When I got accepted for the NYE event in Italy, Siena I was more than happy.
I already knew some people there and I thought celebrating New Year’s Eve in the heart of Tuscany, with pasta, wine, and love would be the perfect ending of 2015.
Three days before the event started, me and some friends from Heidelberg drove to Florence by car – which is approximately a 10 hours drive. There, we caught up with some people from the event (something we actually organized randomly via Facebook), in order to explore the city and to get to know each other. It was a brilliant idea, because Florence is a beautiful city. The nine of us met in a bar, drank some wine there, and after that, we had awesome Italian home-made pasta in a sweet little restaurant. Wisely, we chose to have a calm night at the hostel cause we knew we should save our energy for the upcoming three days.
When we woke up we did not want to lose time, so we went to visit the cathedral, which was impressive (seriously, if you have not been in Florence yet, do it now☺). In the afternoon, we drove to Siena. There, we met the organizers and the rest of the participants. The accomodation was a medieval farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, a 10 minutes drive up a hill into the forest of Siena. It was completely dark when we arrived, only the stars were clearly visible. It was a scene like in one of those horror movies where teenagers drive to a „cabine in the woods“… Really, there was nothing around us, which was actually the whole purpose of the location, because we could be as loud as we wanted.
The dorms were all located upstairs, and there was one big chamber downstairs, where all the activities were to take place. The medieval charm was visible, however: there was no heating (aside from the electric little heaters the organizers were luckily able to obtain), and there were only two toilets and showers for all of us. However, a real AEGEEan should be used to that.
Slowly, all other participants arrived and we had some traditional Italian dish for dinner. In fact, the name of the event „Taste Tuscany: EAT THE NEW YEAR!“ never disappointed us. In total we were around 50 people: 35 participants and 15 organizers and helpers. In my opinion, this was a good size to to form a kind of groupfeeling. The evening started with some well known drinking games like‚ Ring of Fire’ [red. “Kingsen”] and some not so well know games, such as one where you have to try to break a balloon just with, well… your bodyparts! This is hilariously sexual and funny. The party really got going the more wine people drank and the first contacts and approaches were made.
We spent the entire next day in Siena itself. We had a citytour by one of the organizers who told us about the Contrade and the horse races called Palio, for which Siena is famous for. History fact: when you live in Siena, you are born into one of the 17 contrade. Each has its own boundary and distinct identity and there are also rivalaries, especially during the Palio.
We had a city rally where we had to reach certain points in the city, make funny pictures and be back as fast as we could. Unfortunately, our team, the “Gryffindors”, did not win, but fun (and wine) is all that matters, right? Back at the farmhouse everbody dressed up fancy. Dinner was prepared and the drinks were already set on the table. So, until midnight, everbody ate a lot, drank a lot and had good talks. Then, the countdown started, and everybody spreaded the love of the new year. People started dancing and some lucky fellows got a NYE-kiss. The next morning, nobody expected anyone to be awake by anytime, which was for the best, because it had been a late night full of alcohol. We stayed at the accomodation for the whole day. Luckily, the weather was good and sunny, which meant that we could explore the surrounding area. An awesome view hit our hungover heads. The farmhouse was situated on a hill and you were able to look far over Siena’s landscape.
In the late afternoon we had a pastaworkshop. This meant that we had to prepare the pasta we would eat for lunch. It was a fun experience if had never done something like that before. Fortunately, for this kind of food, it’s not that important how it looks in the end… Taste is all that matters! In the evening it was finally time for the famous European Night. But prior to that, the gossip box was opened. This caused some change in color of the faces of some of us. What happens in Siena stays in Siena…
We were in total eight different nationalities: Czech, Slovakian, Turkish, Dutch, German, Maltese, Croatian and of course Italian. It did not take much time until everybody was tipsy by the liquor all the participants had brought and because it was the last night, it seemed that everybody tried to enjoy it even more. The next day was already the departure day, and although we only had 3 days together, it was difficult to say goodbye to the new friends we’d made.