Arrival, Settling in, and Assisi

(Apparently I failed to actually hit the publish button on this post last week.)

It has been one week since I arrived here in Siena. After over 26 hours of traveling, it was with great relief that I finally stepped out of the taxi in front of the door to my apartment last Sunday. Lucca, one of the teachers at Dante, had been conducting a class in Rome and was nice enough to pick me up at the airport. Together James (one of the other ND students here), Lucca, and myself took a taxi from the airport to the Tiburtina bus station, then a bus to Siena, and then finally another taxi to our apartments. Lucca made sure I got in the building door alright, and then left in the taxi. Now alone for the first time, I was confronted with an issue. There were two staircases Infront of me, Scala A and Scala B. Not knowing where exactly my apartment was, I chose Scala A and started up. After reaching the top without encountering any open doors, I turned around and tried the other staircase, with similar results.

Now a little concerned, I luckily remembered that I had received an email with my landlady’s phone number. I called the number, and Paula answered, “Pronto?” After using mostly English with Lucca, this was the first time that I had to use Italian, so I was a little rusty. With some effort, I succeeded in explaining that I was actually inside the building but just didn’t know which door my apartment was. Once we reached an understanding, Paula came down to collect me and take me up to my room (which ended up being near the top of Scala A).

Paula showed me the “need to knows” of the apartment and introduced me to some of my apartment mates, including one native Italian who is studying at the University of Siena. After this point I was exhausted and went to bed as soon as possible but was quickly woken up by a Contrada parade in the street bellow my window.

First day in Siena

The rest of the week involved getting settled in at my apartment and at the school. I am taking two classes here. Every weekday, I have 4 hours of language classes. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, I have about three hours of Italian History through the Arts, which involves field trips to museums. This week, we went to the Archaeological Museum, focusing our study on Etruscan funerary statues, as well as the Duomo museum and “so called” crypt. (It is “so called” because there actually aren’t any bodies buried there.)

On the Porta del Cielo above the Duomo

In terms of language use outside of class, I have been running into an issue. When I am talking to a shop owner, for example, I use Italian. However, when the owner responds in Italian, I take a couple seconds to understand the question and think of a response. Most of the time at this point, my conversation partner just switches to English. Hopefully in a week or two I’ll be able to respond quickly enough to avoid this problem.

Eating a panino

Oh yeah. Yesterday a bunch of the ND students here decided to take a trip to Assisi. Here are some of the pictures.

Basilica di San Francesco
Overlooking the Umbrian countryside