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Summer Programs in Italy: Getting Started

This guides will help to locate and use materials for Summer Programs in Siena and Rome, Italy.

Resources to Support Summer Programs

There are numerous resources  to support your research and study that  can be accessed not only while at the library but also remotely.

This guide will help you to navigate scholarly materials available at the library and on the web. It will discuss books, databases and websites related to your summer program. It will also help to evaluate materials and cite them properly. In addition it will provide some useful links for your travel to Italy.

Please keep in mind that for materials not owned by the NJIT Libraries you can always use Document Delivery Service to request articles to be scanned and saved in PDF format which will be delivered to your email. 

You can always contact library staff by e-mail and by messaging, or request a video session via Skype if you need further assistance. (Do not forget the time difference between East Cost and Europe is 6 hours during the summer time)

Travel Tips

Some travel tips from Aris and information about public transportation in Italy (see below):


  • Theft/pickpocketing is a problem in Rome, subways and buses are crowded so many students have gotten robbed that way, keep your bag in in front of you and do not keep your wallet in your back pocket.
  • Do not buy anything of any value from a street vendor.  You WILL walk away with a brick/bag of sugar.
  • Wear comfortable shoes,  but ones that breathe.  Flip flops will not do.  Alot of uphill walking, and miles of it a day. 
  • Avoid wearing black during the day; wear light colors, light materials (cottons and linens).  Either way you will bake in Rome.
  • You will be visiting many churches. They are strict about attire.  No sleeveless, men and women.  No short shorts.  Women, your number one asset on this trip is a light shawl.  It curls up into a tiny weightless ball that you can fit anywhere, and you can wrap it around your shoulders (or waist) when you enter a church.  Shoes other than wearing some, are not an issue.  Be prepared to go through security screening and metal detectors at St. Peters in Rome.  Churches will post signes about photography.  Usually you are ok without flash.  Often afternoon prayers will be in session, but almost always therre are locals in pews praying.  Feel free to walk around but be quiet and respectful.  Turn off cell phones, there is nothing more embarrassing.
  • It is unbelievably hot in Rome, Siena is no where near as bad.  This is partly because of the heat island effect (asphalt) and geography.  Drink lots of water.  The water in Rome that comes out of the street corner faucets is very clean and very tasty actually.  A portable alum. bottle is a great thing to carry around in your bag.  Siena water is not so good.
  • I recommend flip flops to wear in showers, dorm and hotels alike.  Many find the shower curtain in the dorm in Siena to be moldy and unacceptable.  Go to the store and but one (see map), it will cost you under 10 Euros, well worth it.
  • Women (and maybe men), Italians use toner for their face to keep oil in check.  The heat and humidity gets out of control.   You can find toner and other beauty products at any pharmacy (look for green cross) and department stores.
  • Pack light. I will say it again for effect, pack light. There is no excuse for more than one carry on luggage. You can do laundry in Italy, pack as if it is one week. There are usually no elevators, and you will be expected to roll that thing up steep hills at times. Pack a week early and everyday make cuts, dress simply.
  • No heels. If you want to bring a nicer pair of shoes bring wedge type heels. You will curse the cobblestones.
  • If anyone was wondering, there is a basketball court in Siena (see map).
  • Pay in small bills in stores/cafes/sandwich shops etc.  They will roll their eyes if you try to pay a 2 euro thing with a 10 euro bill.  They will often outright refuse if you try with a 20.  Hoard those dollar and 2 dollar coins, as heavy as they get.  To change into smaller bills go into any bank, it is their job.
  • ATM is a good way to take out money.  Be aware of your bank's fees.  Know that even if you choose to take money out of savings, it will come out of checking ALWAYS.  Make sure before you leave you put a lot of money in checking. 
  • Call your credit card, let them know where you will be or you will find your card defunct after the first use.  You cannot pay for anything online in Italy with a credit card, annoying, I know.
  • If you plan to rent a car, make friends with someone who drives stick, or be prepared to pay out the nose, or simply not find availability.  It is doable thought, don't get discouraged if automatic is a must.
  • Men don't expect to find shoes (at least in Siena) over the size of 10 or so.  I am sure many jokes come to mind here....
  • There are internet places scattered throughout Rome and Siena. You MUST bring your passport with you to buy an internet card. Before you leave home make multiple copies of your passport, and while you are at it, the back of your credit card in case it is lost.  To check into ANY hotel you must have a passport or at least a copy. No exceptions.
  • If your phone uses a sim card bring it.  You can buy a sim card and swap it and your cellphone will work. It is free for others to call you. This is useful if some of you have working cell phones to find each other. You can also buy a cheap cell phone there for like 30 Euros, keep it for future trips. Every country (sometimes regions of country) need a different sim card based on what carriers serve the area.  You then go into respective service store and add minutes to your sim card.
