by Francesca Yazbek
Early in November I had the opportunity to spend a day in Venice, Italy. A few friends and I took a train in the morning from Milan, where we had spent the previous day, to spend the day in Venice and return to Rome that night. Being completely surrounded by and made up of water, the last few miles before arriving at the train station in Venice were spent on a bridge that led directly to the station. We got off the train, checked our luggage for the day, walked through the station to the exit at the opposite end, and what we found was Venice.
The city of Venice is made up of 118 small islands, separated by canals and connected by foot bridges, so it’s no surprise that upon leaving the train station the first thing you run into, aside from all the information desks selling tours of the city, is the Grand Canal. As one of our main reasons for traveling to Venice was to experience a gondola ride, that was the first thing we set out to do. My friends and I eased our ways into a gondola and we were off! Starting in the Grand Canal, we worked our way through smaller ones, seeing some of the islands and foot bridges of the city, before arriving back in the Grand Canal to finish our tour….and yes, our gondolier sang to us! We spent the rest of our afternoon roaming around Venice, deciding to forego the map and allow the foot bridges to take us to whichever islands they pleased. We ended the day with an appertivo ( Italian happy hour) before catching our return train to Rome.
There are many things that I have done throughout this semester abroad that have made me feel almost like I was outside of myself, probably as result of disbelief at the experience I was being given, and this trip was one of them. It was so incredible, as we made our way through the canals, to see houses and businesses with doors directly on the water, accessible only by boat. Or to see marks on buildings where the water had risen, sometimes to cover doors of buildings and wonder how people there deal with these fluctuating levels. If the culture of Italy is completely different from that of America, the lifestyles of Venetians is even more difficult, if not impossible, to understand. With this being said, Venice is by far one of the most unique places I have had the opportunity to visit.