Venice, Italy
April, 2004

Use Google and search on the words "Venice Italy" and you'll find hundreds of images that looked just like many of the photos I took.  So I thought, why add more of the same images to the web?  If you'd like to see a picture of the famous Rialto Bridge or the Saint Mark's Square search the web.

If you see the movie, "The Italian Job",  see if you can spot this scene. 

Movies, documentaries, and TV news take on a different context and seem more applicable when we've been to the place they're talking about.  We recognize the larger scope of the surrounding community and geography.  It becomes more than what fits into the frame of the camera and the assumptions we make to fill in the gaps.  Mitch and Max are always more interested in news about a place after we've visited it.
This photo has been added to my "favorites collection".  It was still early spring.  I wish I could have taken this picture a few weeks later when it was warmer, and all of the planters are full of colorful flowers. 

Venice is made up of half canals and half walkways.  Think of one as the street out front, and the other as the alley in back.

See the people in the windows?  I was wondering "what are they thinking?" What is their frame of reference as they look out on the plaza below?  To me, the young couple in the upper window sees a place of excitement, good food, friends, adventure and the future.

The elderly lady in the lower window is more reserved, protected by the shades and shutters from the noise and masses of people as she watches from within, like a sentry of her fortress with the perspective of her past.

There are no roads or cars in Venice.  While most of the gondoliers are taking tourists for a romantic excursion, some are hired to simply transport passengers across the larger cannel.

Notice the pole that the fellow at the lower left is holding.  I'll discuss it again later.

Venice is a paradise for someone that enjoys lunch on a patio, an evening drink along a bustling canal, or a romantic outside dinner in a softly lit promenade.
It's true there are no roads, but you can walk anywhere.  It's just a matter of knowing where the bridges are. 
Most of the walkways are narrow.  At the end you choose, left or right.  In either case you may not be able to see a bridge or a canal.  If you can see a canal, you may be surprised to find the walkway dead ends with nowhere to go except by boat or back the way you came from.  On one occasion we had to back track several minutes to find a path going in our direction. 
Even with a map it was easy to get lost in the maze.  But that was one of the most fun things about Venice -- getting lost over and over again.

Clotheslines are common across the residential walks.

Much of the city looks like it's in need of repair.  I guess the salt air wears on the brick and mortar after a thousand years. 

Remember what I was saying about having a larger scope of a place.  How's this?

I put a circle around Venice.  It was first populated by locals that retreated to the swamps to avoid attacks from the Roman armies.  There is a bridge with four lanes of traffic and two rail lines that extend west to the mainland.  The two white areas on the west of Venice are bus and train terminals, a very large parking garage, and shipping and boat terminals.  From there it's by water or on foot. 
The Grand Canal can be seen S-curving through Venice.  It takes about 1 hour to walk from one side to the other.  That is, if you don't get mixed up in the maze of walks, bridges and canals.  We were trying to go from dinner to a Vivaldi concert and got completely turned around.  Even with a map, we almost didn't make the concert in time.
Mitch and Max had fun taking off on their own with a daily boat ticket and a map of the city.  They always managed to get where they were going before Cheryl and I did.
This is the equivalent of the city bus.  Another public bus (boat) can be seen pulling away from the stop ahead.  These boats run around the island, through the Grand Canal, and another smaller canal that runs north off of the Grand Canal.
We quickly learned that there's a stop for each direction and you need to know which boats stop at which location.  There are also stops on each side of the Grand Canal which saves time since there are only three large bridges that cross this canal.
This spot is right outside Saint Marks Square.  If this was New York, you'd see horse carriages lined up near the theater district or Central Park. 
This beautifully varnished boat is a taxi.  It says Taxi 291 on the yellow stick on the window.
A local ambulance.
The fire station.
And the Police.  We even saw a hearse carrying a beautiful, flower covered casket, motoring slowly down the Grand Canal.
Get the idea?  Everything moves by water, and, as you can see, there are no protective rails.

Max asked if anyone ever falls into the water.

This fellow is having the equivalent of a yard sale.

One evening we came home and told Max, "yes, people do fall in the water and I even pulled the guy out."  A local Venetian was jumping off a boat, similar to this one, onto steps like these, when he slipped on the layer of green slime.  The tidal current was moving swiftly at the time. His buddy was at the motor controls backing up to keep him from being crushed by the boat. 

He was trying to hang on to a pole to keep from being swept down stream, (like the pole in the photo at the beginning of this webpage.)  I heard the commotion and went up a small bridge to see what was happening.  At first I thought he was trying to repair something since the crowd was just watching.  Once I realized he had fallen in and had a big gash on his head from hitting the concrete step, I ran down and pulled him out.   But first, he handed me his cell phone as he shook out the water.
Although there is no water in this picture, it is about the water.  Several times a year there are very high tides.  In San Diego tractors mound sand along the entire beach to prevent flooding.  In Venice the walkways flood.  See the short benches on the right side of the walkway? During such floods the benches are laid out end to end to form walkways over the flooded walks.  As you can see, it doesn't take much to flood the shops. 
Many of the shops have short flood gates that can be closed, or they pack towels around the door and simply deal with it.  Our apartment was just around the corner.

At first I thought the water level went all the way up the doors.  Later, I realized this is a garage door.  Once opened, the boat can be parked for the night. 

By American standards Venice is an ancient city.  These concrete filled pads will line the bottom of the canals near the mouth of the open water to prevent further erosion. A scuba diver disappears into the murky water to correctly place each pad.
Can you say Gelato?  Here's a cute gal having two.  Gelato twice a day is a must.   Beats any ice cream you'll get in the states.  There's always a gelato stand nearby and usually a pizza shop not far from that.  The boys loved the very thin crusted Venetian pizza, and ate it for lunch and dinner.
Here's the local market with fresh produce, meats and flowers brought in by boat.
And our last picture, Evening Lights from the Rialto Bridge.
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