The Tuscan Dolce Vita: Snapshots of Siena & Florence
Sorry but I still can’t quite believe that living here, in the ridiculously beautiful Siena, is an integral part of my degree. I think it’s fair to say that I am loving my new life abroad (although perhaps that’s because university has still not started!).
Finally managed to climb the tower to get this beautiful view, even if it was freezing
And even though it has been one of the coldest weekends in Siena (did I mention my house doesn’t have central heating or hot water- I am told this is just part of the historic charm) my friends and I braved a 4 hour walking tour of the town we have called home for nearly a month! Despite Siena being tiny, there are still old cobbled streets and piazzas that I have still not discovered, although, I think when I hit the two-month milestone that will be a distant memory…
My contrada’s very own fountain
Although, whilst I am a lot more confident with directions and the Italian way of life, I think I will never get used to the Italian bureaucracy- yes, here we go again, last week it was trying to get a permesso di soggiorno, and this week it is trying to get my learning agreement signed (the bit of paper that says what courses I am studying, that both Siena and Warwick need to sign). Between emails not being replied to and Italian professors not showing up to meetings, sometimes I really miss good old British efficiency. Nevertheless, I am soldiering on, which isn’t so difficult sometimes when this is the view out of your window…
Sienese sunsets- I reckon I will have about 1000 different versions of this photo by the end of this semester
What’s more, with my Italian language course only happening during the week, last Saturday a group of my fellow Erasmus students took the bus to the Tuscan capital… it was time to go back to Florence. Only this time, with good weather and it being a Saturday there was at least 10x more people than my last trip there…
All smiles by the Ponte Vecchio
A day of endless walking, wine, panini, and seeing every possible touristy location, to say I was shattered when our train pulled in to Siena’s station at midnight would be a complete understatement. After of course visiting the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, we travelled uphill towards the house of the Medici, Florence’s infamous old family, who banked and ruled their way to notoriety and extreme wealth.
Imagine if this was the ceiling in your living room?!
Il Duomo di Firenze
Even though I have only been in Siena for under a month, I can already see more and more tourists every day, something I know will become unbearable by Spring. I mean, I could only stomach one Saturday in Florence. But I guess this is part of being a Sienese local. Although, it is already getting difficult to wear my coat in midday, and it is only February, something that the Italians who are still wrapped up in scarves and gloves do not understand at all. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for the sweltering Italian summer- not only will I have to do exams in July, but I will probably have to do them in 35-degree heat. I think this is one part of being an authentic Italian I will never be able to pull off.
But before summer truly exposes me for the vampire I am, I still have sprung to look forward to, which I have heard from my Italian teachers is the best time to be in Siena. Next week, I have my official welcome week combined with exams for my Italian course- what better way to celebrate your fourth week in Italy than wine tasting one night, and a 15-minute examined presentation about Brexit the following morning? Truly la dolce vita! And then classes start Friday, which is both scary and exciting. I’ll explain more about my university next time, but I think after Colombia and first year, I feel much more at home in a university, regardless of where it is, so I feel far less nervous than before. Which is obviously one of the best things about a year abroad. Although, maybe before I enter my first class next Friday I’ll feel differently!
Until then, I will leave you all with one last photo of my incredible city…