In fair Verona where we set our scene…
Today we arrived in the historic city of Romeo and Juliette, and I was yet again amazed by the beauty that Italy offers. After taking a quick stroll, and eating fresh cherries, we went on a walking tour of the city. As an introduction, the guide gave us a brief history of Verona. Currently, there are 260,000 people living here and it was built by the Romans thousands of years ago in A.D.
In Verona, many of the buildings built by the Romans are still standing today. Therefore, the people of this city essentially live and work in museums! In the basement of a clothing store, there are remains of a Roman structure that are preserved in the middle of the floor. It is amazing to be in a city with such rich history because in the United States, we consider a building to be old if it dates back to colonial times, and that was only 500 years ago!
As we walked through the city, the tour guide told us that most of the streets are pedestrian except for those who live in the area. This made it more pleasant to walk because I wasn’t as worried about cars running me over. In Italy, cars think they have the right of way! In addition, those that live in Verona are generally wealthy due to preservation laws. Since the buildings are so old, owners must pay for the upkeep, and this can be more expensive than buying a new property. General sentiment in Italy is that historic structures should preserved until they fall on their own, so it is illegal to change buildings from their original form. As we were walking, the tour guide warned us that occasionally balconies will cave in because they are so old. The laws are so specific that they even mandate the color of paint that can be used.
This type of city layout and building type contrasts to Milan. In Milan, the structures are more current, and the city looks very similar to the United States. There are tall skyscrapers and modern architecture. However, in Verona, the city still has a Roman street layout and the buildings are bright colored and historic.
Because Verona has wealthy residents and tourists, there are many high end shops such as Valentino and Gucci. Milan also has these types of stores. Anything that I wanted to buy in Milan, I could find an equivalent product in Verona. Some of the brands may be different, but it is essentially the same shopping experience. Both offer a mixture of high end and custom made products.
In Milan, the main architectural beauty is the Duomo, but in Verona, it is the Arena. The Arena is half the size of the Colluseum in Rome, but it is still used as a concert and Opera venue. Artists like Adele and Sting are some of the most recent performers. Since the sets for Operas need to be changed frequently, they are placed directly outside. As seen in one of my pictures, we saw a giant head!
Since today is Saturday, we are halfway through our adventure! It is hard to believe that at this time last week, we were boarding our plane to Milan. I have made so many amazing memories and eaten some awesome food! When selecting my Plus3 country, I chose Italy for the rich history and the opportunity to study the fashion industry, and I have not been disappointed! So far, I have seen monuments that were built so long ago that it is hard for me to wrap my head around, and visited two incredibly unique companies. I look forward to the rest of the trip and for more opportunities to expand my knowledge.
The only cultural information that I knew about Italy is what we learned in our pre-departure classes, so I was worried that I would experience culture shock. However, the transition from the United States to Italy has been pretty easy. Even though I am picking up some Italian words to say to people, mostly everyone speaks English, so communication is not a problem. Also, I am learning things that signal to Italians that I am American. Most are related to the beverages. Cappuccinos are only meant to be ordered in the mornings, and espresso for the rest of the day. Today, our tour guide told us that only tourists order Spritzers, and actual Italians will get white wine. Now that I know these subtle cues, I can blend in better! However, my clothing will always give me away as a tourist. True Italians wear layers, and even though I think it is hot outside, it is still winter in Italy so they are wearing jackets. Honestly, the hardest thing for me has been the time change, but I think that I am fully adjusted now.
Tomorrow we will spend the day at our final new city, Venice, and I am excited to see what it has to offer! Ciao!