LIVING IN SIENA
We can reserve your accommodation in Siena with an Italian family, in a shared or private apartment or, if you prefer, in a hotel/B&B.
Accommodation is normally available from the Sunday before the beginning of the course to the Saturday after its ending; upon availability, it is possible toadd 1/2 extra nights. It is strongly recommended to inform your host family/landlord about the estimated arrival time and to contact them immediately in case of sudden delays/changes. If possible, we will do our best to welcome your wishes and requirements.
Siena is a small town and accommodations are either in the historical city center or in quiet residential areas, well connected to the center by bus.
The accommodation cost includes all the charges but you will need to bring your bath towels.
In most places facilities like Internet connection or air conditioned are not available. Please note also, that in the historical city center you will rarely find a building equipped with an elevator, so you should expect some stairs to do!
Living with an Italian family is a great opportunity to get in touch with our country's culture and lifestyle, but it also implies a good flexibility in adapting to different habits and rules. Your host family may consist in a couple with children, but also in one or two adult people only, like for example an elderly lady. Please note that in your host family the use of kitchen is not allowed.
This kind of accommodation will give you more freedom and the possibility to cook your own meals, sharing common spaces with other students.
If you have particular needs or requirements we kindly recommend you to book a private apartment or a room in hotel/B&B, where you can get more independence and comfort.
Your accommodation details will be confirmed 10/15 days before your arrival. You will be told the exact amount, which is normally to be paid directly to the host family/landlord after your arrival in Siena.
In case you choose a private apartment, a deposit may be required; for a hotel reservation, the hotel conditions will be valid.
Please ask the reception desk should you have any problem/concern regarding the accommodation. Once the lodging cost is paid, it cannot be refunded.
WHERE WE ARE
Our school is located in the historical city center, in a strategic point close to Piazza del Campo and to the main street, "il Corso", where you will find many shops. At a few steps you will also find the central bus station, a supermarket, a bank, the central post office and many restaurants and cafès.
Via del Paradiso 16
COURSE INFORMATION AND SCHEDULE
On the first school day we will meet you at the reception desk between 8:30 and 9:00am. Beginners will immediately start their lessons, while students who already have some knowledge of the language will firstly complete a written and oral test, so that we can put them in the most appropriate group.
The timetable for the Intensive course is from 9 am to 12:15. During high season some of the classes may be in the afternoon as well from 14.15 pm to 17.30. There is a coffee break from 10:30 to 10:45. The individual lessons of the Intensive Plus courses are normally from 12:30 to 14:00 pm or from 14:15 to 15:45 pm.
Our teaching philosophy emphasises reading and comprehension of spoken Italian. All the necessary teaching material is included in the course fees but we suggest you to bring your own dictionary. You should also bring a copybook along with pens/pencils. For homework and exercises you should calculate about one additional hour per day.
All courses should be paid for at least 3 weeks before the classes begin. In case of partial payment, the full balance should be paid for by first day of school at the reception desk.
MISSED LESSONS, CHANGES AND EXTENSIONS
Students who request course changes before the course begins should send an email or a fax at least 15 days prior to the first day of the course. Requests to prolong courses and accommodation should be done at least one week in advance. If for any reason a student is not able to attend classes for personal reasons, the school will not be held responsible to reimburse any payment for the missed classes.
The cultural courses (History of Art, Wine, Italian cooking, etc.) can be booked directly at the school.
We recommend the language and culture course "Italy today" as well as the "History of Art" course only to students from the 3rd ability level on. The supplementary courses take place only if the minimum number of participants is reached.
If you are interested in reserving extra private classes, you should ask for availability at the reception desk. The secretary and the teachers will give you a confirmation with schedule and teacher name as soon as possible.
DIPLOMAS AND CERTIFICATES
During your stay, your progress will be monitored by our course coordinators. A certificate of attendance will be given at the end of each course. On request students can take a final exam at the end of the course. They will receive a certificate containing the number of lessons, evaluation and the level reached, which refers to the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference.
