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Kristen Adamo: Imperfect, Wonderful Providence

Saturday, June 22, 2013


There is so much to love about Providence, from the food, to the entertainment, to the art and culture. Make sure you show your Rhody pride!

Providence is not perfect. In that way, it is like every other city in the United States. There are pressing concerns and I leave them to those with more acumen and zeal for handling those issues. My role–along with my 20 or so colleagues at the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau (PWCVB)–is to champion the wonderful things about this city. And there are many.

The PWCVB welcomes thousands of visitors to Providence every year–families, couples, meeting delegates, business travelers, journalists, sporting event attendees, and more. Each time we meet someone new to Providence, we experience the city through their eyes. I’m born and bred in Wanskuck but, when I am with these visitors, I see Providence with a fresh perspective. I watch them fall in love.

Federal Hill is startling in its authenticity. They love to stroll DePasquale Plaza and feel the cool spray of the fountain on a hot summer day. I have seen countless visitors scrunch their faces, as they try to figure out how to pack a couple of pounds of gnocchi and some marinara from Venda in their luggage. Unless they’re driving, it never works. They revel in the sweet and comforting smell of Scialo’s Bakery and laugh at themselves when they can’t pronounce the names of the pastries.

Visitors find Providence compact and walkable. They love to shop on Westminster Street, to find bargains and one-of-kind pieces. They enjoy the sharp contrast of Benefit Street’s stately elegance and Thayer Street’s gritty, artsy flair. They are fascinated by the rivers and how they flow in and out, measuring the work day. We have had groups come just to look at how we use our rivers and how we have lovingly preserved our architecture.

Every single traveler I have ever met–every single one–comments on the food and on the quality of our restaurants. The readers of Travel + Leisure magazine voted us the #1 Food City in the United States in their 2012 “America’s Favorite Cities” poll. They are right. The depth and breadth of our culinary offerings is astounding. Fresh seafood, rich ethnic traditions, talented chefs, and one of the top culinary schools in the country in our backyard make Providence the perfect culinary capital.

Food is one of the two things that visitors think we do best. The other is our arts scene. I have seen visitors moved to tears by WaterFire. A lot of us grew up with Trinity Rep and PPAC but visitors see them for the unique gems that they are. We have, arguably, the best art school in the country, with a museum that spans the history of art. Providence is cool. Everyone from GQ to the London Telegraph has said that. AS220 and our city’s commitment to cultivating young artistic and musical talent is what make us so.

People complain about living and working in Providence. Sometimes they are correct. Sometimes they’re not. But, at the end of the day, there are lots things to love about this city. I would like to ask you to remember them and vote. Travel + Leisure has just opened the voting for their 2013 “America’s Favorite Cities” poll. Here is the link: https://travelandleisure.roiresearch.com/Survey/Index/34.

Providence tends to do very well in this survey and the PWCVB uses the results to try to bring even more visitors to the city. Not surprisingly, we typically rank toward the bottom in “Driving Ability.” Like I said, Providence is not perfect.


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