Greetings from one of Italy's wettest roads!
Hello from a city of canals and bridges, a city of small streets and islands, and a simply beautiful city at every turn. It is a city that wears its heart on its sleeve, and hangs the laundry out to dry on lines between flower-decorated window boxes of boldly colored houses, even in the most touristy areas. It is a city with amazingly flavorful ice cream, delicious pizza, and some of the best buskers [street musicians] I have heard yet.
Arriving in Venice, I took the water ferry [the Venice equivalent of a bus] down the S-shaped Grand Canal through the middle of the city, with only three large bridges that cross it. I got off before the final stop of a small island which acts as the barrier to the sea, and took the next boat back in what I thought was the reverse direction. It took a different turn, and my ticket was expiring, so I simply got off, put the map away, and wandered about in the small streets for essentially two days. When I wanted to get found again (like to return to my host's for the night), I could simply remove the map and re-orient.
While there, I wandered into a marble workshop that makes fine stone sculptures and monuments for high-paying customers and cities all over the world...this is the workshop where they are made. I had a nice little talk with the artisan there and got to see a bit of the workshop and the incredibly valuable collection of finished (and unfinished) pieces on display in the courtyard.
I also happened upon an exhibit from Leonardo Da Vinci, my favorite old Italian (artist, scientist, engineer, and much more), where they found the most interesting devices sketched out in his notebooks and actually built them, and they mostly all work. I also came across some amazing cathedrals, and a bell tower to go up for a great view over the city. In the tourist square just outside, the pigeons were dense enough to make any transport faster than walking unsafe, and I watched a number of people as they bought some pigeon food and quickly proceeded to coat themselves with live pigeons.
Canals really are the main roads in this city. Many places have their main entrance right on the canals; you just park your boat out front and go in by the small dock. Many of the smaller streets simply end at the water's edge, to transition easily between the two. Of course, like traffic in any city, viewing mirrors and traffic lights at certain intersections are required now that small motorized craft have mostly replaced gondolas for the residents (but not the tourists!). Most other streets are quite small; so small that if the doors opened outward they wouldn't work. Great for wandering, though! They are full of character and not "sketchy alleys" as roads of similar size in other cities might become.
Daša canceled the Slovenia visit for now, so I'm headed to Florence and then back to Rome to pick up a piece of mail...a long story that now continues on!
Grace and peace,
Postcard photo, text, & software ©2007 W. Ben Towne / WBT Productions.