Verona was incredible today. The town itself was so old and was filled with so much history that I was barely able to keep track of all of the facts that were being thrown out to me. Similarly to Milan, the city itself had a mixture of old and new. A big difference however is that Milan experiences the difference in pockets. For example, if you walk through the Duomo part of town you will see a lot of historical buildings that date back as far as the Romans. But, if you leave this area you will find yourself in an area where there is all new buildings that make up a very big and bustling business area filled with skyscrapers and even the living building. In Verona, however, the meshing of old and new is a lot more direct. For example, on our tour we entered into a clothing store that appeared to be the same as any other. When we traveled to the basement, however, we discovered that there was an ancient Roman mosaic floor buried in the basement. There was many more instances like this where there were new buildings integrated into the old walls and ruins of the Roman empire.
Another obvious difference is that Verona has an amphitheater. This shows that it was a huge cultural hub for the area since there were many different shows and performances put on here. Apparently the idea of the amphitheater was taken from the Greeks but the Romans wanted to make it their own so they made a “double theater”, otherwise known as an amphitheater. This amphitheater was able to house 30,000 people in its prime but sadly the top row was lost so now it can only house 22,000. The amphitheater is still used today which shows how active the Italians are in their practice of not breaking down anything. There has even been concerts there by bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Chicago, and One Direction.
One thing that was very similar between the two cities is the way their streets are set up. Back then most cities were designed in a way where all of the streets were parallel to each other. For the most part both of the cities followed this very well. And it was obvious the moderation of these cities because the streets were filled with stores. Their set up is different however because Verona was built in different time periods, each separated by walls. The old city was originally built by the Romans and a wall was built surrounding the city. The amphitheater was also built and an extra wall was built around it to try to keep in in the city. There was then a midlevel wall that was built followed by the Venetian wall, which is the outermost wall.
These cities are much different in size. Verona has a population of about 260,000 while Milan had a population of about 1.4 million people. There is also a decrease in traffic in Verona because only people that are permitted to park in the city are able to take a car in. Any other person needs to park somewhere else and walk into the city, making foot traffic much higher.
One thing I have noticed in every city that we have visited is that the language barrier is a major problem we have to get through. I have personally interacted with foreigners in my own country and had trouble communicating with them. When the roles are reversed its much harder. Luckily many people here speak some English even if it’s not incredibly well. There have been times, however, that I have run into a situation where I needed to be able to speak Italian and I just couldn’t. For example, during one of the early nights in the trip a few of us went out to eat at a local restaurant. Unluckily for both us and the waiter, she spoke only Italian and we spoke only English. Luckily she was very patient and worked very hard to try to work out what we were saying.
Another issue with traveling that I have noticed is the stigmas against us as students. I feel like most locals just come to expect us to be disrespectful and misunderstanding of their culture. For this reason we seem to get a lot of weird looks from strangers on the street or many people even laugh at us when we are looking confused trying to figure out where we are going. The truth, however, is that we are trying to figure out everything when we can and it may come off as rude when we just don’t understand what someone says or we are standing in the middle of the street because we are looking for where to go next.
Most locals, however, try their best to work with us. While we may be difficult to work with sometimes it’s very nice when a local puts in extra effort to work with the tourists. I’m sure we also help in some way with out purchases of local goods to bring home for ourselves and our families so I like to think that we are giving back, even if it’s in a small way.