Prepare to be charmed by Siena’s medieval history and rich culture. Located on three hills in the heart of the enchanting Tuscan countryside, this ancient city’s historical center has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once you arrive, it’s easy to see why.
This program’s core course, Presence of the Past, makes Siena and the Tuscan countryside your classroom through activities that explore important sites in and around the city, introducing you to the beauty of Siena’s cultural and artistic heritage.
While you’re in Siena, you’ll not only have time to see the sites, but also to interact with Italians and improve your Italian speaking skills. With an integrated curriculum of English- and Italian-taught courses led by Italian faculty, IES Abroad Siena offers you the opportunity to increase your Italian language skills no matter what your proficiency level.
If you have four or more semesters of Italian, we encourage you to enroll in courses alongside local students at the Università degli Studi di Siena.
Siena will be your classroom. Explore the many piazzas, cathedrals, and squares inside Siena’s city walls that harken back to the Middle Ages. This isn’t just an exhibit at a museum—this is where you live. Welcome to study abroad!
We want you to feel at home in Siena, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into life in Siena, from internships to cultural activities. Maybe you’ll even make some Italian friends while you’re at it!
After you are admitted, refer to the Travel Dates section of the Predeparture Information in your MyIESabroad account before booking travel.
If enrolled only in IES Abroad courses
If enrolled in partner institution courses
If taking only IES Abroad courses.
If taking courses at a partner institution.
Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences.
We offer unique courses that explore Italian Language, History, and Culture, as well as other topics, through an in-depth and hands-on approach. Our world-class professors and the opportunity to take courses at Università degli Studi di Siena enhance your academic experience and provide you with new perspectives each day in class.
You take 15–19 credit hours per semester, and all courses are worth 3 credits unless otherwise specified. The course options that are available to you are determined by language proficiency, based on the results of your pre-departure and on-site language tests.
Create your own academic experience by selecting from the following required and optional program components distinguished by language level:
This is a list of planned course offerings. After you are accepted, you will see a list of final course offerings in your MyIESabroad account.
Università degli Studi di Sienawww.unisi.it
Founded in the 13th century, the Università degli Studi di Siena is one of the oldest universities in Italy. Its campus, which is spread throughout the city, is an integral part of the community. Occupying space in several historic buildings, including subterranean spaces and crypts, the University allows students to take in the rich history of the city as they study.
Highly regarded courses are available in the following areas:
NOTE: Students who choose to enroll in individual courses at the Università degli Studi di Siena must apply for Corsi Singoli outside enrollment through the Italian Consulate in the U.S.
Course offerings vary from semester to semester. Exact course availability is determined shortly before the start of each semester. For this reason, it will not be possible for you to officially register until your arrival in Siena; however you will need to refer to current course offerings in order to preregister as part of your application.
University buildings are spread throughout the city and are within walking distance of the IES Abroad Center.
While adding study abroad to your résumé is impressive enough, adding an international internship is even more powerful, and can help distinguish your application for graduate school or a job opportunity in today’s competitive market.
Here are just some of the ways your internship will set you apart:
All of our internships are supervised and earn IES Abroad credit. Participate in a seminar to complement the practical experience you gain during the internship.
IES Abroad Siena organizes field study trips that complement IES Abroad courses and contribute to a general knowledge of Italian culture and society.
Past field study excursions include:
San Domenico Basilica, Banchi di Sopra, Piazza Tolomei, Croce del Travaglio, Loggia Della Mercanzia, "Strada Romana"
Discover how the past was used to enrich the cultural identity of the historic present and what lessons the classical past offered.
Palazzo Pubblico - Town Hall
Learn about the architecture and history of Palazzo Pubblico and its chapel.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Siena's Duomo
Conduct a case study of the Duomo area and find out about the how Sienese imagery was projected onto the public spaces in the city to present a distict urban identity.
Ancient Hospital of Santa Maria Della Scala
Consider the roles pilgrimage and devotional ritual played at Siena’s prestigious hospital. Visit the dungeons of the hospital and the “charnel house” where Black Death victims’ bones can be found.
Contrada Della Civetta Territories and Rocca Salimbeni
Visit museums and analyze the Salimbeni’s square and buildings, as well as the interior of the Rocca.
We want to make sure that your greatest challenge is deciding which landmarks to see first or discovering the best café—not finding a place to live where you feel comfortable. We do our best to locate housing that is reflective of how the local students are living. Our goal is that when you leave Siena, it will feel like home.
Apartments - Share an apartment and make friends with local Italian students in the historic center of town. Furnished apartments are single-sex, and usually two IES Abroad students share a bedroom. Apartments have equipped kitchens, and you are responsible for your own meals.
Homestays - Choosing to live in a homestay is the best way to get to know the “real” Siena and experience cultural integration. Homestays generally house one or two students. Accommodations vary, and hosts will provide you with light daily breakfasts and one additional daily meal, usually dinner.
Part of making you feel at home in Siena is doing our best to help you feel safe and cared for. Whether it is an orientation program that makes you feel prepared, housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the field trips that take you to places off the beaten path—we’re all about our student services. This is just one of the things we’re known for.
The program begins with a two-week orientation that introduces you to the IES Abroad Siena staff, your fellow students, and the city of Siena. Topics such as academics, housing, transportation, and health and safety are covered during the weeks.
