One week in Siena down…one more to go! If anyone ever gets the chance to visit here, do. It is the quintessential historical and traditional Tuscan town. (Que bellisimo!) It is surrounded by a huge wall that goes all the way around the town. (Well there are more modern buildings and homes outside of the walls…but the real thing-the “centro” (ch-en-tro) is within the walls). Siena is most known for the Palio held each year on July 2 and August 16. This has been going on since wayyyyy before the US was even a place…like 13 or 1400’s. Each “contrada” (‘neighborhood’-there are 17 of them!) has a horse that races around the main square called the “Piazza del Campo”. (it’s all about the horse…if the jockey falls off it doesn’t matter as long as the horse reaches the finish line!) Before the actual horse race the horse is brought in to it’s contrada’s private chapel and is blessed. (It’s all about the horse…it has it’s own stable and sometimes members of the contrada stay in the stable with it) Before the race there is also an elaborate parade through the Campo where members of each contrada “strut their stuff…” dressed in the colors and other things of their contrada (each contrada is named after a different animal). The winner gets the palio, or the prize, which is a huge banner that a local artist makes. The only requirement for the banner is the Virgin Mary and usually contains the other symbols of the 10 contradas that participated in the race (not everyone does because it is not a big space!!).
We are also taking a class in Italian (learning the language…but my “insegnante” speaks almost all in Italian!) My brain hurts while just typing all this out…4 hours a day learning a different language…and then every other part trying to get by knowing the little we know…it’s exhausting!! But so awesome. I think I am going to learn and be able to actually use Italian better (just in these 2 weeks) than a whole 4 years of Spanish in high school…
Let’s just say this past week (I’ve only been here for a week?!) has been a whirlwind of new culture, language, and people. Ciao i cappuccini!! (hello cappuccinos!)–saving my life one espresso at a time :)
Ciao! A domani! A presto! Buongiorno! Buonasera! Arrivederci!
Ta-Ta for now:)