Our second day in Siena was a Thursday. Having been told [by our upsettingly attractive Italian teacher] that Thursdays and Fridays were the city’s major ‘going out’ nights, naturally, we ventured to a bar to get a taste of the nightlife. After aimlessly wandering down the main street in search of *the scene*, we heard Don’t You (Forget About Me) buzzing in the distance. Tracing the track to a small, humid, cave-like venue called the Philadelphia Bar, we figured we’d struck American gold. A tall chick from Oregon was bartending for a crowd of two.
“You guys are early!”
(It was almost midnight.)
“Come back in an hour. Most people your age haven’t finished dinner yet.”
Relieved that the lack of activity had a somewhat logical explanation, we nursed a few glasses of cheap Chianti until a little after 1 a.m., and then made our way back to the bar… only to find a handful of people inside.
“No, come on, go outside! Take your drinks to the street and talk to people.”
F*cking bizarre. Here, apparently, everyone from 17-year-olds to old married fogies congregates in the street—drinks and cigarettes in hand—on the weekends. They must all know each other or something (actually that’s quite possible… it’s a damn small “city”) because there’s no awkwardness or uncomfortable eye contact – just mingling in the main piazza, waiting for something – anything – exciting to happen. It’s worth noting that I’m almost certain I’m not just being impatient or spoiled or patently un-chill… just the other night, a group of locals – five dudes and a girl who’ve lived in Siena all their lives – assured me that “[They] are so bored. But [they] don’t do anything about it. Just the same thing every night. That’s life, you know?” Bleak. Apparently setting off fire works (sans the fire or the works – they just do it “for the sound” because “it’s exciting”) is a *thing*. We learned about that cultural gem last Saturday night while taking a harmless little stroll through the piazza with our gelato when we heard what I (in my infinite knowledge de arms) took to be the sound of a shotgun. We screamed so loud that I’m pretty sure some sultry, surely bitchy Italian girl took a video of my reaction on her phone. So yeah. Sh*t’s boring.
I love it here – I do – but I can’t come to terms with it. Maybe it’s some weird New Yorker’s brand of social ADD; when I stand out there looking at the same people hang out in the same spot in the same f*cking piazza, all I’m thinking about is where I could be going, what I could be doing, and who I could be seeing next. And it’s depressing. I feel like I’m missing out on something – something potentially more interesting than standing around waiting for a gun to off. It reminds me of all those times in high school when my friends and I would meander down Park praying that someone we [vaguely] knew would be dumb enough to throw a party because her/his parents weren’t home for the weekend (kids, a quick PSA: your doormen’s allegiances are to your parents, not you. So even if you’re lucky enough to not get your rager broken up by the cops, it won’t take long before your parents confirm their suspicions about why there are poorly hidden, half-smoked joints in their planters and stains on all their couches).
Maybe I’m a little disappointed because I’d always imagined that my first European bar/club outings would consist of more Avicii, sweaty bodies and greasy hair and less… standing. Sigh.
Moral of the story: Go to Siena for art and food. Not to go *out*. Because this place is magical, but it doesn’t make we want to party.
Featured image courtesy of new-palace.fr