I have now been in Siena for almost 2 weeks; it still seems unreal. I have a wonderful host family and I live right in the city center. I am 2 minutes walking distance from the Piazza del Campo. That is the most famous Piazza in Siena and it is beautiful. There are also tons of tourists that pass through Siena, and you are sure to find many of them in the Piazza del Campo. I feel like I almost hear more English and German when walking through the streets than I do Italian, but tourist season is soon coming to an end. The Piazza has a really nice vibe. Everyone sits in the Piazza to relax and maybe eat pizza or drink some wine. I think it is possible to find people in the Piazza at any time of the day.
Siena is a fairly small town, but it is just the right size for me. I love to get lost and find the hidden gems. Siena has a complicated layout, like a labyrinth, but I can usually get back to the Piazza del Campo and reorient myself. The streets are small and you always have to listen for cars and mopeds that are approaching behind you. Siena is also a very hilly town. I was not expecting so many steep inclines and long strains of stairs, but I definitely get my workout in every day.
All of the buildings and streets are beautiful. It seems like wherever I walk, I can look down an alley and find an amazing view of Siena or Tuscany. In the streets, you can see many pigeons and laundry hanging out on the lines to dry out. You can see many fashionable Italians mixed in with less fashionable tourists. Walking down the streets you can see many pizza places and gelato shops. The gelato is, of course, amazing. At this moment there are flags everywhere in the city representing the different contradas, or the way Siena is divided into 17 different teams for the horse races in the summer. This is something special to Siena. The contradas are taken very seriously here. It is not like your typical football team spirit, because the horse races are completely paid for and organized by the residents of Siena. Starting when they are young, they are baptized into a contrada, so it is very serious stuff.
Siena seems like a lovely place. I cannot wait to improve my Italian and find some Italian friends. I also need to stop spending so much money on gelato, but that is further down on my list!