This weekend I took a very cool trip to Siena and San Gimignano. Those two places are two small towns in Italy about an hour south of Florence. It was in the Tuscan countryside, which let me tell you, its breathtaking. It looks like it is right out of a picture. It made me extremely grateful for this entire process, and it made me think about how lucky I am to have parents to help me go on this once in a lifetime journey. When speaking to my friends about our experiences we have realized Rome is like New York City, and Florence is like Boston. It is small but quite busy. While being around the hustle and bustle of the florentines, it was relaxing to be in the country, to see people living life with ease and the beautiful scenery.
Our first stop was Siena, which was a small city filled with history. There is a horse race that happens twice a year, every year, for generations. Siena is made up of 17 small regions in which each region is represented by a flag. Each region has one jockey and one horse that partakes in the race. I knew about this before coming abroad because I have seen the episode of Rick Steves when he goes to Siena with my dad a countless amount of times. What I did learn was where it was, in the pictures the square looks incredibly large, but it was not. It was baffling to me that so many people fit in such a small space. There were plenty of balconies, but my tour guide told me that those seats go for about 5,000 euros for the race. And while you sit there contemplating if that is worth it, may I remind you the race is 90 seconds. Yup, 5,000 euros for 90 seconds. But this race means so much to the people of Siena, it is their tradition, and it brings a sense of nationalism for them.
The next place I went on my day trip was San Gimignano, which was the cutest little town I have ever been to. It was made up of about one long street. It has award winning gelato, so I needed to find out if it was true, turns out they were right and it was the most amazing gelato I have ever had. The shops were small and packed together but all of the venders seemed to know each other and spoke to each other through their shops. There are many delicacies besides gelato there, such as wild boar. My friend had a wild boar sandwich, and said it was amazing, but I do not eat red meat so I couldn’t partake in that event. San Gimignano is located in the Chianti district, where the Chianti wine is from. This event I did partake in, and it was unlike any other glass of wine. To top it off the bottles of wine were incredibly cheap! The way my program went, I wish I had more time in San Gimignano and less time in Sienna, but the whole day was great.
I didn’t go into the day with any expectations and that is the way to do it I believe. The day blew all of my expectations away. When you go abroad everyone says how life changing and amazing it is, which adds a layer of pressure, even though that is not the intention. I think going into trips with expectations is hard because you are constantly thinking that you need to make it a memorable experience. My advice would be to just keep expectations low and follow the journey. No matter what, going abroad is a life changing, so just keep going, find the special moments in each day, and no matter what time is going by.
As always, talk soon,