Today a group of us woke up to make our 8:30 AM appointment to climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence. We had to get an early appointment online in order to be back in time for our 10:00 AM departure from Florence to Verona. The climb to the top of the Duomo was exhausting but worth the effort! I was excited to take a nap and refresh so that I could fully appreciate the all that Verona has to offer. We arrived at the Hotel Giberti, had an hour of free time where we explored the nearby area, and then began our guided tour of Verona to learn more about the city that will be our home for a few days. As we moved through the city today, I considered the differences and similarities between Milan and Verona.
The most striking feature of Verona is the architecture, its absolute beauty, and its careful preservation! Notably, there is a beautiful gate with arches in white stone that seems to welcome travelers as they arrive. The houses were very colorful with terraces and vines climbing up the walls. When we arrived at Piazza delle Erbe and the Lamberti Bell Tower, I felt as though I was being transported back in time. I was captivated by the rice-paper paintings on the walls and the magnificent fountain with a statue of Madonna. There were so many beautiful monuments and well-preserved buildings in one concentrated area. This quickly became one of my favorite locations during the tour because it perfectly showcased Verona’s amazing historical architecture.
In Milan, the Duomo was three short Metro stops away, but I felt that there was proportionately less historical architecture within the actual city of Milan as compared to Verona. Many buildings in Milan were more modern or metropolitan in design. This is particularly evident when looking at the skyline with its taller glass business buildings. Similar to Verona, in Milan there are many colorful buildings with terraces providing evidence of Italian history and culture. However, the architecture of Milan is currently influenced by its business based economy, whereas Verona has capitalized on architectural and cultural preservation to fuel the tourism industry.
Both Milan and Verona had a small city feel with reminded me a lot of Oakland. However, Verona was definitely a quieter,calmer city feel than Milan during the day. I also noticed that though there were cars parked on the streets in Verona, there were more pedestrians and less commercial transportation. Many people biked through the streets and even groups of pedestrians (which happened to our tour group) since there were no designated bike paths. Our tour guide noted that there is surprisingly an increasing number of cars these days which I found to be interesting since the roads still seem so narrow. The streets with many stores were very narrow and people crowded throughout them to window shop!
In Milan, the streets were never really too crowded with tourists even though there were many of them, because in part, the streets seemed to be wider. There were also designated biking lanes (which I always had to remind myself not to walk in since they were right next to the sidewalks).
When it came to modes of transportation. I was surprised by how many cars, vespas, bikes, and pedestrians there were in both Verona and Milan. However, it seemed as though walking is the main form of transportation in Verona.
I noticed as soon as we got to Verona that tourism was prevalent. Attractions such as the Arena di Verona, Piazza delle Erbe, and Juliet’s House draw in travelers from all over the world. The amphitheater houses operas and performers such as Adele and One Direction. Juliet’s House draws in people who leave notes to Juliet (Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet) about their love troubles. She said that the walls scribbled with pen notes are painted white during the year, but immediately get covered up again due to all the tourists. Milan was not necessarily as “touristy” as Verona. The Duomo in Milan seem be the largest tourist attraction, but where we were staying in the city of Milan did not attraction as many sightseers, because it was more about business/companies and not cultural attractions. Culturally, it can be seen that the people of Milan and Verona are prepared to accommodate English speaking tourists by the way in which the retailers/shopkeepers are able to communicate to their visitors in broken English.
Before this trip, I have traveled to Canada and the Bahamas with family – but never to Europe! I was excited to travel to Europe for the first time with a group of 19 of my peers. I have never gone a trip of this kind before, and I can definitely say that traveling with a group of people abroad has made the transition and culture shock less severe.
I really wanted to join the study abroad Plus3 Italy trip for a few personal reasons. I found the idea of studying fashion in Italy to be fascinating since I love artisan things/craftsmanship. I was also interested in coming here because my mother’s side family comes from Italy – so I was excited to experience the true culture first hand. As a business major, the information I am learning about supply chain is invaluable to my future in the business school and beyond. I learn so much at each company visit because we are able to ask the people in charge direct questions about anything we want to know. I have been fortunate to gain the unique experiences associated with each of the site visits and examine their operations within supply chain.
I knew a little bit about the culture abroad and things to expect while in Italy such as food, fashion, and the abundance of churches. However, I learned a lot more in our pre-departure meetings about the Italian culture to help transition me into our two week study abroad trip.
Onward by train to Venice in the morning!
|| Alaina All’Estero – “Alaina Abroad” ||