Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Blisters and Bruises and Breaks, Oh My!

Living in a city that is based solely on tourism for its economical existence is not without its own idiosyncracies. For over 1000 years, Venice existed as an independent Republic dominating both sea and land with much of its wealth coming from the trade business. Today, as a state in Italy, it relies solely on the curiousity of tourists to prosper. And for those of you who have been here, you know just how many tourists are here all the time. I often wonder why the city doesnt sink but that is another topic in itself.

And being an island means that all of those tourists must walk from A to B and inevitably get lost along the way, making their journey that much longer. Venice is hard on the feet and the knees. The soles of shoes do not last long and the comfortableness of them is a priority. Most tourists dont get this. They come to Venice with their cute shoes to match their outfits and their brand new 'walking' shoes they purchased 3 days before the trip. And this brings only one thing--blisters and bruises. I am amazed at how many people walk around with large band-aids on the heels of the foot or on the upper arch where the strap is rubbing. Not to mention the countless band-aids and gauze pads wrapped around various toes because they were cramped so tight in those new shoes that they have rubbed the skin raw. Its almost a fashion statement in itself!

But it doesnt end there. Walking amongst thousands of other people (who for some strange reason all think they are the only ones on the island), over bridges, down narrow streets and around sharp corners, only magnifies the possibility of injury. And there is a whole subset of those people as well. Just yesterday alone, I noted 6 different people who had their forearm bandaged with gauze and 3 more with white shin decorations. Falling is a hazard that comes with the territory. Missing just one step on the bridge could mean a broken bone (nevermind the embarassment) and I shudder when I see someone walking around on crutches in this town--what a trecherous path they are on--another accident just waiting to happen.

I myself have had my share of blisters so far and I have even rubbed the skin raw from a shoe strap on my arch, so I speak from experience. But they are getting fewer and farther between which leads me to believe that my feet are growing accustomed to the abuse. And this, as much as anything, explains why I hardly ever see an Italian with a white gauze bandage and how the women walk around in their 3 inch heels without so much as a wince of discomfort. I imagine over the more than thousand years of existence, the Venetian feet have been genetically altered (this is micro-evolution, right?) at conception to withstand what lies ahead. Kudos to them for adapting to their environment!

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