UMass Amherst Semester Abroad in Siena, Italy

as reported by Zoe Mervine, Umass Amherst student in the Siena Program. The Siena Program is a culture and language focused study abroad program run by UMass Amherst. There are ten students in the program this Spring. Follow my semester abroad: #Umass in Siena

For class we visited the Stanze della Memoria, or the Rooms of Memory in Siena. It documents the journey of Siena through the era of Fascism in Italy. We learned about resistance movements and its liberation, but most importantly its occupation.

People in the community joined the Fascist party and were responsible for the repression and control of their fellow Sienese. Resistance fighters left the city and hid in the woods, if found they were often tortured and killed. The museum was on the site of the Siena Fascist interrogation center where people who resisted would be tortured.

It was a very enlightening experience, and it was a great place to go to learn about Siena’s history at that time. The museum itself was a part of the history it reflected. We are living every day with people who remember what it was like to live under fascism in Siena. Our Contemporary History Class is teaching us about how Siena came to be what it is today.

Ciao,

Zoe Mervine ‘15

UMass Amherst Semester Abroad in Siena, Italy

as reported by Zoe Mervine, Umass Amherst student in the Siena Program. The Siena Program is a culture and language focused study abroad program run by UMass Amherst. There are ten students in the program this Spring. Follow my semester abroad: #Umass in Siena

For our Art History Class we went to the Palazzo Pubblico again to talk about the building itself as well as the art inside. Construction on this building began in 1297. The tower or Torre del Mangia was at the time the tallest structure in Italy, having been designed to be taller than the tallest tower in the rival city of Florence.

It was built to house the government of the nine, which was an elected government. The rulers lived in the Palazzo Pubblico and were not allowed to leave for the two months they served. From when it was completed to the 20th century, the inside has been decorated with beautiful sculpture, art, and frescoes.

The emblem of Siena is a she-wolf nursing infants, like that of Rome. Legend says that Siena was founded by Senius, son of Remus. Remus was brother to Romulus who founded Rome, which was named after him. Whether or not this is true, it makes for an interesting story and a memorable emblem. Every day I learn more about the beautiful medieval city of Siena and every day I fall more in love.

Ciao,

Zoe Mervine ‘15

UMass Amherst Semester Abroad in Siena, Italy
as reported by Zoe Mervine, Umass Amherst student in the Siena Program. The Siena Program is a culture and language focused study abroad program run by UMass Amherst. There are ten students in the program this Spring. Follow my semester abroad: #Umass in Siena
We took an Italian class photo with our teacher Simonetta. This month we have new students from Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland, and France!
We went on a class field trip to the famous fresco Buon Governo in the Palazzo Pubblico. The full title in English is The Allegory of Good and Bad Government. It was painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti between 1338 and 1339. Lorenzetti covered the walls of an entire room. One side of the room depicts the effects of a good government in Siena: free trade, peace, justice, etc. The other side of the room depicts the effects of governmental decay: greed, murder, neglect, etc.
For class we had to describe the scenes completely in Italian. My Italian has improved since I came to Siena as an absolute beginner. I would show you a picture of the beautiful frescoes, but unfortunately it was against the rules of the museum to take photos inside. I guess you’ll just have to come see them yourself. Beautiful Siena is worth the trip!
Ciao,
Zoe Mervine ‘15

UMass Amherst Semester Abroad in Siena, Italy

as reported by Zoe Mervine, Umass Amherst student in the Siena Program. The Siena Program is a culture and language focused study abroad program run by UMass Amherst. There are ten students in the program this Spring. Follow my semester abroad: #Umass in Siena

We took an Italian class photo with our teacher Simonetta. This month we have new students from Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland, and France!

We went on a class field trip to the famous fresco Buon Governo in the Palazzo Pubblico. The full title in English is The Allegory of Good and Bad Government. It was painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti between 1338 and 1339. Lorenzetti covered the walls of an entire room. One side of the room depicts the effects of a good government in Siena: free trade, peace, justice, etc. The other side of the room depicts the effects of governmental decay: greed, murder, neglect, etc.

For class we had to describe the scenes completely in Italian. My Italian has improved since I came to Siena as an absolute beginner. I would show you a picture of the beautiful frescoes, but unfortunately it was against the rules of the museum to take photos inside. I guess you’ll just have to come see them yourself. Beautiful Siena is worth the trip!

Ciao,

Zoe Mervine ‘15

UMass Amherst Semester Abroad in Siena, Italy

as reported by Zoe Mervine, Umass Amherst student in the Siena Program. The Siena Program is a culture and language focused study abroad program run by UMass Amherst. There are ten students in the program this Spring. Follow my semester abroad: #Umass in Siena

In our Italian Contemporary History class, we started by learning a lot about Siena’s history. This included a visit to the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, a musical academy founded by Count Guido Chigi Sarachini. The school is essentially a mansion and museum as well as an elite international music school. We saw famous paintings and instruments, including Franz Liszt’s piano!

It is crazy to imagine people going to school in such a place, but I guess it is fitting for the surroundings to be as beautiful as the music made there.

