Life in Venezia is to live in a paradox. It’s complexly simple, quietly noisy, and idly bustling. Only one thing is concrete; it’s beautiful.
I’ve found my home in Cannaregio, in the northern suburb of ‘the island’. You could say I live between two highways. Step outside my front door and you’re on the Strada Nova, a wide street teeming with touristic foot traffic at all hours. On the other side, out my window, you see the Grand Canal; the main ‘road’ of the city. From private boats, to water taxis, gondolas and public transport (vaporetto), it’s all happening on the water. That’s the magic of this city. I often sit on my windowsill and watch Venezia go by, taking in everything from the whimsical whistles of a gondolier, to the shrill sirens of the ambulance speedboats (of course, all public services run on the water – emergency, police, and rubbish collection!)
A 20 minute vaporetto ride down the Grand Canal you’ll find the main building of the Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia – my academic home for the next semester. Being on exchange with a Communications degree is a wonderful gift, which has allowed me to choose a whole mix of varied and interesting subjects. I get to practice my native tongue in the ‘History of Spanish Society and Culture’, explore ideas in ‘Renaissance Natural Philosophy, Alchemy, Astrology and Magic’, and learn how my new home came to be how it is today in ‘History of Venice’. Whilst the classes are long (2.5 hours!!), I’ve managed to align my timetable so I only have to go in three days a week – and left myself a handy long weekend for spontaneous getaways.
A great thing about Ca’ Foscari is that it has a huge international student body. I met many new friends at the Welcome Day campus tour, and the free aperitivo that evening. Aperitivo is an Italian custom where you snack, socialise and drink (in Venezia almost strictly only spritz or prosecco) in the late afternoon/early evening. The city is dotted with bacari, simple bars that serve spritz and cicchetti – the Venetian version of tapas.
The student nightlife in Venice consists of many a spritz, 1€ wines, gelato and takeaway pizza slices – sometimes even getting to enjoy these simple pleasures on a pier next to a canal.
Between university by day and socialising at night, the everyday is threaded with many peculiarities. Venezia is architecturally old city, which has in turn adapted to modern life and the daily tourism influxes – without losing its charm. I do my grocery shopping in an old theatre that still has its original paintings on the ceiling, shop in a bookstore that keeps its novels in gondolas and bathtubs as they flood once a year. I push through tour groups on the Rialto Bridge on my way to class, and have mastered saying “no, grazie” to tourist scammers 10 times a day. Hopefully one day the rose sellers recognise me, but for now I’ll keep declining and falling in love with every single thing that makes Venezia what it is.
B. Communications (Public Comm.), B. Creative Intelligence and Innovation
Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia