On the seventh day in Italy, we traveled from Florence to Verona. After we arrived in Verona, we took a walking tour of the main area of the city, and learned about the history around it. While walking around, I started comparing this small charming city to the bustling business capital of Milan. I was noticed some clear differences, and I began to realize that I was enjoying the charming Verona more than the bustling Milan.
The first noticeable difference between Milan and Verona for me was the sanitation of each city. Verona was a lot cleaner than Milan with less waste in the streets and less graffiti on the walls. The reason for this is likely due to a greater tourist:resident ratio in Verona. With more tourists bringing in money, a city like Verona is likely to be well managed, to keep tourists coming in. Another noticeable difference between Milan and Verona is the paved roads vs. cobblestone. Milan’s city center is full of paved roads while the majority of Verona’s city center is made of cobblestone. This is likely because Milan is full of people from businesses driving in, and is in need for public transportation requiring road paving, like trams, busses, and taxis. Verona’s city center is mainly just used for residents going to shop or see events at the famous colosseum, and for tourists staying in nearby hotels to walk to. Residents, in fact, need special permission to drive in the city center of Verona, as the streets are too small to handle many cars. Another notable difference between the two cities is the importance placed on the city’s history. While Milan has a famous Duomo and many other famous historic tourist destinations, Verona’s city is built to border the colosseum which fits up to 15,000 people, and the city center has its own Duomo along with many other historic landmarks and ruins. I saw many of these landmarks and ruins, but my favorite was cobblestone ruins located in a clothing store called Benneton. The city of Milan is home to great historic sites and top of the line clothing stores, however the two would different scenes would never mix, due to the large concentration of each in the city.
In my opinion, the cities are very different because Milan is a business capital and a home to many residents who lead to both more trouble and more industrialization in the cities. The trouble includes graffiti which makes the streets look less clean, and petty crime with the higher amount of unemployed people as a consequence of a higher population. The industrialization involves the paved roads made for the large amount business travelers, residents, and tourists who visit the city. I think Verona is a lot less crowded as it is home to significantly fewer residents than Milan, and the amount of necessary infrastructure is much less. I personally enjoyed visiting Verona more, as it is more of an aesthetically pleasing city then Milan, and the city as a whole is more suited for tourists. The shopping center is also a lot more condensed and controlled, eliminating all possible culture shock that could result when shopping.
Today while walking around in Verona and Florence, I was surprised to see the amount of English speakers. There were so many English speakers, that I would recognize hearing more English than Italian in the streets. The large amount of English, compared to the lack of this in Milan is likely due to a higher tourist:resident ratio in Verona and Florence. The amount of tourism not only leads to a lot of English speaking tourists, but also to many English speaking workers, as they have to speak the language of their customers to keep up with competitors. My study abroad experience in both of the tourism-heavy cities completely lacked culture shock, as I felt right at home by hearing my own language. I was also extremely impressed by the hospitality of the Italian people in the past day. Our waiter at a restaurant started making jokes about tipping and other American tendencies, when we found out we were American. There were also many people on the streets willing to help us find ATM, places to eat, and the correct foods to order. I have continuously seen this hospitality throughout our time in Italy and I think many Americans can learn from this. I am very happy with my experience in the beautiful city of Verona so far and I am looking forward to our day trip to Venice tomorrow. Stay tuned!