Living in Venice is almost like watching an Aaron Sorkin movie–none of the people you see seem that likable, and everyone is spending more time talking than working. (Other comparisons I had stored for this: it’s like a Carrot Top movie, because it doesn’t make any money consistently; it’s like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, because it’s old and dated; it’s like a Nic Cage movie, because everyone seems to be trying too hard to sell you on something of pretty poor quality.)
Having said all that, I love Venice. Not in the way in which I wish I could live here forever, but the way in which I wish I could pick it up with me and transport it back to America, so that whenever real life or jobs or cars stress me out, I could escape to this timeless haven. It doesn’t have the best food in Italy, nor the best people, the best infrastructure, the most historical locations…well, I could go on. But the point is, Venice is a special place, perhaps one of the most noteworthy and identifiable locales in the historic country of Italy. As such, it deserves a special tribute. Here are the things, in no particular order, that I’ll miss the most after living in Venice for the past 3 months:
Italian sweets: For a people who are notorious for looking good, Italians sure know how to eat in quantities that would shame the likes of Joey Chestnut and Kobayashi. And I’m not just discussing their relatively healthy pasta and red wine diet: their sweets have enough unsaturated fats to make Rex Ryan drool. Cannolis, gelato, and even American treats like doughnuts (in Italian–ciambelle): Italians do them right. I even had their equivalent of hot chocolate, called cioccolato fondente, that is literally a cup of melted chocolate: Just incredible. Probably awful for me in the present and in the near future, but still–incredible. The best thing is that every place sells some form of treat: each Italian family apparently has some secret recipe for cornetti, gelato, or panna that is just unbelievable, and they have to open a shop to share it with the community.
(I forgot to mention that they have crepes, too. Italy really goes all out. Ball’s in your court, Krispy Kreme.)
Venetian / Italian bureaucracy: Every operation involving a line or government official was a roller-coaster. To put it simply, there were no “gimmes” in Italy–every event become a process of sorts, and it was always interesting as to whether this would be painless or torturous. Although this sounds incredibly annoying–and, believe me, it was–it lent a sense of accomplishment to the smallest tasks. No longer will I be able to consider a day where I buy chocolates and send a letter “productive,” as was the case in Italy.
Campo Santa Margherita: The best (read: only) place to go out in Venice; its design, albeit simple, is a foreign concept for Americans. Basically, it’s 12-15 bars in a square-ish area that all sell people drinks, and then people go and sit in the middle of the campo to drink them, or walk around and mingle. It’s basically a permanent bar crawl, at your own pace, with your own tastes and preferences considered. I actually had to think about why this couldn’t exist in America, and then I remembered those nasty fellas known as “open container laws.” Fascists.
The Grand Canal: Waking up and seeing this, Rialto bridge, and P. San Marco every day is indescribable.
(After a while, I would actually get pissed that I had to go to these areas because there are so many tourists, which is an absurd reaction to such beautiful locations. Being in Venice for so long had spoiled me–I can only imagine what it’s like being a true Venetian. Probably similar to being a sad, bored, ambition-less 70-year-old Italian man, but I can’t be sure.)
The Sheer Number of Vendors in Venice: I mocked the vendors a lot here, but they did provide the city with an atmosphere. Even when it was miserable out, they always created the sense that something was going on, and I always knew that commerce (and cheap, China-made goods) weren’t far from me.
L’acqua alta: Just kidding–this part of Venice sucked. The city still owes me one pair of dark blue Lucky Brand jeans, one pair of thrift store dress shoes, and irreparable damages stemming from emotional trauma related to acqua alta.
(Other items that won’t be missed: most modes of transportation (including ACTV vaporetti, ACTV buses, ATVO buses, TrenItalia, various bus shuttles); the Venice-Treviso airport–which is actually in neither city, occupying a Station 9 3/4-like purgatory in N. Italy; that one checkout guy at the S. Polo Billa, who knows what he did; the helicopter, laser pointer, and goo salesmen dispersed throughout the city; the hordes and hordes of tourists; the ridiculous tourist prices; the ridiculous normal prices; the lack of CVS cash-back.)
Rosso Pomodoro: The best pizza chain in Italy that we knew about that took our vouchers / food stamps. So far, it has only one location in the States (in NYC). I’ll do my best to change that: to put it simply, it’ll be tough to go back to Domino’s after eating here.
(To be clear, though, I will go back to Domino’s and enjoy my Medium, 1-topping pizza for $7.99. I reserve the right to complain incessantly about it, however.)
International Beer: Paulaner. Franzishaner. Leffe. Affligem. Blanche de Namur. ReAle Birra Del Borgo. Bavaria. Ceres. And many, many more. You all have a place reserved in my heart. (Moretti, Peroni, Castello, and other Italian beers: I never liked you that much, but you always gave it your best. You were like the David Eckstein of beers. I respect that. Unlike Tuborg, which was European beer’s JaMarcus Russell–highly touted without any real production or redeeming qualities.)
Grom: The Rosso Pomodoro of gelato, which maybe doesn’t really do it justice. Get the “Crema Come Una Volta” flavor and don’t look back.
VIU: Venice International University, located on San Servolo, an island that was formerly a mental institute before being adapted into an institute of slightly higher learning. It is the only international university I have attended–the school brings students together from the US, Italy, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Israel, Spain, China, and elsewhere–and it is certainly my favorite.
But, in all honesty, this semester wouldn’t have been the same without the same without the great people of VIU and its sending universities, and I owe all of the great experiences I had over these past three months–in some way–to various subsections of these people. I don’t know if anyone is still reading this, or was initially reading this, but here goes:
To the interns and the staff: I can’t thank you enough. There’s no way any of us would have gotten through the semester as well as we did without you, and you worked tirelessly to organize awesome events for us during our free time. We never really got to repay you the favor, but if you come to America, I’ll be sure to do just that.
To my teachers: Your classes were fantastic; your travel advice sagely. I also don’t think any of you destroyed my GPA, which I very much appreciate.
To my fellow VIU students: it was a hell of a ride, one that I’ll certainly never forget. Let’s do it again sometime?
Just think about it.