Additionally, CORE™, IES Abroad’s Comprehensive Orientation & Re-entry Experience, begins during orientation and continues throughout the semester with activities focusing on cultural adjustment, goal achievement, and preparing for the return home.
In addition to intensive Italian language sessions, settle into your new home in Siena as you sample aperitivi with Italian students; visit the Contrada Museum; pick olives in the Tuscan countryside; and explore the medieval past of Siena’s surroundings during an archeological excursion.
Redefine the way you live and learn in Siena through cultural events, such as:
Università degli Studi di Siena - University Clubs & Events
One of the best ways to integrate yourself into the host culture and to meet local students is to become involved in groups and activities on campus. There are several sports clubs and activities, as well as student societies that you can join at the Università. Click here for more information.
Although your adventure begins in Siena, our field trips take you to other cities in Italy to provide contrast and context for what you are learning in Siena. You share a portion of the cost with IES Abroad. Past destinations are listed below.
2 Days | Fall
Explore the Emilia Romagna region and medieval Bologna, the lively town of red-brick squares that is home to the oldest university in Europe.
Umbria (Assisi, Perugia, and Bevagna)
2 Days | Spring
St. Francis of Assisi lived and ministered in this beautiful hill town that offers a wealth of artistic and cultural treasures. Gain insight into the development of one of Italy’s most beautiful and peaceful regions.
Pitigliano, Sorano, and Sovana
2 Days | Fall
Visit three Tuscan towns founded by Etruscans, of which the necropolis and viae cavae (roads carved in rocks) are still visible. They are also famous for the history of their jewish community and for the thermal baths.
3 Days | Spring
Spend three days discovering Milan, world-renowned as the European capital of fashion, design, architecture, publishing, modern art, and music.
IES Abroad field trip destinations, activities, and length of stay may vary according to term and availability
Located in a beautiful liberty-style villa in the San Prospero area of the city on a quiet tree-lined street, IES Abroad Siena overlooks the historic town center. You will enjoy Siena’s large open market and several parks that are just steps away.
IES Abroad Siena Interim Center Director
Alice Friscelli studied at the Università per Stranieri di Siena, where in 2003, she earned a degree in Italian Language and Culture – Teaching Italian to Foreign Students, and in 2008 she obtained her PhD in Italian Philology, Literature and History. She also studied at the Università degli Studi di Siena, and earned a Masters in The Art of Writing – Models of Creative Writing in 2004. Her research focus has been on contemporary Italian poetry, especially on Vittorio Sereni’s work. In 2004 she published an article on Alda Merini’s poetry (e.g. Allegoria, 47, 2004). In 1999 Alice Friscelli worked for the Facoltà di Medicina – Dipartimento di Medicina Legale of the Università degli Studi di Siena, translating books and articles from English into Italian and vice versa. From 1999 to 2000 she worked in the Registrar’s office of the Università per Stranieri di Siena, while in 2003 she created the database of the professors’ publications at the same University. Alice Friscelli was in the administrative committee of the first International Meeting on Italian Studies in Latin America (Siena, 25-27 november 2004), organized by the Università per Stranieri di Siena. From 2008 to 2010 she worked as an Italian Language teacher at CE. FO. ART. in Siena (a centre for the education of artisans, financed by the Regione Toscana). In 2009 she started up the project “Museo della lingua Italiana” for the Università per Stranieri di Siena: in particular she promoted the participation of local institutions and companies in the project. Alice Friscelli has been teaching Italian Language at IES Abroad Siena since the program opened in 2006.
IES Abroad Siena Center Director
Veronica Semeraro has worked at our IES Abroad Siena Center since the founding of the program in 2006 when she was hired as Student Affairs Coordinator. Since that time, she has been actively involved in all aspects of the program, including housing, customized programs, arrival and orientation, field trips, and academic coordination. Veronica was promoted to Center Director of IES Abroad Siena in 2012.
Prior to working with IES Abroad, Veronica graduated with honors in Archaeology from the University of Siena. Her thesis addressed the GIS platform of the newly discovered and frescoed rooms beneath the Cathedral of Siena. She contributed, with vectorial maps and archeological drawings, to the publication Sotto il Duomo di Siena (2003). Upon winning a research grant following graduation, Veronica spent six years working in the University of Siena archeology laboratory in Computer Science. She also spent several years drawing dig maps while working on site in various important archeological digs in Tuscany (rooms beneath the Siena Cathedral; castle of Miranduolo, Podium Bonizio village) specializing in GIS technology. Veronica is an avid traveler and a member of an all-female Brazilian drum group in Siena.
IES Abroad Staff
Chia JorentoStudent Services Coordinator
Alfonso CasellaInternship seminarMaster in European Studies in Strasbourg
Marco Gaetani,Philosophy/Political Science
Ph.D. in Semiotics and Psychology of Symbolic Communication, Università degli Studi di Siena
Silvia Giorgi,Art History
Ph.D. in Classics, Università degli Studi di Siena
Daniele Lo Cascio,Literature/Religious Studies
Ph.D. in Italianistica, Università degli Studi di Siena
Ph.D. in Economics, Università di Verona
Francesco Marangoni,Political SciencePhD in Politics, Università degli Studi di Siena
Giovanni MazziniHistoryPhD in Medieval History, Università degli Studi di Siena
Sara Pizziconi,Art History
Masters in Art History, Università degli Studi di Siena
Ph.D. in Classics, Università degli Studi di Siena