Student space

Fall 2017 Orientation

On September 1, the new semester students arrived! We have a diverse mix of Americans, Greeks, and Italians; and after a whirlwind orientation weekend, they are settled into their new homes in Siena and ready for the semester ahead.

Orientation here consists of a relaxing few days at an agriturismo, or farm, in the Tuscan countryside, with picturesque views, plenty of coffee and good food, and paperwork to keep the jetlag company. The students get to know each other and the staff at the School and what the semester will consist of. 

In the afternoon of the second day of orientation, some of the students went to explore the nearby town of Certaldo, a quiet, medieval city on top of a hill—sounds like Siena—best known for being the home of Boccaccio’s family. Giovanni Boccaccio, the famous fourteenth century Italian writer known for the Decameron, a work that influenced Chaucer, may or may not have actually been born in Certaldo, but that didn’t stop the students from enjoying its quiet streets and gorgeous overlooks.

The next day, we went to San Gimignano, a traditional visit for students on the last day of orientation. Known as the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages,” San Gimignano still has most of its towers intact, creating a beautiful “skyline” from a distance. As we made our way through the streets, we stopped occasionally to hear about particular points of interest and history—a small taste of the amazing culture the students will get this semester.

One of the highlights of the San Gimignano trip was visiting Galleria Continua, a place dedicated to showcasing contemporary art and forming connections between past and present—an important and intriguing mission in a medieval city.

We also got to visit Balducci Ceramica to learn about their artisanal pottery and the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed. Finally, after an eventful, fun day exploring San Gimignano, the students finally went to Siena to meet their host families. 

And now—the semester begins!

Alexandra Wendt

Siena School Intern