It had been on my bucket list for YEARS to go to Siena, Italy. But, I honestly never fully believed that I would leave southern Indiana. I always assumed I would get too busy or not have enough money and life would just get in the way like it typically does. That assumption changed when I was able to study abroad last semester. I realized pretty quickly that some of my wildest dreams were going to come true. And they did! I was able to visit the city that I share a name with, and let me just say, it was freaking awesome.
While I was in England, my dad decided to come visit me for a week, and we knew that the perfect father daughter trip had to be the ultimate bucket list check-off. Siena, Italy can be found in the beautiful region of Tuscany. This part of Italy is well known for it’s beauty, from the enchanting rolling hills to the coast. However, we made our visit in early February, which meant that the grass was brown and the air was coooold. Still worth it! What an amazing place to explore. It was hard not to buy everything because everything had my name on it, (spelled differently though.)
Siena was also the trip that really opened my eyes and I experienced more culture shock than anywhere else. The reason for this is because it was the only city where I found extreme difficulty finding people who spoke English. This made it impossible to get on a bus, to ask for directions, and also pretty difficult to catch a taxi. (The taxi drivers were the only people we could find that spoke some English.) But where there is a will there is a way! We used a lot of hand gestures and facial expressions.
Enjoyable aspects of Siena:
- The food was awesome!— There was this noodle restaurant with homemade noodles… SO TASTY! They had a sauce that was made from white truffles that are a specialty in Siena, which added to the amazing flavor.
- The streets were fun to explore.– It seemed like everything was brown there, which is fitting because Siena is the color of soil. The narrow, winding ancient roads had little churches on almost every corner and all different tiny shops that were overly priced but held unique Italian treasures. The feelings I got while exploring Siena was unlike any city I have ever been to.
- It had interesting historical footnotes. — Twice a year they host a horse race in front of the Piazza el Campo. Unfortunately I was not visiting during the time of the races, but I was able to check out the Piazza. It’s known as one of Europe’s “greatest medieval squares.”
Not so enjoyable aspects:
- Siena is not as big of a tourist attraction as, say, Venice. That means that they tended to charge a little bit more for souvenirs and gifts, especially during that time of year because there is less business for them in the winter! I would have liked to buy some “real italian trinkets”, but I could only afford the items that were cheap and touristy.
- The people driving had no regard for the pedestrians. The streets had no safe place for walkers or bikers, but the cars would just zoom through without caring if there was anyone in the way. I even asked my taxi driver if people get hit very often, and she laughed and, with very rough English said, “hopefully they know by now to get out of the way.”
- It was very hard to communicate since we did not speak Italian. It was very difficult to get around when neither of us had an international data plan, and it was nearly impossible to ask for directions. I had to look up some translations ahead of time and take screen shots and show people like the bus drivers or cashiers what I was needing to know. It was pretty stressful.
Siena offered so much more to see but I had such little time. This was a very special trip for me because I got to be in the city that has my name that I have been wanting to visit FOREVER. (Much of the reason was so I could say “Sienna is in Siena”.) But it was also special to me because I got to spend it with my dad. He had never been out of the country before, so I got to show him the ropes a little bit. (And I kinda liked being the experienced one and keeping him on track.)
Thanks again for checking out my blog! It’s been a while since I have posted anything about traveling, but I have been missing my European adventures and thought it would be nice to reflect. 🙂 Where is the number one place you want to visit?? Comment below! Love you all!