Oh, the girls and I devoured Siena. We walked every sleepy street. We made our pilgrim way to the home of St. Catherine, and to her Dominican church. Lounging around our pension room (a renovated 14th century town home–that is when St. Catherine of Siena lived!) we told all her stories. Then, when walking through these sacred places, the girls practically jumped for joy as they noticed pictures of the stories they knew: Catherine choosing the crown of thorns rather than the crown of gold from the hands of Christ, the dove over her head for her skeptical father to see, Catherine receiving the stigmata. We had the chapel in Catherine’s home (built after her canonization) all to ourselves, and so I gave the girls a lesson (much needed by Clare) as to bowing, genuflecting, no running, etc. We literally practiced walking past the altar and stopping to bow, one at a time. I did this sort of thing with Jake, who taught Mary. But the younger cohort was much in need! It felt like such a luxury.
Then we searched around for treasures. The girls had an allotted 20 Euros each to spend on the 7 weeks abroad. They gained more for services rendered, such as babysitting or folding clothes, and lost them for punishments, for such things as complaining or not keeping their feet on the floor when peering out of high balconies or windows.
So each girl searched the shops of Siena for the little prizes they wanted: Mary got gifts for friends, an ink pen with an ink well; Clare got a feather ink pen and ink well; Leigh got a scarf and an ink pen and an ink well. They all got a mask for dress up.
Mary gave Clare 3 Euros to make what Clare needed to obtain the feather pen. It was true generosity! But I made Clare make the Euros back. She has done it: 1 Euro for not complaining even once, carrying her bag all the way from Siena back to the campus (a 5 hour trip with 6 legs of the journey, and then 2 for folding 3 piles of laundry.
The tricky part was eating without spending too much of our precious few resources. So we found a pizzeria that was 1 Euro per slice of kids pizza, and that went a long way.
We also found a grocery store and managed to eat most meals, makeshift either on Il Campo, the town square, or in our room. Devouring room temp gnocchi out of a tin casserole dish, the girls cried, “This is the best food I’ve ever eaten!” I’m sure it WAS.