Arrivaderci Siena

Friday was my last day of classes and the official end of my SLA grant, but since I am staying in Italy for 2 weeks to travel independently, I decided to continue my blog posts. My computer is still broken, so I am writing this on my phone.

For the last week of lessons my class only had 3 students for the first time since the first week. I like these smaller class sizes better because there is more opportunity to speak. The difference in my abilities between the first and last week were amazing! I could even express myself using the periodo ipotetico without stumbling too much! For the last day of class we watched “La Mafia uccide solo d’estate,” which is a historical fiction movie set in Palermo during the height of the Mafia killings. Afterwards we discussed the themes and historical context. Having this type of discussion class instead of a grammar lesson was a great way to end the program.

Sunday morning at 4 am I set out on the Via Francigena, which is a historical pilgrim route that leads from southern England to Rome and passes through Siena. I have a trekking backpack as my only luggage, so I thought it would be cool to walk at least part of the way to Rome. After packing all my belongings though, my backpack was heavier than I expected, and after about 20 miles of walking I was dead tired. I ended up in a town called Buonconvento. Little did I know that small Tuscan towns virtually shut down on Sundays. The tourist office, bus station, and most restaurants were closed. On top of that, my phone charger had stopped working.I had a hard time even finding an open restaurant, so I didn’t think there would be a place to buy a new charger. Physically exhausted and cut off from the world. I decided to take a nap in a park before I decided what to do. At this point it was only about 2:00 in the afternoon. I woke up at about 3:00 and figured my best option was to take a train to the next large town (I had learned that no buses run on Sundays, so having no way to get to it, I had to cancel the airbnb that I had booked a couple days before.) I bought a ticket at the self-service kiosk, but the next train to Grosseto didn’t leave for about 3 hours. While waiting at the train station, the town really got quite. The only noise I could hear was the occasional car driving by a few roads away. It was a bit eerie. After a while a well dressed but obviously mentally handicapped man walked up to me and started talking. I had a pretty long conversation with him in Italian. Apparently, he had just clocked out of his job at the museum up the road and liked to come to the train station to talk to travelers. Eventually, the train came and I got on. Luckily, there was a hotel in Grosseto right next to the train station. I got a room, showered, and slept for about 12 hours.

Although I only did a part of the trail, walking through Tuscany was really special. Eventually, I would like to come back and do the whole trek from Siena to Rome, but with a lighter backpack and when it’s not so hot. Now, I am in Rome and will be here until Saturday.

I will update with pictures when I get access to a computer.