The examinations for the Diplomas "Firenze" of the Accademia Italiana di Lingua (AIL) are held at our school four times a year. For AIL exams, we offer preparation courses lasting 4 weeks. Students interested in undertaking one of the AIL "Firenze" examinations should enroll at the beginning of the month of the examination term. Ask for the detailed brochure at the reception.
YOUR CONTACT PERSON
If you have questions or problems about your tuition please talk directly to your teacher or to someone of our reception staff. Our staff is always happy to help you. Our reception will provide information regarding student card, bus tickets, maps, trips, restaurants, bars, discos, sporting facilities, museums, laundries, supermarkets, etc. The school reception is open from Monday to Friday, from 8:30 am to 17:30 continuously. During this time you can also collect your personal mail, faxes and e-mails.
Our notice board provides regular up-to-date information about cultural activities, exhibitions, concerts, cinema screenings, and other recreational opportunities in the city and its surroundings. Additionally, the school organises an entertaining and various program of social activities such as guided visits to museums, dinners, seminars on Italian music, and excursions to places such as San Gimignano, Montalcino, the "Chianti" countryside, Volterra, etc.
Our staff at reception is happy to provide you with information on excursions and sporting facilities as well as maps of the local area.
At the school there is free internet access all day long and WIFI for laptop users, Monday through Friday.
Our school is closed on the following national public holidays: January 6th (Epiphany), Easter Monday, April 25th (National Holiday), May 1st (Labour Day), 2 June (Republic Day), August 15th (Assumption Day, called "Ferragosto"), November 1st (All Saints), December 8th (Immaculate Conception). Lessons are not held and will not be refunded. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.
On July 2nd and August 16th, when the Palio (the famous horse race) takes place, the school is open and classes are regularly scheduled.
INFORMATION BEFORE AND AFTER YOUR ARRIVAL
There are many useful websites you can have a look at to find plenty of information and plan your stay in Siena, like for example http://www.comune.siena.it/ (our municipality web site) or http://www.aboutsiena.com.
In Piazza del Campo the tourist information office will be at your disposal for any queries you may have.
A SIENNESE TRADITION: THE "PALIO"
Every year, Siena comes alive for one of the world's most famous folk festivals, il Palio. The horse race, whose history goes back to the city's medieval times takes place on July 2nd and August 16th. The different city quarters (called "Contrade") compete with each other. Five trial races take place over the three days leading up to the race, with a final trial run on the same morning. The horses race three times around Piazza del Campo, with unsaddled jockeys clinging to their backs. If you're interested in attending the Palio you can stand in the Piazza free of charge. Tickets for the seats on the platform are very expensive, 200 Euro minimum, and they must be booked at least 3 month in advance as there is a limited number of seats available to the public. As the Palio is one of the most popular events in Italy, accommodation must be booked well in advance. Moreover, prices can increase a lot during these days. Every summer the school organises special lessons on the story and importance of the Palio.
On the website www.ilpalio.org you will find interesting and useful information about this important tradition.
Siena, with its medieval urban structure still intact, is a particularly favorable place for art lovers. Its heart, Piazza del Campo, simply called "Il Campo", is still the focus of city life. You have to visit the graceful Town Hall ("Palazzo Pubblico"), whose principal rooms have been converted into a Museum.
You can climb to the top of the bell tower ("Torre del Mangia"), which offers a stunning view of the town and its surroundings. You'll probably pay a visit to the "Duomo" (Cathedral), an amazing conglomeration of Romanesque and Gothic, delineated by bands of black and white marble on its facade. The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, just beside it, shows Pisano's original statues from the facade. The Pinacoteca Nazionale keeps important Siennese Gothic paintings, housed in a fourteenth century palace. The former hospital "Santa Maria della Scala" serves today as a cultural center and museum with an archaeological and Etruscan section.
Moreover, there are numerous other interesting museums, buildings, and churches that you can visit by yourself or with our school guide. At the school reception you can have detailed information on other sights and their opening hours.
Siena is a very important town for classical music. Over July and August the famous "Accademia Musicale Chigiana" organises seminars and concerts as well as the festival "Settimana Musicale Senese". There are also prestigious courses held at the Accademia Chigiana lead by international teachers for international students.
