Details from my in progress series American Suburb
By Beth Raper
My first day in Venice I walked a lot. That’s not really saying too much because the unique thing about Venice is that you will never see a car. In fact you rarely even see bikes because of all the steps and narrow pathways. The main means of conveyance is of course by boat! And foot. The streets were filled with people. It was hard to imagine anyone actually living there, it felt like everyone around me was just visiting – which happens to be pretty close to the truth. I found out that the steady disappearance of Venice’s population is a reality and is closely linked to whether the city should forgo it’s status as a “living” metropolis and become a glorified theme park. For me I imagine it would be like living in Disneyland. Schemes to preserve Venice for Venetians – modern houses, more jobs, a new metro – are often at odds with those aimed at preserving Venice for profit and prosperity. What I mean is, the original integrity of these very old and beautiful structures must be maintained by law, everything has to be refurbished with the original materials. This can become very costly indeed seeing how these buildings have things like marble floors and antique stained glass windows. The owners of these buildings are finding it hard to stay as well as the other locals who are inundated with tourists on a daily basis. Even if these issues are resolved, the more literal perils still remain (too many tourists, too much pollution, too many pigeons) as well as the ultimate fate reserved for a city built on water: The relentless and corrosive advance of the elements. In any case that only makes me more grateful that I got to experience it for myself. I actually thought Venice was quite magical. Being inside the labyrinth of streets made me me forget for a moment that I was walking through a seemingly floating city until I would reach a clearing where the water met the land. Sometimes I wouldn’t even be expecting it. The first night I sat by the water and really tried to absorb my surroundings. I want to remember it forever.
I’m a little embarrassed at how long it’s taken me to get these pictures out, so I’m just going to chalk it up to the busy holiday season and leave it at that. So here we are at the heart of Florence! At this point in the trip, Florence was my favorite city we visited in Italy. It was a nice change from the vastness of Milan and where it resembled many of the other cities (Padova, Trieste) it possessed a unique heart and life of it’s own. I guess if I had to compare it to a city in California it would be the San Francisco of Northern Italy. We walked everywhere which is one of my favorite modes of transportation while traveling, and Florence is fairly easy to navigate. Our days there were replete with shopping, Nutella crepes, gelato, Renaissance art, and friendly encounters. We actually met more foreigners and tourists than we did Italians. We even came across another group of Americans from San Francisco, which sparked some excitement in me – like a “Hey! We’re from California and you’re from California and we are both in Italy!” kind of moment. In any case, Florence was a good time and damn beautiful too. Check out some of the images I got from my time there.