My First Few Weeks in Siena

Grace Wolf headshot
Grace Wolf
February 18, 2024

My few weeks in Siena were incredible! The very first night, we had a welcome dinner at a local restaurant and got to know our incredible Italian student companions and staff. In a bit of a tired and jet-lagged haze, we all ate together to begin our semester, and things have been off to a great start since. 

I am living in an apartment just 2-3 minutes from our IES Abroad class center with two other students in the program. The first few days, we had lots of orientation sessions to learn everything from how to properly take out our trash to where to buy dish soap. We also participated in a tour of Siena to begin to learn the area; I have attached some gorgeous photos. Siena is incredibly walkable, and I am slowly getting to know the area already!

For classes, I am enrolled in Italian 101, Managing Small Business Enterprises with a Farm-To-Table Focus, Renaissance Art and Patronage: Comparing Siena and Florence, and The Economics of Social and Environmental Sustainability: Food and Wine Sectors in the New Globalization. I am really enjoying the small number of students in the classes compared to my large home university, and love getting to know my professors! So far, I have enjoyed my Renaissance Art class the most because it is so different from other classes I take at school for my economics major. We have spent numerous classes observing and analyzing Siena’s art in the middle of the city, which has been incredible!

My roommates and friends and I have also tried a number of great restaurants. My favorite so far has been a black truffle tortellini stuffed with spinach and cheese. The coffee is also great, and my roommates and I are rating the cafes as we try them to find a favorite. So far, my favorites are Cafe 19ZERO3 and Key Largo. 

The adjustment period to life abroad took a few weeks. It was hard the first few days to remember to use my Italian at stores and try at restaurants; my main lesson has been to be patient and kind to myself, and take things slowly! 

We have found lots of fun places to spend time in Siena. The Fortress, a medieval fortress turned into a walking / exercising / and green space, has been a favorite to watch sunsets. Also, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, there are large markets outside with everything you can think of ranging from flowers to clothes to food. 

Our first weekend in Italy, some friends and I went into Florence for the afternoon on the public bus to have dinner, shop, and see the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Basilica of Santa Croce, and more. The proximity to Florence is a huge benefit of Siena, and I am excited to visit museums on class day trips for Art History in the future.

The second weekend, we went on a trip with IES Abroad to Terme Antica Querciolaia, a local thermal bath and spa. We spent the day enjoying the gorgeous countryside in the heated pools! On Saturday and Sunday, some friends and I went to Pisa to see the learning tower and Lucca, a small Tuscan town nearby. Tuscany is breathtaking, and I have loved getting to explore this area at the beginning of my time in Siena.  At the end of the weekend, some other students and I along with two of our Italian Student Companions attended a professional volleyball match, which was so fun! 

I am so excited to keep getting to know my home for the semester, and am so grateful for the kindness of my professors and the IES Abroad staff and the friends I have made so far. 

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs
Grace Wolf headshot

Grace Wolf

Hi! I’m Grace. I'm a first-generation, Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studying Economics and Environmental Science. I was raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, and I am an active scuba diver, yogi, and gardener. 

2024 Spring
Home University:
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Explore Blogs