Life as a college student away from home is not always easy; in fact, especially in the first year, arriving in a rainy city, in a damp house with a small, old kitchen, can bring up doubts and melancholy–woe betide you, though!
One only has to enter one of the university cafeterias to find scents (flavors perhaps a little less!) of home, people laughing, chatting and, carefree, eating the delicacies of the day. “ I got 30…Can I take the pitcher? … Look at the way that one dressed today! …I’m looking for a part-time job, you know of anything? … I woke up ten minutes ago … Yesterday I met a pretty good American … Looking for a single inside the walls … These green beans suck … Pasta all’arrabbiata for a change! … I move this jacket to him, it is not system to occupy the tables and leave … He’s with someone today, will she be his girlfriend? …Are you coming tonight to the square?” Voices mingle, glances cross, taste buds savor (more or less!) and melancholy disappears.
Food service is managed by ARDSU, which either takes care of it directly or outsources and contracts it to others. A full meal (first course, main course, side dish and fruit) costs €2.50 for students enrolled at Siena University.
If you won the scholarship you are entitled to the free canteen (one meal if you are from Siena or the surrounding area, two meals if you are off-site), while if you were “eligible non-winner” for the scholarship you will pay €2.10.
The“Bandini Canteen” (Via Sallustio Bandini, hours 12-2:30 p.m./ 7-9 p.m.) being the most central, is what all Sienese students consider the Canteen, with a capital “m.” The busiest by far, however, it has only two plate dispensing stations (thus two rows), so be prepared at peak hours to have to wait thirty minutes or more before you can pick up your tray and eat. It remains closed on weekends.
The“St. Agatha Canteen” (Dupré Street, hours 12:30-15/ 7:30-9 p.m., pizzeria 8/23 p.m.) is less familiar, but allows you to choose from pizza, pasta, meat, sandwiches, salads, and mixed fare (assuming you are lucky and all stands are open).
In fact, for the past few years the very large restaurant has been renovated and has several kiosks, each dedicated to a particular component of the meal: thus, there is the pizza kiosk (also made on the spot, as in a real pizzeria), the meat and general seconds kiosk, and the kiosk specializing in first courses. Perfect no?
Well, there is only one problem: the grueling climb up Dupré Street preceding the cafeteria, if you are not hungry…it will make you hungry!
Outside the walls there are also the“Le Scotte canteen,” for future doctors, and the“San Miniato canteen,” at the university residence.
After a few years, the faces are still the same, but that’s part of the beauty of a city like Siena: turning a place like the cafeteria into a meeting place, where food and interpersonal relationships become a memorable combination.
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