This last week has been busy as our students have settled in to life in the beautiful city of Siena.  Overall, this has been a week of adjustment, making new friendships, and becoming acquainted with the city. We have explored, enjoyed and been awe struck by beautiful Siena. Below is a brief recap of the week. Also, be sure to check the Google Photos account to see pictures of what our students have been up to.
Sunday – Arrival to Siena and   the benedizione del cavallo (the blessing of the horse) in preparation for the Palio! The Palio is the most famous event in Siena, and is known around the world; it takes place in July and August.  It is a festival of elaborate pageantry, cultural import, and historical significance.  The city is divided into 17 contrade, each with a motto, flag, and symbol.  10 of them will race their horses during each instance of the Palio.  Our students saw the benedizione del cavallo and the parade that followed, and then watched the race on tv (it is exceedingly difficult to find a place in the piazza to watch the event, so it is often easier to tune in to the local channel to watch.
Monday – First day of class and orientation tour of our new home, Siena. Students started classes at the Dante Alighieri school, and were placed in classes based on their knowledge of Italian.  We took a general tour of the city, and had some tasty gelato.
Tuesday —  Tour of the famous fountains of Siena. Some were representative of the city’s contrade (and provide potable water), while others were more decorative in function.
Wednesday – Visit to San Gimignano (dubbed the Manhattan of the Middle Ages, owing to the tall towers that soar upwards, making the panorama of the city look like the New York skyline).  Some of us toured the Duomo, while others took the opportunity to explore the city.  We also tried gelato at a shop whose awning says “Il gelato più buono del mondo” / “The best gelato in the world.”  Whether this sentiment is true, you’ll have to ask your child 😉
Thursday – Visit to Fortezza Medicea. The fortezza is made up of the gigantic walls that once protected the city during the Late Middle Ages/early Renaissance.  Now people go up to the top of the walls to walk or jog, as it is a quiet, verdant place with a beautiful panorama of the city.
Friday – Visit to la Torre del Mangia and the Palazzo Pubblico. The tour,  led by Enzo, featured the Torre del Mangia and the Palazzo Pubblico.  We climbed to the very top of the tower and took in the incredible view of the city and the Tuscan countryside.  The Palazzo Pubblico was similarly breathtaking, as we saw the famous frescoes illustrating the effects of Good and Bad Government.
Saturday – Full day excursion in Florence!
Sunday – Visit to the beach of Castiglione della Pescaia.
Stay tuned for another week’s recap!