More information available at the Accademia Chigiana in Via di Città 89, or on the website http://www.chigiana.it/
In July/August the Siena Jazz Association organises many open-air concerts. In winter its activities arebased on particular events and various professional courses http://www.sienajazz.it/
There are three cinemas open from September/October to June/July. During the summer there are open-air cinemas at the Fortezza and at the Tolomei Gardens, very beautiful and impressive green spaces in the city center. Sometimes, at the university faculties, original language movies are shown.
Inside the Town Hall you can find the "Teatro dei Rinnovati" and at the "Teatro dei Rozzi" in Piazza Indipendenza, recently restored, touring opera, dance and drama can be seen.
Though being a quiet town, Siena offers a wide choice of restaurants, cafès, pubs, wineries...Via Banchi di Sopra, "il Corso", Piazza del Campo and Via Pantaneto are the liveliest areas of the city center.
Between April and September the seventeen "contrade" furthermore organize parties and events open to everyone.
As in most places in the world, it is recommended to dress respectably when visiting churches. In addition to the numerous Catholic churches, you can find the following religious communities:
- Protestant Waldensian Church, Via Curtatone 19;
- Synagogue, Vicolo delle Scotte 14;
- Church of England, Via Garibaldi 32.
The well furnished city library on via della Sapienza is accessible to everybody. Many University faculties (also) have their own libraries with free access to the lecture halls. You will find the exact addresses and opening hours on the school notice board.
In Siena you can find many gyms, both inside and outside the city center, offering a variety of activities (forexample Yoga, Tai-chi, Finnish sauna), two swimming pools, as well as several tennis courts. In the countryside (more accessible with your own car) there are several riding centers, other swimming pools, and golf fields. The school's reception keeps detailed information. Siena’s professional football team plays every week at the stadium
Franchi in the center of the city. At the sport aren "Mens Sana" you have the opportunity to assist to a match of the famous Mens Sana basket team.
THING TO KNOW
BANKS & MONEY
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8:20 - 13:20 and 15:00 – 16:30The opening hours can vary slightly from one bank to another. Generally, all banks are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and on public holidays. In addition, they observe a reduces opening time on the day before a public holiday. We suggest the bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena, with head office in Via Banchi di Sopra 84.
It is possible to change money in Banks, Post Offices and exchange offices. In addition, you can find cashpoint machines where you can withdraw cash using credit cards, Eurocards, etc..
POST OFFICE & DELIVERY
The central post office is very close to the school, in Piazza Matteotti (also known as Piazza della Posta, for this reason!) and it is open from Mondays to Fridays, normally from 8:30 to 19:00.
At the post office you can send letters and packages, make several payments and, in case you need a permit of stay, here you can submit your application completing a specific form.
If you need to receive a delivery from your home country, please use the school address and not the one of your accommodation. According to the Italian law it is prohibited to send packages containing food and medecines.
SHOPS, STORES AND MARKETS
In the city center you will find many shops and some little supermarkets as well. Most shops are open from Monday to Saturday. A few shops are open also on Sundays. Please note that most shops are closed for at least 2 hours at midday.
The supermarket Conad, piazza Matteotti/Galleria Metropolitan (next to the school) is open 8 – 20:00, also on Sunday mornings from 8.30 – 12.30.
Other food stores are for example the Consorzio Agrario, Via Pianigiani 5 (Piazza Salimbeni), and the several SMA shops located in different areas of the town. The department store OVS (clothing, kitchen utensils, stationary, body care etc.) is open all day and often also on Sundays. Every Wednesday from 7:30 to 13:30 there is a big market around Fortezza Medicea (clothes, shoes, bags, household goods, and flowers). There is also a small antique market every third Sunday of each month except July and August in Piazza del Mercato. There are furthermore many bookshops where you will also find books and newspapers in original language, like for example the Feltrinelli in Via Banchi di Sopra or the Libreria Senese in Via di Città.
CAFÈS, RESTAURANTS AND PIZZERIAS
Don't forget that in most bars and coffee shops you pay half price when consuming at the counter ("al banco") as compared to sitting down ("al tavolo"). At some bars you pay first at the cash desk ("la cassa"), then present your receipt ("scontrino") and place your order.
