Singing in the Rain…

Actually measuring walkability in the rain would be a more fitting title for the today’s activities. 

With only a few days left in our studies here in Riva San Vitale, we are still studying hard, learning about transportation, and braving the weather. 

First a little bit about me and my perspective on the experiences over here.  I am in Europe from May until December participating in two study abroad travel programs and a four month internship with a landscape architecture firm in Bonn, Germany.  My European adventure is already almost three months completed, and I have already seen another study group come and go.  As the days wind down on this second travel program it will be bittersweet to see another group of friends depart.  Therefore, I want to take a few lines to recap the adventure that has been Sustainable Europe.  The studies based in Riva San Vitale have taken us way beyond the borders of this small town to include scales beyond what I expected.  We have explored the surrounding countries—biking through Freiburg, jumping off rocks into the Mediterranean in Cinque Terre, and wandering through Venice.  Our journeys have led us throughout Switzerland-scootering through Bern, canyoning in Interlaken, and swimming in Zürich.  Closer to “home,” we have explored the Canton of Ticino-visiting castles in Bellinzona, visiting the university in Mendrisio, and being engulfed in the Harley Davidson rally at Lugano.  At the local scale, Riva San Vitale, we have made friends with local shop owners (thanks to our Italian speaking student Mario Gazzola), had dinner with the mayor, and suntanned by the lake.  Adventures are not where this trip ends, as we have also been studying a broad range of material as followers of this blog can see.  We have moved from the theoretical level, to the regional (or cantonal) application of sustainability, and now finally we are studying the application of transit systems and possibilities.

Returning to our class on Tuesday, Professor Ralph Buehler began the day teaching us about cycling and walking:  promoting these two activities, benefits/risks, and implementation.  In the afternoon we split into groups in order to develop “tools” to assess the walkability of the streets in Riva San Vitale.  After all groups finished deciding what measures we would look at, we all departed to evaluate various streets.  Immediately upon leaving the Villa Maderni, the skies opened up and greeted us with rain.  All groups successfully braved the rain, gathered their information, and then ran back to the Villa for some warmth and assessment of the data we had just collected.  The evening was wrapped up with all groups assembling Powerpoints for their respective walkability “tools” and Powerpoints for another group project due on Thursday.

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Author:  Nicholas Denney, Undergraduate, Landscape Architecture and German, Virginia Tech

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