I woke up to a gorgeous morning in Verona! I quickly got ready and went down to breakfast. Everyone was abuzz with the upcoming day trip to Venice. After breakfast, Diego led our group to the local train station. It was interesting to take a train in Italy; they are a lot more timely and clean than the local trains in Philadelphia. The scenery on the ride into Venice was beyond beautiful with clear blue skies and luscious landscapes surrounding our train. The geography in Venice is unique to say the least thanks to their rivers. From the second I stepped off of the train I was greeted by the beauty of the river, and towered over by the beautiful architecture I have grown familiar with in Italy. The grand canal of Venice goes all over the city in the shape of a giant snake. There are 120 little islands and over 200 natural canals. It is fascinating to see how people’s lifestyles have adapted to appease the sprawling river. Back in older times, the rich people of Venice used to monopolize the river by being the only people able to afford to ride inside the Gonzalo. However now, instead of public busses there are public boats! There are also police boats in lieu of police cars; I do not know how effective these police cars are at catching criminals.
Thanks to the tour guide, I realized that I had taken my easy train ride into Venice for granted. The bridge to get into Venice was only made more recently. More specifically, before 1849 everything in Venice had to arrive by boat. Still to this day, most of their items have to be brought in by boat. This has led to more expensive items than normal thanks to the added cost in their supply chain. Sometimes the boats will have to deliver with little carts because the boats cannot fit into the narrow canals. The location of Venice has also had quite the impact on business and trade. Although Venice is not as technologically forward as their other friends in Italy, they have one of the strongest tourist attractions in Italy. Venice has focused their efforts on building up stores, hotels, and restaurants to attract potential visitors. They also have their Gonzalo business and tour guides stimulating the economy. I wish I was an engineer so I could design a more effective way Venice could adapt to their rivers.
The lifestyle of living in Venice is by no means easy for the locals. The cost of living is extremely high since mostly everything has to imported. In addition to that, the constant stream of tourists who are attracted to the sprawling rivers are a nuisance for the locals just trying to go about their day to day life. There is also the problem of having to walk almost everywhere since boats are slow and cars are nonexistent. All of these problems with living in Venice have taken their toll; most of the true local shops have closed. As I was walking around Venice I only saw one grocery store. I mostly saw “tourist trap” stores and some very high end fashion stores. There was one store that was established over a hundreds years ago, this old store was known as a “survivor”. Perhaps the stores of Venice could receive a tax break to try and keep more local business or continue to make their buildings higher instead of wider. Overall, Venice is a beautiful city that has made the best of a bad geographical situation. On my hour long train ride back to Verona, I had the chance to reflect on my personal attitudes and beliefs towards travel. I did not really have any personal reasons for traveling to Italy. I just had an itch to explore Europe and Italy seemed like a good place to start. I am happy that I was able to learn a lot about the program and country from both the class and the blogs from previous students. I was also thinking about my individual issues with traveling. I would have to say that the biggest cultural difference that has impacted me would be the language barrier. I am thankful that I have not met any foreigners who have been unkind to me. It is sad that the Italians have three forms of religion: soccer, food, and Catholicism. Although a joke, this really holds true to what the Italians value.The people of Italy are really not all all that different from America. With less than a week left in our trip, I know I made the right choice.