day by the students of Siena’s primary schools, who despite being as young as 6, joined the global strike and march against climate change…

Vi applaudo!

But life in Siena goes slowly on, although occasionally with a lot of noise. Yes, the Palio festivities have commenced, with weekly drum practising very near my house, parades every Saturday, and of course, Contrada parties every Friday night, which are essentially Siena’s answer to a street party, only with better wine, and of course, delicious food. As it is only April, I shudder to think how much more crazy it will get in the weeks leading up to the event in July. I just can’t explain how much passion goes into the Palio, it genuinely is the life of some of these people, and even though it seems completely alien to anything British, it is hard not to get completely swept up in the rivalries and excitement. #Ondaforever That being said, I have yet to actually go to a Contrada party, as it seems any time I am free (so the weekend, thanks to my crazy, Italian timetable) I am trying to travel as much as possible…

Benvenuto a Perugia!

Therefore, next up on the list of places to cross off was Perugia, the capital of Tuscany’s neighbouring province, Umbria, and only a 90-minute bus journey from Siena. Although, I was a bit confused when I got off the bus, as I was surrounded by fields, a market in a caravan park, and not many medieval buildings. We soon learned to actually get into Perugia, you need to take the “MiniMetro” which to me looks like something out of Metropolis, but is actually a very cheap, fast way to arrive in the centre without a lot of walking, and a lot of hills… Oh Italy…

The MiniMetro

Perugia itself is just a very beautiful town, therefore, the day was dedicated to wandering around, climbing towers to see beautiful views of the city and it’s neighbouring towns (such as Assisi), and perhaps an aperitivo or two. In fact, we only got lost once, despite having paid 50 cents for a map, because it turns out that relying solely on googlemaps for all of your teenage years ruins your paper map reading skills… Who would have thought?

Just look at the concentration (no, we didn’t plan to match)…

Famous for its Perugina chocolate brand, which is known throughout Europe for their Baci chocolates, we didn’t actually make it to the chocolate factory. Although we did make it to the cathedral, the Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Lorenzo, which has apparently been voted Italy’s ugliest cathedral for 4 years running. It’s not that bad…

Thoughts? Is this the ugliest cathedral in the country?

Perugia is also notable for being one of the most important 12 cities of the Etruscans, with the wall still standing today, as well as a well that has been used throughout history, until the 20th century. Whilst a fire burned the rest of the Etruscan history in the city, their remains several Roman monuments, notably, the Porta Augusta, which is actually an Etruscan arch, changed by the Romans after their conquest of Perugia in 250 AD. 

The Year Abroad is a great time to travel, not only by moving to another country and city but whilst you are there. With Erasmus, you are entitled to discounts with RyanAir, as well as Flixbus* which means getting around is so easy and cheap, in comparison with the crippling price of British train tickets. This is, without doubt, my favourite part of my year, as I have been to so many places that I would never have visited without the support of Erasmus or the push of the Year Abroad. 

*If you, like me before moving to Italy, have never heard of Flixbus, it is a coach company that runs throughout Europe, that is relatively cheap and rather luxury. Think charging ports under all seats, reclining chairs, and of course, air freshener in the onboard toilet. No, this is not an advert for Flixbus, although I wish it was, as I am their number one fan.

Pretty Perugia

I think this is something I want to continue doing next year when I return to Warwick, although, perhaps less frequently, as I will actually have my degree to worry about. There are places near Coventry that aren’t just Birmingham and Leamington, and I think I will try and visit Oxford given I always go past it on my way home during reading week, as well as a proper Christmas market. I say this here, because it will hopefully force me to actually do it.

It’s actually frightening how fast this exchange is going, and after spending the weekend sorting out my summer plans and even buying new bed sheets for my room next year, the prospect of returning to Warwick seems so close. I am a little bit daunted to “refresh” but at least I still have 4 months here to enjoy, before reality wakes me up…

A presto,

Catherine xx

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