Today, while floating through the city of Venice, I began to think about how much I really don’t want to go home! The gondola ride through the canals of Venice was something I’ve always wanted to do, it was extremely beautiful, and it didn’t hurt that we had a cute gondolier. I knew from just general knowledge that Venice was the city of canals, but until seeing the city, I did not realize that they were everywhere, not just through the main parts of town, but also in between houses. I can’t even imagine how it was about a hundred years ago when there were no bridges connecting the different parts of town. Venice now has 456 bridges so I am sure you can imagine how disconnected it was before.
Since before there were no bridges, and no public transportation, if the people wanted to travel or transport things to another part of the city, they had to do so by a steam engine boat. This made it very inefficient to transport a small amount of goods, to make the trip worth it, the boat would have to be full. However, since almost all parts of the city were easily accessible by boat, trade would be very easy because transportation would not be a problem. Trade and business were the strength of the Republic and were done by boat. Although it was good in some respects, getting and taking supplies to mainland Italy was a simple task made hard. So, to make an easier way of living for the Venetians, they started to build bridges around Venice, including one to the main land. This opened a new method of transportation, the train, and eventually cars. Today, we have a choice for our method of transportation and shipping, generally we choose the cheapest. Although today it is much easier to get around the city with the bridges they do still transport their everyday items and people by boat, but they also use other methods of transportation as well. The gondolas that used to be used solely as a method of transportation are now just an attraction for tourists. It is likely that trade is still done by boat but on a larger scale. For the people who live in Venice now, they must be willing to deal with the tourists that the beautiful geography of the land brings. This means they must change the way they live to not be overwhelmed by the amount of people that are constantly taking over their city.
Although today was a great day in Venice, it started out very interesting in Verona, Alaina, Livia, and I went to our first church service in Italy, however, we got a little lost in the crazy streets of Verona on the way there and ended up having to ask for some directions and thanks to our new friend Carmella, we made it to church. Although she did not really speak English, she knew enough to know what we were asking and was able to get us there. Overall, the biggest difference is the language barrier, it is what keeps both cultures from communicating well. I did not see exactly how they manage conflicts other than language because most of the Italians I encountered, I was just passing by them on the streets. However, for language conflicts, we would try communicating in another way such as hand gestures or pictures of things. Here time management is not really a thing, especially when it comes to meals. Italians spend a long time eating and enjoying their meals, since that is their time to relax, they don’t rush it. I am sure that when it comes time to work they have some techniques of time management or they would never get anything done, however I did not get to see this side of them. As far as handling foreigners, most Italians were very friendly to us Americans and appreciated that we tried to speak their language, but there were some that had little patience for us. I think their basic value system here is family and relationships in general, especially with Italian businesses trust is one of the best things you can have. Here one of the biggest differences in living I’ve noticed is that they mostly live in apartments instead of houses, also if they want to live somewhere they can’t just build a house or apartment because they need to preserve the cities and there isn’t really much room for anything new. As far as I can tell just by walking on the streets, most Italians seem to be quite well off, I see a lot carrying high end bags and living in apartments that are very expensive, of course there is always homeless people, but that is everywhere. When it comes to politics, the Italians are quick to make comments about our president and think it is barbaric that we do not have public healthcare, as one of the college students told me. They don’t quite understand why America is the way it is in a lot of ways, even with things as simple as the drinking age. Overall, I think some Italians have a positive view of Americans and find us very interesting while others find us unknowledgeable and poorly dressed. It most likely depends on the past experiences they have had with Americans. Which is why it is good to make a good first impression when meeting new people because it can affect how they view the group you belong to.