The Power of a Day

Christopher Boccia
February 6, 2020

The first load of laundry is now emitting some humidity from a drying rack, and 10 days in Siena are now firmly in the realm of memory. Yet this semester is all future. 10 days in the charm of this city, under the certainty of its centuries-old structures and millennia-old history, and 10 days of material outsizing the space of a single blog, and all that’s left is promise.

Promise for more memories, sights, smells, and tastes. There’s the visceral wonder—the momentary joy, an unmovable image—and the lessons learned, the growth in coming to know new people and building community and that in meeting outsiders, people of a different soil and language, yet discovering we are inside of the very same world. Our unity as human beings may be found in the data or the surveys, but it may best be felt in these encounters on meandering streets belonging to a different national banner. You’ll find that, over all of us, the same sun rises and falls. The same moon shines at dusk.

To reflect on a week-and-a-half is to first arrive on bus doors opening, mind rushing but processing at a jet-lagged pace, and city walls soaring. We are in our new home, its brick face jarringly new to us, and it’s time to board a taxi toward casa because Siena’s streets cannot accommodate the proportions of a bus. Into the taxi we go. Our first sights of the city are the glances of a tired traveler through a backseat window. But they are sights with a stain, the macchiato in one’s caffé, a mark on the memory that refuses to fade.

We’re zipping and curving, riding hills as they rise and dip, taking unexpected turns on street names resembling poetry. Via San Pietro. Via di Porta Giustizia. Via di Silocotto. Casato di Sotto, our new block for the next few months.

If all the momentum priming a semester abroad carried the forward energy of a steam engine, we are now hurled into lightspeed, transported amid buildings far older than the Italian state which stamped my visa. Each building, I’ve learned, tells about its moment in history from the make of its façade. The result is something of a paradox: the disorder of the past, creating varied colors and textures, builds the brilliant scheme of a Siena reaching toward aesthetic perfection.

Meeting the challenge of Siena’s streets with rigor, our driver delivers us from the claustrophobic elegance of a cobblestone path into the expanse of La Piazza del Campo, an ellipse of fine brickwork, sun beating, il Torre immediately stealing my gaze above eye level. It’s an ocean of masonry, spelling the web of arterial streets with a calm center, a pumping heart where all meet as one. At this moment, it has not occurred to me that I will be traversing this place as I do a crosswalk on Fordham Road, a battleground of vehicles trying to best one another in the Bronx, each agreeing to a ceasefire while the signal invites us pedestrians to work toward our destination.

Instead of contending with eight lanes of traffic, I found myself wandering Siena on a desire to get lost, to achieve nothing, a few days after arrival. And so I did, achieving nothing and getting lost for a bit as I walked some city streets, each one leading me to a new fork, where I invariably made a choice without any real deliberation. I loved every moment of it. Anonymous, I was an earnest observer. Perhaps a true traveler.

The length of our stay here, between 12 and 15 weeks, is long so as to diminish the power of a day. The cushion of the weeks ahead can give a comfort both wonderful and still unsettling to me. For this semester should never camouflage into those past and future; never should it fall into the motions of typical college life. This semester ought to stand alone, in short. In saying this I mean not to imply pressure on enjoying every moment—an impossibility!—or seeing every gem of Europe or even Tuscany—also an imagination!—or to smile at each turn, be thrilled by every new sight. It is to say that each day should be appreciated, taken individually as a wonder instead of as a part of a longer stay, and all our days in Siena should be understood as one of a limited number. Rather than a pressure to feel anything—for our emotions may be indeterminable—I am initiating a pressure to realize.

To realize where I am, every day, and to stop and say, “Look at this,” often and intently.

Look at this.

In the mundaneness of laundry cycles or the headrush of booking a weekend trip to Rome, my two present tasks, I am cognizant that I will say goodbye to this petite washing machine in a few months, and, when reality tumbles into the frame of life, I won’t be able to peek at history by way of open Fridays and cheap bus tickets.

So I’ll hum to the churn of the washer, book this bus ticket, and go to the Eternal City. At every chance, I’ll let air flow into my lungs for a few beats, exhale, and continue striving for full days in Siena and abroad.

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Christopher Boccia

<p>I am a junior studying business at Fordham University, where I’ve found a home at WFUV Radio calling college football and baseball. Sports enthusiast, politics observer, and reader, I have a passion for boiling my experiences into the written word. Based in New York, New York, a city with such a unique identity, I’m ecstatic to fall under the European spell this semester.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
Fordham University
Plainview, NY
Business Administration
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