Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Elsa and Rosso in Siena, Italy!


Rosso's and Elsa's trip begins in Washington, D.C.

I started my journey on June 21st and have officially checked off Siena Italy as a top place to visit. I had no idea how beautiful a city could be until I was living inside the walls of such powerful history that I understand why people don’t leave Siena very often.

I moved into a stunning fourth floor apartment where two Italian girls, Mariangela and Alessia, at Siena University’s are currently residing. These two girls have made my stay in Siena that much more enjoyable. I couldn’t have asked for a better hand on experience with the Italian language then being able to get dinner with them at local restaurants or just hanging around the apartment watching Italian reality TV shows. They truly are becoming lifelong friends, an experience I wasn’t expecting to find but am thankful for. 

Me, Katie, Mariangela, and Alessia, Piazza del Campo Siena Italy 

Our study abroad program consisted of learning spoken Italian, Italian Sign Language, and Italian Deaf Culture. Talk about incredible. Everyday I was encouraged to communicate in a new and foreign way. My perspectives on the world were constantly being changed due to the variety of languages I encountered here in Siena on a daily basis. 

Rosso and Elsa at the Siena School for Liberal Arts

Can you find Rosso?

Rosso taking a break from class and enjoying the view

Through our studies we were able to experience two different Italian Deaf communities. We visited the local ENS, Ente Nationale Sordomuti, which consisted of many older Italians who spoke more than they signed. We were fortunate enough to meet an older Deaf gentleman who had once walked the halls of the same school we attend today. I am still so fascinated by his stories from his time at the Siena school and wish I was able to learn more from him. 

Italian Deaf Gentleman, Siena School

We were also given the opportunity to visit Bologna, a city about two hours from Siena. We arrived and were greeted by two Deaf Italians who were gracious enough to show us both their city and their Deaf bar called Senza Nome. Through this experience we got to see individuals who were communicating through sign language, even the hearing individuals who didn’t know sign were required to order through sign language. A difference in the generations here in Italy made me appreciate their language that much more. I am still over the moon because of all the experiences that I have been given and both of these experiences will leave a place in my heart forever. 

Bar Senza Nome, Bologna Italy
Luckily our program overlapped with one of Siena’s biggest events, the Palio (a horse race). This tradition in Siena has been going on for centuries and includes much more history and pride than I had originally anticipated. Siena is separated into 17 Contrades, individually they each are represented by mascots and proudly show off their spirit with parading through the streets of Siena whenever they can. (Which can mean a rude awakening to the sounds of drumming in the middle of the night). The elephant Contrade recently won the Palio and as tradition says the Contrade that wins is born again, meaning this Contrade has been seen with pacifiers walking around the city. The race itself lasted about three total minutes but the buildup to the race lasted around four hours. People are allowed into the Piazza del Campo for free but must arrive early enough to get a good vantage point, some individuals lined up as early as five in the morning. The greatest moments come from finding the true spirit of what you see and luckily I was able to experience a great Palio race. 

Katie and me enjoying the crowds during the Palio de Siena 2015
Rosso's hideout during our time in Italy

Although my time here seems shorter as each day passes I have grown so much through this experience that I am unable to think of a better way to have spent my last three weeks.

La Dolce Vita

Elsa Sylvester & Rosso 
Deaf Studies Summer Study Program in Siena