Our time together is over. This letter is for you.
I remember that mid-January morning like it was yesterday. I remember rolling into the train station, exhausted. Train stations in Italy never give good first impressions. I remember driving around town with the wrong host dad, and then being blindly shuffled to a new host dad. I remember not understanding a single word he said. I remember seeing Siena for the first time on a walking tour with school. I remember being completely overwhelmed as the RAs explained the cheapest place to buy groceries, and where we needed to go to get our Italian social security card, and which place we could make photocopies. I remember having no idea where I was or who I was with or what time of day it was.
But, Siena, a lot has changed since then. I take solitary evening walks down familiar streets and roll my eyes at the cashier who angrily complains that she has to break my 50 euro bill. I greet the homeless man I walk by every day and walk across town for my favorite gelato on a sunny afternoon. I give directions to an Italian tourist and shout a “ciao” to friends I see along the way. Siena, I still desperately want more time with you, I want more beautiful sunsets and slices of pizza, I want another month or two to improve my Italian, I want to see the Palio in July. I want these things more than anything in the world.
Siena, I love your pride. Your pride in your people and your history and your city. Thank you for letting me become more than a foreigner. Thank you for losing me on your winding streets, for filling my nose with sweet pastry smells and my ears with the unspoiled Italian language.
Thank you for your beautiful sky, with more extreme colors than I have ever experienced. The blues of midnight, the stormy rain-impending gray, the purple-pink sunsets, the clear sunny afternoons. Siena, thank you for your hills that I have learned to appreciate. Those steep cobblestone streets ruined my shoes and hurt my feet, but the views are incredible. I guess you have to climb the hilltops to get the good views.
These 4 months belong to you, Siena. And I’d like to think that another 4 months will belong to you someday. or maybe 5 or 12 or 24 months. Off I go, with the habit of saying “ciao,” with a few cheesy souvenirs, with a few extra pounds, with more memories and pictures than I know what to do with, with expectations of top-notch cheese and wine, and with a heart and soul that will never be the same.
It is time to say ciao. So for now, ti amo, Siena. Mi manchi gia, ora, per sempre.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Ciao! I’m Mary and I’m blessed to spend the semester in Siena, Italy. I’m a junior double major in Psychology and English at Hope College in the charming West Michigan town of Holland. I grew up in the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and love to go on adventures, have deep conversations, drink unnecessary amounts of chai tea, play the piano, become totally engrossed in books, and most of all—learn. I am very excited to be immersed in the Italian culture and beautiful language, learn to cook, and have the experience of a lifetime! I can’t wait to share my journey with you!</span></p>