Custom Experiences from Siena

Connect With Others—Online

Siena guest lectures, cultural tours, and activities.


Cinta Senese Pig in Renaissance Art

The Cinta Senese pig is a particularly valuable variety and a standout breed in Italian gastronomy. Known since the Middle Ages, it disappeared and was then rediscovered during modern times. The video lecture uses 13th-19th century depictions of the pig in paintings and sculpture to analyze its unique breeding history and explore the popularity of of the breed over the centuries.

Length: 45-60 minutes

The Palio, Pandemic, and Popolo of Siena

An on the ground examination of the impact of the global pandemic on Siena's historic Palio and contrade.

Length: 90-120 minutes


Guest Lectures


Animal Welfare

Topics such as regulations and enforcement, labeling laws, consumer choices and marketing, small-scale versus industrial farming versus "meatless" meats, dietary choices and culture.

Length: 60-120 minutes

Biodiversity from Nature to our Plates

Topics such as seed saving and selection, law and technology (types of breeding/selection, GMOs, copyrights),  and the relationship between environmental biodiversity and cultural diversity and traditional knowledge.

Length: 60-120 minutes

Ownership, Authenticity, and Appropriation

Topics such as food sovereignty, access to/ownership of land, waters, and genetic materials (i.e. seeds), "discovery" of diverse food cultures and cultural acceptance, immigration and fusion, and exploring themes of "tradition" and "authenticity".

Length: 60-120 minutes

The Slow Food Movement

History of the Slow Food movement in Italy and internationally, examining projects such as the Ark of Taste, Presidia, Chefs' Alliance, events, etc.

Length: 60-120 minutes

Tuscan Wines

Tuscan wines are considered some the best wines in the world. This video lecture presents the best wines produced in Tuscany from Chianti to Brunello di Montalcino, analyzing their history and characteristics. Includes a video visit to a Chianti winery and an interview with a local producer.

Length: 45-60 minutes

Virtual Italian Cooking Class

Join Chef Lella Cesari at the Scuola di Cucina in Siena. The main focus of Lella’s school is traditional Tuscan Cuisine and adapting old recipes to the demands of modern working life. Chef Cesari is a passionate researcher of medieval recipes and is always careful to use local products.

Length: 90-120 minutes

Virtual Visits

Explore an Italian bakery and learn the production secrets behind age-old Italian recipes.

Length: Varies

Wine in Italy

This video lecture introduces students to the various types of wines in Italy; different classification systems (IGT, DOC, DOCG); traditional Italian wines and their combinations with the most typical dishes of Italian cuisine.

Length: 45-60 minutes

Ingenuity and Engineering: The Underground Waterways of Siena, Italy

Learn about the Bottini, an intricate complex of tunnels snaking through the Sienese subsoil to furnish water to the more than 50 fountains of the city.

Length: 60-75 minutes

Letters to Juliet

Hear about the curious phenomenon of letters that arrive in Verona, Italy, each year addressed to Shakespeare’s heroine, and learn about the women who answer them with the co-author of the book Letters to Juliet. The eponymous film, inspired by the book, was filmed in both Siena and Verona.

Length: 60-75 minutes

Art Collecting in Italy: Market Trends

We will analyze how art and culture can be a driving force for development for Italy. Hear about art collecting trends in Italy, including the impact of COVID on the art market.

Length: 60-75 minutes


Panel Discussion: Global Perspectives on COVID

An expert in applied neuroscience discusses why a pandemic is so challenging, offering tips for resiliency. GEO faculty in Europe and Africa then share insights and local perspectives.

Length: 60 minutes


The Ideal City in Renaissance Architecture in Pienza

The city of Pienza, near Siena, was founded in 1459 by Pope Pius II and is considered the perfect example of Renaissance architecture and urban planning. It exemplifies the true ideal city of the Italian Renaissance. The video lecture analyzes the architectural style of the buildings, placing them in its historical, urban and social context.

Italian Culture and Traditions

Immersive live experiences and narrated, instructional videos from Siena.



The Palio of Siena: Competition, tradition and emotions, including a special contrada tour.



Virtual City Tour: Walk around the city and discover the hidden places of Siena.



Virtual Interactions: Join art teachers at the Riuscita Sociale Ceramic Arts Program.



Virtual Language Exchange: Meet Italian university students and hone your skills.


Contrada Museum Tour: Museo della Civetta

Live, synchronous visit. Approx. 60 minutes. 


The World of Italian Olive Oil: Seminar, Tasting, Cooking Demo

Learn the fine points of what it takes to produce one of Italy’s most important culinary exports from an artisan producer of award-winning extra virgin olive oils, and a Veneto Region-certified olive oil panel taster.

Live, synchronous visit. Approx. 60 minutes. 


Facciamo la spesa / Let's Go Shopping!

Come shopping with me! A live tour of an Italian grocery store with a Sienese resident, learning the vocabulary of food and unique products.

Live, synchronous visit. Approx. 30-40 minutes. 



From Dante to Assassin’s Creed 

Take a stroll around the spectacular walled city of Monteriggioni, whose still-standing turrets (Dante described them as a “ring of giants”) featured prominently in the Divine Comedy and more recently in Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood.

Recorded, asynchronous visit. Approx. 30-40 minutes. 


Dipingiamo la ceramica / Let's paint pottery!

Visit the studio of a local ceramics artist, learning the vocabulary of colors, objects, and verbs related to art.

Live, synchronous visit. Approx. 30-40 minutes.


Italian Easter Traditions

Visit a local bakery Il Corsini to see and learn about the typical Easter cakes of Tuscany.

Recorded, asynchronous visit. Approx. 30-40 minutes. 


Daily Life in Siena

Ideal for beginning Italian language students! This walk around Siena provides a glimpse into quotidian life in a picturesque Tuscan town. Spoken in very slow and basic Italian to acquaint students with relevant vocabulary (farmacia, piazza, chiesa, negozio, strada, etc.) to facilitate learning!

Live, synchronous visit. Approx. 60 minutes. 



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