…If I May Have Italy…

Mary Kelso
February 5, 2013

There is a quote by Temistocle Solera that says, “You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” How true that is!!!!! I am absolutely in love with Siena and Italy and the people and the culture! I could not be more blessed! I have transplanted myself across the world and it already feels like a second home. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this adventure be so wonderful already!

Siena is the most beautiful city I have ever visited…and to think that I live here now! There are narrow, winding, hilly, cobblestone streets, lined with small shops that sell clothing and jewelry and little grocery stores with crates of oranges out front and herbs hanging in the windows, and gelato shops and wine shops and everything you can imagine. There are stylish Italians walking everyone, gesturing wildly, talking loudly, walking arm in arm. Buses and cars and vespas come cruising down the street and everyone must jump out of the way as they barely slide past you. Piazza del campo (pictured below) is the city center, a central meeting place and prime people watching spot. The Duomo (church) is so large and grandiose it doesn’t seem real and the medieval architecture of every building makes you feel like you went back in time!

I live in an apartment right outside the city walls. On my 10-minute walk to school I pass by gorgeous villas and old men strolling in the sunshine or leaning on a gate to chat with a woman standing in her open window. To get to il campo we walk by the large soccer stadium as well as the bella view of Siena. My host family is wonderful! They do not speak very much English but when I think about how much our communication has improved in the past few days I am not too worried. Kristen (my housemate from the program) and I live with our host mom, her boyfriend, and her 3-year old son. Her mother and father come over every evening to cook dinner and eat with us. Occasionally we have other guests for dinner, such as my host mom’s younger brother and his girlfriend. Google translate and charades are life savers right now! My host brother is sooo fun, after all, you can play with cars and toys and coloring books without actually having a conversation (although he still talks and talks and we just say “si! si!” and laugh)! He is teaching me and Kristen so much, such as colors and numbers. Tonight he was playing an alphabet game and we played along because we are learning the alphabet in language class. I have my own room with a balcony overlooking a green valley on one side and apartments with clothes hanging from window to window on the other!


Me and my housemate Kristen from the top of la fortezza, Siena’s large fortress that is only a few blocks from our homestay! It is a wonderful place to go for a run or just enjoy a gorgeous view of the city.

Me enjoying some tasty gelato in il campo! On sunny days like this, il campo comes alive with Italians socializing in the heart of the city.
Siena’s duomo. About 15 IES students (myself included) attended a mass last week which was a beautiful service although I hardly understood any of it.
A typical Sienese store–none of the grocery stores are very big because people usually go just to get food for that night’s meal, and they often go to many little shops instead of getting everything at one place like I’m used to doing.
The Tuscan sun setting over Sienese rooftops.
A surprisingly vacant street…you can imagine how easy it would be to get lost navigating these winding streets, but luckily it seems like most roads lead back to il campo!




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Mary Kelso

<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&rsquo;m Mary and I&rsquo;m blessed to spend the semester in Siena, Italy. I&rsquo;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&rsquo;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&mdash;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&rsquo;t wait to share my journey with you!</span></p>

2013 Spring
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Hope College
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