When you’re going over your options for your semester or two abroad, you’ve probably already really considered relocating to Italy. This wonderfully diverse country has so much to offer its incoming students, including world-class universities, renowned attractions, its alluring beauty and some of the best “student cities” in all of Europe. In fact, you may have even looked into an exchange in Florence or some time in Milano. The opportunities in Italy really are seemingly endless!
However, you may already have a different kind of city in mind. Probably you fancy something a little more low-key, or a place for students who need something a bit more budget-conscious than a European capital city. Maybe Siena is the ideal place for your international exchange!
Siena is a medieval town in Italy that is simply steeped in tradition, yet hip enough to appeal to a large number of students. There’s always something to do in the bustling city center, especially with the dozens of new friends that you’re sure to make at the university. Plus, according to annual rankings, Siena is known to be the “most livable city in Tuscany,” as well as the fifth best city in all of Italy for its quality of life.
So, let’s take a look at why moving to Siena could be the best decision you can make when it comes to your studies abroad!
If you’re used to the hectic lifestyle of a big city, then Siena might just be a delightful discovery. There’s relaxation in the air, the people are friendly, and if need be, you can walk from one part of the city to another. In fact, most of the local inhabitants love to go on foot, or if they’re in a hurry, they might just hop on a bike for a short ride. It’s yet one more thing to add to the “live and let live” vibe that takes away all of the expectations that might be a prerequisite of other larger cities. In short, Siena will help you slow down and really enjoy your time abroad!
And as in one of the oldest cities in the entire country, there are a lot of incredibly gorgeous places to explore. Take an entire afternoon and discover the 13th-century Gothic Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena), the Baptistery (Battistero), which was built in 1325, or the outstanding Piccolomini Library. Dating back to 1315, the Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall building in the Plaza del Campo, is home to an art museum and original murals, which were painted by artists from the Sienese School of Painting.
To gain access to the culture of Siena, be sure to visit its numerous museums, such as the National Picture Gallery, the Civic Museum and the Museum of the Biccherna Tablets, just to name a few. Additionally, once you receive your student card, access to most of the museums will be free of charge.
But most of all, don’t forget to walk around the ancient city walls. You can begin at the walls that surround the city center and finish in Piazza Salimbeni, where the headquarters of the oldest surviving bank, Monte dei Paschi, are located.
Established in 1240, the University of Siena is one of the oldest and first publicly funded universities in Italy. In fact, according to QS Top Universities, the University of Siena is one of the “Ten Oldest Universities in the World.” That might look really nice on your college transcript, right?
When you’re talking about life on campus, you’re basically referring to the entire city center. In Siena, the student community makes up nearly half of the city’s entire population. Therefore, this is an actual “student city,” for sure. You’ll rarely walk into a business or a restaurant without running into other students, even those who take the same courses, making Siena a great city in which to make friends.
And if you happen to be a bookworm, then you’ve definitely come to the right place. Siena’s libraries offer a diverse collection of literature, along with nice, quiet places to read and study.
One of the best things in the entire city of Siena is the Piazza del Campo. This historical square is not only a pleasant place to spend an afternoon, but it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is also the spot where students go to study or meet up before a night filled with parties. Sound like fun already?
You’re sure to find locals, tourists and students engaging in conversation while soaking up the sun during the summer months. When things begin to cool down, the Piazza is a pleasant place to have a brisk walk.
From April until August, you’ll find an interesting event that nearly takes over the entire city center. A sort of fraternity for a particular district, the 17 Contrade begins preparing for the Palio di Siena - a horse race held on the 2nd of July and the 16th of August. During this time, parties fill the streets, making it a fun way for students to really experience the culture of Siena.
Last, but most definitely not least, should you decide to call Siena “home” for a few months or even a year, you’ll need the right student housing. You may want to rent a private room in Siena, or you may even decide to consider sharing an apartment with two or three of your new classmates.
When looking for housing, whether it be in Siena or dozens of other locations across the globe, be sure to do your study before signing a contract. In fact, you should find a trusted rental platform to conduct your search. You can even set up your preferences, enabling notifications when a property that matches them is listed. How awesome is that?
Remember that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so be sure to explore this lovely city in your spare time. You never know — it might just become your favorite European destination!