Monday, August 30, 2010

Big News!

This past week, while on vacation in Calabria, I got a new job!! I am the new Student Life Assistant for Georgetown University at their study abroad program in Fiesole, Italy. The job is very similar to the one I'm doing now, except I'll be living with the students. Housing and meals are included for me, AND they pay me. Imagine: getting paid to work! And the work is something I enjoy! I feel very very blessed to have found such a great opportunity. My contract lasts until December, at which point they'll decide if they want to keep this new position or not. This means four more months in Italy with the possibility for more! Plus, this new location puts me closer to Bologna, so I can go visit more often. I start immediately, on September 1st. Usually, the program takes place at Villa le Balze, donated by the Rockefeller family, but since they're doing renovations we'll be located in hotel this semester. If you'd like to check out the location where I'll be living/eating/working, you can visit Villa Aurora. Wish me luck! I'll keep you posted on the new developments and I'll try to catch up on my blog posts as well, as I still have the Palio and Calabria to tell you all about! More to follow soon!

Friday, August 20, 2010


On Carlotta's and my way up to Siena, we stopped in Orvieto, located in Umbria, to explore the town and to see the Duomo, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town was adorable, as you can see from the pictures that follow!

We found an alleyway with a wood carving shop that filled the street with kids toys:

Usually cannoli is just used as an euphemism here, but these boxers don't leave much up to the imagination!

Ta-da! Il duomo!
Close-up of church mosaics:

Statue of a bell-ringer on top of the clock tower:

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Last weekend I went down to Rome to see my friend Carlotta who studied abroad at UCSD my last year there. She actually lives an hour outside the capital in Frosinone, but we spent two days in Rome, hopping from site to site and catching up. It was refreshing to spend time with someone who knows my friends and my life back in SD. Here's our photos from the city:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

La Vita É Bella

I'm realizing that most of my posts have covered various jaunts and extra-Sienese adventures. You're probably wondering, doesn't she ever work? Has she made new friends? Is she enjoying her new medieval hilltop town? Well, the answer is yes to all of the above.

I've been working a lot lately since the director recently made me housing coordinator at the study center. It's still a short-term contract, but it's a lot more responsibility and a great new opportunity. It requires a ton of organization, so I'm loving it. My Italian is improving very fast now and I feel like I've finally caught up to and surpassed where I was at the end of studying abroad, which is very exciting! It also helps a ton in the office, as I have to coordinate with all the landlords and host families.

Last week in the office everyone but me was either sick or on vacation. So between that and my new housing project, I felt like I had become Mayor of Study-Center-Ville. It was thrilling to have been left in charge of everything that needed to be done and any problems that arose. Plus I got to chaperon two more Villa Dievole Winery trips and the cute tour guide gave me a free bottle of wine in exchange for helping him with his English. Outside of the study center, I've also been tutoring English to an Italian doctor twice weekly which offers a nice little extra income.

While Siena is a very small town and is often said to be lacking in extra-curricular activities, the summertime proves quite fun between the Siena Jazz concerts and the various contradas' Palio parties. Letizia and I have gone to a handful of the jazz concerts, most of which are located at the Enoteca at the Fortezza, a beautiful brick fortress on the outskirts of the center, and we have loved watching the international musicians collaborate at their jam sessions.

So far I've only been to one contrada party, called Nicchio. At the party, located in a grand garden, there are various areas for games, food, and drinks, as well as a dj and a dancefloor. Anna, the art history teacher, and I went Thursday night for dinner and ended up running into at least 20 of our students. It was a really fun night of eating, drinking, chatting, dancing to Waka Waka with cross-dressing teens, receiving roses from Australians, etc. Before I knew it I was falling into bed at 5am, not to wake up until 2:30pm!! Never in my life.

I must admit I'm starting to feel attached to Siena, darn it. I really need to stop adding new towns to my list of "homes". I feel attached to my coworkers, to my roommates, and to my new friends. I still believe "la cucina" (the kitchen, aka the cuisine) is better in Bologna, but let's be honest, it's still Italy and it's still delicious. I have unbelievably and completely taken to drinking Espresso and feel like a true Italian finally (although I draw the line at cigarettes, thank you!). I'm enjoying observing all the craziness that surrounds the Palio and the different contradas and I'm getting very excited to witness my first Palio on the 16th.

Mostly I'm just enjoying Italian life. And believe me, la vita e' bella. Like a dear friend once said, "Europe is rejuvenating." And that's exactly it--I feel content here, pure, as if I ran myself through a Britta Filter and came out a happy, confident woman who knows what she wants. Do I sounds like a broken record from the last time I was here? I hope so! I've made a self-declaration that I'm going to stay--in Siena, or even Bologna, or, well, anywhere in Italy, oh hell, anywhere in Europe--for at least the next year one way or another. (Ok, maybe what I want is still somewhat vague...but I'm getting there.) I'm publishing this declaration here in order to hold myself accountable to it! Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

San Chimichanga...

...Or rather, Gimignano. In my family, we call it San Chimichanga; one, because no one seems able to pronounce the real name, and two, because it's just a whole lot more entertaining. I went Friday as a chaperon for the Art History class, with about 35 students and Anna, their teacher. Tough job, I know.

We climbed what seemed like 1,000 stairs up the tower in the Museo Civico for the reward of this amazing view:

Everyone was free to do their own thing for lunch (read: the study center doesn't pay for lunch), so I managed to relocate the restaurant my family and I ate at 2 years ago.

Anna and I had lasagnette with wild boar sauce, which is one of my favorite sauces. I need a camera that specializes in food shots because this is a truly awful representation, but you get the idea.

Anna, as a special treat, decided to buy some local wine for us all to enjoy in the afternoon. It was so nice relaxing in the garden, hanging out, and sipping cool sweet wine. Field trips in Italy cannot be classified in the same category as ones in America, obviously.

There was a great viewpoint of the town's towers from the walls surrounding the garden.