Our school reception has a list of restaurants (grouped according to price), trattorias, and pizzerias. Eating times in central Italy are reasonably flexible: from 12:30 to 14:00 for lunch and from 19:30to 22:30 for dinner.
Menus are usually displayed outside and should be looked over before going in. A cover charge (forplates, cutlery, glasses, and bread) and service charge are added to your bill. Leaving a tip is not required but is appreciated.
There are many laundries available in the city center and, if you prefer, there are self-service laundries as well, like for example the one in Via del casato di Sotto, generally open every day from 8 am to 10 pm.
BICYCLE, SCOOTER AND CAR RENTAL
To hire a bicycle or scooter you need your personal ID card, a credit card, and/or a cash deposit for the hire company. If you are touring with friends, travelling by car may prove to be the most practical way to see the beautiful surroundings. To rent a car in Italy, you must be over 21 and own a driver's licence for more than a year. As guarantee, a credit card is usually sufficient. Europeans usually drive cars with manual transmission but for a premium price you can also have an automatic one.
Avis / De Martino Autonoleggi, Via Simone Martini 36 0577270305 (cars)
Perozzi, Via del Romitorio 0577220839 (motor-scooter and bikes).
If you plan to spend a quite long time in Siena you could buy a cellular phone with an Italian sim card, with convenients prices to call and send sms to Italian numbers. At school you will receive detailed information. Your Italian sim card can be then "recharged" at the supermarket or at the tobacco shop.
Siena is a small and peaceful town (60.000 residents) with no big economic or social problems. The inner city is mostly closed to traffic and you can safely walk around the city day and night. One of Siena's best features, in fact, is that it is a very safe city. However, as anywhere else, you should always, especially in buses and trains, mind your belongings and not carry large amounts of cash. We suggest to make a copy of all personal documents as well as your credit card and to keep them separated from the originals.
In the centre, inside the city walls: Garbage bags must be placed from Monday to Saturday in the morning before 9 o'clock on the sidewalk next to the front door. On Friday mornings paper and cardboard are collected in special yellow bags. Aluminium, beverage cans,metal and tin cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles are collected in special green bags. Outside the city walls: There are metal containers with green covers where you can throw away litter at any time. Yellow containers are reserved for paper and cardboard, special green containers are for aluminium beverage cans, metal and tin cans, plastic, and glass bottles.
Tap water in Siena is drinkable although it doesn't have a very nice taste. Only where a tap has a sign saying "acqua non potabile" water is not suitable for drinking. Many sinks have two water faucets, the single one is usually for direct fresh water while the double faucet is for hot and cold water coming from a cistern.
DOCTORE & PHARMACIES
At school we can help you, if necessary, to find a doctor or a dentist. In case of emergency the best thing to do is going to the Pronto Soccorso, the emergency room of the hospital in Siena, in Via Bracci (Nuovo Policlinico Le Scotte). The Pronto Soccorso can be reached by taxi or by bus (n. 3 and 10 from Viale Tozzi and 17, 77 from Piazza del Sale). The telephone number to call in case of emergency is 118.
From Mondays to Fridays, from 9 to 19:30, useful medical advice can be found in one of the many pharmacies of Siena. In the weekends and on holidays only "farmacie di turno" will be working.
If you need to buy any specific medicine here in Italy, please make sure you have your medical prescriptions.
School Emergency phone number, on arrival day: (++39) 3496792560
Police Emergency: 113 (main office in Via del Castoro, close to the Cathedral)
Carabinieri: 112 (main office in Piazza San Francesco)
Fire Brigade: 115
Doctors and First Aid: 118 (Policlinico Le Scotte, Viale Bracci)
Traffic Police: +39 0577 292588 (Via Tozzi 3; here you also find the Lost&Found office).
Winter alternates between clear, clean, and cold wet days. Although snow is not common, it can snow 1/2 times per year. By the end of April temperatures usually begin to rise. Summer, especially in July and August, is hot but dry. Autumn is a beautiful time of year in Tuscany: the temperatures drop off as the days shorten, but it remains quite
comfortable. Most of the rainfall comes between November and March.