  • Messenger bags are the best for men and women. They are the least burdensome on your body while walking long distances, and it eliminates drive by bag snatching. Everyone will see they need bags most of the time, you will need your sketch book, water bottle, sometime paints, brushes, and other nonsense.
  • Share art supplies. The list given is what you need, but you will not need them in the quantity you must purchase them in. They are a waste of space in your luggage and you simply will not use it. Especially expensive watercolor blocks (paper)....share share share. There are art supply stores in Rome and Siena (for Siena see map). Some things are cheaper, some more expensive. Some things are worth buying there to save luggage space.
  • Wine is cheap. Bring a bottle at night and sit in the Campo in Siena like all the locals and other visiting students (you will meet many). There is nothing like it. Yes you may drink here out in public. Be equipped with wine opener. There are plenty of places to also buy single large or regular sized beer bottles. Do not engage in public urination (men), the Campo is lined with bars/restaurants that are too busy to notice you walk in to use the bathroom.
  • The restaurants in the Campo are really the only tourist traps in Siena. The food is not really good, and its expensive. 
  • Do not be cheap. Some churches cost money 1-10 Euros depending on the fame of the church, but most are free. Churches and museums are part of the experience, you won't be sorry. So, budget this, expect this. Do not cut anything out. 
  • Dare to stray off the tourist path....get lost.  Put away your map you will be fine.
  • Bring a bathing suit.  You may travel somewhere you can swim (Cinque Terre for example).
  • In Rome it is worth buying a non-daily pass (I think there is a 7day).  You will use it a few times a day, it adds up.  You also don't have to try to find money every time to buy a ticket.
  • Don't be obnoxious, don't feel entitled, don't make a scene....don't make them right about Americans. Blending in is the best way to respect their culture.
  • The Palio is not to be missed.  Even if you don't think you are into it, do not deprive yourself of being a part of something that usually only locals get to experience.  They have done this their whole lives,  you will see grown men cry.  It is very emotional.  The race is around the Campo, people stand in the center.  Get there early, secure a spot on the edge (I will tell you why in a moment).  Go to the various practice runs over the week leading up to it, you will get a sense of where the best spots are for the real thing.  Pee it all out before you go, because if you leave you cannot come back once they close the gates.  There will be many false starts, getting the horses in line can take an hour.  You will never feel anticipation like this.  The race is all of 90 seconds, 3 runs will feel the ground move under you from the horses.  When it is over run, and i mean run, to the Duomo.  The winning contrata (team dictated by part of Siena one lives in), horse and jockey go there, enter the church and celebrate.  One of the coolest things a tourist will NEVER experience.  Try to find the street party afterwards in the winning contrada.  They are too happy to care you are an outsider.  The days leading up to the race are interesting.  You will hear alot of chanting, parades of people showing off and antagonizing other contradas, dinners/celebrations in the middle of the street, and so many flags.  The flags (size of hankercheifs) are found everywhere for sale, makes a great souvenir to take home.  Be very carefull the closer to the race it is, the more risky it gets to carry around a contrada flag in a rival contrada.  Locals treat this as a very serious insult, you may find yourself in a bad situation.  Make sure you start a pool.  Everyone should choose a contrada BEFORE the horses and jockeys are chosen (because after odds will be a big part of things...there will be favorites).  You are privilaged to be living in Siena during this event from anticpation to post celebration.  Take advantage!
  • You do not have to reserve places to stay ahead of time.  If you are adventurous I would encourage not to.  You don't know where it will really be, what it will look like, if it appears clean.  Most of the time you can just walk in and ask for a room.  In small towns (like in Tuscany) you can go to the town info office (see each town map every town has one), and in it you can ask to look through various accomodations in a binder and the person will call and ask for availability for you.  This includes villas, farmhouses and such.  My recomendation is the most amazing little farmhouse that rents rooms in tuscany's Chianti region, it is called Podere Torre.  That you should reserve ahead.  I have stayed there many times, beautiful, charming, be careful on the drive up the road to it though!  (I do not have any affiliation with this places, I just love it and can recomend it).
  • Feel free to email me anytime to ask questions, it would be my pleasure.  I will try to answer them if I can."


The following links include online translation tools and information about public  transportation in Italy. For more information on libraries and museum see a separate page of this guide.

Subject Guide

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