By Daniele Amandolini
Walking through a snowy campus in sub-freezing temperatures, I felt like an animal who woke up too early from hibernation. Where are the bees pollinating the flowers, the birds tweeting in the morning? Where are the squirrels irresponsibly roaming the roads? It might be called “Spring semester”, but this ain’t no Spring, dammit!
My mind immediately traveled back to the two weeks I just spent in mild-weathered Italy. Of course, I didn’t go empty handed.
Loyal readers know that our “The Beacon travels to…” series is close to our heart. We all pour our hearts and time into creating each and every issue, and being able to show my family a real, tangible product gave me an unexpected sense of pride. When I moved to the US and began college, there was a sense of fear that I’d have a hard time adjusting and integrating into this new world, and the copy of the Beacon that I showed them meant more than any grade could: it represented I could be part of a community, and that the skills I was building in school could be applied to something real.
Another reason why we bother lugging the Beacon around the world is to always remind ourselves that, while we strive to offer a glimpse into life on campus, there’s a whole lot more waiting for us out there. I bet I can speak for many of you when, deep into the semester and drowning in homework, the outside world kind of fades away like a distant memory. And taking the Beacon for a stroll outside SMCC is a good reminder that what we’re doing here is not confined to the campus limits.
Now, let me tell you a few words about Siena, the town I visited over the break and where I was born and grew up. Standing tall behind me in the photo is the town hall building, and the “Torre del Mangia” tower. For the last 700 years it has withstood the black plague and both World Wars. It is the hub of the city, and the center of the world for the 56,000 people living in Siena, especially during the summer when the Palio, the biggest horse race in Italy, takes place. The town’s 17 neighborhoods are all represented, and the rivalries are so vicious to make the Celtics and Lakers look like best friends. Each neighborhood is called “contrada,” and life in the contrada doesn’t end with the race: it’s a year long celebration where friendships are cemented through outdoor dinners, parades, and the occasional fistfight with the rival team.
I could go on and on about Siena, the amazing food, the art and history, the best wine in the world… but I think I gave you enough to tickle your curiosity, and maybe inspire you to follow the Beacon and embark in your own adventure whenever the opportunity may present itself.