There is a little city tucked away in the Tuscan region that took my breath away the first time I saw it. Once I was there, I didn’t want to leave — the festivities, the food and everything else in the city was so interesting. The city I speak of is Siena, and leaving after my first visit so many years ago was nothing short of dreadful.
A few years back, I had an opportunity to go back to Siena for an extended period of time and of course I couldn’t turn it down. While planning my trip, I came across a culinary school called Dante Aligheri International Culinary and Arts that had courses I could take while there. Che furtuna! I had plenty of time to plan and soak up as much family time as I could before departing on my long adventure to Siena.
When the time came to tell my family that I would be living in Siena and attending culinary school, I got another piece of good news. Lucky for me, my granddaughter Jennifer wanted to go join me in Siena for a study abroad program while in college. Getting to live in my favorite city with my granddaughter – talk about a dream come true! Jennifer had been taking Italian classes at school for the past two years, so we would both be able to practice our Italian as I went to culinary school and she continued her studies in Italy.
We spent almost two days traveling, but when we finally made it to Siena, the excitement didn’t stop. We found the cutest little hotel to stay in for three weeks while we searched for the perfect apartment to rent. Jennifer wanted an apartment with dark stone walled hallways, but I wanted to live in luxury. I wanted a beautiful fresco on the ceiling and to feel the history of Siena around me every day. I wanted to see my Italian heritage in front of me, and to share the experience with my granddaughter. I wanted to live in the Italy that my father always told me about when I was a child.
Now, in Siena you don’t drive a car – you walk. We walked for miles each day to find the perfect place for us. I was beginning to get antsy. We had been looking for a place for over a week and I was ready to get settled. Purely out of desperation, I asked the manager of the hotel we were staying in if he could recommend a place for us to rent. The answer had been right in front of us the whole time! His mother-in-law had an apartment in town that we could rent. He took us to the apartment and I was amazed! It was perfect! There was not only one fresco, but three – one on the ceiling and two in the bathroom. It was everything I dreamed of.
With our home finally settled, Jennifer and I spent the next few months learning, eating, exploring and bonding. Though it is a small city, Siena has so much to offer, whether you are there for a day or there for a year. It’s impossible to visit this beautiful city without feeling inspired and connected to history. There’s no other place I’d rather be in Italy, or even the world.
To learn more about the city of Siena and all it has to offer, visit http://www.discovertuscany.com/siena/.