Florence

Siena, San Gimignano and Assisi!

Ciao tutti! This past weekend I went to Siena, San Gimignano and Assisi with my program! It was a great adventure! I hope it’s warming up in New Jersey it sure it getting warm and beautiful here!

Siena

Alleyway in Siena

Siena is a hill town of Tuscany, meaning the whole town was built on a big hill. Isn’t that like Mt. Olive?  Tuscany is a region of Italy. Florence is in the Tuscan region and so is San Gimignano. In total there are 20 regions in all of Italy. It is kind of like how New Jersey has counties. Each region in Italy has it’s own special features and sights just like New Jersey!

Piazza del Campo in Siena- the horses race in the Piazza

Siena is divided up into 17 separate parts, each represented by an animal or symbol such as eagle, caterpillar, wave, seashell… The main Piazza of Siena holds a horse race twice a year during the summer. Each horse represents a part of the town and races around the towns square. Have you even seen a horse race? How do you decide who you want to win?

Duomo of Siena

However, what really amazed me about Siena was the Duomo. Florence has one of the biggest duomos in Italy. But Siena is known for one of the most BEAUTIFUL duomos. I was not expecting to see a cathedral but I turned the corner on our tour and saw a building I did not think could exist in real life! It was gorgeous and literally sparkling in the sun. The stained glass window was glistening and the gold paint on the facades was also reflecting the sun. The outside of the duomo is so decorated there is no blank or dull part of it. And it gets better, the inside is also highly decorated. Inside the ceiling is a dark blue with gold stars painted on it. The ceiling is lined with the statue heads of every pope that has been appointed. The floor is covered in mosaics. No part of this cathedral was at all bland.

Popes sculpture heads in the Siena’s Duomo

San Gimignano

View of San Gimignano

After some free time in Siena we got on the bus and drove to San Gimignano. The town looked down upon fields of olive trees and farms. No civilization for miles. It reminded me of a traditional older Italian town with the view and small brick homes. This town also had some funny quirks to it. The upper class of the town does not get along. So to establish their dominance in the town they built their houses taller and taller. The town now has 14 towers; once it had 72 however families tried to establish more power by destroying other’s towers. We were able to climb a tower and see a whole lot of Tuscany from the top!

Towers in San Gimignano

Assisi

Pink and white stone in Assisi

Assisi is in the region of Umbria. It’s known for it’s white and pink stone that creates the cities walls. The stone is also used in the Cathedrals and buildings. Assisi is known for Saint Francis, a saint that had a pleasant wealthy life but gave it all up to live among the poor. He is a very prominent saint, San Francisco in California was named after him. The Basilica of San Francesco was created after he was declared a saint. The church is huge! The cathedral is all white with a large rose window and placed beautifully on the edge of a hill and has 2 floors. A rose window is the large circular window divided into parts located on the front of gothic churches.

San Francisco Cathedral

We climbed the fortress that over looks the entire town. One of the popes created it so he could see the whole city. The fortress was like the best fort ever made! We climbed up spiraling flights of stairs and walked through small stone tunnels to get to the view. It was so much fun to explore someone else’s fort. It was almost like going to a friend’s tree house and getting to pretend it’s yours for the day!

Fort in Assisi

Celebrities

Marilyn Monroe

I asked my host mother about celebrities, and all she talked about was Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, Woody Allen, Obama, Elvis, Brad Pitt and Leonard DiCarpiro! I asked her about Italian actors and actresses and she told me that the US has the best! She told me the schools here are just so much better. She has been to Hollywood and loved it! But there is no Italian Hollywood here! I browsed her DVD collection and found most DVD’s an American home would have! I found out that it’s the same for singers and other celebrities. A lot of the stores and cafes here play American music! It’s nice to hear a familiar song but throws me for a loop sometimes!

Lauren Wederich
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Florence , Italy
Spring 2012

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