Sienna and Barberino
A few days ago, we took a public bus from Florence to Sienna, a small, quiet town south of Florence. It was a refreshing break from the noise and crowds of Florence, as Siena is much less touristy. There was still a lot to see: the town’s central square was beautiful, surrounded by small restaurants shops, and a very large cathedral. There was less terra cotta, and instead, many of the buildings had a castle-like feel. All over the town were reminders of the recent horse race, the dominant sport event and rallying call of Siena. The town is divided into four quarters, and twice every year, they all challenge each other in a race called the Palio. When we went to Sienna, the race had happened two days ago, so it was still a hot topic. Pictures of the race were posted on many buildings. The flags of each quarter were still raised high. At one point, the winning quarter paraded through the street, singing, chanting and beating on drums. For lunch, we tried the famous procuttio di cinghiale, a type of boar meet, which was a little unusual but still really good.
Also fun was our trip to the Barberino outlet mall. In an attempt to fully pull off the “eurotrash” look, my roommate and I each bought a pair of suave, Italian-guy jeans and a colorful, too-tight t-shirt. I’m starting to fit in more, mentally as well. Instead of being starving by 5:30, I can now wait for the late-evening Italian dinners. I think in euros, instead of doing a rough mental conversion to dollars before every purchase. I even
think in Italian more often; sometimes I’ll have a thought and the words will come to me in Italian before English. I love this experience because it is really immersing me in the Italian lifestyle. I feel like a local more than a tourist. As my friend’s host mom said, “You’re not a tourist if you’re staying for more than a week,” and I couldn’t agree more. This feels like home to me, and Italy is a place I could really get used to.