Day 7: Verona exceeded every one of my expectations because, in all honesty, I didn’t know or expect much. The only thing I was sure of was that Verona was home to Juliet’s balcony. Other than that, I had no idea what I would witness and how I would feel. However, once we toured the city center, I was overwhelmed by its beauty especially because the architecture resembled the style of ancient Rome. I absolutely admired the small town feel with vintage architecture and narrow cobblestone streets. When I compare this to our first few days in Milan, I realize that even though both cities are in Italy, they seem to be completely different worlds.
As I mentioned above, Verona has a smaller town feel where most important locations are within walking distance. However, in Milan, separate suburbs exist which we transported through with the metro. In addition, Verona only has a population of 260,000 people while Milan’s population totals to 3.1 million. Verona carries a quiet, peaceful vibe while in Milan, the citizens are constantly hustling and bustling here and there. This city was founded by Romans which is why the buildings draw from the influence of ancient Roman architecture. This influence in Milan is unlike Verona’s which allows for Milan to develop unique and modern architecture. Even the city center in Milan had less narrow streets and the buildings are not as compact as they are in Verona. In addition to cobblestone streets, some of the streets have marble on them. Milan lacks streets with this vintage style. The apartments in Verona are very colorful compared to Milan’s apartments- these colors include yellow, blue, red, orange, white, and a lighter green. The apartments in Milan that were located in the same vicinity or street side usually had the same color.
In addition to the general vibe and architecture of the city, Verona and Milan both had shops and architectural symbols that helped establish each city as unique. For example, Verona has an arena which houses concerts and operas. In addition, Juliet’s balcony helps establish Verona as a city in Italy unlike any other. In contrast, Milan has its own architectural endeavors that help establish its unique identity among the other cities in Italy. Milan is considered the fashion capital of the world, and rightly so. The beautiful galleria is home to Prada, Gorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci. Even though I have seen these stores in Verona, they exist in more casual settings such as in a line of other stores which line the streets. Even though both Milan and Verona are home to Duomos, the Duomo is Milan is the city’s iconic symbol because it is the largest in Italy.
In addition to these architectural symbols and shopping choices, Milan is home to canals. However, I have not seen any canals in Verona. This could be due to the fact that Verona is much less spread out than Milan is. Often, it requires a metro to get from the city center to the suburbs in Milan. In Verona, it took us less than 30 minutes in walking from the hotel towards the city center and back. Much of Verona is very close together, especially the buildings in the city center. However, in Milan’s city center, the streets are wide and the buildings are slightly spread out. Milan reminds me very much of New York City, Chicago, or LA in terms of resembling a more city feel. However, Veron resembles a close knit community because most people live close to each other and perhaps work in similar settings.
Since numerous people stroll through Verona with barely enough room, it seems like the tourist population is higher than in Milan. However, when I spoke to a few people and overheard them, I realized that a majority of these people are either citizens or have some type of work visa. In Milan however, I observed more tourists. Perhaps because Milan is a large city, the tourists are spread out everywhere and I’ve only interacted with a few. Speaking of tourists, every time that we walk down the street, people immediately recognize that we are Americans. I assume the residents of Verona are accustomed to tourists, but not nearly as the number of tourists we witnessed in Florence. I believe that Italians view those who live or attend college in America as spoiled, rich, and self-conceited. This primarily draws from the fact that America intentionally and unintentionally isolated itself. In addition, we shop and spend a lot of money because we enjoy the unique products in Italy. However, the Italians may assume that we constantly have spare money to spend on whichever product we fancy. The economic condition of Italy is relatively stable right now which we can observe through the stability in the value of the euro. In addition, living conditions are decent if you have real estate that someone transferred to you. Real estate is considered a valuable asset that families pass down to each other. The political conditions are stalling out after the election of the new prime minister Paolo Gentiloni whose goals included supporting the banking sector, creating jobs, and pushing past through electoral reform. We have had little issues with management because we do not physically work or intern here. However, I do know that Italians are usually late so Americans who are on time have to be patient and wait a few minutes. Italians are very friendly especially to tourists so there has not been an incident where I haven’t felt welcome even if the people cannot speak English.
All in all, Verona and Milan resemble different aspects of Italian culture. Milan depicts Italian culture through the constantly moving, contemporary, city life with suburbs whereas Verona represents Italian culture through a smaller town with heavy Roman architectural influence. Each city that we have visited on our trip has something valuable and unique to offer. I can’t imagine returning to the states and losing the chance to explore the differences and similarities between these cities, but I refuse to think about returning anytime soon. After all, we still have one week left! Until next time- Ciao!