Part 2 with 5 (more) reasons why you should study abroad is Siena, Italy is here for your reading pleasure. You may remember this entry that had the first 5 reasons. I originally wanted to create an entry with 10 reasons but apparently I am a rambler and oversharer when it comes to written and picture content. It was just entirely too long post together. So here we are with a separate part 2 just for you!
- The Contrade
- The Palio horse race
- The Piazza del Campo
- Gelato, gelato, and gelato
- Learning (and practicing in real time) the Italian language and learning to cook the delicious Italian food at Dante Alighieri
So after that quick recap, let’s delve back into the gorgeous Italian gem of Siena and with 5 more reasons to study abroad in this beautiful walled city.
Insta-worthy shots everywhere you turn. Down every street. In every corner. Literally everywhere.
I mean, if we don’t post it on social media, did it really happen? Siena is full of such beauty no matter which way your turn! Whether you are focusing on the smaller details or the overall picture, Instagram the heck out of it.
The architecture is stunning.
As you would expect with the medieval Renaissance charm, there is just some stunning architecture in Siena. The Torre del Mangia, located at the Palazzo Publico in the Campo was one of my classmates favorites but seriously terrified me. My professor warned that the walk up is terribly claustrophobic and since that tends to make me umcomfortable combined with my great fear of falling (I am not scared of heights, just the actual falling – as long as there is a safeguard from my potential plummet, I am good!), I decided to forego the tower walk-up.
BUT if you are looking for a similar view but not quite as daunting (read that as terrifying for me), you should check out the view from the duomo, Siena’s gorgeous cathedral (as seen in the picture above)! The view from the top of the baptistry is just perfect. You can see Tuscany in all of its glory with love Siena surrounding you too. But the Duomo is a glorious site in itself. The fascade is striking in its contrasting colors. Once insides, the dome and the lovely tiled floor just add to experience.
Be sure that when you visit the Duomo, you wear clothes that are covering your shoulders and your legs above your knee. They do provide these covers to wear if you don’t happen to have appropriate attire but I always felt like it was a sign of respect to be prepared.
One more great point of architecture is the Fontebranda. I went by one afternoon and it is not a fountain that you would expect! According to Walks of Italy,
“The façade, with three arches, is adorned with four stone lions. In the past, each basin served a purpose: one was for drinking water, another for animals to drink from and the third, a
washtub. The fountain was so fundamental in Siena’s water supply, it even was mentioned by Dante in the 30th canto of his Inferno.”
Saint Catherine of Siena, her relic at Basilica of San Domenico and her sanctuary at her home.
Who doesn’t love seeing a dried, mummified looking head that is hundreds of years old? If you are interested in that sort of thing, you should to Basilica of San Domenico and go see the religious relic that is St. Catherine of Siena’s head. Although you cannot get really close to it, I think it is worth a quick visit. Plus the Basilica is lovely in it’s own right, although definitely not as ornate as the Duomo. But in related matters, a visit of St. Catherine of Siena’s home and sanctuary is a must! The gorgeous little chapel seems to be a hidden gem to most tourists and it is a must see in the middle of the Oca contrada.
Palazzo Publico and the stunning art
The Palazzo Publico is located in the heart of Siena on the Campo. This is essentially where everything happens in the city in regards to the Palio horse race in the summer. This is also where the Torre del mangia that you can climb (see above). I visited the Palazzo for a class and go to view the iconic artwork of Ambrogio Lorenzetti. His word The Allegory of Good and Bad Government, which was completed in 1339, is a sight to behold. Although time has faded some of the elements, so much of it is still intact and there is just so many hidden messages. I think there is something very special about getting to actually stand in person and study the fresco versus learning about it in a classroom. Seeing the scale, the minute details, and being able to reflect while right in front of it – what an incredible experience. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the work myself because photography is not allowed in order to extend the life of the work. But a quick google search definitely provides lovely images.
Perfect base city for traveling Italy
and so many more? Most of them are just a train ride away! I went all over the place in my tour of Italy while abroad for the month. Navigating the public transportation is super easy but beware of train strikes!
Siena is a medieval Tuscan city that sparkles like no other! Imagine living in Tuscany, learning the Italian language, the history, tasting the fresh and scrumptious food all while experiencing the Italian thrill of the Palio.
is a dream that keeps returning for the
rest of your life
Have you ever studied abroad?
Did you love your experience like I did?
Ever been to Siena?
Let me know what your favorite part of immersing yourself in a culture!
Be sure to pin this for later!