Over the past few days, I keep thinking about the idea of “home”…about not only making Siena my home for the next few months, but also bringing small parts of my own home in Arkansas (and partially South Carolina) with me to Italy. I think I’m a little surprised by the fact that Siena is already beginning to feel comfortable. Aside from the fact that I can (somewhat) navigate around the city, I’m beginning to have a set routine. A few things in my routine…
“Family” dinners Wednesday night. It’s only the third week and this has quickly become a solid tradition between my apartment (Christine, Grace, and I) and our other apartment friends, Dana and Sam. We even learned an Italian toast, which we all promptly forgot about a minute after we learned it.
Getting cappuccino or espresso at the small café by the IES center. While the action itself is becoming a habit, what’s more exciting is the fact that Dana, Grace and I walked in a few days ago and the barista looked at us and asked, “Tre cappuchini?” before we had a chance to speak. I’m pretty sure my heart did a little leap of joy. Feeling like a “regular” (ugh. Okay, fine…she probably just recognized us because we were those American girls..but I can dream) always makes me happy. And I’ve got to say, being a regular in an Italian café sounds a lot cooler than being a regular in the small Japanese take-out restaurant in Spartanburg, South Carolina..not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. (okay, I am.)
But of course I haven’t forgotten my real home! I have my two friends from Wofford as a constant reminder of school…BUT it’s always good to see even more friends (and sisters) from Wofford. And that’s where Florence comes into the picture.
On our first weekend in Siena we took the bus to Florence, only an hour away. A few of us in the IES group made the trip earlyin the morning. We all took a look inside of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore before climbing to the top of the Bell Tower..where I quickly realized how out of shape I was and how much pasta I had been eating. But the view of the Duomo and the city was totally worth it. I mean, wowza. After getting my shaky legs down from the top of the tower and taking a look at the Baptistry, Grace, Dana and I headed off to meet up with some of our Wofford friends and sorority sisters who had been studying in Rome.
Sidenote: I was the “pledge mom” this past semester for my sorority…which basically means that I spend a lot of time with our new members helping them learn about Theta and all together becoming completely and totally obsessed with them. One of these girls, Maggie, had been studying in Rome.
So when I heard sweet Maggie scream “MOM!” across the Piazza, I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of home and of school. Not necessarily homesickness, but just a happiness about feeling/seeing a little part of home. It’s been great to have two wonderful girls from Wofford in Siena, but adding two more Wofford friends (Abigail and Maggie) just seemed comforting and refreshing after a packed first week of orientation.
After a long lunch at Cantinetta dei Verrazzano, we spent the rest of our day at the Ponte Vecchio taking pictures and shopping, of course. Not only was the Ponte Vecchio a beautiful row of buildings, but it was a fun place to (window) shop. And, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll stumble into Mannelli Leather Goods, where you’ll find a sweet woman from England and adorable leather bracelets.
All in all, if you’re studying in Siena or ever find yourself in Siena, Florence makes for a great day trip. The city itself has so much to keep you occupied, but not enough to be overwhelming.
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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);">Hi there! My name is Natalie Clark and I go to college in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I'm an English major with Creative Writing and Gender Studies concentrations. While I love my hometown in Arkansas, I've also gotten really into traveling since starting college (as one would assume, considering the fact that I'm studying abroad) and I can't wait to explore while I'm in Italy...okay, okay...and eat a lot of pasta.</span></p>