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I’ve learned a lot these first few weeks about Italy–it seems like every place I’ve visited is surrounded with an incredible amount of history.  So much history, in fact, that I feel compelled to share it all with you, my loyal readers.  Let me prepare my best tour guide voice (it’s a cross between Harry Caray and Gilbert Gottfried), and we’ll get right to it.

I apologize in advance for the ALL CAPS–history just gets me pretty excited.

THIS WAS THE FIRST VENDING MACHINE EVER BUILT IN ITALY.  CONSTRUCTED OVER 47 MONTHS AGO BY GIUSEPPE DELLE SCARPENERE, ITS DESIGN MOST NOTABLY PAYS HOMAGE TO SIMILAR WORKS BY DA VINCI AND MICHELANGELO.  IT ACCEPTS ALL COINS, FROM A 5 CENT PIECE UP TO A 2 EURO COIN–A SYMBOL OF THE INCLUSIVE NATURE OF ITALIANS.  DELLE SCARPENERE’S CREATIONS ARE DISPLAYED ALL THROUGHOUT ITALY, BUT PERHAPS HIS BEST-KNOWN WORK IS THE LINE OF DRINK MACHINES OUTSIDE THE BILLA BY THE RIALTO.

THIS WAS THE FIRST FOOD TRUCK TO OPEN BUSINESS ON LIDO BEACH.  BEFORE THIS INSPIRED BIT OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP, BEACH PATRONS WERE FORCED TO WADDLE FOR 6 OR EVEN 7 MINUTES TO A NEARBY CAFE TO PURCHASE FOOD AND BEVERAGES. THIS SPECIFIC TRUCK HAS HAD TO BE RESTORED 14 TIMES OVER THE PAST DECADE TO PRESERVE ITS ORIGINAL CONDITION.

THIS WAS THE FIRST CRANE EVER UTILIZED IN THE VENETO REGION.  BEFORE THESE CRANES, THE VENETIANS HAD TO FORM HUMAN PYRAMIDS IN ORDER TO RAISE METAL, WOOD, AND SELECT STONES TO THE APPROPRIATE HEIGHT.  TO BUILD THIS CRANE ALONE, 17 HUMAN PYRAMIDS WERE ESTABLISHED AND EACH WORKED IN FORTNIGHT-LONG SHIFTS.  THERE WERE NO STRUCTURES TALLER THAN 3.5 METERS IN THE VENETO PRIOR TO THE INVENTION OF THIS SPECIFIC CRANE.

THIS WAS THE FIRST AREA IN VENICE EVER TO BE SUBJECTED TO VIDEO SURVEILLANCE.  ORIGINALLY, EVERY LOCATION THAT WAS DEEMED A SECURITY RISK HAD A MAN ATTACHED TO THE CEILING VIA A WIRE.  HE WOULD USE BINOCULARS TO IDENTIFY POSSIBLE SUSPECTS AND THEN YELL AT THEM TO STOP WHAT THEY WERE DOING.  ONE DAY EVERY YEAR, THE ACTV WILL SHUT DOWN ALL OF THESE CAMERAS AND REINSTITUTE THE OLD SYSTEM IN A RE-ENACTMENT OF THESE SIMPLER TIMES.

THESE WERE THE FIRST ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES TO EVER EXIST IN ITALY.  ORIGINALLY BREWED BY DANIELE DEL CHECAZZO, THE BEER QUICKLY BECAME POPULAR IN GERMANY AND IRELAND.  TODAY, DUFF BEER CAN BE FOUND IN BARS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY, AND IT WAS RUMORED TO BE HEMINGWAY’S DRINK OF CHOICE AT HARRY’S BAR IN VENICE.  ALSO, THE SLENDER YET POWERFUL DUFF BOTTLE WAS HIS PRIMARY BOTTLE OF CHOICE DURING BAR FIGHTS.

THIS WAS THE FIRST “NO SMOKING” SIGN EVER CONSTRUCTED WITHIN VENICE.  BEFORE THIS SIGN WAS INTRODUCED, THE ENTIRE CITY WAS FILLED WITH A PERPETUAL IMPENETRABLE FOG.  DURING THE 1960s, IT WAS COMMON TO HAVE DOZENS OF GONDOLA ACCIDENTS A DAY AS IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO NAVIGATE.  THE ARTIST OF THE SIGN, GIORGIONE DELLA SCHIAPPA, WAS IN FACT A 3 PACK-A-DAY SMOKER, AND HIS LOVE FOR THE CIGARETTE CAN BE SEEN IN THE CURVY, ALLURING NATURE OF THE SMOKE LINES DRAWN HERE.

THIS WAS THE FIRST MCDONALD’S EVER BUILT IN EUROPE AND WAS ALSO THE HOST OF THE FIRST MCDONALD’S-RELATED RIOT, WHICH BEGAN WHEN PATRONS REALIZED THE BREAKFAST MENU WAS NOT SERVED ALL DAY.  IT HAS SERVED OVER BILLIONS OF CUSTOMERS IN ITS HISTORY.  DESPITE THE SUFFERING ECONOMY, ITALIAN PRIDE HAS NEVER BEEN HIGHER, WHICH MANY SOCIOLOGISTS ATTRIBUTE TO THE PRESENCE OF THE MCDOUBLE AND THE MCRIB.  IN THE DIRECTOR’S CUT OF THE GODFATHER, THE FAMOUS DINNER SCENE SHOOTOUT TAKES PLACE HERE, AND IT IS ALSO WHERE PAVAROTTI HAD HIS LAST MEAL.

THIS WAS THE FIRST CHAIN LINK FENCE EVER TO EXIST IN EUROPE.  ORIGINALLY BUILT DURING WWII, IT WAS AN EFFECTIVE MEANS OF DEFENSE AGAINST THE FRENCH ARMY FOR NEARLY SEVEN WEEKS.  THE FENCE WAS BUILT BY LEONARDO DELGIARDINO D’OLIVO, AND THE DIAMOND PATTERN YOU SEE HERE IS TYPICAL OF THE TRADITIONAL 1950s ABSURDISM MOVEMENT.

(JUST GIMME A SECOND TO CALM DOWN)

Anyway, that’s just a little bit of Italian history to get us started.  If it hasn’t been made clear, there’s history all around us–we just have to look hard enough.  Or at literally anything.  I hope you’ve learned a lot–next time, I’ll tell the elaborate history of the Hard Rock Cafe (THE FIRST PLACE TO EVER ALLOW DRINKING IN THE PRESENCE OF HARD ROCK MUSIC) and a Vodafone store.

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