Ciao,

Zoe Mervine ‘15

The Vocal Suspects practice for Saturday’s International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella Northeast Quarterfinals competition. The Vocal Suspects are one of three UMass a cappella groups, including The Hexachords and S#arp Attitude, who will perform tomorrow at the University of Hartford along with seven other a cappella groups from across the northeast. The Suspects’ set includes arrangements of “Hey Brother” by AVICII, “Stars” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, “Honeymoon Avenue” by Ariana Grande and “Royals” by Lorde.

 Watch a quick clip of the group’s practice on Instagram.

UMass Amherst Semester Abroad in Siena, Italy

as reported by Zoe Mervine, Umass Amherst student in the Siena Program. The Siena Program is a culture and language focused study abroad program run by UMass Amherst. There are ten students in the program this Spring. Follow my semester abroad: #Umass in Siena

For three months we are taking Italian language classes. During the first two hours we learn about grammar and vocabulary and during the second two hours we practice speaking and conversations. We have classes 5 days a week and an exam for each section every month.

In grammar class we were learning about quantities and the names of different packaging in Italian. Our teacher thought we might benefit from a more hands on lesson so she took us to the grocery store down the street. She also bought us some cookies!

The second picture is of my class in January with our Italian speaking teacher Andreina. Michele and I (in the back left) are the only Americans in our language level. The other students in our class come from all of the world: Saudi Arabia, Sweden, China, and Japan.

This month more people have joined our class including some from France, Spain, Germany, England, Turkey, and Korea! I love getting to know other people from around the world every day. Sometimes our only common language is Italian so it motivates us to get better.

Ciao,

Zoe Mervine ‘15

UMass Amherst Semester Abroad in Siena, Italy

as reported by Zoe Mervine, Umass Amherst student in the Siena Program. The Siena Program is a culture and language focused study abroad program run by UMass Amherst. There are ten students in the program this Spring. Follow my semester abroad: #Umass in Siena

Trip to Rome, Part 2

We took the metro into the city and walked up to the street level right by the colosseum!  Our four star hotel (thanks UMass!), was right next to the Roman Forum so we had a view of it from our rooms.

Just down the street, in front of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin, was the Bocca della Verita or the Mouth of Truth. You stick your hand in the stone mouth and if you are a liar you lose your hand! Luckily we all had never told a lie.

Ciao,

Zoe Mervine ‘15

UMass Amherst Semester Abroad in Siena, Italy

as reported by Zoe Mervine, Umass Amherst student in the Siena Program. The Siena Program is a culture and language focused study abroad program run by UMass Amherst. There are ten students in the program this Spring. Follow my semester abroad: #Umass in Siena

Trip to Rome, Part 1

We left Siena by bus at around 10 AM for our three-hour bus ride to Rome. Italy just happens to be beautiful, so the trip went by quickly.

This is trip number one of three organized for us by the UMass Siena Program. Our program director, Elena Monami, planned the trip and came with us to bring us around the city.The transportation and hotel were taken care of for us. It was very nice to go with an Italian who knew all the sights to see but we spent most of our time exploring on our own.

Zoe Mervine ‘15

UMass Amherst Semester Abroad in Siena, Italy

as reported by Zoe Mervine, Umass Amherst student in the Siena Program. The Siena Program is a culture and language focused study abroad program run by UMass Amherst. There are ten students in the program this Spring. Follow my semester abroad: #Umass in Siena

Trip to Pisa Part 3

We left the Leaning Tower of Pisa and walked into some local shops for some souvenirs. I bought a couple postcards for my family’s collection.

We wandered into a shop that sold rather expensive and exquisite objects ranging from glass jewelry to model boats. In between the collections of fancy themed chess sets and expensive leather bound notebooks was a Italian man who had a passion for acquiring and selling quality things. My friend Katie asked him (in Italian much better than my own) if there was a restaurant nearby that he recommended.

He told us of an osteria (a restaurant serving local food, good for lunch) called I Santi. It was wonderful and authentic Tuscan cuisine. I had Gnocchi con Pomodoro e Mozzarella.

This trip wouldn’t have been the same without my new UMass friends. In the top picture from the left: Michele Fitch, Katie Flanagan, Alli Masley, and Mary O’Sullivan.

Next weekend we go to Rome!

Ciao,

Zoe Mervine ‘15

UMass Amherst Semester Abroad in Siena, Italy

as reported by Zoe Mervine, Umass Amherst student in the Siena Program. The Siena Program is a culture and language focused study abroad program run by UMass Amherst. There are ten students in the program this Spring. Follow my semester abroad: #Umass in Siena

Trip to Pisa, Part 2

Luckily, we made it to the Leaning Tower of Pisa before it started to rain. The sky began to sprinkle on us a few minutes later, but we made sure to get some good photos first!

It rained on and off for the remainder of the day, but it was actually really nice. We had checked the weather and come prepared of course. There weren’t too many other people there and it made for some nice pictures.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is beautiful in person. It is smaller but definitely more beautiful than it seems in pictures. The Leaning Tower is the bell tower of Pisa’s Duomo or Cathedral. The Pisa Baptistry is also in the square and an incredible work of art. The square is accurately named the Piazza dei Miracoli or the Piazza of Miracles.

Zoe Mervine ‘15