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10 Day Siena

SIS Intercultural Study Abroad Short-term study trip to Siena, Italy:

Senso Civico: A Civic Culture From Medieval Times, Alive And Well Today.

Educational Goals for a 10-day Experience:

  •  A 360 degree view on Siena’s history of “Civic Culture” through art, architecture, urban development and contemporary society. 
  • Gaining an understanding of the meaning of “intercultural competence” through the SIS Intercultural Study Abroad methods of experience and reflection. 

Program length: One week to 10 days (The ideal trip is 10 days, however adaptations can be arranged to shorten the experience).

Location and Highlights: Museums, seminars and cultural experiences in Siena, Italy 

additional excursions: day trip to Florence and a day trip to a local, organic farm.

Time of year: Winter Break, Spring Break, or beginning of summer (not possible after June 27th)

Meals: All meals are included in program fee.

Accommodations: Groups can choose to stay with host families or in a hotel near or inside Siena’s city center.  Depending on the choice of accommodations, the program fee will vary. 

Rough Program Structure

AM/PM – The group will arrive at either the Pisa or Florence Airport where SIS Staff will be waiting for you with private transportation to Siena. Upon arrival in Siena, you will either settle into your hotel and then take a short walk to the SIS Study Center for a brief orientation before dinner OR you will have a brief orientation, then be picked up by your host families.

AM – Today we’ll explore your new home for the next few days with Andrea, SIS’s local expert, who shows you around Siena’s medieval city center.  You’ll see monuments that exemplify what made Siena so powerful during medieval times and you’ll also see what has stood the test of time and is still part of contemporary Sienese culture.

PM – In the afternoon you’ll head to Siena’s Santa Maria Della Scala Museum that was the city’s original hospital for a guided tour.  You’ll learn about how this resource for the citizens and visitors to the city was the beating heart of Siena’s medieval civic approach.  You’ll also get a chance to visit Siena’s cathedral.

AM – This morning, Andrea will give a lesson on Siena’s famous Palio festival, how it works, and what it means to the people of Siena.  You’ll learn about the origins of Siena’s unique approach to eco “civic-mindedness” and how the Palio is a fundamental element to the Sienese civic approach.

PM – This afternoon you will visit one of Siena’s 17 Contradas (traditional neighborhoods).  The visit will include entrance and a guide to the private church and museum, and you’ll also meet some of the democratically elected representatives of the Contrada who will be able to explain how their contrada works and how each contrada contributes to the larger Sienese society.

After the contrada visit we’ll meet for our first Reflection Seminar where we’ll talk about your first impressions and what you expect to get out of this experience.  Afterwards, you’ll have some free time to get some Gelato or just explore the city with your group leaders.

AM – SIS Art History professor, Antonella Filippone, will take you through Siena’s historic city hall where you’ll learn about Siena’s innovations in civic management through the architecture of the building and Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s fresco, Allegories of Good and Bad Government, that dates back to the 1300’s.

PM – This afternoon you get to go into some of Siena’s underground aqueducts that brought water to the city.  Afterwards we’ll meet again to reflect on what you’ve learned so far, what has surprised you and how this all compares to what you know about your own culture.  Once again, there will be time for gelato!

AM/PM – Today we’ll take a day trip to Florence, and explore what came after the medieval period in which Siena was so influential:  The Renaissance.  We’ll have a guided tour of the city and we’ll visit Brunelleschi’s Duomo and museum.  Those brave though will be able to climb up hundreds of stairs to the top of the bell tower to get a view of the whole city!

AM – A trip to Italy isn’t complete unless you spend some time focusing on food!  This morning a group of SIS professors will lead a seminar that will highlight some of the reasons that food in Italy is such a fundamental element of civic society.  They will lead discussions about the history of Italian cuisine and how the food system is organized today to ensure high quality products for every citizen.

PM – You’ll learn how to MAKE some of the local, Tuscan cuisine!   You’ll spend your afternoon at a local cooking school and dine with your own creations!

AM – SIS Staff member Mike Manchester is also a founding member of a local volunteer organization that aims to restore and promote the city’s ancient walls (a UNESCO site) as well as some of the abandoned green spaces that surround them.  You’ll roll up your sleeves and get to work on one of the areas that’s currently being worked on by the association.

PM – In the afternoon you’ll meet with the President of the Association as well as other experts on Siena’s wall in order to understand the history and how city officials in Siena have to integrate medieval walls into modern urban planning schemes.

AM/PM – Today you’ll head out into the beautiful Tuscan countryside.  Our first stop will be a farm that makes Pecorino (sheep) cheese.  You’ll learn about the cheesemaking process and it’s specific history in Tuscany.  Of course, you’’ll taste plenty of cheese too!  We’ll also visit Pienza, a city that was created by Pope Pius II to be “The Perfect City”.

AM – This morning you will be free to do whatever you please whether it be some last minute shopping or even climb the tower in the Piazza del Campo.

PM – We’ll meet one last time to reflect and talk about everything that we’ve learned.  In the evening we’ll have one final dinner together.

SIS will arrange everything that you need to get you to the airport with plenty of time to catch your flight home.