Texture. Light. Color.  Each city has a texture, a light, and a color all it’s own.  I remember when in Venice we were assigned a way-finding experiment.  We were given three specific piazzas and three days to find our way to each and come up with a way to present our findings about each piazza and each transition from our starting location to the designated spot.  We were meant to truly look at the landscape, not just study it but to know it and understand it in all its complexities.  And what better city to choose to try to decipher and comprehend than one of the most intricate and confusing cities in Europe.  Perhaps we are completely out of our element in Venice because the water defines the movement of the city instead of the standard streetscape.  Or perhaps it is the constant elevation change and not only directional change that we experience while traversing the city that throws us.  For whatever the reason, Venice is considered one of the most difficult cities to navigate.  Thus we were plopped in the middle of the city and given the somewhat awkward task of finding our way to different piazzas and then presenting our discoveries on the fourth and final day in Venice.  Of all my experiences on my study abroad this was one of the most insightful in regards to the urban environment.   Almost immediately I ditched the map.  Impossible.  Venice in two dimensions is almost night and day to Venice in three dimensions…hardly any discernible translation between the two.  Street signs were of no help.  Didn’t understand the language.  So as I set out on my first quest I began by following the flow of other people. When in doubt following the masses sounds like a sure way to go right?   I began to pick up on other characteristics of the city and began taking cues from non-traditional elements.  Oddly enough, I easily found my way to each separate piazza, all starting from different points.  Each space was unique and different from the other.  And each route expressed these differences.  My main tools in finding the piazzas were based on textures, light, and color.  One of the piazzas was a main open space of the city, for both tourists and inhabitants alike.  Marked by bright colors, loud textures, and bold light, the path to the space was marked by the same characteristics.  Another piazza was much smaller in scale, more private, secluded, intimate.  The colors of this space and the path to discover this space were marked by much more muted tones, softer textures, and darker spaces.   There was a tranquility and a finesse to this space that translated to the spaces leading to the piazza.  The third space had a life and vibrancy all it’s own that was supported by the physical composition of the surrounding urban environment.  My presentation was based mostly on color, elevation change, textures, and intensity of movement and comparing the three was quite a startling realization.   It’s amazing what we can find when we put down the map and focus on our direct surroundings.  Dublin was this way…full of textures and colors and personalities.  And today I rediscovered my affection for the unique characteristics that work together to create layers of history within a city.  I woke up early to a dreary, rainy morning and walked around Charleston paying attention to the textures, colors, and light that help create the unique character of the city.  I stayed mostly in the area South of Broad, but wandered around the little side streets, focusing on the physical elements of the area.  Re-discovering one of my favorite cities brought some light to quite a dreary day.  Every now and again all we really need is a little tlc.