Horses, Pienza, Solar Eclipse, etc..

Jessica Heymach
April 1, 2015

Every week here offers new experiences and while Siena might seem a bit small and quiet, there is always something going on and little surprises which gives this medieval city it's charm. Here's an example from two weeks ago. Sunday: So Sunday my host mom mentioned over breakfast that there would be an event with horses in Piazza del Campo. Since I'm unfortunately leaving before the Palio I jumped at the chance to get a little taste of what it would be like. Even though it wasn't anything near the scale or have any of the tradition which the Palio has, it showed a little bit of the attachment the Sienese have to their horses. After the first parade of adults the children followed, first with the beginners on their ponies and then the intermediate riders. After their tour around the Piazza del Campo they passed by the Duomo before going into the countryside.

Wednesday: After hearing so much about the Piccolomini family, we took a quick, afternoon field trip to the birth place of Pope Pius II, the perfect renaissance town, Pienza. We viewed the Piccolomini palace where the Piccolomini family lived up until the mid 1900s and was the home of Pope Pius II. As pope he contributed greatly to the public works of Siena and did much to improve the small town where he was born, including building a grand cathedral and creating a piazza in the center of Pienza. The views of the countryside from Pienza were unbelievable and we saw the sunset on Tuscan hills on the bus back to Siena. Heading back to the center we were surprised by a large chocolate exhibit set up in Piazza del Campo. The air smelt like chocolate and all the sweets looked amazing!

Thursday: Another day of field studies. For my Italian class we took a trip over to the newspaper Corriere di Siena and met with the director, who explained the different structure of Italian newspapers and how the paper was structured and made. After we went with my next class to the headquarters of the Monte di Paschi di Siena, one of the oldest banks. Our professor had some connections, and we were lucky enought to get a private tour, since it's normally not open to the public except abound the Palio. The works of art inside were incredible and we were able to go to the top of what was the private tower of the Salamei family. We couldn't take pictures inside but my favorite part was the archives. The entire room was covered in old books and records dating back hundreds of years which was incredible to see. One note which was my favorite part was a hand written note from Giuseppe Garibaldi, one of the leaders of the Italian unification saying that he was unable to pay his taxes.

Friday: Solar Eclipse day! It was only around 60% at its peak but it was still incredible to see. The University of Siena organized a viewing event where they had telescopes, projection screens and protective glasses for people to safely watch the eclipse without causing permanent eye damage. Too many people came for us to get our own glasses but we were able to see it at intervals with the telescope and a shared set of glasses which probably was better anyway since the sun seemed especially strong. Borrowing someone's dark cover I was able to get a photo though the sun was still too bright. My friend Juliet had a bit more luck here are couple of her photos.

Jessica Heymach

<p>Jessica Heymach is a junior at Lehigh University with a double major in International Relations and Sociology and Anthropology. She cannot be happier to be studying abroad in Siena, Italy this spring. Jessica is from Long Island, New York and loves adventures, whether it is hiking in the Adirondacks or scuba diving in Maui. She has a passion for photography and art. Traveling has always been her dream, and she cannot wait to explore and experience as many cultures as possible.</p>

2015 Spring
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International Relations
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