4/16/2014 3:59:26 AM

Students Treasure Italy Study Tour

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

By Kristen Bossio '16

During winter break, 22 students joined eight faculty members on a trip to Italy, the birthplace of the Franciscan tradition on which Siena College was founded. The trip, called “Religious Treasures of Italy,” took the group on a tour around the country, exploring the historic and religious aspects of each city visited, including Rome, Venice, Florence, Assisi and, of course, Siena.

Professor of Religious Studies Peter Zaas, Ph.D. said that the two-week tour of Italy was the culmination of the Religious Studies Field Experience and Biblical Study Tour courses. Zaas said that the courses embraced the life and values of St. Francis of Assisi and offered students the opportunity to learn not only in the classroom, but at the sites that they studied.

Alexis Benedetti ’14 loved seeing the city of Siena because it helped her make connections to various aspects of life at Siena College. “It was seeing the place that inspired my college to be the college that I love,” said Benedetti.

Students on the trip also visited Assisi, the home of St. Francis, the man whose teachings the Siena College’s values are based upon. Benjamin Landschoot ’14 said that one of his favorite parts of the experience was seeing the foundations of the Franciscan tradition in Assisi. The city is home to the Basilicas of St. Francis and St. Clare. The Basilica of St. Clare houses the original San Damiano Cross from which Jesus spoke to St. Francis, telling him to rebuild the church. Replicas of that cross hang in Siena College classrooms.

Zaas said that the students were able to see firsthand the relations among nature, art and scholarship that are valued highly in Franciscan tradition. In addition to visiting both Christian and non-Christian religious sites, students explored the ancient cities, ate authentic Italian food and spent some time shopping.

Students left Italy with a better understanding of the culture and of the Franciscan values that are so prevalent on the Siena campus. “The trip overall was excellent, and I had an experience that was worth every penny (and) that I will never forget,” said Landschoot.

Zaas said that the trip to Italy was the twenty-first annual study tour sponsored by the Religious Studies Department. The first trip, during winter break of 1989-90, was to Israel and Egypt.

Photo Credit: Fr. Dennis Tamburello '75, O.F.M., Ph.D.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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