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Siena Language Study

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LEFT: I lived in a house on this quiet, narrow street in the heart of medieval Siena.

Where I stayed

The Dante Alighieri language school offered several housing options. Some of the longer-term students were housed in apartments with cooking facilities, while others chose homestays that included room and board. (Rural cottages are another option for students who have cars and want to explore the Tuscan countryside in their spare time.)

I stayed with a Sienese woman of middle years who owned an ancient brick house in the center, a block off the lively Via di Cittą and a two- or three-minute walk from the Piazza del Campo. I had a double bedroom to myself, with a modern and attractive bathroom a few steps away. My landlady lived on the lower floor of the house, where I had breakfast and dinner each day in her kitchen.

From my lodgings, it was about a 15-minute walk to the school through the curving streets of medieval Siena. I was lucky in visiting Siena at a time of year when few language students are in town. From spring through fall, when the school is busier, students are more likely to be boarded with families outside the town center. Booking early improves the chances of getting a room or apartment within walking distance of the school.

Siena for you: Yes or no?

Siena's Dante Alighieri is only one of many excellent language schools in Italy and Europe. Still, if you'd like to study Italian, it's hard to imagine a nicer location than Siena. The city is beautiful and packed with great art; it's surrounded by Tuscan hill towns, olive groves, and vineyards; its population of 56,000 makes it feel cozy without being confining; its atmosphere is enlivened by a major university; and Florence (which is served by two airports) is only 75 minutes away by bus.

For more information about studying Italian in Siena, visit www.dantealighieri.com.

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