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Name: Rachel Witt Email: rachel.g.witt@vanderbilt.edu City Studied Abroad In: Siena, Italy Program: CET History of Art and Italian Studies Program Details: -One semester (September to December/January to May) -Courses in History of Art, Italian Cultural History, Italian Language -Courses mostly fulfill credit in the art history and Italian department (but, my Italian Cultural History class counted towards my Anthropology major) -Live in an apartment with Italian roommates (most of whom speak English) -Do a homestay with an Italian family (who will prepare phenomenal Italian food every day!) -Courses taught in English (except Italian Language) by Italian professors -Small program with about 15 American students -Program not only open to Vanderbilt students (other universities include University of Virginia, Tufts University, Bowdoin College, Bates College, John Hopkins University, and Brandeis College) -The program also includes a traveling seminar to Sicily, group trip to Carnevale (in the spring), a bike tour around Tuscany, an Italian cooking class, and much more! Courses Taken: -Imagery in Public Spaces in Early Modern Italy -Sienese Art and Architecture -Italian Cultural History -Beginning Italian Other Courses Offered: -Advanced Beginning, Intermediate, High Intermediate, Advanced, and High Advanced Italian -Etruscan and Roman Art and Architecture -Painting Methods: Plein Aire and Studio (Fall and Spring only) -History of Italian Cinema -Italian and European Politics -Love Poetry of the Italian Middle Ages and Renaissance (taught in Italian) -Fine Young Cannibals and Other Stories in Contemporary Literature (taught in Italian) Favorite Parts of the Program: -Our apartments were in the middle of Siena (inside the Medieval city walls!) -After the Renaissance, no new buildings were built inside the city walls. So the entire city is beautiful Gothic and Renaissance style architecture with cobble stone streets


-Living in a small city, you can really get to know everything there is to know about Siena -The city is not very touristy and there are only one or two other study abroad programs in Siena, so you have an authentic Italian experience -Hardly anyone speaks English, so you get to practice your Italian -Traveling by bus is incredibly cheap -The food in Siena is some of the best and cheapest Italian food I had in Italy -There is a huge weekly street market that sells everything from dishware to shoes -The professors and students take pausas (breaks) for cafe in the middle of class! -The Imagery and Public space class took weekly trips to Florence and visited the museums and cathedrals (and got to skip all the lines!) -You are given a university card and museum pass that gets you into almost every Italian museum for free -Il Piazzo del Campo is one of the most beautiful city squares in Italy; people can relax with their friends on il Campo while eating delicious gelato…and don’t forget your camera! -Walking around Siena is such an adventure—each narrow street can lead you to beautiful hidden gardens, breath-taking cathedrals, and many unexpected surprises! Least Favorite Parts of the Program: -Even though the streets are narrow and cobble stone, there are always cars, Vespa’s, trucks, and buses that take up the entire street and have almost no consideration for pedestrians -Some towns in Tuscany are very difficult to reach by bus or train unless you rent a car -My Italian classes were three hours and began at 9 am every day the first three weeks, and then twice a week for the rest of the semester -You cannot miss more than 15 hours of class, which is difficult since classes are three hours long meaning you can only miss 5 classes -Shopping in Siena is incredibly expensive (especially on Via Banchi di Sopra), so you usually have to go to Florence for shopping. -There are no university sports teams or clubs you can join -There are many amazing Italian restaurants, but almost no ethnic restaurants -Customer service does not exist Best Restaurants in Siena: -Fonte Giusta (expensive for dinner, but they have a daily lunch buffet with pasta and sides for about 7 euros and the best pici cacio e pepe!) -Osteria il Campaccio (amazing pasta dishes!) -Nannini (great for lunch and some of the best desserts in Siena) -CopaCabana (hands down, the BEST and cheapest gelato in Siena)


-The Tea Room (great atmosphere, delicious tea, wonderful desserts, and they sometimes have live music!) -MeetLife Café (Small café near Siena’s University for Foreigners that’s perfect for a café break) -Sic (Café and bookstore near Siena’s University for Foreigners that great for doing homework, espresso, and pastries) I Would Recommend This Program Because: -I made wonderful American and Italian friends -Every meal in Italy is amazing! -You really learn how to be independent and self-reliant -Siena is perfect for students studying art history -The professors are very personable, friendly, and are very knowledgeable -Siena is manageable enough that you can really feel at home there Other Things I Think You Should Know About Studying Abroad in Italy: -The transportation system (especially trains) can be very complicated; don’t be afraid to ask questions (in Italian) if you are confused -Outside the large, touristy city centers, not many Italians speak English -Try to speak Italian as much as you can -Dinner happens a lot later in Italy than in America, most restaurants don’t even open until 8 pm and most Italians don’t eat until 9 pm -Lines don’t really exist in Italy; don’t get upset if someone pushes in front of you…be aggressive and hold you place in line! -Italian men can be very forward -Transportation can be very expensive and busy during holidays (especially Easter) -Museum and transportation strikes are very common and are usually announced ahead of time -Italian professors teach very slowly and want you to enjoy learning, so classes can sometimes move very slowly -Don’t eat at the restaurants or gelaterias in the city center; they are expensive, not very good, and are full of tourists. Just walk over a few streets to reach the local restaurants! -If you plan to travel around Italy, plan trips to Cinque Terra and the Amalfi Coast during the warmer part of the semester, and save trips to places like Venice and Rome for the colder parts -While cheap airlines (like Ryanair) seem to have great deals, most of their airports are not in major cities, so you’ll have to pay to take a bus or train into the city, which can turn out to be even more expensive than a regular flight -While it’s great to travel around Europe, I recommend spending as much time in Siena as you can; it’s a wonderful city!


Sienna -- Rachel Witt