Dr. Anna Piperato
Dr. Anna Piperato knows more about Siena than anyone I know. I first met Anna on a trip to Italy several years ago when she gave a delightful tour of the Bardini Museum in Florence. Her infectious enthusiasm about art history and Italian culture along with her ability to engage and educate is second to none. Her research centers around the city of Siena and I spent some time recently asking her some questions about traveling to Italy.
The famous Palazzo Pubblico on the Campo
When not in Italy Anna is Assistant Professor of Art History at High Point University in North Carolina. When time permits she has joined some of my tours in Italy to give interpretative walks. This is part one of our talk. I hope to have part two ready soon so be on the lookout!
1. What initially drew you to spend so much time in Italy? Do you remember any details about your first visit?
My first visit to Italy was the summer after my freshman year at college. My mother, father, sister, and I spent 3 days in Rome and a week in Amalfi. One of my favorite memories was going to find a pharmacy with my mother at about 7 in the morning. There was nobody out except for people stocking their shops. We found a pharmacy by the Pantheon, and seeing that building with absolutely no one there was magical. Another moment that stands out was when my father, an Italian-American who had never been to Italy before this trip, decided that he could drive like the Italians and promptly lost a wing mirror to another car. Priceless. Back in the States, I changed every course that fall semester in order to take Italian 101.
2. What keeps you coming back to Italy?
The art, the architecture, the feeling in the air, the food, the coffee, the joy of speaking the language. I know how to live here and I simply adore it. Italy makes me feel alive.
3. How do most Italians treat American tourists? What can we do to make a better impression with the Italians?
It’s no secret that we don’t have the best reputation abroad. What bothers many Italians is the lack of effort we put into speaking their language. I recommend that everyone practice a few key phrases (and gestures!) in Italian before visiting the country; you’d be amazed how much further you can go with an enthusiastic “buon giorno” and a well placed “scusi”.
4. I hear that one of your favorite spots in Italy is Siena. Why should I visit Siena?
Siena is indeed a very special place with an intriguing history. It is unique amongst Italian cities for many reasons, the most famous of which is the Palio.
We will continue our conversation about Siena and get a little more into the Palio in our next installment. Until then Ciao!